Kefir: Probiotic Jewel
Harnessing Nature’s Goodness, Generously Provided in Abundance
Kefir is therapy for digestive troubles. It is a fermented, enzyme-rich food containing natural, powerful probiotics that help to balance your intestinal bacteria. This will inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, promote good digestion, boost immune function, and increase your resistance to infection. More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, kefir supplies natural probiotics, protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins. Research has shown that probiotics must be taken regularly for your healthy internal bacterial balance to persist.
- Used to restore your inner ecosystem, especially after antibiotics,
- Simple and inexpensive to make at home,
- Can be made into delicious smoothies, that kids love.
- Excellent nourishment for pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, and those with compromised immunity.
Kefir and Lactose Intolerance
Many people who have been lactose intolerant for years have discovered this wonderful, nutritious supplement. The lactose is consumed for you, by the yeast & bacteria within the culture. Try eating kefir first thing in the morning before (or for) breakfast, and you’ll be delighted to find how easily it’s digested.
History of Kefir
This cultured-milk beverage originated centuries ago, in the Northern Caucasus Mountains of Europe. The cultural art of making kefir (without refrigeration) has been performed over many centuries. Its name is derived from the Turkish word keif, meaning “good feeling”, so named for the sense of well-being you can enjoy by drinking this cultured product. Evidence of health by drinking kefir is based on centuries of anecdotal observations.
The Taste of Kefir
It’s creamy texture with a slightly sour, refreshing taste, and a mild beer-like aroma that resembles fresh yeast. It has a hint of natural effervescence. Others have described it as tasting like a cross between yogurt and champagne.
Kefir vs Yogurt
Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, invalids and the elderly, as well as a remedy for digestive disorders. Both kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products, but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt keeps your digestive system clean, and provides food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. Kefir can actually colonize your intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match. And kefir actually helps digest the foods you eat.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive, disease-causing yeasts in your body. These beneficial yeasts penetrate your mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria live, forming a team to clean and strengthen your intestines. You become more efficient in resisting such intestinal problems.
The Components of Kefir
Kefir contains approximately 40 compounds, contributing to its flavor and aroma. A 24-hour brew will contain approximately .08 to .5% alcohol. Traditional, authentic kefir is prepared by culturing fresh milk with kefir grains. These grains are a starter culture: a soft, gelatinous biological mass. It’s comprised of microbes & yeasts, protein, fats, and sugars. As the active kefir grains are continually cultured in fresh milk, they increase in volume and mass. A portion of the kefir grains need to be continually removed, to prevent overcrowding, and to maintain a consistent texture. Excess kefir grains can be eaten (highly recommended), dehydrated and stored as a backup source, and shared with others.
These instructions are for making kefir with grains from a friend. It is possible to make kefir from a culture bought in a health food store, but it is not quite the same.
- Store kefir grains in a clean 8 to 16 oz glass jar with a lid filled with milk. Replace milk every 2 weeks, if you are not making new batches that often.
- Before starting a new batch rinse the grains in about 4 oz of fresh milk. Do not use tap water as the chlorine and fluoride can kill your kefir grains. Gently shake or stir, then strain the milk off. Discard the liquid, or feed to your pets or plants.
- Place your kefir grains in the glass jug, and pour in fresh milk (raw is better, but pasteurized will work, too, as will goat’s milk, cream, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or other nut milk).
- Loosely close, but don’t seal the jar, to let any gas buildup escape. If you don’t have a lid, cover it with a saucer.
- Let sit for 12 to 48 hours, or until it has thickened and come to your liking.
- After about 12 hours the creamy, foamy curd (the cheesy bit) will start separating from the whey (the watery bit).
- At this point, smell the culture. It should have a clean, slightly sour, yeasty, cheesy smell like something between freshly baked bread, homemade beer, or a nice cheese.
- If the smell is somewhat stinky, then drain the kefir grains, rinse them (2.) and repeat the process.
- Usually you can make drinkable kefir right away, but it may take a couple of rounds for the kefir grains to grow to your liking.
- Pour the mixture into a strainer with a bowl below, to separate the kefir grains from the kefir liquid. What you’ve strained is ready to drink kefir. This may be consumed right away, or, stored in a sealed container, refrigerated and enjoyed chilled.
- You may let your kefir ripen longer and strain off the liquid to make excellent soft cheese. Use higher fat milk for that.
- Store the kefir grains to repeat this process.