Last week, in our Digestion Dossier, we talked about a fermented dairy beverage that is particularly effective at improving digestion.
Kefir is a lot like yogurt, but it has even more beneficial bacteria. Yogurt (especially store-bought yogurt) or even probiotic pills can’t compare to kefir in the digestion department. I’ve read that kefir can actually repopulate the intestinal flora and judging from my personal experience with this powerful probiotic, I believe it.
Kefir isn’t too difficult to make at home. It only requires two ingredients: milk and kefir grains. While milk might seem to be the easier of the two ingredients to obtain, this is actually the trickier one for me. When it comes to homemade kefir, the quality of the milk is of utmost importance so farm-fresh is best. Most grocery-store milk is from factory-farmed cows who eat an unnatural diet and receive regular doses of hormones and antibiotics. (If you can’t find farm-fresh milk in your area, at least be careful to avoid milk that says “ultra-pasteurized” on the label, even if it is organic).
Kefir grains are the starter culture used in the fermentation process. Each time you make kefir, the grains will grow until eventually you’ll have extra to give away. You can obtain kefir grains from a friend who makes kefir or you can order them online from a trusted source (Cultures for Health is a good one).
To make kefir, all you have to do is stir the grains into the milk, cover with a cloth, and leave the mixture at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours. Stir it from time to time and sample it for tartness. When it’s to your liking, strain out the kefir grains and use them in your next batch. The kefir can now go into the refrigerator and is ready to drink.
Of course, if you want to really get into kefir-making there is much more you can do with it. You can flavor kefir. You can make water kefir. Or coconut kefir… My kefir skills are not that advanced yet, but here are a few websites that I like to poke around to get more info (a quick Google search will reveal many more):
You can also buy kefir pre-made at the store, but it tends to be pricey. Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery makes goat milk kefir in yummy flavors. (My favorite is the mango pineapple.)
If you have experience making kefir at home, please provide your best tips below. Thanks!
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