As you may know, I am a huge believer in fermented foods and one of my favourite ways to increase my intake of cultured foods is through the use of kefir. Traditionally kefir is a fermented milk similar to yogurt. It is one of the oldest fermented milk products still used today with it most widely being used in Russia but it’s popularity is definitely increasing and you can now purchase kefir in places like Thomas Dux and organic grocery stores. Today I am going to share my kefir recipe; I do a coconut version because dairy doesn’t agree with me in large quantities and I eat this stuff almost every day!
Source your kefir grains. I used a company called Nourish Me Organics to purchase my kefir grains. Kriben’s (owner) story of why he got into providing fermented starter kits is a really feel good read too! You can also join groups that share kefir grains such as kefirhood where you can meet up with someone who now has too many and when you have too many you can then share them with someone else. You can get diary kefir grains and water kefir grains, I use the diary ones at the moment. A few things to be aware of with your kefir grains; firstly they don’t like light so store them in a dark container at the back of the fridge when not in use and when fermenting place the jar in the back of a cupboard that doesn’t get used very much; secondly they like to be stored in milk, just enough to cover them; thirdly they will need to be refreshed by doing a dairy ferment every 3 or so goes, this is because they love lactose! So if you’re lactose intolerant you may be able to tolerate dairy kefir because these little guys will gobble most (if not all) of the lactose up! And finally you will need to make a batch every couple of weeks to keep your grains healthy if you have been storing them in the fridge and it’s best to restore their milky home every week, if you store them in the freezer they will last much longer. If you think you have destroyed your kefir supply, try looking up revitalisation techniques before you give up on them.
Put the kefir grains in a clean glass jar with enough space for how much milk you want to ferment. If your grains are new or if they have been out of use for a while it is best to start with a small amount of milk and add more later on if the ferment is going well.
Add your milk. I use coconut milk (ayam brand seems to work the best) but you could use dairy milk or a nut milk just as effectively as long as you refresh them in dairy every now and then, approximately after every 3rd batch.
The fermentation process requires some air flow, you can purchase kefir jars that especially allow for this or you can use cheese cloth doubled over a few times and secure on top of your jar with an elastic band.
Find a nice dark cupboard to put your jar in, try to make it a cupboard you don’t use often and put it right at the back. Next set your alarm for 24 hours so you don’t forget about your hard working kefir crew!
Once the ferment is finished drain the milk into a storage container (a plastic sieve is good for this process). At this stage you can add any kind of flavourings you like such as berries, good quality honey and so on. Tighten the lid on your storage container and place in the fridge for another 12-24 hours while the second ferment stage takes place.
Hey presto! You now have yummy kefir to enjoy with cereal, in protein shakes or plain on it’s own; whatever takes your fancy! Don’t forget to store your kefir grains in a small container with some dairy milk (not the lactose free stuff) and place in the back of your fridge. Alternatively you can get another batch going straight away, totally up to you!
Kefir vs Yogurt
Kefir and unaltered yogurt have quite a similar taste and consistency so which is better kefir or yogurt?
Both can play an important role in you gut health depending on what you are trying to achieve. They contain different bacterial benefits; kefir bacteria can actually colonise the intestinal tract (or add new bacteria) where as yogurt’s bacteria can only provide food for the bacteria that already resides there. In addition kefir contains several strains of bacteria not usually found in yogurt and beneficial yeasts which help in increasing the bodies resistance to some pathogens such as E.coli and intestinal parasites.
So to summarise if you are after a natural and cheap alternative to probiotics in pill form try kefir; if you are taking a good probiotic and want to feed the new bacteria try yogurt!
My favourite way to eat kefir
There are many ways to use kefir; you can even use it to make pizza dough! My favourite way is unaltered coconut kefir with some home made nuts and seeds cereal and some raspberries, sooo yummy!
I would love to hear if you have a fav recipe, add them below for everyone to enjoy!