Have you heard of kefir?
If you like yogurt, you are going to love kefir!
The product resembles a runny yogurt, but is made with a completely different culture.
It tastes similar to a slightly carbonated yogurt.
You can buy kefir pre-made in stores, or you can make it yourself. In stores you will find plain, and many wonderful flavors like raspberry, peach, vanilla, straberry, etc. Prices usually range from $4 to $6 a quart.
Several brands are easy to locate in stores and taste wonderful:
My favorite brand is the Helios. It just tastes great, and I love to drink it straight from the bottle as soon as I pick up some from the store. If you are out grocery shopping, and get really hungry and thirsty, this is a perfect snack. So much better for you than a soda pop. Refreshing and rejuvinating!
I used to sell this product in my healthy foods store Weiser Farms Natural Country Store. I stocked four flavors on our shelves, vanilla, plain, raspberry, and strawberry. I couldn't hardly keep it in stock. So many of our customers knew it was a nourishing nutrient dense food. Many of our customers were dealing with severe health issues, and they used this product in daily smoothies to help them recover and get their health back on track.
Nourishing Kefir Smoothie
1 cup kefir plain or flavored (good source of vitamin D, and various probiotics that aid in digestion and help the body to make vitamins such as vitamin B in the digestive tract)
1 cup coconut milk ( in the can, great for lauric acid and many other nutrients)
1 banana (good source of potasium and other nutrients)
1 cup frozen blueberries or berry blend. (source of antioxidents, immune boosting nutrients and vitamins such as C and betta carrotene precurser to vitamin A)
1 tablespoon whey powder from grass fed cows or goats (this contains complete amino acids for building up the body's tissues)
1 tablespoon flax oil (good source of omega oils)
1 tablespoon expeller pressed wheat germ oil (good source of natural vitamin E)
Blend until smooth. Drink up!
Some folks also included raw egg yolks from free range chickens. Also could include a pealed apple to increase sweetness if needed, or use a natural sweetener such as sucanat, evaporated cane juice, maple syrup, or stevia. We prefer to use the apple.
Kefir is so delicious and nutritious.
Nutritional Information About Kefir
This is a quote from Dr. Mercola's website on kefir nutrition:
"The exceptional nutritional content of Kefir offers a wealth of healthy benefits to people in every type of condition. More than just beneficial bacteria, Kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help your body with its natural healing powers and maintenance functions.
The complete proteins in Kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body.
Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in Kefir, is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because it also offers loads of calcium and magnesium -- both of which are critical for a healthy nervous system -- Kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.
Rich in vitamin B12, B1, and vitamin K, Kefir is an excellent source of biotin, a B vitamin which aids the body's absorption of other B vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The many advantages of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the normal function of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping promote healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity. Kefir's ample supply of phosphorus -- the second most abundant mineral in our bodies -- helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy."
You can make Kefir at home for pennies yourself. Just aquire milk and kefir culture. Very simple!
You can buy the culture in active live cluster form, or active dehydrated live powdered form.
The active live culture 'grains" will give you the ability to "re-make the product" everyday from re-using the strained culture "grains" or clusters.
Making kefir from the dry powdered method, you will need to buy a packet of powedered culture each time you want to make it. It has most but not all the benefits of using the live grains or clusters. But is still a very nutritious drink, and even easier to make.
Here is a picture of live kefir "grains" in the bottom of a mason jar.
Kefir grains will culture fresh milk or pasturized milk.
I prefer to use Fresh Grade A Raw Milk when making kefir. It has more available nutrients to feed the culture and to feed me. I buy my raw milk from a local farmer in South Carolina. You can read more about it here.
Kefir is so easy to make. Much easier than making yogurt in my opinion, as there is no heating involved. It incubates on its own at room temperature right on the kitchen counter.
How To Make Kefir
Here is the method I use to make kefir, using the live "grains" or clusters:
Into a clean bowl, strain the kefir. This lets you gently seperate the finished kefir liquid from the culture "grains".
Into another clean bowl, rinse the kefir "grains" or clusters with a cup or so of fresh grade A raw milk. I like to rinse them two or three times, very gently so as not to break the clusters.
Using a plastic or wooden spoon, scoop the grains out of the strainer and place them into a clean quart size jar.
Add Fresh Grade A Raw Milk. I fill my jar 3/4 full. How much milk you use depends on how many grains you have in your jar. I use about two tablespoons of grains.
Cover jar with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.
Leave the jar on the counter at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours. Most people leave it for about 24 hours. But it is fun to experiement, and I like the less tart kefir (12-24 hours) for drinking, and the more tart (24-48 hours) kefir for baking and making deserts. I have also noticed that my "grains" grow larger and double in quantity faster, if I give them a little longer incubation times. This works wonderfully if you plan to give away your extra "grains" to friends and family.
Repeat this process every 12 hours to 48 hours, and refridgerate any unused kefir product, until ready to use. It keeps a very long time in the refridgerator. I have been in situations where I made a huge surplus and put up several jars in refridgerator, and it has kept perfectly over six months or more.
I have also put my cultures to sleep in the refridgerator, such as when I have gone on vacation, or been pregnant and had no desire for anything for a while. Put the cultures in a fresh jar of raw milk in the refridgerator and they will slowly go to sleep. When you are ready to wake them up, set the jar back out on the counter for 12 to 24 hours. Then repeat the steps to make kefir. They will wake back up and go back to work.
How To Use Kefir
Drink it straight of flavor it with sweetner and fruit juice.
Kefir is great in smoothies too. By adding fruit, it tames the tartness and even children beg for more.
You can strain the kefir in a cheese cloth or cheese strainer for several hours and make kefir cheese, similar to cream cheese or yogurt cheese. It is a soft spreadable cheese.
I love making kefir frosting for cinamon rolls and kefir glaze for bunt cakes. Just add powdered sugar to the kefir until you have a nice glaze for icing your rolls. You can flavor it with vanilla extract, almond extract, or a teaspoon of orange juice too, to vary the flavor for different uses.
When adding kefir to your bread, muffin, cake, and pancake recipes, you get a much fluffier product. It causes the yeast in the bread recipe to be extra active too. So be prepared for a high rise!
Kefir give chocolate products a wonderful flavor.
Use kefir in place of any recipe that calls for buttermilk, milk, yogurt, etc. Use kefir cheese in any recipe that calls for cream cheese, and some that call for sour cream. It is great for replacing sour cream in making savory dips too.
Want to learn more?
I first learned about Kefir over 10 years ago from an Amish friend. We lived in Indiana and I met an Amish woman very different from most in their community. She made all sorts of fermented drinks and she loaned me her cookbook called Nourishing Traditions through the Weston Price Foundation. She also gave me several magazines also written by the Weston Price Foundation. Reading this material changed my life for the better, and I know it will change yours for the better too. This is a true treasure chest full of real people, real food, and real truth about health and nutrition.
Articles and more on the Weston A Price Foundation website.
Books that had a huge impact on my understanding of health and nutrition are:
Restoring Your Gut by Jordan Rubin MD
What The Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russel MD
Know Your Fats by Dr. Mary Enig
Eat Fat Loose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Where To Buy
Where to buy healthy books and kefir "grains" or live culture clusters?
Where to buy kefir culture powder?
Where to buy whey powder from grass fed animals for making smoothies?
Dr. Mercola whey from grass fed cows
Garden Of Life whey from pastured goats