You may have recently noticed a drink next to the yogurts in your local grocery called Kefir. Although new to our stores and to most of us in the USA, kefir has been around for centuries.
What is kefir?
Originating in the Caucasus and surrounding areas, kefir has been known as magical grains. In the store bought version of kefir, you won’t see the actual grains. The grains for making kefir are removed before serving or bottling. And those “grains” aren’t really grains at all. They are little colonies of bacteria and yeasts. This happy little grouping of probiotic bacteria live in and turn ordinary milk into a nutritional powerhouse.
Why should you drink kefir?
Kefir has many health benefits and is easier to digest than regular milk. The kefir grains reduce the lactose in milk making it drinkable for those with lactose intolerance. Much like yogurt, the probiotics are wonderful for your digestive system. Unlike yogurt, which only has about 5 probiotic strains, milk kefir from the store has over 10 and milk kefir made at home has dozens! This is good news for people suffering from allergies, diabetes and host if other ailments that begin in the gut. Also, During the fermentation process, vitamins become more bioavailable and one vitamin in particular increases-vitamin K2. In simple terms K2 is important as it tells your body how and where to use calcium. It directs calcium to the bones and teeth and keeps it out of soft tissues. This important vitamin is one that many of us lack. Kefir is a quick and enjoyable way to make sure you get enough K2.
You can make kefir at home!
Kefir grains are very hardy and easy to maintain. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some you can make your own kefir daily. The steps are incredibly simple: step one, put kefir grains into milk. Step 2, cover the jar and leave on the counter and wait 24-48hrs. Step 3, pour kefir through a plastic strainer and collect the grains to start the process again while you enjoy drinking your fresh kefir!
There are many recipes available to experiment with: kefir smoothies, kefir ranch dressing, sour cream, cream cheese and hard cheeses. You can use kefir in place of milk or buttermilk in many recipes as well.
The health benefits are worth giving kefir a try. Once you are hooked, like I am, you can ask around and get some grains of your own.
Have you tried milk kefir? Not into milk? Soon I will post about water kefir! Completely dairy free.