Kefir

by lydia on September 22, 2010

I have recently begun to make and consume my own kefir. I swore up and down kefir was something I would never make or drink, but alas there is just too much evidence of it’s health benefits for me to avoid it anymore. I always thought it sounded nasty, but am glad to find out I am wrong. It’s quite tart, but I enjoy it’s creaminess and love how it makes me feel.

Kefir’s Benefits

‘Kefir is a cultured and microbial-rich food that helps restore the inner ecology. It contains strains of beneficial yeast and beneficial bacteria (in a symbiotic relationship) that give kefir antibiotic properties. A natural antibiotic – and it is made from milk! The finished product is not unlike that of a drink-style yogurt, but kefir has a more tart, refreshing taste and contains completely different microorganisms. . . kefir does not feed yeast, and it usually doesn’t even bother people who are lactose intolerant. That’s because the friendly bacteria and the beneficial yeast growing in the kefir consume most of the lactose and provide very efficient enzymes (lactase) for consuming whatever lactose is still left after the culturing process. . . kefir is mucous-forming, but . . . the slightly mucus-forming quality is exactly what makes kefir work for us. The mucus has a “clean” quality to it that coats the lining of the digestive tract, creating a sort of nest where beneficial bacteria can settle and colonize. . . .

Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.”  The grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and polysaccharides (complex sugars). They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Some grains have been known to grow in large flat sheets that can be big enough to cover your hand. No other milk culture forms grains. . . making kefir truly unique. Once the grains ferment the milk by incorporating their friendly organisms into the final product, you remove these grains with a strainer before drinking the kefir. The grains are then added to a new batch of milk, and the process continues indefinitely.’ Donna Gates, The Body Ecology Diet

Kefir helps the digestion of lactose, containing a variety of bacteria that are thought to break down lactose in the stomach in people who are deficient in the natural lactase enzyme. Kefir is a rich source of the B vitamins, B12, B1, biotin, folic acid and pantothenic acid. We know that B vitamins are beneficial for numerous functions namely for energy, getting adequate amounts are important in dealing with stress as well. Additionally kefir is plentiful in vitamin K, and the minerals calcium, magnesium and many essential amino acids. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested allowing them to be more easily utilized in the body. Tryptophan is abundant in kefir, this amino acid is known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system, as are the minerals calcium and magnesium. Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. Regular use of kefir can aid relief of intestinal disorders, promote regularity, reduce gas and create an overall healthy digestive system. The many health benefits of kefir are too good to pass up, that’s why I decided to start brewing my own kefir and consume it daily.

How to Make Kefir

Kefir is very simple to make and very convenient. You can purchase kefir grains online for a very reasonable price thus making it a very economical super food to enjoy at home. The basic way to make kefir if using kefir grains is to first place them in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with filtered water, although I have read that you do not have to rinse them either. I suppose it boils down to preference and what results you are getting, I have done both. You will need 1 tablespoon of kefir grains to start with. Place the grains in a 1 quart mason jar with 2 cups fresh raw milk preferably, and optionally a half cup of good quality cream. Stir well with a plastic spoon. (It is recommended to use plastic as metal will be harder on your delicate grains.)  Cover loosely with a clean cloth and place in a warm place for 12 hours to 2 days. I tend to let mine go for about 18 hours. The longer you brew it the more tart it will be and it will contain more beneficial probiotics, as well as break down the lactose further, 48 hours max. Essentially it becomes the most digestible the longer you brew it. After it has brewed to your liking, strain out the grains through a strainer, rinse and repeat if you like. Store your kefir grains in a wire stopper glass jar such as a Fido covered with fresh milk. Keep in the cupboard and replace with fresh milk every 3-4 days when not using the grains. For longer term storage keep them in a jar in the refrigerator – replace with fresh milk weekly. The more you use your grains the more they will proliferate and remain healthy. It is recommended to use them at least once per week.

 

LydiaLydia Joy Shatney is certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is a co-chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

Lydia offers specialized one-on-one counseling for those that are looking to transform their health through dietary advice (both food and supplements), learning cooking techniques, shopping guidance, as well as fitness inspiration and self-empowerment. These personal consultations are tailored to suit your specific needs and can be done over the phone, Skype or in person. Lydia will work with you in person locally or long distance across the globe. Lydia currently offer 3 & 6 month packages. In these packages you will receive phone consultations, email support, food journal evaluations, a thorough nutritional assessment, lots of handouts, supplement recommendations for your specific needs, information, recipes, tips, cooking ‘how to’s’ and more. Contact Lydia to sign up for your free initial consult call today!

 

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{ 11 comments }

lintonpair September 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Brew our own here at home too.
LOVE it so much. We do cheat though and sweeten ours, otherwise we just cant drink it.

Use it in a heap of cooking as well. YAYYYY for Kefir!!

Cindy (FarmgirlCyn) September 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I started making my own kefir a few months ago and I love it! My favorite way to drink it is as a smoothie. I put about 1/2 cups in the blender with a few ice cubes. I then add either some fresh/frozen berries or fermented apricots (my favorite!!!). Delish! I usually have it for breakfast, but have been known to make one in the evening if supper has been light.

Jenise Kafel October 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Great post! I really enjoy your blog! Thanks

vanessa minnillo November 5, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Brew our own here at home too.
LOVE it so much. We do cheat though and sweeten ours, otherwise we just cant drink it.

Use it in a heap of cooking as well. YAYYYY for Kefir!!

Marci November 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

I love kefir and also make kombucha and water kefir at home in a continuous brew. Might want to check these out too as an alternative to milk kefir.

Julia June 13, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I have really enjoyied reading your well written article. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

Danuta Ulrich August 12, 2011 at 6:33 am

Nice Post!

Shannan October 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

My husband is wondering how safe it is to consume milk kefir using raw milk since is sitting out, not refrigerated. Sorry, if it seems like a silly concern. We’re new to all this! Thanks!

Maria May 31, 2015 at 3:51 pm

I’ve been making milk kefir for about a month now. My last 3 batches have produced stringy kefir. It’s almost mucous like. I examined a grains and some of them are translucent. I squeezed it and a mucous like substance came out. Does anyone know what this is? Has it gone bad? I’m thinking maybe I need to add more milk? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you

lydia June 8, 2015 at 7:07 pm

I need more details – can you explain the process you are using – method of fermentation, length of time, type of milk, temperature of your home, where you are brewing the kefir etc….. ?

Maria June 10, 2015 at 11:39 pm

Kefir is fermenting over night with organic whole milk in a glass mason jar. I use a paper towel to cover the jar. The temp in the house is about 73.

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