Welcome to the world of delicious and probiotic rich kefir. Did you know that kefir has over 50 strands of probiotics/bacteria in it?
Kefir is easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete is a complete protein. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it plays important roles in a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its calming effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD.
The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote healthy bowel movements, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity. Helps provide a healthy gut flora.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings because it makes the body more balanced and nourished. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of health condition.
For the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.
Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. Although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a “clean” quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the population of friendly bacteria.
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, as well as hormonal system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves.
Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
I often get asked if yogurt and kefir is the same thing. The difference between the two is this…they are both fermented milk products …but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.
It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.
Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.
Now that I have kefir grains, what do I do with them?
You are starting out with 1 tablespoon of grains.
Add this to 1 cup of milk.
I put them into a pint mason jar, close the lid and let sit on your kitchen counter for 24 hours, out of direct sunlight. Pour kefir into a strainer, with a bowl underneath. Take a spatula and work the kefir through the strainer. You’ll be left with the grains, which are gelatinous cauliflower like substances, ranging in size from a small piece of grain to a fairly large piece.
NOTE: The first time you make your kefir, if your grains were stored in water, the fermentation period might be more like 36 hours vs. the typical 24 hours.
The consistency will be slightly thick and have a more pungent smell to it. You’re good to go.
Rinse out the jar that you fermented in and put the grains back into the jar along with another cup of milk. DO NOT rinse your grains.
Wait another 24 hours and repeat the process above. You can continue this indefinitely.
Your grains will grow. Expect this to happen after the first couple of weeks of fermenting with them. After that, they will expand a little more rapidly.
Keep them, make more kefir, store them in another jar of milk in the refrigerator or share them with family and friends.
Always keep your ratio of 1 tablespoon of grains to 1 cup of milk. If you want to make more because you have more grains, just keep this same measure and you’ll be fine.
When I make a quart, I use approx. 3 tablespoons of grains to 3 cups of milk.
If I have unused kefir, I store it in a mason jar with a lid in my refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks, no problem. Another thing I like to do is fill an ice cube tray with them, freeze and then pop into a freezer bag. These are great for smoothies or anything else you might want to use them for. I find that 3 cubes equals approx. ¼ cup, which is a nice measurement for some recipes. You can thaw and use.
Another tip: If you find yourself with an abundance of kefir because you haven’t been using it as frequently or you’re traveling and can’t keep up with production, add them to some milk in a jar and store them in your refrigerator.
When you’re ready to start up again, measure out a tablespoon to 1 cup of milk and start again.
Use kefir in smoothies, baked goods, dressings; make whey from it and so much more.
You can also just drink it straight up. Yum!
There are some great ways to do a second ferment as well. My favorite is to peel the skin from an orange or lemon, place in a jar and pour the finished kefir over it. Place the lid on the jar and set on your counter another 24 hours.
The kefir will take on the citrusy flavor and won’t be so sour tasting. This is especially good for those not accustomed to the flavor of regular kefir or just those that like something a bit different and refreshing.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do and I hope to hear from you.
What’s been your experience with making or drinking kefir? Comment below!
To your health,
Holistic Health Coach
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