SUGAR-REDUCTION of ready-to-drink water kefir How much sugar does water kefir contain? you may ask. Well, there’s a good reason why I chose capital letters for sugar-reduction. The question is a concern for many individuals who wish to prepare water kefir. I receive lots of emails about this question, and the topic often comes up on my internet lists. I shall try to clarify here.
Most concern regarding sugar content of water kefir that I’ve experience, is from folks believing that because a reasonable amount of sugar is used for water kefir, then water kefir must contain a large amount of sugar. Folks on an anti-candida diet fit this category, for sugar is recommended as a no-no for candidiais [yeast infection]. Diabetic also share the same concern. I thought the best way to demonstrate sugar percentage of ready-to-drink water kefir [a beverage fermented for 2 days with SKG], is to show a photo of my evaluation
The thick, not-so-sweet, but quite appealing flavoured thick syrup, was extracted from water kefir by reducing ready-to-drink [strained] water kefir by boiling under vacuum. The water kefir recipe involved 6 cups water, 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 tsp blackstrap molasses, 1/8 tsp each of eggshell and oceanic coral powder, 1/8 tsp sodium bicarbonate, prepared with 1 cup SKG brewed for 2 days. The SKG increased from 1 cup to 2 1/2 cups at day 2, which is common growth-rate with the above recipe cultured with my exceptionally good growing SKG.
We can clearly note the initial amount of sugar and the resulting reduction of more than 80% of the original sugar content. The fact is that the less-than 20% sugar left in the water kefir after a 2 day ferment, is mostly fructose, a mono-saccharide [single sugar]. Fructose is extremely easy to digest, compared to the original sucrose. We also need to consider that the residual syrup in the photo contains some water, so in effect there is even less sugar content compared to what we see in the photo. To explain again, sucrose or regular table sugar, including any sugar-type derived from sugar cane, is made up of a molecule consisting of 2 single sugars– Glucose and Fructose. This sugar is known as a disaccharide [di means 2, saccharide means sugar= two sugars]. The organisms of SKG break down the disaccharide sucrose into its 2 basic units, glucose and fructose. The grain itself is synthesized from just the glucose alone. Hence the reduction of sugar of water kefir with good growing SKG, for the grains are separated by straining the water kefir– they are not consumed, taking the glucose that the grains are made of with them. Even if SKG were consumed, they are not easily broken down if at all through gastric digestion, for the glucose that the grains are made up of is a dextran, similar to a polymer or a natural plastic that gastric enzymes are unable to break down. To conclude, we can rest assured that if your SKG are growing well, by at least 50% per each batch, then sugar reduction is just as good, and the resulting water kefir contains a much smaller percentage than what you began with. Water kefir prepared with good growing grains is quite suitable for Diabetics and those on a low carb diet. [See also FAQ 46 at my Kefir FAQ web page]