What is Kefir?
Kefir is a healthy, fermented milk beverage produced by inoculating milk with a specific starter culture (Kefir Grains) and allowing to ferment for 1-2 days.
The Kefir starter, though not a “grain” in the traditional sense, resembles small spongy cauliflower florets, and is comprised of a symbiotic community (bunch of hippies) of bacteria and yeasts. These microorganisms work together to create a thick, probiotic-rich, slightly acidic and subtly carbonated milk drink. It is comparable to yogurt, but BETTER!
Kefir vs Yogurt
While typical yogurt contains around 6 strains of beneficial bacteria, Kefir has been found to be home to 30 identifiable types of microorganisms – and counting. In one half cup of yogurt, you’d be pressed to find 1 billion of those little bacteria swimming around, compared to 40 billion in the same amount of Kefir. Further, the specific probiotics in Kefir are much more resilient and have a longer life span than the “transient” bacteria found in yogurt, meaning they are able to stick around long enough to survive, multiply and recolonize the digestive tract. Yogurt will help balance the bacteria in your gut but Kefir will send in the troops.
Health Benefits of Kefir
- Recolonizes the gut with “Good Guy” bacteria and yeasts
Source of Vitamins B1, B2, B12, D and K
Source of complete proteins
Balanced source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for bone health
Supports a healthy immune and digestive system
Fights dangerous pathogens such as E-Coli, Salmonella and other food-borne bacteria
Improves symptoms of allergies and asthma
May suppress tumor growth and assist in cancer treatment
Making Kefir at Home
Recipe below makes 2 cups to 1 L
- 1 clean glass jar
- Loose fitting lid, or clean cloth with elastic band
- Spatula or spoon
- Mesh strainer
- 2 cups to 1 L* organic, preferably pasteurized** milk
- 1-2 tbsp Live Kefir Grains
- Place grains in the glass jar and fill with milk.
- Cover with a loose fitting lid or clean cloth and elastic band.
- Place in a dark area away from sunlight, heat and critters for 1-3 days.
- The Kefir is ready when it has thickened, coagulated and smells slightly acidic.
- Strain the grains using a spatula and sieve and place the grains in the clean glass jar with a little fresh milk. You can either start a new batch of Kefir right away, or place the grains in the refrigerator ***
* There are many factors that will determine how much milk you should add (eg. metabolic strength and health of grains, type of milk, etc) so start with 2 cups and experiment in subsequent batches. The ideal amount of Kefir Grains will convert your milk to Kefir in 24 hours.
** Pasteurized milk is preferred as the microgranisms in unpasteurized milk may out-compete the bacteria and yeast present in the Kefir Grains.
***Kefir Grains will continue to ferment milk at a slower rate in the fridge (3-7 days). To stay healthy, you must “feed” your Grains with fresh milk every 2 days (when outside of fridge) or once per week (when inside the fridge).