You’ve heard of probiotics but you may not have heard of kefir (ka-feer). This could be seen as the king of the probiotics, not only due to its very impressive variety of probiotic organisms, but also due to the amount of these organisms in a “dose”. Yogurt is good but kefir is wonderful!
Kefir is a fermented milk product which starts with kefir “grains”. This has nothing to do with cereal grains but refers to their appearance. Frankly, this still does not describe the kefir starter, as it looks more like mini cauliflowers!
The origins of kefir seem to be the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The story goes back to around 3000 BC but no one really knows how the grains came to existence as no one has been able to replicate them. They are an entity just as we are – a mixture of bacteria and yeasts. After all, in terms of cells, we’re about 90% microbes and only 10% human!
Kefir nutrients will only be as good as the milk it is made from. If you use raw milk, you will be providing the correct food for the grains. The grains are very forgiving just like any other life on Earth, because life wants to live. Probably the next best option would be organic unhomogenised milk. If you are lactose intolerant you could use organic coconut milk. I have never done this but I have been told that it is very good.
Making the kefir is child’s-play. You put the grains into a glass or ceramic jug/bowl, add about 3-500ml milk, cover and wait! Leave on a work surface in the kitchen. How long you wait depends upon how you like it and how warm it is. In the UK in November, it takes my kefir about 36 hours to thicken slightly, develop a fizz. Strain the grains from the kefir which can then be stored in the fridge with about 150-200ml milk for a few days until you make the next batch, or freeze them if you don’t need them for a bit. Nice but not essential is to give it a short secondary fermentation – I usually do and most often use a couple of lemon slices. Store the kefir in the fridge and have a small glass daily or use in ice-cream, smoothies or whatever you like! As the grains grow and multiply, it would be a good idea to put some in the freezer anyway, in enough milk to cover – in case you have problems with your in-use grains.
“It has a “magical” quality as no other food has this nutritional profile.”
The benefits to health are enormous – trillions of beneficial microbes, B vitamins (including B12), enzymes, minerals, protein and fats. It has a “magical” quality as no other food has this nutritional profile. It is well tolerated by most people and has benefits for sufferers of allergies and gut disorders plus it supports the immune system. In fact, if you have any health issue, kefir is a great way to aid your recovery.
Kefir grains are available in some health food shops but look on-line – they are both cheap to buy and ship and providing you look after the grains, they will last forever. As they grow you can pass some to friends!