Kefir, my kefir

Today, it’s all about Kefir, but first…

Shots of one of our meals since I started the course “cooking for the love of children

Berry Crisp, no sugar just honey in the crust. Almonds were soaked and leftover from breakfast

1.5 cups quick oats

1-2 cups flour of your choice (think I used oat, I never use a recipe for these)

½ cup butter or coconut oil (I used both) cut into dice sized chunks

Handful of almonds soaked overnight, rinsed and dressed with a pinch of salt and cinnamon

¼ cup honey

Mix together with your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs

I put about 2.5 cups blueberries (frozen), ½ cup strawberries and two apples I had hanging around (sliced) mixed them, pressed the topping onto the top and baked at about 350 for about 20-30 mins.

It will be much less sweet than you are used to but good for you! Top with applesauce, whipping cream, yogurt or something else!

It definitely got Sapphire’s approval.

Now, onto the kefir.

Here are some water Kefir grains:

They are generally translucent and are separate grains, slightly squishy. This is quite a lot, I could probably make a quart of kefir with a third as much.

Here they are in their liquid, brewing away

Some basics about water kefir:

Metal can kill the grains; therefore always use plastic, glass or wooden utensils etc. I have heard metal strainers are ok.

When brewing, you generally need about ¼ cup of the previous batch to kick start things, as well as the juice of one or two lemons, spring water and the more raw form of sugar the better (1/4 cup of something like rapadura sugar) Some people like to throw in a handful of raisins or some prunes or other dried fruit. Do not use bananas or anything oily, it can kill the kefir.

24 hours is the ideal fermentation time…I have heard less can act as a diuretic/colon cleanser (say 12 hours) and more (48 hrs) is supposed to constipate you…

Once it has gone through the 24 hour fermentation, you strain it, rinse the grains and begin again with ¼ cup sugar, 2 lemons, some fruit if you like, spring water (about a litre? Depending on how many grains you have) and I’ve been told the secret ingredient is chopped ginger….my friend has had great success with this and getting the grains to multiply (water kefir grain are notoriously hard to multiply)

Milk kefir grains:

These are in bloby forms, much like squishy florets of cauliflower.

Milk Kefir tastes similar to very tangy yogurt and is slightly thinner, depending on brewing time, types of milk etc. The upside is there is no heating, sterilization etc. Just a simple wash will do.

Both varieties of kefir will be effervescent (bubbly) if tightly lidded, and smooth if loosely lidded or just covered with a cloth.

The milk kefir I simply strain, add back in some of the previous batch (an inch?) and pour in about a litre of milk, then I let it set for 24 hours. You will likely smell a slight bread yeast smell and see if separated in your jar when it’s done.

Both varieties of Kefir should be started gradually, especially if you have had any digestive issues (reflux, constipation, diarrhea etc.) with as little as a teaspoon the first day or you may have some tummy upsets and weird bowel movements.

Both varieties of kefir are purported to help pretty much anything that ails you –some even make claims for helping with cancer (my take it if started very slowly with perhaps a naturopath’s help and guidance cancer patients and other very ill people could benefit I cannot say it will cure you).The main claims to fame are any digestive complaints resolving, skin conditions, depression/anxiety (the old gut-brain health thing), parasites/yeast and other buggers, and help healing some allergies and sensitivities…many people who are intolerant of milk may be able to handle milk kefir. If milk is not an option at all it can usually be brewed with coconut milk or full fat milk.

I can attest to the fact that it has helped Sapphire’s reflux immensely and when we were without it for several weeks her constipation/diarrhea cycle returned full force. We need these lovely bugs in our diets regularly! Hopefully at least once a day with a meal.

Kefir comes from Tibet originally and was supposed to have been a gift to the people from the prophet Mohammed. Each family had a culture and guarded it carefully…Russian scientists wanted badly to study it but could not obtain a culture so they devised a plan of a pretty girl courting a (prince??) and eventually she stole away back to Russia with a culture. It is said most Kefir around the world are all babies of her original culture! What an adventure this lowly organism has had!

I never realized how important cultured and lacto-fermented foods are to most traditional cultures…foods such as kimchee, kefir, and sauerkraut, aged cheese etc. even pickles when they have not been heated during canning or to pasteurize them. Many of our current health crises come from poor digestion because we are not getting enough enzymes and probiotics to replenish our guts and help us break down all that cooked (and even raw) food. Other practices like soaking grains with an acid, or whey, as well as seeds, nuts and legumes are traditional and given and break down much of the phytic acid that they contain (and we cannot break down) and which would otherwise bind to the proteins and minerals that our bodies need.

A great resource on all this is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, as well as the Weston A. Price foundation. His research of cultures the world over and their traditional diets (and amazing health! Especially dental health!) is truly interesting.

What do you think, have ferments and cultured foods helped you in some way? Do you hope to try them? What stops you?

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2 Responses to Kefir, my kefir

  1. Jese says:

    i have never experimented with kefir but you have inspired me to do it someday!

  2. Meg says:

    Oh I’m glad I found your blog! I got some grains yesterday from a friend and had no idea that you weren’t supposed to just have a glassful… I hope my kids don’t get sick as they had about a third of a glass at breakfast. Thanks for the info.

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