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Kefir- Probiotic Super-Beverage Everyone Should Drink!

Not too long ago I attended a day long workshop teaching familes how to prepare wholesome foods that nourish your body such as lacto-fermented veggies, sourdough bread, homemade yogurt and kefir. It was an amazing day led by Maureen Diaz, a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. That day I tried kefir for the first time and realized that I’ve been missing out! 

What is Kefir?

The little bacteria in your gut are like your own small army that helps your body fight off illness, bad bacteria, viruses and pathogens that try to take over, and sometimes do in cases such as candidiasis. Did you know that a healthy gut has 4 pounds of  ”good” bacteria?  Probiotics are a great way to help strengthen those beneficial little critters in your gut.

Kefir is a creamy fermented milk (or water) drink that is kind of like a cross between yogurt and buttermilk, but it has up to 10 times more beneficial probiotics than yogurt! Kefir is full of vitamins, essential amino acids, minerals and easy to digest protein.  According to Dom’s Kefir, even those who are lactose intolerant are able to drink kefir, because the yeast and bacteria in the kefir consume the lactose during the fermentation process.

 

Kefir is made with kefir grains that have a mixture of yeast and bacteria, along with milk protein and complex sugars. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts from kefir inhabit the intestinal tract to help it fight disease causing bacteria, something that the cultures in yogurt do not do. Plus, kefir also has several strains of bacteria that are not found in yogurt.

Kefir has been used to help patients suffering with AIDS, cancer, sleep disorders and ADHD. It is said to help promote tranquility in the nervous system, encourage healthy bowel movements and reduce gas. 

How to Make Kefir

You can make kefir with a variety of kinds of milk including pasteurized milk, raw milk, coconut milk and even almond milk. One can use cow, sheep or goat’s milk. Although the grains will not grow in the non-dairy milks and they will eventually die off in these alternative milks (nut, coconut and almond milks). It is best to ferment kefir in whole milk, although a lower fat variety will work as well.

Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk and allowing it to ferment at room temperature from 8 hours anywhere up to 48 hours, but the norm is to ferment overnight. Simply add a tablespoon of grains per 1 cup of milk to a glass container such asa mason jar and cover with a breathable cover. I like to use a coffee filter attached with a rubber band. At the end of fermentation, after 8-48 hours, simply strain the kefir through a plastic colander and now you are ready to drink your kefir or use it in smoothies. You may wish to take a small spoonful of kefir to taste as it ferments to determine the ideal fermentation time to reach the taste you enjoy. The grains can be rinsed and used to make more kefir, or stored in the fridge until you are ready to use them again.

You cannot grow grains from scratch, but must acquire them from other growers. As your kefir ferments your grains will grow in size and eventually split, yielding more grains that you can share with friends. 

Uses for kefir:

How to Care for Kefir Grains

  • Don’t fill your kefir jar more than 2/3 full.
  • Use plastic utensils to handle your kefir and a plastic strainer or strainer with stainless steel mesh to filter and rinse your grains.
  • Ferment at room temperature, covered with a breathable lid, such as a coffee filter attached using a mason jar ring or rubber band.
  • You can rest your kefir grains if you want to take a break from making kefir. Simply place them in a jar with the amount of milk used for normal fermentation and strain after one week. Read more about resting your grains and much, much more on Dom’s Kefir site.
I got my kefir from Lifetime Kefir and was impressed by their quick shipping and delivery. When the grains first arrived they were in a tiny envelope and have grown with each fermentation!
 

Do you drink kefir? What’s your favorite way to use kefir?

 

Note: I am not a doctor. Please do your own research to determine what is best for you!

Sources: 1, 2

34 comments to Kefir- Probiotic Super-Beverage Everyone Should Drink!

  • I guess I wasn’t really that familiar with Kefir – thanks for all the awesome info!

