At the weekend my niece introduced me to Kefir and gave me my first Kefir grains and since then I have been researching. Here is what I have found, so far.
Kefir is a fermented drink, traditionally made with cow, goat or sheep milk and it is made by adding the kefir grains to milk to produce a probiotic drink. They are not exactly like grains and look more like cottage cheese or cauliflower but in about 24 hours the microorganisms multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk, turning it into kefir. Can you see the little lumps forming? They are the kefir grains happily multiplying and growing.
I like to fondly refer to the kefir grains as my little aliens who live on the sugars in the milk and if I look after them they will kindly look after me!
They originated from part of Eastern Europe, Southwest Asia and Russia and you only have to Google the word Kefir to come up with all the countries that will sing the praises of the Kefir milk.
At this point I would like to add that Kefir can also be made using water but that is for another post. Water kefir is known as Tibicos. Also you can substitute the cow, goat or sheep milk with non-dairy milks but the nutrients will not be exactly the same.
So what does it taste like? Well it has been likened to yogurt and it does have a sour taste although there are many ways of drinking or eating it and the addition of frozen fruit, honey or Stevia can lessen the sour taste.
175 ml serving contains approximately:
- Protein: 4 grams
- Calcium: 10% of RDI
- Phosphorus: 15% of RDI
- Vitamin B12: 12% of RDI
- Riboflavin (B2): 10% of RDI
- Magnesium: 3% of RDI
- Vitamin D:
- Vitamin K2 in full-fat dairy kefir
- Bioactive compounds including organic acids and peptides
Also approximately, depending on milk used, 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbs and 3-6 grams of fat.
It also aids digestion, weight management and mental health. Lactobacillus kefiri is unique to kefir and protects against infections and harmful bacteria.
Other purported benefits are:
- Improve bone health and lower the risk of Osteoporosis
- May be protective against Cancer (probiotics in fermented dairy products are believed to reduce tumour growth by stimulating the immune system) – but there are no current studies in people
- Balances the friendly bacteria in your gut helping with digestive problems such as IBS, diarrhoea or ulcers
- Low in lactose and therefore suitable for those that are lactose intolerant
- Allergic reactions are caused by inflammatory responses against certain foods or substances. Kefir has been shown to suppress inflammatory responses. I will personally update you on this as I regularly have inflammatory responses and will be over the moon if it helps with this!
Make Kefir at Home
It is easy to make at home and you can add fruit to it for a healthy smoothie or dessert.
You can find many articles or videos online showing you how to do this but it is simple.
- Put 1-2 tablespoons (14-28 grams) of kefir grains into a jar.
- Add about 2 cups (500 ml) of milk, preferably organic or raw. Leave about an inch gap at top of jar.
- Put the lid on and leave for 12-36 hours at room temperature.
In some videos it has been recommended to put it somewhere dark or cover it so in the absence of somewhere dark (where I wouldn’t forget about it or knock it over) I decided to pop my slow cooker cover over it – cosy.
Once it is clumpy it is ready. You gently strain into a bowl or jug through a plastic or stainless sieve stirring gently. The liquid that is in the bowl or jug is the kefir, the original kefir grains are left in the sieve.
Put the original kefir grains into the original jar (only needs washing out or changing every two or three days), add some milk and the process starts all over again.
There are many options of uses for the kefir and as I experiment I will add them on here.
Hope you enjoyed my first introduction into the world of Kefir!