In this post, I will be showing you 13 Things You Need To Know About Kefir. Most people have never heard of Kefir although it has gained popularity over the years amongst those who know of it, as an amazing health drink.
Kefir is a milk-based fermented drink that has been hailed as the elixir of the Gods. It is much like yoghurt but more liquid and is easy to drink from a glass. It has a tart taste from the fermentation and is really good when you add it to your smoothies.
There are two types of Kefir;-
- Milk Kefir (mentioned above) and
- Water Kefir ( made from Water Kefir Grains and sugar water). The two grains cannot be mixed and only survive and produce quality product if used in the correct liquids.
Kefir is filling the shelves of health food stores but…they have a distinct disadvantage… so read on
1. Where Did Kefir Start
The word Kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif meaning “feel good” and is commonly thought to originate from the Caucasus Mountains and was believed to be a gift from Allah by the shepherds of the time.
In the late 19th century some of the Kefir grains were acquired by the Russians and it has spread throughout the Globe since. Nobody really knows where the first Kefir grains were discovered and nobody has been able to “make/replicate” them. They can only be acquired by growing them from the original grains.
2. Kefir Improves Your Gut Health
Doctors have developed such high regard for our gut that they have now dubbed it the “second brain” because it plays such an important part in your health and wellness.
This Tart, sour drink is gaining popularity the world over – and it’s been around for a while (centuries actually). This probiotic enriched fermented drink is full of enzymes, probiotics, and vitamins that boost the healthy bacteria in your gut.
This sour drink is hugely popular among healthy foodies the world over – and it’s not new, either. It’s fermented milk (dairy or non-dairy) and it’s packed with enzymes, vitamins and probiotics to promote healthy gut bacteria.
3. Kefir vs Yogurt
Although milk Kefir is made with milk and is similar to Yogurt, that is where the similarities end. Kefir is a symbiotic relationship between yeast and bacteria that do not get destroyed when it enters the gut, whereas yoghurt contains transient bacteria,” that gets destroyed in the digestive process.
This Probiotic-rich culture actually improves your gut health once it reaches your gut.
4. Kefir Improves Autoimmune Conditions
Kefir has proven beneficial for many conditions such as:-
- Crohn’s and
5. Commercially produced Kefir vs Home Grown Kefir
Kefir is a living organism that produces a gas which it releases as long as it is alive. It also means that it has a limited shelf life. This is a problem for commercial production. To combat this, the product is pasteurised which defeats the purpose. Kefir grains die if subjected to temperatures of more than 32 degrees Centigrade so pasteurization kills all the kefir bacteria so no good bacteria reach your gut alive! What is the point of consuming dead kefir?
Home fermented Kefir or unpasteurised Kefir does build up gas. This is combated by opening the lid and “burping” the bottle regularly or, as I do, leave the lid very loose so that the gas can escape.
As for the shelf life, Milk Kefir lasts for about 30 days in the fridge before becoming too tart to be palatable. There is nothing wrong with it and it can still be consumed, so I just add it in smaller amounts to my smoothies.
Follow this link to see the BBC article on Kefir.
6. The Best type of Milk For Kefir Production
Milk Kefir has no preference as to what type of milk is used. It works well in:-
- Cows milk
- sheep’s milk
- Goats milk.
We only use cows milk as it is readily available. Whether the milk is pasteurised or not before it is used for making Kefir is immaterial. They both work just as well.
7. Never Blend Kefir With Honey
When we have a bacterial infection, we rush to the Doctor for some antibiotics to remedy the situation. The antibiotics also play havoc with our gut and we need to buy probiotics to remedy the situation but store-bought probiotics are not nearly as good as the Kefir probiotics and you can make Kefir at home. So why pay for an inferior product?
Now, getting to the honey part. Honey is a natural antibiotic so we cannot mix honey with our Kefir. This will do much the same as pasteurising the Kefir and will serve you no purpose. A good substitute is Molasses. It gives the Kefir a unique taste.
8. Tools For Kefir Production
When making or storing Kefir, make sure that you do not use metal or wooden spoons. The metal reacts negatively with the Kefir Grains and could influence the quality of your Kefir. The exception to this rule is a good quality stainless steel utensil.
As far as wooden utensils go, they have no effect on the Kefir but the Kefir does affect the utensil and you could also get cross “pollination” with other types of bacteria. If you must use wooden utensils, sterilise them properly before use.
9. Kefir And Heat
Kefir is sensitive to heat/cold. If you want your Kefir to ferment slowly (if you are going away or just want a break) you can keep it in the fridge. This will slow the fermentation down dramatically.
If you want the process to speed up, leave the Kefir out in a warmer part of your kitchen but not in direct sunlight. This will stimulate your kefir to ferment faster.
Do not use a yoghurt maker as they use heat and Kefir grains will die off when they get hotter than 32 C.
10. Powdered Kefir
There has now been progress in the production of Kefir and Powdered Kefir is now available in some stores as well. While this does produce a Kefir product, the quality is reported to be not nearly as good as the naturally produced Kefir.
Another disadvantage is that you cannot use the powdered grains again to make more Kefir. Although some people report that they have been able to successfully produce a second batch of Kefir, the quality deteriorates with each batch.
11. Ferment Your Home Made Kefir Until The PH Is Under 4.5
Now I must say this upfront. “I have never tried this” but it is reported that this is a good rule to follow as at this level, most pathogens will not survive.
As a rule of thumb, for a mild Kefir, ferment for 24 hrs and for a tarter Kefir, ferment for 48 hours. This is the normal practice for nearly all the home producers that I know or follow on the internet.
12. 52 Plus probiotics in Milk Kefir
Probiotics are a great feature of Kefir, both water and Milk Kefir. They differ in the number of probiotics but they both have good amounts:-
- Water Kefir has over 16 and
- Milk Kefir has over 52.
13. Milk Kefir is Lactose-Free
A lot of people have lactose intolerance and have to avoid cow’s milk. Thankfully this is now not a problem. The cost of goats milk, when it is available is prohibitive to being able to use cow’s milk makes a difference.
Kefir removes the lactose from the milk so those of you that are lactose intolerant, no fear, once the Kefir grains have worked their magic the milk is lactose-free.
In this post, I have covered mostly what the milk Kefir does so please stay tuned to read more about the benefits of Water Kefir and how to flavour it and store it.
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