What is fermented, bubbly, full of probiotics, helps regulate immune function and inflammation, improves digestion in adults with lactose intolerance, and tastes great? The answer is kefir, the champagne of milk.
I have loved kefir for years. I knew it was good for me, but it has only been recently with the new research available, that I now understand how much. There has been much written about the benefits and so I won’t go into too much detail, but here are a couple of places that have good information.
The first is Chris Kresser In his article, Chris links to the research that shows how kefir helps digestion, its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, how it builds the immune system, and may even help with cancer prevention and many other benefits. It is a great place to find documentation.
The next is actually the National Kefir Association. There is so much information there. How to make it, where to find the grains, recipes and more. That is also a great resource. But I will give a basic description here.
Kefir grains look like cauliflower, but are actually a mix of yeast and bacteria known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). People made it mostly from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep. As for me, I use goat milk. Kefir grains can be purchased from sources online or begged off of friends that make it. When the milk is made into kefir, the SCOBY increases and is available to share. Since I am just now getting back into the goat business, I don’t have enough to share……..yet. I will let you know when I do.
I have made kefir out of the packaged powder available from the grocery store. It is not nearly as viable as the live grains, but it will slowly develop grains if you put some of the old batch in to start the new. Follow the directions on the package, but for better flavor wait an extra 24 hours. It will sour up better and be much more effervescent.
For using kefir SCOBY, I take a half gallon of milk heated to room temperature warm and put in a 2-3 tablespoon sized piece of the SCOBY. This I put on the counter and leave for at least 24 hours. If my house is not warm I put it in my oven with my pilot light and put something in the door to help it stay open a little. Take a teaspoon and taste your kefir before you put it in the refrigerator. I find that different times and seasons need a little different length of brewing time. Brew it until the taste is slightly sour and it tickles your tongue. That could take up to 48 hours.
I have heard that it can stay good for a long time on the counter without refrigeration but I have never tried it. When I make it, I drink it and I like it cold. But I did lose a jar in the fridge and I know it was there a couple of weeks. I shook the jar to remix the separated brew and drank it. It was better than what I usually drank fresh, so I think I will lose some again soon.
For kids I have added a touch of different kinds of jams to slightly sweeten it for their tastes. But soon they love it without the sweetener. I drink a lot of it and give it to my animals when they are not quite doing their best. If they are off feed and there seems to be nothing visually wrong, I let them have some. But especially if they have had antibiotic shots. This builds up their digestive flora again. I have used it in frozen pops with fruit. And pancakes! I love kefir in pancakes. I use it in my morning smoothies and what a treat. And I have tried kefir cheese, but I like it better to drink.
For those of you who have made kefir, what is your favorite way to use it?