Getting started on this SUGAR Blog post has my head absolutely spinning this week!
I have such interesting information to share with you about the sugars contained in water kefir.
The number one thing that you are going to take away from this post is that as you consume water kefir more regularly, you will notice that your sugar cravings will begin to decrease.
These days, my sugar cravings still exist but once I have dessert in front of me, I rarely eat more than a few bites. My body tells me that it doesn’t want anything to do with that insulin spike anymore.
This is one of the greatest benefits of drinking water kefir and cutting carbs that I have noticed.
Here’s the deal.
Without the sugar, there is no fermentation, and without fermentation, there’s no good stuff to feed your body.
The fermented drink in return gives you the benefits of over 30 billion probiotics, enzymes, electrolytes, B12 B6 B1, magnesium and folate.
Do I have to use sugar in my ferment? I rarely consume sugar anymore.
The sugar in water kefir is for the culture to consume, not for you. When the first 24 hours of fermenting is done, there will be about 5 grams per cup of unflavored water kefir. By contrast, one cup of orange juice has about 24 grams of sugar. Natural carrot juices have 13 grams per cup. If fermented longer, say for 48-72 hours, sugar levels in water kefir may be even lower – Recommended for diabetics and others with low sugar tolerance.
Why does water kefir need so much sugar?
Without sugar, water kefir cannot ferment. Sucrose is most easy to digest by the yeasts; they consume the sugar and put out CO2 (carbon dioxide, i.e. the bubbles in your water kefir) and ethanol.
Then, as part of the symbiosis, the bacteria consume the ethanol and express the trace vitamins and minerals.
The standard water kefir recipe is 1/4 cup of sugar per 4 cups water. If you add too little sugar, you are inhibiting the brew’s normal healthy development. Too much sugar and the yeasts will either become slimy and overrun the bacteria or fall completely asleep and do nothing.
What type of sugar should I use to brew water kefir?
Through my endless tests, I have concluded that water kefir grains respond best to the following combination of sugars.
Take a 1/4 measuring cup and add 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar and top up the rest of the measuring cup with cane sugar.
Organic cane sugar and coconut sugar have higher levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron.
These healthful elements are passed on to the water kefir drinker.
What types of sugar must be avoided when brewing water kefir?
- Raw Honey – The naturally occurring bacteria will battle with the water kefir grains.
- Stevia – Stevia is a plant sugar and will not ferment.
- Xylitol – What makes Xylitol great for chewing gum and teeth is that it’s non-fermentable, which makes it useless for the kefir.
- Lactose – Water Kefir is not lacto-fermentable.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – Your body can’t even break this stuff down.
- Any Artificial Sweetener – The answer is NO.
Can multiple types of sugar be combined into one water kefir brew?
Absolutely! Sugar blends can add flavor and depth to your brew. Have fun and experiment!
Check out our list of sugars here.
Does it matter if it’s organic sugar?
Not to the water kefir. Only to me. I make these (slightly more expensive) choices for my physical and mental health because they aren’t as processed. However, no one should ever put off brewing water kefir for fear of expense.
Plain white sugar will get the job done just fine.
Why do some bottled water kefir and kombucha drinks have 0 sugar on the label but the drink is still very sweet tasting?
Working with LIVE cultures is like working with a moving target. Since the cultures continue to eat up the sugar while in the bottle on the shelf of the supermarket, it depends on how many days since the water kefir was bottled as to how much sugar is present in the drink.
Health Canada requires water kefir and kombucha producers to label the amount of sugar in the bottle that is present on the expiry date, not on the date that the drink was bottled.
Various bottlers use different guidelines.
Ultimately, as long as you are buying a LIVE probiotic drink and it hasn’t been pasteurized to kill all of the beneficial bacteria, you are getting a much lower sugar drink than any syrupy laden soda on the market and reaping numerous health benefits.
Live probiotics are not shelf stable, so if you are getting a drink off the shelf and not out of the cooler, you are wasting your money because there is no live bacteria in it.
Root beer has 72 grams of sugar as compared to water kefir which has 5 grams on the average.
The reason your body will begin to despise regular soda after consistently drinking water kefir is because it won’t be able to tolerate the sweetness of the regular soda.
Even the sweetness of diet soda will effect your taste buds.
As your taste buds begin to adjust to less sugar in your system, you will consciously begin to read labels and choose drinks that are less than 10 grams of sugar.
Your overall health will improve and your waistline will love you!
Comforting Cherry Cardamom Water Kefir Soda
1/4 cup cherry juice or mashed fresh or frozen cherries
10 green cardamom pods
Seal up the bottle and leave it in a warm place for 24 hours for the second ferment.
The water kefir eats up the natural sugars from the cherries and boosts the drink with anti oxidants and anti inflammatory agents.
All together it makes for a delicious comfort soda.
Watch a LIVE video of me making this on YOUTUBE.
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Leeza Zurwick and The Happy Gut Team
p.s. stay tuned next week when I share the benefits of adding mint into your ferments as we venture into a month of Christmas ferment recipes. Can’t wait!
***All glasses and props graciously provide by The Gift Box in Castlegar BC ***