I am on a real food journey in my kitchen and always alert for something new to introduce to my family. I believe in the healing power of food and try to incorporate these “super” foods into my cooking. Feeding my family real food makes them stronger and healthier and gives them a firm foundation for a long healthy life. One such “super” food I wanted to get acquainted with is Kefir. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about Kefir but I began to think more deeply. What the F@#% is Kefir?
I am a DIYer! There is no limit to the amount of things I wind up teaching myself because A. it’s generally cheaper, and B. I’m a control freak. In order to culture milk kefir you need kefir grains. I figured that meant that kefir was a type of grain like barley or wheat or maybe even quinoa. So I googled kefir and was met with these globular things that looked like the swollen gel from the lining of a diaper. ‘I’ve never seen any grain that looked like that’ I said to myself. I did a little more research and realized that kefir grains are not actually a grain at all. Kefir is a yeast and bacteria blend that form “grains” that resemble little cauliflower florets.
Before making my own kefir, I’d never actually tried kefir before. A close friend of mine touted the benefits of kefir and said I could even use kefir grains to make fermented carbonated juice in addition to whatever cultured commodity resulted from the fermented milk. I was interested, so I set out to find my own kefir grains. Much to my surprise, Kefir grains are not something you can just buy off a shelf like yeast, but rather they have to be passed along. While my powdered Kefir starter will produce a lovely Kefir that is similar to what Kefir grains would culture, it is not quite the same. However, until I can find a local enthusiast to share their Kefir grains, I’ll settle for what I can make today out of a powdered kefir starter that resembles the culture strains present in actual kefir grains.
Kefir is akin to yogurt, but it is so much more. While different variations have been found in many cultures, the milk kefir grain so specific to our contemporary use is traced to the Caucasus Mountains in Russia where the inhabitants had long lives with little to no disease. The Kefir “grains” culture the milk. Kefir is easier to digest and more nutritionally valuable in its role to help optimize the digestion of other foods. It also can dominate the mucous lining of the gut, eliminating bad bacteria, while controlling the environment, essentially healing the gut. It contains more probiotic strains than yogurt and is carbonated and can contain trace amounts of alcohol. It is easy to make at home where almost anything is healthier than store bought.
So, what is Kefir? Kefir is a fermented, cultured milk beverage and while it is similar to yogurt, it is so much more. It carried more probiotics, is easier to make and more useful in restoring a healthy gut. Pictured below is the Kefir starter I used and the strawberry infused Kefir I made! Note; do not shake the Kefir should it separate in the refrigerator, it is carbonated and will explode!!! I know because it happened to me!!!