Saturday, January 22, 2011

Experimenting with Water Kefir (Tibicos)

Dried apricots and kefir grains

    Water Kefir is my latest fascination. Apart from drinking this delicious fizzy drink for non-diary probiotics, I'm using it on my face as a toner, and on my scalp in hopes of getting rid of the pesky seborrhea and maybe even get my few white hairs to turn brown again (spotting my first gray hair at 24 sucked, but seborrhea really sucks). So far, my scalp seems to like it.
    I like to experiment around with unusual health food. To find a permanent place in my kitchen the food (or drink) has to be healthy (according to my non-mainstream ideas), easy to make (I'm lazy) and hopefully inexpensive (I'm cheap. Most of the time.) 
   Tibicos is all of that. It takes minutes to prepare (and then 1-3 days of patience while the crystals do their work).  I like the taste (and the kids do too, but then they think that raw Brussels sprouts are tasty); its like dry soda, with a slight taste of fermentation. But you get to add all kinds of things like fresh and dry fruit to create different flavours (the pic on the top shows peaches). You can even make the original Ginger Beer !

   Tibicos aka Water Kefir aka Japanese Crystals is a culture of bacteria and yeast. If this sounds yucky, remember that yoghurt and cheese are also made by cultures of bacteria and yeast. Anyway, Tibicos doesn’t look gross at all.
This is what the Kefir crystals look like:

Grains of water Kefir drying
See ? All white and clean and pretty.

    Tibicos is super healthy: it's full of probiotics, and it kicks yoghurt's ass (comparison here). It has lots of the good bacteria and yeast so it fights the bad bacteria or yeast and helps with digestion. It has vitamin B-12, vitamin K and biotin. It's a great substitute for fizzy drinks, and if you have tried it and don't like it, don't stop reading yet -- this has it's cosmetic uses as well: anti-acne and it reverses greying !

Kefir for the skin: 

Kefir water balances the pH level of the skin, since it's acidic. The good bacteria can help with skin
problems like acne and dandruff. It brightens the skin and fades blemishes.

 How to use:
  • As a toner, (to balance the pH or as a mild morning cleanser)
  • Instead of water in DIY masks and scrubs
  • The kefir crystals, mashed, make a nice face mask.
  • To wash the hair or as a rinse, it can reverse graying ! Think of it as a substitute to Apple Cider Vinegar

Making Water Kefir:

    Preparing it is a whiz: you add brown sugar and water to the crystals (don't worry, 80% of the sugar is eaten up by the little crystals. And turned into alcohol. Don't panic, it's only 0.64% alcohol). Then you add other ingredients for the taste. And leave for 1-3 days. This can be dried or fresh fruit, ginger, herbs... Here is a basic recipe. Here are many more fancy ones (scroll down to Kefir d'Acqua), including what is probably the Original ginger Beer. This blogger mixes it with juice, and has some more tips on preparing it.  I always make my water Kefir in an airtight jar, this makes it more fizzy and refreshing. I find it quite tasty (though not all folks do). Oh and the crystals multiply wildly, which means there are plenty left over for a face mask.
   Search online (try health forums) or ask friends for the crystals. They should be cheap or free, because the Kefir multiplies fast.

Extra Reading:

Water Kefir vs Kombucha (I love Kombucha too, but it's more complicated to prepare. Mine all developed mould).

Have you every tried this, or does the idea of drinking it it sound yucky ?

Sorry about posting after a gap of several days. I've torn a tendon and have been running around getting x-rays and stuff. 

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  1. Okay now I really really want some of these! I'll check the Asian food market today! Thanks for the tip!

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