Milk Kefir vs. Water Kefir
Kefir is made from two varieties of Kefir “grains,” milk kefir grains, the most common and has existed for over two millennia and water kefir grains, a novel discovery.
Water kefir grains are translucent, gelatinous structures comprised of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts, including Lactobacillus hilgardii, infused with complex sugars yielding a crystal-like clump. These grains are used to make a probiotic-rich beverage which can be processed in a variety of ways and with different flavors.
Milk kefir grains, on the other hand, are uniquely formed when the bacteria/yeast colony is mixed with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They distinctly appear like small clumps of cauliflower.
Brewing Milk Kefir and Water Kefir
Depending on the “grains,” there are two types of kefir drinks, Milk kefir, and Water Kefir.
Milk kefir has a similar taste to yogurt and has a creamy tart flavor, and confers health benefits by improving digestion and gut health. Lactose intolerant individuals can enjoy this drink since it is a fermented product. Water kefir is similar but devoid of casein.
Like kombucha, water kefir is first cultured by introducing the water kefir grains into sugar water, coconut water or fruit juice.
Milk Kefir is cultured by introducing the milk kefir grains into dairy milk, albeit, goat’s milk and coconut milk will also do.
These bacteria and yeast present in the grains will then metabolize the sugars present, fermenting it, introducing beneficial microorganisms, B-complex vitamins, and food enzymes. The resulting drink is a probiotic blend of nutrients and natural sugars, a natural fizzy drink that improves gut health and aids in digestion. Both are a cultured, and fermented beverage high in nutrients and probiotics, albeit they have different bacterial strains.
The fermentation time of milk kefir is between 1-4 days while that of water kefir is 1-2 days.
Probiotic Benefits of Milk Kefir and Water Kefir
Reports states that, both milk kefir and water kefir treat a variety of diseases, e.g., tuberculosis, ulcer, acid reflux, colitis, diarrhea, constipation, urinary tract infection, and are known to prevent certain cancers (prostate cancer and colon cancer). These health drinks also help control blood pressure, diabetes and maintain blood sugar levels. Furthermore, they provide a calming sensation, against depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
However, there is a slight yet distinctive nutritional difference between the two. Milk kefir is more nutritious than water kefir due to the milk present. Milk is the life source of mammals, rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and furthermore, vitamins A and B-complex (B1, B12, and B7), carbohydrates (lactose sugar) and proteins. These are essential nutrients for growth and development.
Meanwhile, water kefir offers certain advantages as well. It has low glycemic index (GI), releasing glucose slowly into your bloodstream limiting food craving, ideal for those individuals on a diet and is less fattening too. It is also suitable for vegetarians who keep away from dairy. Water kefir offers flexibility, enabling you to work with any liquid as long as it has sugars to break down.
Fundamental Differences between Water and Milk Kefir
Although both a similar, they have specific differences, one of which is how they are prepared. Additionally, they differ in their consistency and taste; water kefir is a beverage and tastes like soda while milk kefir is more like yogurt and has a creamy tart flavor.
There is also a clear difference in the probiotic value of the drinks. Milk kefir has 30-50 different possible strains of probiotics, while water kefir has 10-15 strains.