Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Cup of Kefir A Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Here is all you need to make kefir: milk, kefir grains, and a jar to culture it in.

“All diseases begin in the gut.” This is a wonderful phrase coined by Hippocrates more than two thousand years ago and the more we learn, the more we realize just how right he was. If we are doing all we can to have a healthy digestive system our immune system will also be strong.  Fermented dairy products, especially kefir, are some of the best foods for our digestive system.

Kefir, a somewhat sour, yeasty, and effervescent lacto-fermented beverage is gaining enormous popularity!  January 2 of this year I began getting daily requests for kefir grains, which I just attributed to a few New Year’s Resolutions… however, those requests have not stopped and the grains are flying out the door!

Kefir originated in the Caucasus Mountains, in the former Soviet Union, and seemed to have been developed by shear accident.  The villagers of this area consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities and were renowned for longevity, living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.

Kefir is probably the easiest cultured milk beverage to make at home, easier then yogurt because it cultures right on your countertop – no need to find a warmer place to incubate it.  Whereas yogurt can be cultured from previous batches of yogurt, kefir can only be cultured using kefir grains.  Kefir grains are self perpetuating, increasing in volume with each batch you make, and therefore need to be divided over time.  If you ask around I’m sure you can find a local source – perhaps a friend with some extra to give away.  Kefir grains are not a grain at all – just initially labeled that because of their appearance and granular structure.  They are created through a dynamic association of friendly lactic acid bacteria, vinegar-producing bacteria and healthy yeast strains.

Identical as well as adorable twin sisters Cathy and Connie live nearby and culture about five gallons of raw milk into kefir each week in order to maintain strong immune systems.

As their cultures grow, they keep a steady supply of kefir grains coming my way – and I am able to pass them on to others all week.  Given that they drink more kefir than anyone I know, I asked them a few questions regarding their experience with kefir.

They each drink about 1-2 cups daily of kefir, drinking mostly in the morning but Connie and her husband enjoy a tall glass in the evening, too.  They, like me, find that it can be an acquired taste – they recommend getting used to the flavor gradually, perhaps adding maple syrup, raw honey, frozen juice concentrate or fruit compote to soften the sour flavor at first, and work your way up to being able to drink it plain if you choose.

It gets sourer and healthier the longer you leave it on your countertop – I leave mine about 24 hours, Connie ferments hers about 36 hours and Cathy cultures her about 48 hours.  I guess I’m the wimpy one of the bunch!

Initially, Cathy and Connie started drinking kefir in order to add beneficial probiotics to their diets to strengthen their immune systems, and they also chose kefir because it is the easiest of the cultured dairy products to make - you simply add kefir grains to a jar of milk and place it on your countertop to culture for a day or two.  It’s also a good idea to cover it with a towel to protect it from nutrient damaging light.

Cathy and Connie both credit kefir with preventing illness and for strengthening their immune systems immensely in the past few years.  Cathy used to get every passing bug and it would take weeks for her to recover from them.  As of today she has not been sick in a year, even though her husband has brought home a couple very nasty illnesses. 

Cathy also used to suffer from several food intolerances and breaking out in hives was a common occurrence, but since beginning kefir consumption hives are now a very rare occurrence.  Connie enjoys not having to worry about being exposed to others’ illnesses, confident her strengthened immune system will fight it off and additionally, she is now free of previously annoying digestive problems.  These two ladies are very trim and fit and Connie credits her figure to kefir being such a completely nourishing and satisfying food.
Simply place one or two of these kefir grains in a quart jar, fill with milk,
and place on counter top with lid loosened for 24 hrs. until thickened

Charlotte Smith
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which are also teeming with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3 and a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been curious about kefir, not sure exactly what it was-- I'm a big fan of yogurt, kombucha and kimchi and will try kefir next. Thanks!


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