Kefir, What the Heck is it??!! Plus Recipes

 
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I just heard of Kefir a couple years ago.

And just learned a few months ago that I was pronouncing it wrong… the whole time.

I say kee-fur, you say kee-feer (rhymes with deer…). The latter is correct.

Besides learning about ALL the benefits of Kefir, I also learned how hard it is to change the way you say a word after saying it wrong for two years!

But no matter how you say it, it’s SOOOO SUPER GOOD FOR YOU! Not yelling, just want you to know how great it really is. So, hope being nerdy isn’t going to be too boring.

We all love yogurt. But the fact that you heat the milk to 180* just to re-add probiotics seems counter-productive, right? I mean you buy raw milk for a reason, so let’s keep it that way.

With Kefir you get to keep all the “good stuff” in the raw milk, plus add, like, a bazillion more. No joke!

I don’t know what half these words are, but google can help you with that if you’re curious.

Lactobacilli

  • Lb. brevis

  • Lb. cellobiosus

  • Lb. acidophilus

  • Lb. casei ssp. alactosus

  • Lb. casei ssp. rhamnosus

  • Lb casei

  • Lb. helveticus ssp. lactis

  • Lb. delbrueckii ssp. lactis

  • Lb. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus

  • Lb. Lb. lactis

  • Lb. fructivorans

  • Lb. hilgardii

  • Lb. kefir

  • Lb. kefiranofaciens

  • Lb kefergranum sp. No

  • Lb. parakefir sp. Nov.

Streptococci. Lactococci

  • Lc. Lactis ssp. lactis

  • Lc. Lactis var. diacety lactis

  • S. salivarius ssp. thermophilus

  • S. lactis

  • Enterococcus durans

  • Leuconostoc cremoris

  • L. mesenteroides

Yeasts

  • Kluyveromyces lactis

  • Kluyveromyces marxianus var. marxianus

  • K. bulgaricus

  • K. fragilis/marxianus

  • Candida kefir

  • C. pseudopropicalis

  • Saccharomyces ssp. Torulopsis holmii

Acetobacter

  • Acetobacters aceti

  • A. rasens

Ok, so there you have it. Please do not get in touch with my high school English teacher to see if I spelled those right. Definitely can’t use spell check!!

I’m sure you’ve seen “Kefir” in your grocery store. Heck, even Walmart has it. But that fake stuff can’t even come close to the benefits of your own homemade raw milk Kefir.

“Buh-b-b-b-BUT” you say. “How does it taste??!!”

Kefir milk is thicker than milk, has a little zingy effervescence to it, and tastes like a mixture of yogurt & sour cream. To me anyway.

It took us awhile to be able to drink straight Kefir milk. Start out adding it to your smoothie. That’s the only way our kids will drink it. Then everyday, just try to take a couple sips straight. You’ll get used to it and find it’s actually GOOD. You can always add a little raw honey if you need a little sweetness.

Kefir grains look like little pieces of cauliflower, but are soft and squishy. They have to have milk to live. They are a living thing and they grow. You can actually ferment other things with Kefir grains.

 
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Drop them in a jar of cream that you’ve skimmed off the top of your raw milk. That will make cultured cream, sour cream, cultured butter, etc. then you’ll have REAL butter milk after churning butter. The grains can also ferment store bought milk (results are not as great as raw milk) or even coconut milk, they just grow slower. Add them to 100% juice to make “soda” (really good!). BUT, they must go back into milk soon or they will die. Some of mine are pink & purple from fermenting strawberry and grape juice. That also makes them easier to see in your milk :)

A few things to remember about Kefir grains. They can ferment nut “milks” (which is actually juice, not milk), but won’t grow and will eventually disappear if kept in for long periods of time. Grains always need milk to stay alive and growing. Silicone is no bueno for Kefir grains. Use a mesh strainer, metal is OK too. Wooden or plastic spoons to stir or scoop out grains are best.

There are also water Kefir grains, I don’t know much about them. Apparently you ferment water???

Here’s the low-down on how to make your own kefir:

  • 1 tsp to 1 TBSP of kefir grains (I only need a 1/4 inch blob (grain) to ferment half gallon of milk)

  • 1 qt to half gallon of raw milk (cow or goat)

  • drop grain(s) in milk and ferment at room temp (ideal 70-75*) for 24 hours.

  • After 24 hours, either pour your Kefir milk through a strainer, or fish them out with a spoon or fork, to remove the grains. Put the grains in a jar of fresh milk. If they’re colored like mine, and you only use 1 grain, just scoop it off the top with a fork & plop in fresh milk.

This has to be done every 24 hours. If, in 24 hours, the taste or consistency of the milk has not changed, you either need less milk or more grains. It’s trial and error at first until you get the hang of it.

Seems every season I have to adjust the ratio of milk/grains, because room temp. in our old house is different with each season.

In the summer, as the 24 hour mark gets closer, I check the Kefir milk by shaking the jar whenever I think about it. Still liquid, not thicker, smells like milk, so I leave it longer. Half hour later, BAM, solid clump… :(

I used to just feed the “fail” to the pigs or chickens (they devour it!), but thought, “Hey, why not dump the clump through a cheesecloth?” And I made Kefir cheese! So easy and so yummy!! I kind of think it tastes kind of like cream cheese, I’d like to try it in a cheesecake sometime.

Wanna make Kefir Cheese?

You just pour, spoon, or plop the over-fermented Kefir milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Or a fancy nut milk bag. I just got one of those and it’s a game changer!! I hang it from a cabinet door, and don’t forget a bowl underneath to catch the whey. Yeah, been there, done that…

Drain until the solids reach the consistency you like, can be a few hours to overnight. Mix in some salt or other seasonings and drain more if needed, the salt can bring out more moisture. You just made Kefir Cheese!! It’s really good on veggies or crackers and LOADED with probiotics. Looks fancy enough to take to family get togethers. Just don’t tell them what it is until after they eat it.

My extended family is weird and turn their nose up at my creations. If they knew we set milk and cream out to ferment for a day or two they’d think we were nuts. You can’t help everyone, right??

You can even use the leftover whey from draining the Kefir milk for soups, smoothies, or culturing yogurt ;)! No waste here!

So, now you’re tired of making Kefir everyday. It’s like having another kid. You want to take a break. That’s easier to do with Kefir than with another kid, so let’s stick to Kefir.

Put all your grains in a small jar, pint or quart, fill with milk. Store in your refrigerator. Change the milk weekly.

If you forget about it, no worries! I forget all the time.

It has actually separated into who-knows-what in my fridge. The kind of stuff that my kids look at me in disgust as I raise the spoon to my tongue for a tiny little taste. Well, it’s never made me sick, and doesn’t even taste that bad. To me anyway.

Just strain the grains out and add to fresh milk, they’re very resilient. After the grains have a mini vay-cay, they will take a few rounds of fermenting milk to get back into their groove. SLACKERS..

Question? Leave a comment! Maybe you’re a Kefir Pro? Leave a comment! It’s fun learning new things :)

Happy Kee-fur, I mean, Kee-feer making!