What is Kefir?
Kefir is fermented by kefir grains that contain the bacteria and yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk protein) and complex sugars. The bacteria and yeast mixture can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match. Several of the strains of bacteria in the kefir culture are not found in yogurt. The yeast in kefir is able to deal effectively with pathogenic yeasts in the body. The bacteria/yeast team cleanses and fortifies the intestinal tract making it more efficient at resisting pathogens.
How do we use Kefir?
We use Kefir in our smoothies. You can drink it straight, add it to your RAW muesli. We also use Organic RAW cows milk and organic RAW goats Milk ( we recommend finding a good source of RAW milk). Issy has a kefir smoothie around 1-2 times a week as we feel it is a great pro-biotic for her developing immune system.
What can you use to Culture Kefir
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 colonization of friendly bacteria. We use RAW cows milk and RAW goats milk. You can also culture Water Kefir.
Where can I buy the Kefir grains?
If you live in the Surfcoast Region of Victoria we supply fresh Kefir grains for $10.00. Just email me Sarah@therawfoodmum.com
How to Culture Kefir
Put Kefir grains into a clean glass jar. Add milk and gently stir with a soft edged spoon, so as not to break up the Kefir grains. Lightly screw on a plastic lid (one which won’t rust) without the cardboard insert, which could harbour the growth of unwanted organisms. Leave the lid loose enough, to allow carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation process to escape from the jar. (Unless you want a fizzy Kefir that is.) Store the culture out of direct sunlight in a cupboard or on top of the refrigerator for about 24 hours, giving it a gentle stir or shake two or three times during that period.
As fermentation is dependent on temperature, time, quantity, the activity of the culture, and the type of substrate, only experience will teach you the optimum culturing conditions. As a general guide Kefir will ferment twice as fast at 30 degrees Celsius as at 20 degrees.
Fresh milk will thicken at first into a consistency much like a smooth yoghurt, then with longer fermentation it will separate into a layer of thick curd floating on top of a greenish whey. Homogenised and pasteurised milk will give a different result to that from raw milk.
Once the Kefir has cultured to your liking, strain it through a sieve using a fork to separate the curd from the grains. Pour the curd back into its jar and put the Kefir grains into a clean jar with fresh milk and repeat the process. If you don’t have time to sieve the Kefir, just hook the grains out with a fork.
Some sources claim the Kefir grains shouldn’t come into contact with metal but I don’t think it makes any difference. In fact there was a commercial operation in Australia in 2000 that used to culture Kefir with real Kefir grains in 200 litre stainless steel drums.
If you need a rest from consuming cultured milk, then the Kefir grains should survive a few months in the refrigerator. I generally store excess Kefir grains in a small amount of milk in a jar in the fridge, so that I always have some on hand for a friend. I have heard that Kefir grains may also be stored with success in filtered water but be aware that chlorine and other chemicals may kill the culture. I sometimes culture Kefir on alternate days and leave the Kefir and the grains in a refrigerator in between times.
The Kefir grains should double in quantity every week. One report from a commercial manufacture, indicates that Kefir grows faster below 28 degrees Celsius. Kefir grains are edible and according to some sources have documented anticancer properties. Blend them into a banana smoothie, add them to a raw cheesecake, eat them as they are or share them with a friend.
Hope this information helps