Monday, August 13, 2012

Probiotic Gift: Kefir

A dear friend of ours shared his kefir grains with us a few months ago.  This is one of the greatest gifts!

Since then I have been "making" homemade kefir every few days.

Not only is it delicious, filled with more probiotic power than yogurt (although we still do enjoy our homemade yogurt) and a great milk substitute, but it is so simple.

Milk substitute?
Here are a few ways we substitute our homemade kefir for milk:
  • cereal and kefir
  • a nice tall glass of kefir
  • half milk and half kefir when mixing-up macaroni and cheese
Another way to enjoy kefir is
  • drizzled over sliced and diced fresh fruit
Kefir "grains," our pets with a purpose!
I was going to take step-by-step photos for you...but really I think it might be better with the few pictures I've captured.  It will embrace the simplicity of the kefir.

So, first you would need to acquire kefir "grains*."  They aren't grains... and science has never been able to reproduce them - the stuff sold in the grocery isn't true kefir.  They have traditionally been given, not sold (although that's no longer true) and the origins date back further than your brain might believe.  These little organisms grow rapidly, are alive (first pet anyone?!) and truly a gift of God!

Once kefir grains are acquired, pour some creamy organic whole milk over the grains, cover (no metal)  and let sit for 12-24 hours.  Because the kefir is fermenting the milk, the longer you wait the more curdled and sour your kefir will be.  If you wait long enough, you can join Miss Muffet and chow on some curds and whey!

Simple homemade kefir...much less involved than yogurt.
Whenever you decide your kefir is ready (I usually shake over the sink and then get a little smell to check), strain the kefir, using a colander (metal ok since contact is short), into a bowl/jar (glass recommended).  

Use a wooden spoon (or rubber or plastic, just not metal) to gently stir the grains to make sure I get as much kefir as possible.  If a few grains fall into your kefir, no prob bob!  The grains are super healthy for you and can be eaten, or you can fish them out and reunite them to their buddies (just make sure your hands are very clean!).

Here you can add a step of straining the kefir with cheesecloth to remove the whey - but we don't mind the whey and I love cutting out a step!

Put the kefir grains in a clean jar.

Pour more creamy yummy organic whole milk over your grains and cover (no metal).

Take the strained kefir and pour that into its own jar.  This should last 2-3 days (some websites say 7-10 but it is usually gone before then anyway) in the refrigerator.  I find it helpful to put a sticky note with the date strained on the jar.

We prefer our kefir chilled, and it pours over ice nicely.  It also makes a great sort of filling snack for car rides and comes out of a sippy cup with no problem.

Sippy cup friendly!

And the perfect bedtime snack.
* The amount of kefir grains you see (about 1/4 cup) easily makes one quart of kefir in about 18 hours (depending on the temperature of the house).  We currently have the AC blasting most of the time to accommodate us in the immense humidity and heat of South Louisiana, but if we were a bit more frugal with the temperature settings, the kefir would likely be ready in 12 hours.  On a smaller scale, two to three tablespoons of grains easily makes a pint of kefir in 12 hours!

Have you had homemade kefir?  Do you find homemade yogurt overwhelming?

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