Monday, May 7, 2012

Kefir. What the heck is it?

Kefir & Strawberry Shake

I’ve seen it at supermarkets and at the Russian bakery I buy my tea from, but never had it. Kefir is the topic here. What the heck is it? Milk? Water? Yogurt? Well, it can be all that!

I met a lovely lady on Facebook in a private group we are both members of. It didn’t take long for us to start talking about something we are both passionate about, bread. I shared with her by knowledge of bread as she shared her knowledge of this foreign thing called Kefir. Tammy is her name, and she claimed she made her own Kefir at home. I instantly googled it and I became very interested in learning more. I read I could make bread with it and about the benefits of drinking it. Tammy was so nice as to send me some of her dried grains in the mail and a week later I got the little precious package addressed to me coming all the way from Missouri from someone I never met before in person. I was so excited I messaged her to thank her again and let her know her babies had arrived safe and sound.

The trusty envelope! :)
To the kitchen I went and placed half of the grains in one cup of milk to start re-hydrating them. Some websites say it takes 48-72 hours but to my surprise, the grains were very alive and well within 24 hours. I changed the milk and added new one so the grains would have new milk to feed from. The next day I had a runny kefir which I used to make my first batch of kefir bread. I couldn’t believe how much whey there was separated from the milk fats! And so I made it a third time, and bingo…smooth as velvet after straining it. I refrigerated and a couple hours later made a delicious Kefir shake with fresh strawberries, and let me tell you, it was so good!
Dry grains                                Rehydrated grains

So, what is Kefir? Kefir grains are a cross between bacteria and yeast. Once it is added to milk and left at room temperature for a couple of days it allows the milk to ferment giving it a sour taste but with tones of health benefits. The more you use the grains the better and creamier the kefir will be. The beauty of these grains is they multiply, so they are really never ending. Those who are lactose intolerant may be able to drink kefir without any quick runs to the washroom as the grains feed on the sugars in the milk. Forget those probiotic yogurts in the dairy aisle, make kefir and it’s even better for you! The bacteria in the fermented milk, aids in getting rid of the bad bacteria in your digestive track, cleansing your body inside out.

Second batch of Kefir
Whey on top, milk solids at the bottom

Now that I made this wonderful discovery I can’t seem to stop making it. I can’t wait to make kefir pancakes and substituting all my cake recipes calling for buttermilk with kefir. Oh, and how will my waffles come out using kefir?…and my list goes on! Thanks to the American Lady in Missouri, who I am turning into a bread monster, I now make this liquid yogurt type of drink at home. Thanks Tammy for sharing your babies!
Creamy Ready to Drink Kefir
Once Tammy’s babies make more babies while they live with me, I will be able to share kefir grains just as she did. If you are interested, leave me a message and I will make sure to dry some up for you and mail them.