Did I ever mention that I co-authored a text book chapter on fermentation and the use of starter cultures? While it was quite a laughable learning experience, I do feel a bit more educated in something that before a year ago I knew little about. As many young “hipsters” these days do, I’ve had my share of fermentation fun: kombucha, kimchi, sauer kraut, and now kefir. About a month ago, I was offered a kefir starter culture for some pickles at the Seacoast Food Swap. I had tried store bought kefir before, but never really bought into the phenomenon because I honestly just thought it was another drinkable yogurt product. My first batch went horribly wrong as for some reason I thought fermenting milk at room temperature for 7days was OK (duh). But, now that I’ve got the hang of it, I’m kefir wild! It’s soooo much better and cheaper than the pasteurized kefir products you find at the grocer. I’ve actually started skipping my morning routine of yogurt and fruit for a cup of this slightly tart ferment mixed with local maple syrup. Plus, with the summer temperatures arise, I’m forced to take a break from my other fermentation hobby (kombucha) due to defeat by god damn fruit flies…
You may be wondering, “what’s all the hub-bub about with this kefir stuff?” I am still learning about the history, health benefits, etc. of kefir, but I thought as I’m super excited about this new found glory, that I’d share some interesting stuff I’ve learned over the past couple weeks with you. Because it’s late and I’m feeling weird, I’ve opted to share the odd things about this here fermented product.
First off, it’s good for you! Actually the origin of the word kefir, keyif, literally means “feeling good” after eating. As with most fermented foods, the list of beneficial yeast, probiotic bacteria, vitamins, minerals, and digestible proteins found in kefir is out the door. Apparently, if you’re one of the unlucky millions who suffers from lactose intolerance, consumption of kefir can actually decrease flatulence (yep!). “…kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.” Next, “although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a “clean” quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria.” Honestly, the list goes on.
So, find a friend who has some kefir grains, get yourself some good quality milk, and start the fun. My favorite part is the constant batch nature of this ferment.
- 1 Tbsp kefir grains
- 1 quart of organic milk (cow, goat, sheep, etc.)
- In a coverable jar or container combine kefir grains and milk. If using a jar leave about 1/2-1inch headspace.
- Cap, shake up, then let sit at room temperature for 24-36hrs.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain liquid kefir from grains.
- Either drink immediately, use in a smoothie, or store in fridge until ready.
I have found that whole cow milk works a bit better than 2 percent.