superfood: milk kefir

milk kefirSimilar to Grandma’s chicken soup, another traditional, easy and inexpensive way to improve your health is by drinking kefir.  Most people know that yogurt has beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in it that can improve your gut health.  However, while yogurt has 2-5 strains, kefir has 30 strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that repopulate the gut and destroy pathogens.  While we don’t drink pasteurized milk, especially UHT milk, because studies have shown that it is harmful for your health, we do drink cultured dairy in the form of kefir.

So, how do you make this superfood?  First, you need to find some milk kefir grains.  They aren’t actually grains, but a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY).  If you have a friend who makes kefir, you can ask for some of their extras.  I’ve also heard you can find them on craigslist.  Otherwise, there are places online you can order them.  I had mine shipped over from a lady in Malaysia. milk kefir grains Once you have your grains, you simply put a heaping tablespoon of the grains into a glass quart jar. milk kefir grains Then you fill it up with milk.2014-02-02DSC_4426And you spill all over the counter while you’re trying to photograph the process! 2014-02-02DSC_4429 Cover it up with a cloth and rubber band to let it breathe, while keeping any bugs or dust out, leave it on the counter or top of your fridge, and simply wait until it’s ready – usually between 24-48 hours.  In Bangkok, it was so hot, I’d have a quart ready every 8 hours, but here during the winter it can take up to 4 days.  You can always put it in the fridge for a day or two if you’re producing faster that you can eat it, or are going to be away from home for a few days. milk kefir You’ll know when it’s ready when it has thickened up and started to separate.  It will also have a distinct fermented smell. 2014-02-02DSC_4401Then, strain out the grains so that you can start a new batch. 2014-02-02DSC_4408 We use a spoon to stir it around in the strainer, especially if it’s gotten overly thick. milk kefir grains Over time, the grains will multiply. eating kefir grains If you don’t have a friend to give the extras to, or don’t want to make multiple batches, you can eat them or feed them to your kids or even pets.  My girls think it’s such a treat when I have extra grains. milk kefir After the grains are strained out, the kefir is ready to be enjoyed.  For additional probiotics, I dump half a capsule of probiotics into each of the girls’ kefir.  Milk kefir has a sour and slightly carbonated flavor.  We drink ours plain, as we enjoy the taste, but you can also mix it with fruit or a little bit of honey for some different flavors.  It makes a great base for smoothies, too. 2014-02-02DSC_4366Unfortunately, the only milk I can get here, is UHT boxed milk, which I’ve read is basically dead and void of any nutrition.  However, my kefir grains seem to still be thriving and happy, so I’m confident that I’m still getting beneficial bacteria.  Maybe someday I’ll have room to have a couple milk goats and then I can also get the benefit of raw milk.  Yum.

Kefir is a great source of not only beneficial bacteria, but also vitamins and minerals.  It has even been shown to play a role in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer and tumors. (you can read more about the benefits here and here)  If you can’t tolerate dairy, you can also make kefir with coconut milk or sweetened water (but it requires different starter grains).

Do you drink kefir?  If not, would you try it?

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6 thoughts on “superfood: milk kefir”

  1. I’ve never tried kefir, but I would probably like it since I like yogurt. Sometimes I make my own yogurt. I will try some kefir soon! Love your blog.

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    1. The texture varies depending on how long you let it go. If you don’t let it ferment too long, it’s a thick liquid. If you let it go longer, it gets a bit lumpy. I bet you could find some at Trader Joes to try before making your own. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

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  2. I love your posts. I have had store bought Keifer and like it very much. I was even
    thinking this past week that I should get some. Not sure if I could make my own
    however. You and Ryan are so creative>

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