Kefir, What It Is And What It Is Good For!
Kefir the champagne of milk. If you have never tried kefir, you have no idea what you’re missing! I am not talking about that fruity, sugar stuff you buy at the store, I am talking about the real thing. What’s even better is that you can make it right at home….pasteurized or raw Keifer has it all.
For those of you who may not know what Kefir is, it’s a tart and refreshing, fermented dairy drink, similar to yogurt only better. Although I have heard, it can be made with almond or coconut milk and even water, I have only tried it in the dairy form. My choice way to have it made, is it being made from raw goat’s milk.
It is loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as easily digestible complete proteins, they contain over 30 different strains of probiotic bacteria and beneficial yeast.
In Russia kefir is a staple food and widely consumed all over Central and Eastern Europe and has been for as long as anyone can recall. The name Kefir comes from Turkish language. The meaning of the word means ‘long life’ or ‘good life.’
Kefir grains are living organisms. The grains resemble small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of rice to an inch or more. Typically the smaller the grains tend to be the more productive and the better the flavor, this may be because of the fact that they have more exposed surface area.
Healthy grains range from white to a creamy off-white or ivory in color and are soft and squishy. The texture kind of reminds me of gummy bears. Healthy Keifer grains are never slimy. Healthy grains will last indefinitely with good care, but don’t forget they are living consuming organism and must be strained every 24 -48 and given fresh milk, or they will die. The longer they set out, the more tart your kefir will be. If you find you need to put your kefir on hold for a while, this can be done by putting them in a jar of milk in the fridge for up to 2 weeks as long as refresh them weekly with new milk. After which they should be brought back to room temperature and allowed to grow.
Want to make your own? Here is a step by step on how to make Kefir.
1. Before you can start to make it, you will need Kefir grains. If you know someone who’s already making Kefir they will most likely be happy to share some extra grains with you. Grains can also be bought from places like Amazon or natural health food stores.
2. After you have your grains, you will need to get them started, unless they have already been working. If you ordered your grains online they should come with recommended starting directions. Once your grains are awake and working just follow the directions below and you’re on your way to making your own.
3. In a clean GLASS jar, place your kefir grain and milk. Some people prefer Fido jars, that are also available on Amazon. I have never tried Fido jars for making Kefir and traditionally they were not used in the process. I hear that using Fido jars results in a more fizzy drink.
Use 1-2 teaspoons of grains to 1 quart of milk depending on the season.Warm weather needs fewer grains. However, more grains are needed in cooler weather.
I use raw goat’s milk to make mine. You can use pasteurized whole milk from the store as long as it is not ultra pasteurized. I think I would use organic, hormone free, but I guess you don’t have to.
4. Cover the jar with a clean cloth, if you’re using a canning jar, you can lightly use the screw down ring over the cloth to hold it in place or use a rubber band. The cloth keeps things out of the jar during the fermentation process.
5. Leave your kefir jar sitting out at room temperature where it will be undisturbed for the next 24 hours (Kefir grains work best when they are warm but not hot). After 24 hours check to see if it is ready if not let it set a little longer.
6. Strain the Kefir and start your grains over. Some people rinse their grains before starting a new batch, but there is no need to do so.
Kefir is ready when it has thickened and has a sour smell rather than a sweet smell. It will have a consistency similar to buttermilk.
The longer Kefir sits, the stronger it becomes. After a while, it will curdle and separate into curds. Taste your Kefir at various stages of fermentation to see how you like it. Many people prefer it when it has just starting to thicken, but I don’t mind mine curdled.
7. Once your Kefir is done to your liking, you may add some pureed fresh fruit, or drink it plain. It’s also great in salad dressings or smoothies. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is with some cinnamon mixed in.
Sooner or later everyone that makes Kefir will have more grains than they can use, don’t toss them out. Kefir grains are little powerhouses of nutrition. When you’re faced with what to do with those extra grains, toss them in a smoothie, feed them to your chickens or pass them on to a friend so they too can enjoy the benefits of Kefir!
If you enjoyed reading this post, you may also want to check out Raw Milk vs Pasteurized Milk – Which Is Best For You?