If you have been around any traditional foods / nourishing traditions enthusiasts then no doubt you have heard them sing the praises of Kefir. What exactly is it though and how do you make it at home?
Kefir grains are actually a gelatinous grouping of bacteria and yeasts that grow during the process of fermentation. The grains themselves look very much like tiny cauliflower heads but they can turn milk, or other beverages into a drink that is deliciously sour and sparkling, charged naturally with carbon dioxide. The grains can be used again and again to make a continuous supply of kefir drinks.
Kefir was discovered accidentally by shepherds carrying milk in skin bags. Over time the milk would ferment and create a tasty drink. Now foodies everywhere are buying and making kefir drinks from cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, juice, and even water. Fruit and other sweeteners can also be added to make a sweet sparkling juice, a drinkable yogurt style beverage, or a smoothie. If you want to try some before purchasing the grains, many natural foods grocery stores offer bottles of flavored Kefir but trust me it is yummy!
How to Make Your Own Kefir
The process for making kefir is actually pretty easy. You just add 1-2 tablespoons of the Milk Kefir Grains for every two cups of milk (or other liquid) to a glass mason jar. Fill the jar 3/4 with milk and let it sit at room temperature on your countertop for 12-24 hours. Keep away from direct sunlight. While the milk is culturing, gently shake the jar a few times to stir the mixture. The Kefir is done when it starts to taste tangy. Just strain the kefir grains out of the milk and set them aside to use again. You can also refrigerate them and the cold will cause them to go dormant if you don’t plan to use them for awhile. When stirring and straining make sure to use plastic or stainless steel utensils and kitchenware because certain metals can react to the acidic nature of milk grains and heavy metals can leach onto them. This is not true of water kefir grains, also called sugary kefir grains. For storage use glass, as it is an inert and non-reactive material.
The kefir grains will grow as you make more batches and if you mark your mason jar with a permanent marker you can tell how much they have grown and remove the excess. You can add the excess grains to the strained drink and blend to increase the probiotic value. You can also store them for future use, or you can donate them to someone who wants to try their own hand at making kefir.
Kefir is favored by health enthusiasts because it contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and strains of friendly bacteria and beneficial yeasts that help with digestion, immunity, healing, and the improvement of regular body functions. Many people swear that kefir has helped them to recover from serious illness and that it has anti-aging properties. The nutritional value of kefir makes it a beneficial drink for just about anyone and making it yourself is incredibly easy. So why not try it today?
For more info about live cultered foods I recommend: Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and you can buy Milk Kefir Grains at Cultures for Health, eBay, or on Amazon.
Top Photo Credit
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010