- So what is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink or food generally made from milk. I believe I first came across the drink kefir some years ago when reading the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Wondering what it was I googled and discovered it was a probiotic drink/food. I then promptly forgot all about it and carried on reading the next two books in the trilogy…..
Last year whilst attending a workshop a young woman began telling me about this amazing yoghurt-like food she had discovered and how beneficial it was. It had hugely improved her digestive system and she believed her skin, hair and nails had also benefited. She offered to share some grains with me. I discovered this is simply how it works…you move it round the world! As I was going to be away I declined her kind offer but once back in the UK I found a site on the Internet and bought myself some grains. They arrived with instructions and so began my love affair with these weird little things.
Kefir Grains with a bowl of Kefir
The grains are white/cream and resemble tiny cauliflower florets. To make a daily batch of kefir I simply pop them into organic full-cream milk. I use a plastic container with a lid and leave the mixture on my kitchen bench for anything from 18-36 hours depending on the room temperature. The past few weeks it has taken longer to make as it’s been so cold. I then remove the grains and pop them into fresh milk and either use or store the new kefir in the fridge.
- Origins of kefir
It is a cultured probiotic food that has been made for centuries in Asia Minor. The word kefir is Turkish and simply means ‘good feeling’. It is creamy, somewhat sour and a little fizzy. It is extremely beneficial and assists in the balancing of our inner ecosystem by introducing healthful bacteria. I believe it is much more useful to the gut than yoghurt. The making of kefir is due to fermentation which breaks down the milk. This provides the body with first class protein that is easily digested and may even be so to those who find dairy products problematic. It contains minerals and valuable amounts of vitamin B.
I have had a vested interest in attending to the health of my digestive system as I suffered amoebic dysentery years ago whilst living in Kenya. The only time in my life that I could be said to be thin….I did not look well! A camping trip to The Masai Mara during an episode resulted in me consuming Lomotil as if they were Smarties. I insisted on visiting one of the beautiful lodges twice daily to use their facilities.
It led me to realise that I needed to better understand my body and how it worked. Over the years I have tried to ensure that the food we eat is healthful and very nutritious because for 2 years my body lived on very little. Those pesky little amoeba were guzzling through all that went into my system. Kefir has been a wonderful addition to my diet.
Smoothie ingredients ready to be made
- How to add it to your meals.
Kefir is lovely just plain and simple with nothing added or it can be whizzed up into a smoothie. It is an acquired taste but persevere, you will find it is well worth it. The benefits are many and varied. Spooned on top of a bowl of soup or stew is a lovely addition but heat will destroy the probiotics so leave that for the last moment before serving.
Finished red berry and banana kefir smoothie
- Moving The Grains on
I offered the grains to various people in my yoga classes. It has become a part of their daily diet. It is very easy to split the grains as they grow, enabling you to share them with friends and family. Kefir grains are now known as our ‘chaps’. So, as long as you care for them they will keep right on working for you. If you go away just pop in the fridge and they ‘doze’ off!! If you go away for long periods of time pop them in the freezer with a little drop of milk. But they’ll be fine if brought into the warmth with new milk added.
Andrea, one of my lovely yoga women told me it was lovely and she is delighted that these tiny grains result in this creamy, rich mixture that tastes so delicious!
When the grains grow too big simply split them gently. Move them on to new owners or sadly, they just have to be binned. This is rather a challenge…particularly for Jayn who simply cannot consider binning any that are surplus to requirements. New homes are generally found….!
There is lots of information to be found on the Internet. The following was particularly useful; chriskesser.com
I also found Kefir Heaven which is a UK site and has lots of information plus you can buy your grains from here.
If you are interested in tasting kefir before you try making your own and you live in the UK then go to; Nourish Kefir where they deliver bottles of kefir to you. The minimum order, I believe is a pack of six. They also sell starter packs in powdered form which work well but I prefer to use grains now.
So, I hope that this post has inspired you to at least taste kefir….