What is this Kefir stuff?

A couple weeks ago Viv & I started to take a look at how we are living our life together.  Part of that self inspection was looking at our diet and not liking what we saw.  This led us to looking at how we are hurting ourselves with the food that we consume.

We have begun some changes one of which has been learning about Kefir and the benefits that it can provide.  Viv had been looking into the paleo diet, where many of the practitioners included kefir as a healthy alternative drink.  If you have never tried it before, think of runny yogurt, but more appetizing than that sounds.

We have been drinking kefir occasionally.  It was kind of a treat, since it is a bit expensive; $3-$4 for a quart bottle.  When we learned that it can be made easily at home we had to try it.

The only requirements are some milk, something called kefir grains, a bottle to store it in and time.

If you know anyone that is making their own kefir see if they will share some of their grains with you. Otherwise you will need to purchase them.  They are easily found online.  We got ours from: Fusion Teas. Though a search online found many sources.

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The kefir grains look very odd.  Some people describe them as looking like cauliflower.  Personally, I thinks they look more like a wet rice pudding.  No matter how they look, these little babies are what perform the magic of turning your milk into a very refreshing drink in a surprisingly short time.


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Here I have added about two tablespoons of grains from a  previous batch into a 1/2 gallon glass jar.  The grains will continue to grow during each batch allowing you to increase the size of the batch quickly.  We started with about one tablespoon in 1/2 a quart of milk.  Within two weeks, we had increased the jar size to the 1/2 gallon bottle pictured.

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Add your milk.  Be sure to leave some space at the top to allow for expansion. You can use any kind of milk, cow, goat, sheep or even coconut, almond or rice milk.

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Label your bottle with the start date and time.  Also, cover the bottle with a coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, as shown.  Your kefir only needs to sit at room temperature for the initial fermentation stage for 24 hours.

After sitting for 24 hour at room temperature, prepare a large bowl, a strainer and a spoon or spatula.

Pour your kefir into the strainer and stir gently.  Once all of the kefir has drained into the bowl, you will be left with your kefir grains in the strainer.  these can now be put into a clean jar and the process can begin again.

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You can now use the kefir in the bowl or it can be poured into a fresh jar, cover and allowed to sit for an additional 6 – 12 hours for a secondary fermentation.  The longer it sits at this point the more sour/acidic and thick it will become.  If you want a light refreshing drink, refrigerate and begin using.  I prefer letting it sit for about 6 hours more for a stronger tasting drink.  

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I enjoy the kefir as a drink strait from the bottle, or flavored slightly with a nondairy creamer.  Hazelnut flavor is yummy.  Fruit flavors are also delicious! Blend a cup of kefir with 3-4 frozen strawberries and a banana for a wonderful cold drink.  There is a very informative article on Wikipedia if you would like more information.

Benefits

There are many wild claims about all the things that drinking kefir will do for you.  All I can say for sure is that I have not been able to drink a cup of milk in far to many years without experiencing extreme intestinal distress.  Since I started drinking homemade kefir, I drink a large glass in the morning and another during the day and have not had any problems.  I love it.  The texture is sometime off a little bit if we let the grains ferment longer than 24 hours, but the taste is just fine.  I have also noticed a remarkable decrease in my seasonal allergy symptoms.  A month ago I could hardly function due to sneezing constantly and runny eyes and nose, and that was with me taking all sorts of allergy meds.  Now as I write this we are heading into what is usually the worst part of the spring when all of my roses begin blooming.  I have not had any allergy meds in over a week.  I still have a sneeze every now and then, but nothing like what I was experiencing.  Is that the kefir at work?  Maybe, or maybe it is something else that I don’t know about.  I will keep drinking the kefir.

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