Centuries old cultured milk beverage from Russia
Kefir, traditionally pronounced ke-feer’, but spoken as kee’-fer in the West, is a many-centuries-old cultured milk beverage from Northern Russia. Kefir is a fermented milk drink prepared with kefir grains (see the spoon in the picture).
Flavored kefir drinks, mostly, have found their way to market in the USA because North American consumers have not scored unflavored kefir high in sensory evaluations — it has a tart, somewhat "yeasty" taste with a mouthfeel described as "prickly" or "sparkling" due to the liberation of the carbon dioxide gas (CO2) as the culturing progresses. The addition of fruit or other sources of sugars, however, may cause unwanted fermentation by yeasts used in commercial packaging for shelf-life — but adding taste enhancers to your own home-brew makes for delicious and nutritious smoothies, snacks, and desserts that scientific research is confirming are supremely health-giving.
An assortment of some 40 compounds contribute to the unique tang and slight effervescence of this simple-to-make beverage: a fermentation process old as time itself denatures the milk protein, resulting in smaller protein pieces that are more susceptible to break-down by the stomach’s gastric juices. In simple terms — it’s so easy to digest that even those with milk allergies often find they can take advantage of all kefir has to offer.
The list of serious conditions that recent research has indicated can be helped by drinking kefir is impressive. The Canadian publication The Handbook of Fermented Foods edited by Edward A. Farnsworth provides a comprehensive digest, meticulously footnoted, on the effect fermented foods have on human health — the latest facts from Japanese and European scientific in vivo (in human bodies) studies over the last decade.
- Provides digestibility of milk-based products
- Produces it own antibiotics, eliminates unfriendly bacteria
- Rebalances the intestinal flora and stomach acid to heal ulcers
- Regulates metabolism through improved digestion to benefit the colon.
- Leads to good heart action, blood circulation and blood pressure.
- Reduces serum cholesterol levels only IF they are too high for safety.
- Regulates bile and improves the liver/gall bladder to help fight hepatitis
- Acts on the immune system and so improves resistance to disease
- Produces anti-cancer compounds and prevents metastasis (spread)
- Allows eczema, acne and skin disorders to fade away
- Reduces anxiety and depression; increases energy and joy in living.
- Produces every vitamin and bacteria needed for healthy daily living.
Authentic kefir can only be prepared by the culturing with kefir "grains" of fresh milk from any of several species of ruminant mammals (cows, goats, sheep, horses, and water buffalo being the most commonly used). The healthy bio-matrix (or, active molecules) in kefir is created through the symbiotic relationship between a complex mixture of specific lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus) and beneficial yeasts as they literally eat the lactose sugars in milk for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It is said that kefir has been such a well-kept secret for centuries because, according to legend, Mohammad, whose gift it was, strictly forbade the secret of kefir preparation to be given outside the faith. In the beginning, it was made in skin bags hanging near the door. Milk was poured in periodically, and everyone gave the bag a swing for good fortune as they entered; this ensured thorough mixing. Kumys, kefir made from mares’ milk, was consumed as food and as an alcoholic drink (2-3%) some 25 centuries ago and was mentioned by Marco Polo in Asia as being a pleasant milk drink.
How to make kefir
Because it cultures (ferments) at warm room temperature — unlike yogurt — traditional kefir is one of the easiest of cultured milk products to make at home IF you can find some of the soft, white gelatinous "grains" to begin. Folks like to share them; it’s easy because they GROW when they are happy. A supply of fresh, preferably unprocessed, milk keeps kefir grains fruitful and multiplying, and it is good to remove some from the batch periodically to maintain a constant culture-to-medium (grains-to-milk) ratio. About 1 teaspoon (9 grams) is all you need to make a quart (1 liter) of this drink. It tastes like buttermilk but has been made way more nutritious by protein hydrolysis (culturing).
Through the magic action of the lactobacillus making it ever more tasty, kefir keeps without refrigeration and is a premium road food and beverage all in one package. I like it with a generous sprinkle of Himalayan Pink Crystal salt and a drop of Black Pepper Oil.
Lynn’s Kefir Method
One quart is enough for two adults every day. It will take about a day and a half to make each batch. I stagger two batches going at once; it takes very little time or expertise.
Lynn’s Kefir Recipe
|Tools you’ll need|
|Whole, organic, farm-fresh milk|
|1 tsp per quart||kefir grains||Instructions|
To learn more about kefir, see this Australian website. One of my own kefir strains comes to me from down under. http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage
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