Monday, November 21, 2011

Kefir - the basics

Kefir is a drinkable yogurt style drink.  It's different in that it's a combination of beneficial bacteria and yeast instead of just bacterias, like regular yogurt.  You can make kefir from kefir, as you can regular yogurt, but if you want to make it every day forever (yes you can take breaks), then you're going to need some kefir grains.

I got my grains from my wonderful friend, Hazel.  I'd been intrigued ever since we talked about these things, but it took a good while before I actually got to drive the 4 hours to go get them - and visit for a nice long weekend ;-)  They're easy to take care of and make the most wonderful stuff - kefir!

What I have are milk kefir grains, not water kefir grains.  Supposedly they are different, but I haven't figured out why you couldn't rework milk kefir grains into being water kefir grains eventually.  They eat sugars - lactose in milk, and sugar sugar in water/juice kefir versions.  What comes off the grains is a lightly bubbly, tart and sour drink that's wonderfully probiotic.

It's easy to make.  Just put the grains in a quart sized jar (or pint depending on the amount of grains you have - I have a good 2 cups at the moment in 2 quart sized jars), and dump fresh cold milk on top - yup! right out of the fridge.  (Easier than yogurt, 'eh?)  Cover the jars with a dish towel, they like the dark.  After 12-48 hours, depending on how tart you like your yogurt/kefir, using a fine mesh colander, strain and drain the kefir off the grains - stir to get the most kefir off the grains as you can.  Put the grains back in the jar and add more fresh milk.  Drink the kefir straight off the grains, or refrigerate a few hours to thicken and chill.  Sweeten/flavor if you'd like, and drink.

Some sweeteners I've tried and like in my kefir include:

  • honey
  • vanilla syrup (Torani)
  • orgeat/almond syrup (Torani)
  • peach jam - (MIL made wonderful stuff - it's addicting!)
  • strawberry rhubarb sauce
  • apple butter
  • chocolate sauce
  • triple berry sauce (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry)
If you're interested in making your own kefir, find some grains and have at.  You can likely find someone with grains in the area that's willing to give you some for free, but if you can't look up "The Kefir Lady" - she's out of Ohio and ships every week.  There are many health benefits, or so I've read - go searching online - you'll find a ton.  But it's great for just the taste, and so many uses.  I'll get to some of those eventually.  Happy Kefir-ing!

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