In ancient times the nomadic shepherds in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe discovered Kefir a fermented beverage from fresh milk. People experience a sense of well-being after drinking it and from there the name ‘kefir’, which came from the Turkish word “keif” – meaning good feeling.
There are many literatures on the internet to explore on this topic.
People often comparer kefir and yogurt, because they have similar tastes and both contain live cultures.
Differences between Kefir and yogurt:
- You can drink Kefir.
- Kefir contains many more ‘friendly’ bacterial and yeast cultures known as “probiotics” than yogurt and therefore a bigger benefit on your immune system and digestive system.
- Kefir is an excellent source of fiber, protein and calcium.
- Kefir is gluten free.
- Kefir is 99% lactose-free.
Kefir is produce from milk by adding Kefir “grains”, which consisting of various species of symbiotic bacteria and yeast. Bacteria ferment lactose, the sugar found in milk and the yeast performs alcohol (negligible amounts) fermentation. It is easy to digest and it cleanses the intestinal system and boosting the immune system.
The essential amino acid, tryptophan is abundant in Kefir and has a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Also rich in vitamin B’s, K and minerals.
What if you are lactose intolerant?
- The lactose in Kefir is almost all digested and some of the proteins have been broken down.
- Most people with milk sensitivities can drink Kefir.
How Kefir is made?
- Kefir can be made from any type of milk, like goat, cow, etc.
- You will need:
- Glass container with a lid.
- Milk – preferably raw milk, but if not available you can use pasteurized milk.
- Kefir granules – to make Kefir from 250ml (+/-8 ounces) you will need Kefir granules combine with a diameter of +/-2cm (3/4 inch).
- Plastic strainer.
- ‘Draining cloth’
- By experimenting with the time of the fermenting process, you will found the correct time to get it just the way you like it.
- Some people mildly heat the milk to 30C (86F). This is not necessary.
- Now put the Kefir granules (contains a bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein milk proteins and complex sugars that ferment the milk) into the glass container.
- Then add the milk and closed it with the lid. Let it ripen (ferment) over time. Usually for a time of 24 hours to give you a creamy texture and thicker than milk. Shake it at least once a day to mix.
- The thickness and taste of the Kefir depends on the temperature and time of fermentation. Let it ripen at room temperature (+/-22C / 68 – 72 F). Warmer months the Kefir may be ready in as shorter time. If you leave it for to long it will become “cheesy” (lumpy) separated from the “whey” (liquid watery part).
- After +/- 6 hours: Mild fermented milk that is just a bit thicker than unfermented milk. (pH > 5.3)
- After +/-12 hours: Much thicker. (pH 5.1 to 4.7)
- 24 to 48 hours: Much thicker and forms soft curd. (pH 4.3 to 4.5)
- Adjust the time after each batch, until you get it just the way you like it.
- You can use a small amount of the batch of Kefir to make another batch.
- Some people use a controlled ripening environment by using temperature controlled (aquarium heater) water bath for your container with the milk and granules. This is not necessary, but is convenient.
- Through the Kefir and Kefir granules into a plastic strainer with another container underneath.
- Remove the Kefir granules and put it into your glass container (no need to clean the container from the Kefir left behind in the container.) Repeat the process.
- Now add the Kefir in the strainer with the Kefir/whey which leaked through the strainer. Stir it and place into the refrigerator. It will thicken slowly since it has its own culture in it, but at a much slower pace. Drink a nice cold beverage.
- If you ferment it for a longer time to form “cheesy” Kefir and whey:
- Through the contents into a draining cloth to separate the more acidic Kefir from the whey.
- The whey can be use as a cool beverage or in food, instead of water.
- The Kefir without the whey can be used with fruit. If it become very thick, you can rolled it into small balls and allowed to air dry a bit - may use a small fan. When it is dry enough you can mix it with olive oil and herbs and eat it like that or with salad.
- If the milk does not thicken enough, it may be because:
- If the milk with the Kefir granules become to cold, it will take much longer to thicken.
- Or you did not let it ferment for long enough time.
- Some people needs to start with a small amount every second day on an empty stomach. Increase the amount slowly until you are able to drink a glass daily.
- If for some reason you still have trouble digesting the milk Kefir, make it then from young green coconuts (not mature).
- Like yogurt on its own or with fruit.
- In salad and other cold dishes.
- Or on its own with olive oil and herbs.