Tibicos are a zoogloea cultivated and kept since long-ago. These miraculous mushrooms live in sweetened water with addition of dried fruit and prepare the unusually tasty and curative drink reminding kvass (Russian fermented non-alcoholic refresh drink) from this water.
Zoogloea is a special state of bacterial cells when their capsules become slimy and form gelatinous structures or films. There are a lot of Zoogloea types in nature, however, only three of them are domesticated and studied at most: Tibicos, Kombucha and Tibetan milk mushroom.
Though many people think rather skeptically of curative properties of zoogloeas, scientists proved long ago that Tibicos are not only nutritious but also rather useful drink containing vinegar bacteria. They promote digestion and also protect an organism from a various sort of infectious diseases. Besides, Tibicos are irreplaceable when the weather is hot, and one glass of the infusion will be enough to forget about thirst for a long time. Moreover, Tibicos have a pleasant sourish-sweet taste which for certain will be loved by fans of kvass.
The beneficial bacteria and yeasts present in the grains metabolize the sugar and turn it into lactic acid. Grains are small, translucent, gelatinous structures and are comprised of assorted bacteria including lactobacillus hilgardii which gives them their characteristic crystal-like appearance. When properly cared for and regularly cultured, they produce a wonderful probiotic-rich beverage and will continue to grow and reproduce indefinitely.
It can be a healthy and valuable substitute for sugar soda products. Sugar is added to the kefir recipes because that is what the kefir eats; however, there is far less sugar in the finished kefir beverage.
Health Benefits of Water Kefir
The health benefits of consuming water kefir are endless. They are a natural supplier of probiotics to our digestive track. Probiotics refers to the healthy bacteria that usually feeds on the “bad” unhealthy bacteria in our stomach and intestines. Bacterial overgrowth can lead to many illnesses some of which include fungi, yeast infections, indigestion, obesity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, skin disorders, etc. By drinking water kefir you will bring balance to your internal microflora. Many people take a probiotic supplement daily for this particular reason but I prefer to drink the water kefir. It’s much tastier and more affordable in the long run.
Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a leading expert in the raw food community, writes in his book “Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine“:
“Kefir grains produce right-rotating L(+) lactic acid, which is an important constituent of the human body. It is particularly important in the prevention of cancer and has been used experimentally with success in the treatment of cancer. In addition, right-rotating lactic acid may help maintaining healthy functioning of the heart. According to some researchers, the cells of the heart muscle obtain their energy primarily from right-rotating lactic acid.”
Another health advantage of water kefir is that people who do not wish to consume dairy or have a vegan type diet may find that water kefir provides the living probiotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, like kombucha. Vegans also may like to know that through the fermentation process kefir becomes an excellent source of vitamin B12, and is high in vitamins B1 and B6.
Diabetics, in particular, could greatly benefit from drinking kefir. Since the finished product, if bottled, will produce a carbonated beverage, it provides an alternative to sweet soda drinks. In that sense, anyone from children to adults can enjoy water kefir guilt-free.
How to make Water Kefir
It is good to prepare them in the morning.
Wash a glass container. Do not use soap in cleaning the container, for it has contents that may kill the needed probiotics for our health drink. Use alcohol or distilled white vinegar instead. There is no need to rinse or clean the jars after you started brewing as rinsing may rinse out any baby tibicos.
Add Water. Add 3 cups (750mL) of fresh pure water.
Add brown sugar. Add 3 spoonfuls of brown sugar (40mL). Do not use honey in place of sugar. Honey has antimicrobial properties and will damage your water kefir grains or delay their proliferation.
Add Tibicos. Carefully add 1/4 cup (4 Spoonfuls or 63mL) to 1/2 cup (8 Spoonfuls or 125mL) of the Tibicos.
Optional. Add 1 inch (2.5 cm) of banana cut into thin slices.
Cover with a clean thin cloth, (paper towel, coffee filter) to allow oxygen and secure with a rubber band.
Store in a quiet light place out of direct sunlight. Usually the brew is ready in 24 to 48 hours. The warmer your home is, the faster water kefir will brew. The color is light and golden. For those who do not tolerate the sweet, you may leave the brew another twenty-four hours before straining.
Strain. With a spoon discard the banana or any jelly mass floating on top of the brew and strain the water using a plastic strainer and not one made of metal for a stainless one reacts against the Tibicos (Same goes with spoons.)
Care must be taken in straining the Tibicos. They have to be rinsed well with pure cold water after straining.
Drink it preferable at morning and on an empty stomach. If you have extra store in a clean container in the fridge. It is not only curative but is also a refreshing drink.
Repeat. All must be done with much care and cleanliness. After many repetitions, the Tibicos will have been plenty for you to share with your friends.
to your health and longevity,
Bottle the Water kefir beverage. Add lemon juice or/and ginger to the beverage and let it ferment out of the refrigerator and produce natural carbonation for about 12 to 24 hours (Ginger beer.) Then place it in the refrigerator.
Some people enjoy adding fresh mint, anise, cinnamon stick or cardamom.
Storing Extra Kefir Grains
After your first few batches you will notice that your kefir grains grow rapidly (considering you take good care of them). You can do four things with the extra grains:
- Eat them! They are very nutritious, packed with many beneficial probiotic bacteria. You can add them to your smoothies if you wish.
- Short-term storage – you can store water kefir grains in sugary water in the refrigerator for up to a week. The cold temperature will slow down their growth. Just make sure to rinse and change their water on weekly basis.
- Long-term storage – you can put the extra grains in a glass jar and freeze them. They can last for about 6 months or longer. Keep in mind that it may take a few batches to revive them after they’ve been frozen. They should be fine after that.
- Share them! As you accumulate more water kefir grains, just share the joy of making water kefir with family and friends. Give them your extra grains and teach them how to make their own natural “soda” at home.