    • You’re welcome, Peggy. I wasn’t familiar before either and most people I’ve mentioned it to have never even heard of it, so I thought it would be an interesting post to share :)

  • I have been making kefir for about 3 years now, but only recently began fermenting it in a Fido (bale wire) jar. From what I understand, it increases the probiotics immensely, and the kefir has been coming out thicker, creamier, and with a bit of fizz to it! Right now, I am draining 3L of kefir I made for kefir cheese. I happened to have almost 1 gal. extra raw milk and needed to use it up as it was our milk run day, so made an enormous amt. of kefir to strain for cheese. Not sure how I will put that to use, but it was better than wasting all that raw milk!
    My favorite way of using my kefir is in a morning smoothie. With just a bit of frozen/fresh fruit, a couple of ice cubes, and a few drops of liquid stevia and I am good to go for several hours. I also like it enough to have a glass of it without doctoring it up!

    • That sounds interesting! I saw something about the Fido somewhere else as well and will have to check that out more. I’ve never done kefir cheese, but now you’ve got me curious about it. Thanks for stopping by, Cindy!

  • treatlisa

    I have been working with kefir for about 2 years now and I have fallen into a great little routine lately that I wanted to share. For whatever reason, I have one grain that just keeps growing instead of splitting. It is the size of a ping pong ball at this point. I put it into a quart jar 3/4 full of milk. I leave it on the counter for a day or two until It sets up like yogurt and I put the jar in the fridge. When I am ready to use some, I fish the large grain out of the yogurt-like kefir and add it to another jar of milk, set it out and start again. This way I am only making what I will use and the grain rests in the fridge until it is needed again. I don’t ever rinse my grains with water. Because the kefir sets up like yogurt, I don’t want to strain it through a colander and mess up the texture so it works great that I can just fish out the one big grain and keep it going. I use it like yogurt with a little homemade jam on top or in a smoothie.

  • Lisa

    I’ve been making kefir since spring of this year. I started out with a grain about the size of green pea and have grown so many grains that I’ve had to give them away several times and keep feeding extras to my garden.

    I found couple of good recipes using kefir – one is chocolate bread and pancakes. My husband used to make his own white flour pancakes and now that he tasted the kefir pancakes, he wants me to make the kefir pancakes all the time. I tried making kefir bread about 4 different times and never could get it to rise properly – need someone to show me how to make one.

  • I started making my own kefir two weeks ago and I’m LOVING it! It took a full 10 days for it to “revive,” but now that it’s making kefir, it’s so wonderful to use as much or as little as I want. I plan on making kefir cream (sour cream) and possible cheese. I can’t believe it’s so easy to make too!! You don’t have to really do anything, lol!

  • Great informative post. I need to eat more fermented foods

  • Hi Katie,

    I have been fermenting kefir for about six months now. I have a friend who owns a gym and eats organic foods. He gave me kefir grains to get started and showed me how to ferment it. I use a canning jar and place a paper towel over the top, secured by a rubber band. I do buy raw milk from him and use only that for my smoothie to drink each night. I freeze over-ripe tomatoes and any other fruit I have, then whiz it in a blender and add my kefir milk and whiz it again.

    I don’t use it as a meal replacement, which my friend does. He adds proteing powder and flavorings to his, but I don’t need all of the extra protein. I just peel and slice 1/2 of ripe banana and throw in a handful of berries, blend together.

    I have had it plain too, but prefer it as a smoothy. I’m not convinced that baking/cooking the kefir may kill the good probiotics, so I just use it fresh. Also, I eat organic sourkraut and kimchee, to help boost my immune system.

    Thanks for your post. It is an interesting read.

    • Making it into a smoothie with fresh fruit sounds delicious, Mary! I try not to heat my kefir as I believe it would kill the probiotics. We are also trying to incorporate as many fermented foods as possible. Right now I have kefir, okra and tabasco sauce fermenting :) Thanks for stopping by and hope you’re enjoying your weekend.
      Katie

  • sheri grennille

    i just bought a bottle of this at the grocery store that i had a free coupon for. i had no idea how it was made and this was very interesting. thank you for sharing.

    • You’re very welcome, Sheri. ACV is pretty amazing stuff! I also like to use it as a natural rinse on my hair after shampooing. It’s great. Thanks for stopping in a I hope you have a blessed day.

  • Suzie

    Hi thanks for the post. I am a bit confused with my making keffir as it seems too sour when I do it. Is it supposed to taste good or sour? Thanks for your help.

  • Rebecca Hanson

    I know that raw or organic milk is the best option. But since they are not an option for me I’m wondering if supermarket milk will work?

