Many of you probably have no idea what Kefir is or why in the world you would want this in your diet. The idea of taking on something new in the kitchen can be overwhelming until you understand why it is so important in our diet. I am fairly new to the "kefir" scene, maybe a year into the process and I will share all I know so you may also catch the "kefir bug" at your house.
What is kefir? The word "Kefir" actually comes from a Turkish word "Keif" which means "good feeling". Already sound good? Kefir is a cultured product meaning it is left to ferment to create the healthy organisms in the drink. It can be created from milk or water or even coconut water. It is an enyzme-rich food that contains an overabundance of friendly bacteria to help balance out our inner vessels.
Kefir is better than yogurt for our bodies. It contains complete proteins, essential minerals and the much needed B vitamins. We lack so much of this in our diets and with the overuse of antibiotics destroying our friendly bacteria in our systems, kefir will help restore that balance.
When our system is out of balance, meaning the bad bacteria overtakes the good bacteria, we become sick. Our bowels are irregular in most cases, we have yeast problems, allergies, skin issues, auto immune diseases and much more. The daily intake of kefir will help to heal our bodies.
In our house, we use water kefir and milk kefir daily. Although drinking milk kefir is very beneficial, we don't drink milk around here due to some allergies. The process of culturing milk kefir breaks down the lactose in the milk which is a main source of allergy but it still contains many other proteins as well and I am not ready to challenge that in a daily drink, yet. But, I know it is great in smoothies and many drink it daily without issue. For me , I use my milk kefir in any recipe calling for buttermilk, milk or sour cream. It makes the fluffiest and lightest baked goods around. I used it in my buttermilk syrup recipe, for my coleslaw and just about everything else I could think of. Since the kefir is cultured, it is so much easier to use by the body. This is true especially if you are using goats milk although a little stronger of a flavor. Milk kefir is so easy to do. It takes very little work. If you love using buttermilk than this would be a much better option for you. Finding buttermilk in the store that is free from additives is near impossible. This is just the straight milk but loaded with the good things. Of course, by cooking it you are killing much of the good bacteria but you are still getting the benefits of a cultured food for better digestion.
The water kefir is my favorite to drink. My friend Kara has me hooked. It becomes fizzy like a soda pop and when you add juice, it tastes like a sparkling juice. I always have some brewing on the counter and drink it daily as do my children. I have been experimenting with flavors; grape, lemon, cranberry lemon, apple, etc. Some have been better than others.
How do you make kefir? It begins with kefir grains. You put them in the bottom of a glass container like a mason jar. I use the quart size for the milk kefir and the half gallon size for the water kefir. For the milk, you just add the milk (I prefer the raw milk) and give a little stir with a plastic or wood utensil. You then lightly cover and put it in a dark cupboard or closet. Usually within 24 hours or less you will have some thick and creamy kefir. The longer it sits, the thicker and more sour it gets so it is your choice. It is good to stir it a few times while culturing. You then strain the grains in a plastic colander and store the kefir in the fridge. You rinse the grains and begin again.
The water kefir feeds off of sugar. The sugar is broken down in the process so no need to worry about that. You want to use a sugar that is not processed. I use Sucanat but you can use whatever you like. Coconut sugar won't work but you can use honey or any of the raw sugars. You cover the grains in water, add some sugar and let it sit for 24-48 hours. After that time period, you strain off the grains and then add juice to the kefir. I then let it sit for another 24 hour period to get good and fizzy. I then put it in the fridge to chill. The longer it sits out, the more alcohol you are making so just beware. Any food fermented has some alcohol, even a piece of ripe fruit. There is such a minimum amount in Kefir unless you let the fruit juice step to go beyond the 24 hours.
If you are interested in becoming "cultured" around your house, I have lots and lots of water kefir grains and some of the milk kefir grains. I won't ship them but if you live around here, you can shoot me an email to come get some. They are $8 per tablespoon to get you started. They grow like crazy so you can share them as well. I will also give you complete instructions at that time.
Seek knowledge. Don't be content where you are. The more I learn I realize the more I don't know. Isn't that exciting?