A few months ago I got interested in Kefir grains, sent away for a few dried grains (less than $10), and began fermenting my own kefir beverages. Now that the grains are multiplying successfully, I’m enjoying sharing them with family, friends and neighbours.
This mandala is a close-up photo of a water kefir grain doing its thing in a sugar solution with added raisins. You may have heard of water kefir already. It is also known by a variety of other names, such as Tibicos tibi, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California Bees, and in older literature also known as Bébées, African bees, Ale nuts, Australian bees, Balm of Gilead, Beer seeds, Beer plant, Bees, Ginger Beer plant, Ginger bees, Japanese Beer seeds and Vinegar bees.
There is also such a thing as milk kefir grains which ferment milk into a cultured beverage a lot like yogourt. Milk kefir has a long, rich history and proven health benefits, but it doesn’t make such a great photo. This site provides an entertaining and thorough history of kefir — part fact, part myth.