Profile: Kefir

Milk Kefir
Milk Kefir

 

What is Kefir? A fermented milk drink, made from kefir grains. Chris Kresser toted it “The Not So Paleo Super Food”

What are Kefir grains? Kefir grains are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, fats, and sugars. Also known as a symbiotic matrix, or (SCOBY) which forms “grains” that resemble cauliflower.

Kefir Grains
Kefir Grains

How do you say it? Most people say “ke-fear”

Why is it good for you?

  1. Kefir contains high levels of Thiamin, B12, Folates and *Vitamin K2.
  2. Only 175 grams of kefir provides 20% of daily calcium.
  3. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins.
  4.  High in minerals, such as magnesium, and phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
  5. It is a potent probiotic, consisting of both bacterial and yeast species of beneficial flora, and may help protect you against gastrointestinal diseases.
  6. Improves lactose digestion in adults with lactose intolerance.
  7. Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
  8. May play a role in regulating immune function, allergic response, and inflammation.
  9. It is food for healthy skin, hair and nails and digestive function.
  10. Contains tryptophan, an amino acid which helps with sleep.
  11. Contains more beneficial bacteria, vitamins and minerals than yoghurt.

*What is Vitamin K2? A product of bacterial fermentation, especially when made with milk from pastured animals. Vitamin K2 plays a key role in calcium metabolism, where it is used to deposit calcium in appropriate locations, such as in the bones and teeth, and prevent it from depositing in locations where it does not belong, such as the soft tissues and the arteries.

Colours and varieties: Kefir is usually white, or the colour of whatever liquid it has fermented. The varieties of kefir are endless, different liquids can be used to alter results, such as:

– Cow Milk

– Sheep Milk

– Goat Milk

– Coconut Milk/Cream/Water

– Juice

– Ginger Beer

– Sweetened Filtered Water

Kefir Rainbow
Kefir Rainbow

Texture: The end result of milk kefir is like a thin yoghurt. It is lightly carbonated. The thickness depends on how long it has been fermented for, and often can have some lumps in it.

Taste: Kefir is slightly tangy, like yoghurt. And not as pungent as one might expect. It is really quite pleasant. However, for fussy tasters, the flavour is easily masked in smoothies or when used in cooking.

Preparation: Preparation is simple. Using a sterilized jar, place kefir grains in the jar (make sure the jar is room temperature) and pour in milk. Put the lid on and sit on a bench for 24-48 hours. Make sure it is out of direct sunlight, and away from direct heat sources.  Cheeseslave has a great post on how to prepare kefir.

From Cheeseslave: straining kefir
From Cheeseslave: straining kefir

Uses: Often served plain in European cafes it can be consumed as a drink, added as a milk replacement in baking (especially yummy in cakes and breads), used in salad dressings or sauces, poured on soup (instead of cream), eaten with cereal… where-ever I would normally use milk (or sometimes cream) I replace with kefir.

Where can I get it? Kefir milk can be bought in health food stores- but often around $6-9 per liter. If this price doesn’t appeal to you, it is so easy to make at home very cheaply. Kefir grains can be bought online, or from health food stores. But if you are looking for a budget friendly way to obtain kefir grains- ask another ‘grower’. Kefir grains multiply (slowly) as they consume their liquid-food. Often people who grow or use kefir grains are more than happy to share their grains.

Kefir is an amazing addition to your diet. It is simple and easy to prepare and very versatile to use. Myself, and many of my friends who make kefir swear by it, and can’t live without it. Give it a go, there’s nothing but good things that kefir can offer.

 

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