  • Joy

    I know you posted this a while ago, so this comment may not ever be read. However, I have been making dairy kefir for several years and have discovered the following:
    When we go away for more than a week, I freeze the grains in milk. When I return, I thaw in the fridge and can begin to use them again.
    I also use kefir instead of milk in a lot of recipes. Using it in breads and cookies really seem to help with the baking.
    One significant change is that I use kefir instead of water in my pie crusts — you can’t really taste it and it seems to make the crust flakier. You do have to use a 1 to 2 ratio of butter to flour. So a 2 crust pie would be 2 cups flour, 1 cup butter, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbls arrowroot, then use about 1/4 cup kefir to bind. (The arrowroot softens the flour). So simple, so very good!
    I realize that baking destroys a lot of enzymes, but I still feel it adds to the nutritional value of the final product.

  • Nancy

    I am traveling in an RV and have just started making Kefir as I travel. I have a question! How long does it take for the grains to increase in size?

  • Rhonda

    Looking for someone who is willing to share grains with me, I’m low income, and have many health problems, would like to see if this can help me. Thank you .

    • Jenny E.

      Rhonda, I just posted a comment that has a website for sharing Kefir grains! Just in case you can’t see it, here is the website: http://torontoadvisors.com/suppliers Just look for where you live (the United States section is at the end of this very large list), you will have to register to be able to contact any of the people near where you live. It’s all done through emails! Good luck and many blessings to better health!

  • Kathy

    Thanks for the great info on making kefir. I have recently been making a morning smoothie using kefir, ground flax seed, berries, frozen banana and radish greens (full of so many vitamins) from the garden. Coconut or raw honey is a great way to add a little sweetness. This is super nutritious, delicious and satisfying.

  • Margaret

    I have just started making Kefir for 2 weeks and already, I have enough grains to share with 3 other friends. My question is this, does it matter if I use different kinds of milk to culture the Kefir? I get goat’s milk delivered once a week, but by the 4-5th day, I have used it all up ( I am still trying to figure out how much to order and how long it stays fresh in a tropical environment); is it ok to switch to cow’s milk for a few days and then back to goat’s milk again?

  • Jenny E.

    Hi Katie! I have just started in my own Kefir adventure, in fact I had never heard of Kefir grains or milk until a month ago! I had actually found a website of those who want to share their grains. Here is the website: http://torontoadvisors.com/suppliers Just select the country of which you live and view the PDF directory. [Tip: I actually had problems looking at individual countries, so I just looked at their entire directory until I got to the United States section (near the end of the list)]. I then found people who lived either in my own state or within a few hours away in another state (I live in Northern Indiana so I could look at Illinois, Michigan and Ohio). The Kefir grain requests are all done through emails, so the response to your request depends on how quickly the person replies to the email request. This site is great for those who need a helping hand to get started, the above website is a sharing site and not a selling site. I offered to pay for shipping since they are live and active grains, just packaged securely to prevent spills or leakage. Neither lady charged me for shipping! One lady was actually driving through my city that very day, so that was super cool and exciting! The other lady lived in a Chicago suburb and mailed them to me using 2 day shipping. For anyone who has not read this on other sites, but as long as the Kefir grains are in the milk, the milk will not spoil (so therefore is safe to send via mail). I believe I came across that info on Dom’s Kefir website. Since I received my Kefir grains from 2 different people, I now have almost too much milk for what I’ve been able to use in smoothies for me and my 4 kds. This is how I found your site, by looking for other ways to use the Kefir milk. I don’t want my kids to get bored with the smoothies, but it needs to be easy and inexpensive enough to continue giving to my family (I have been unable to convince my husband to try a Kefir milk smoothie, LOL). I am kinda bummed that the Kefir milk cannot be cooked and still maintain its nutritional properties. But all in all, we have many reasons to drink the milk, so I will do what I can to nicely enforce a ‘rule’ that my kids have to drink some at least 3 times a week! LOL I have all teenagers, so creativity is so important! ;-)

  • I’m going to be getting my first kefir grains soon. Can I use water and sugar instead of milk even though the kefir I’m getting had always been used with milk?

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