I’ve recently discovered that my gut health wasn’t as good as it should be and turns out I’m lactose intolerant. Now considering that, I have been introduced to the wonders of Kefir.
Kef-what you ask
Kefir (pronounced key-feer) is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem”. More nutritious and therapeutic than yoghurt which it is likened to, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals and valuable B vitamins.
Made from cultured ‘grains’ and milk (cow, sheep, goat) or even water from young coconut, this is an inexpensive way to restore the gut and allow good bacteria and yeast into the intestines to combat the bad counterpart.
So I make kefir from milk but I’m lactose intolerant….how does that work?!
The beneficial yeast and friendly bacteria in the kefir culture consumes most of the lactose (ie. milk sugar) turning lactose into lactic acid. So in layman’s terms, the lactose is ripped out of the milk making it essentially lactose-free.
A 175 ml (6 oz) serving of milk kefir contains:
Protein: 6 grams.
Calcium: 20% of the RDA
Phosphorus: 20% of the RDA
Vitamin B12: 14% of the RDA
Riboflavin (B2): 19% of the RDA
Magnesium: 5% of the RDA
A decent amount of vitamin D
This is coming with about 100 calories, 7-8 grams of carbohydrate and 3-6 grams of fat, depending on the type of milk that is used. The above is to be used as a guide only and it based on milk-based kefir. Water-based kefir will have a different nutrient profile. Depending on the origins of the cow/sheep/goat and cultures used, really determines the nutritional value therefore each person who makes their own kefir will have varying ranges of nutritional values BUT ALL will be highly advantageous to ones overall health.
The following is for the milk version. For water based kefir, a different grain is to be used.
Important thing to note:
Metal cannot be used at any time. Plastic or glass* only. This includes strainers, stirring equipment and bottling.
What you need:
*Container to ferment your kefir along with a breathable cloth/muslin for the “lid”
*Container or Jug for the finished product
*Full cream milk (cows, goats, sheep)
*Kefir “grains”, about one handful per 2L
*Plastic strainer/sieve to rinse your grains and used to pour completed kefir into storing container
Put a handful of seeds and 2L milk in a container and cover with breathable cloth. Do consider the number of grains you put into the amount of milk as you want to prevent overcrowding which results in over-fermenting.
Place in a dark, cool spot which is room temperature. If you do not have a spot, it can left on the kitchen benchtop with a dark tea-towel or cloth so light only comes in from the cloth covering the top.
Leave to ferment 2-3 days ensuring that you stir it vigorously every 24 hours. The mixture may separate which is fine, the stirring will combine it again. The grains are able to ferment milk in around 24 hours however leaving it a day or so later increases the fantastic lactic acid bacteria and beneficial yeast.
Note: Play around with the number of days you let it ferment depending on the consistency that you prefer. 2-3 days it is a little thicker than milk; 3-4 days thicker again and then any longer it will start turning into a yoghurt-form consistency. The number of days also reflects the taste – the longer you leave it the more sour it gets and lumpy. If left too long it will turn into cheese and whey. Also consider winter verses summer temperatures and the length of time left to ferment.
Once the consistency is to your liking and you’ve done one last vigorous stir, strain the kefir using a plastic sieve into the storing container. Cover the container and place in the fridge or keep at room temperature. Keep in mind, the fermenting process will continue but at a slower rate whether kept cool or at room temperature. As the kefir continues to ferment, it increases some of the B vitamins (B1, B6 and B9/folic acid) plus CO² not to mention the overall flavour.
Regarding the grains, you can either rinse with water (preferably filtered) each time or use immediately for your next batch. However do rinse every 2-3 batches so keep them fresh. Store grains in an air-tight container (remember no metal!) in the fridge, not the freezer. They will keep for around 2 months. Each batch ‘grows’ more seeds to discard the seeds that feel like they are flat, grains should look like small clumps of soft cauliflower florets.
Suggested amount per day is 1 cup (6oz/175ml) which is best drank first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. However, it can be put in smoothies, on breakfast as ‘yoghurt’ or poured over fruit and nuts. Milk kefir can make a great base for soups and stews that would otherwise call for regular buttermilk, sour cream, heavy cream, or yogurt. You can substitute plain or flavoured kefir for any of these ingredients in your favourite recipes or baked goods, mashed potatoes, soups and more in order to boost the nutrient content.
Note: you may like to flavour kefir which is more palatable to your taste-buds. If you wish to do this, ensure it is flavoured after the fermenting process is complete, not before or during.
*for any fermentation processes, and I’ve made kombucha as well, I prefer to use glass containers due to the risk of BPA is any plastics that I may have without knowing it, won’t infiltrate my delicious concoctions.
So why should I spend 3 days or say waiting for this thick milky drink?
The kefir, derived from the Turkish word keif means ‘good feeling’ – so how can you go wrong!? This unique cultured drink is one of the most nutrient dense probiotic rich foods and therefore has numerous medicinal benefits for healing issues like leaky gut.
Ready-made Kefir can be found in some supermarkets and health food stores however do look at the sugar content and if the products used were organic - your health is of utmost important so no point in fueling it with toxins dressed as goodness.
Kefir grains can be purchased in some specialty health stores or online. A few online options are:-
The Kefir Shop
Nourish Me Organics
Alternatively, do what I did and get a stash from someone who is already making it at home.
If you start making your own kefir, let me know how it goes and share your story here.
DON’T FORGET – September is Australian Organic Awareness Month so spread your love of organic produce with family, friends and anyone who will listen by #LookForTheBudLogo on all certified Australian Organic products
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