Updated: Jan 18
A few months ago I decided I needed to get what I could get to that was instant magnified nutrition, something that was easily attainable to help strengthen our bodies. Something that would make "food into superfood". Everything that we can do to prevent a doctor or hospital visit should be one of our main goals. It was time to once again get my fermented drinks going and maintaining them as if our lives depended on them. Fermented drink? Wine? Whiskey? Well as much as these would be sometimes a welcome drink especially in these times, this is not what I mean. I am talking about a drink that is fermented, but in the act of fermenting, the nutrition content grows exponentially and includes many probiotics! Milk Kefir and Kombucha! This particular post is all about Milk Kefir and I will share another on Kombucha soon! So stay tuned!
Milk Kefir is an ancient drink that is not truly known the origination of. It is believed that it was first seen in the Caucasus mountains at the intersection of Europe and Asia. Families would hang their goats milk in goat skin pouches to preserve it. (Remember, there was no refrigeration) It is very similar to a thin yogurt and has been used for centuries by many people across eastern Europe and central Asia. It is said to be what has contributed to good health in many of the elders and for generations.
Milk Kefir is a fermented drink using "Kefir grains". Kefir grains are colony's of GOOD bacteria and yeast that eat the sugars in the milk and in return produce vitamins, acetate, and lactate. Acetate and Lactate are very important for creating an environment for a healthy gut and microbiome. The grains look like cottage cheese or pieces of rice and will be screened out with each use. Milk Kefir can be made of any milk, either skim or whole. Goats milk kefir is sought after for those who do not have a tolerance to milk, but is hard to find. Goats milk naturally is already tolerant for many who are lactose intolerant because of how it is already broken down molecularly, but then to ferment in kefir grains break down the lactose even more and it becomes a missing link to those who have the intolerance in delivering many nutrients that are otherwise not available to them.
There are many health benefits that are linked with Milk Kefir besides the fact that they are just a power packed probiotic drink loaded with vitamins, minerals and good bacteria to strengthen your gut biome. A small glass of fresh kefir may contain about 30 different strains of bacteria – and up to 1.5 trillion beneficial bacteria .... that's more than 100 times as many as you’d find a probiotic supplement capsule. It is said that many diseases and ailments come from a weak gut and many things can be corrected or supported, just by correcting your gut microbiome. These things range from many mental illnesses to inflammation and heart diseases. Kefir contains tryptophan – an amino acid that help raise the levels of serotonin – the happy hormone in the brain that improving your mood and mental well being. Other things that it helps just by balancing and making the digestion healthy, constipation relief, reducing fasting blood glucose in diabetics, oral hygiene and tooth decay prevention, building bone density, controlling inflammation and acts as an antibiotic and is essential in helping as a H pylori treatment.
Finding the kefir grains were a challenge and when I finally found some I decided I would make them available for sale as mine grew. If they are cared for, they will last a life time and always be at your service. They are easy to care for, but just like any living thing, need some tender loving care regularly. The longer you let it ferment the more acetic acid is produced. This is the same acid as vinegar so as a result it will get more sour and acidic. You can double ferment using fruit to make a flavored kefir. It can be used plain, or you can add sugar back in and drink it as is. I like to add mine to a smoothie in place of yogurt, but it can be used to make many things such as a probiotic salad dressing, probiotic soda or even in breads!
It is fun to start and watch your kefir grains flourishUpon receiving your grains here are the kefir directions: First place your grains in a clean glass jar. Add 1/2- 1 cup of whole milk to cover the grains, and then place a lid or coffee filter on the jar. Leave in a warm place (65-80°F) for around 24 hours. If after 24 hours the milk is still very thin, the grains may still need time to “perk up” after shipping. Simply poor the contents of the jar into a plastic strainer, poor off the milk, add the grains back to the jar and cover with fresh milk. Leave for 24 hours and check again. If you tip the jar and the liquid coats the inside of the jar, then congratulations, you have kefir! Usually it only takes about 2-5 cycles after receiving your grains in the mail for the grains to acclimate. Once they have acclimated you can start completely filling the jar up with milk, so that you have approximately 1 quart of kefir every 24 hours. Once your kefir begins to flourish you will strain and add milk every 12-24 hours. You will need to strain out the grains and I found that using a small sieve and the key?.....LOTS of stirring to work the kefir through. This will eventually leave you with only your grains in which you can easily put into your new jar and start a new batch. Once you have your kefir strained put it in the fridge as is, or add fruit for a second ferment. If you decide that you should want to take a break from making kefir or will be out of town, then just prepare like usual and put in the fridge until you come back. They should be ok for a few weeks and then you would just have to start the process again. There are lots of different uses to utilize the kefir and this is one research topic I am looking into now.
To get started with your own milk kefir, here is a link to some of my extra grains as they become available.