Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Make Kefir?

You must have heard about kefir and its life prolonging benefits. If not, you should probably have a close look at the product. You can buy it in many grocery and health food stores, or you can make some in your own kitchen. Here is a quick introduction to this wonderful cultured food. 

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that has its origins in the mountainous region of Caucasus. Like yogurt and other cultured and fermented products, kefir is full of friendly bacteria that help improve digestion. The fermentation process also changes some of the protein structures in the raw milk making it much more to digestible. People who normally cannot tolerate milk do quite well when drinking kefir. 

Regular consumption of kefir can help relieve many digestive disorders since kefir promotes healthy bowel movement, reduces flatulence and bloating. It cleanses and nourishes the whole body, strengthens immune system and  helps restore inner balance. You should drink it often for optimal health and longevity. 

Kefir is made by "inoculating" milk with so called kefir grains. Kefir grains are natural fermentation starter. They are a symbiotic combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. They form clusters that resemble cauliflower florets.

When kefir grains are added to milk the yeast and the bacteria begin feeding on lactose (milk sugar) producing at the same time lactic acid, tiny amounts of alcohol, and carbon dioxide that contribute to the fermentation of milk. When there is no more lactose left in the milk, the fermentation process comes to a stop. The fermented product is lactose-free and safe for consumption even by people who cannot tolerate lactose.

Kefir grains will grow and reproduce in room temperature (ca. 70-74°F or 20-23°C.) There is no need to warm up the milk before fermentation.

  • 2 clean 1/2 gallon glass jars with lids
  • wooden or stainless stirring utensil - a large spoon will do
  • fine-meshed strainer

  • about 1/2  gallon organic milk (preferably organic raw milk if you can lay your hands on it)
  • kefir grains (the whole packet if you are just starting your culture)

  • Pour milk into a clean jar leaving a little space between milk and the rim. Add kefir grains and stir well.
  • Cover the jar with clean lid and place it away from direct sun. Allow the milk to ferment at room temperature for ca. 18-24 hours.
  • Once fermentation is completed, remove the lid and stir your kefir vigorously. Pour the thick liquid thorough a fine-meshed strainer into a clean clean.
  • Close the jar with a lid and place it in the refrigerator. 
  • Rinse the remaining kefir grains with a purified water and start another batch of kefir. 
  • Drink your freshly made kefir straight up or use it to make smoothies, salad dressings, dips or cheese.

  • If you bought dehydrated kefir grains you will have to rehydrate them. It may take up to one week to bring them back to life. To do this you will have to soak them in raw organic milk at room temperature. Remember to cover the jar and to change the milk every 24 hours. Use a clean sieve to discard the milk and pour a fresh one to nourish the cultures until they are ready.
  • Do not use law fat or skimmed milk to make the kefir. Kefir tastes so much better when it is made with whole-fat milk. 
  • Over time your kefir grains will start to multiply. Share the cultures with your friends and teach them how to make this wholesome drink.
  • Kefir grains will produce kefir almost indefinitely if you take proper care of them. In times that you want to a break or are going on vacation, store your kefir grains in refrigerator. Simply rinse the grains with purified water, place them in a jar with cold milk, cover the jar and store it in the fridge until you are ready to start again.  

Now that you know how to make kefir you are probably looking for some interesting recipes. For inspiration visit my raw food blog.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2014