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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Anti-recipe #26 Kefir

My whole recipe section has been lacking lately. Why? I don’t know. I have little interest in cooking/baking etc. lately. Perhaps it was an overdosing in cooking/baking over the holidays? (Poor dada, too often he gets the 4pm text – WHAT SHOULD I MAKE FOR DINNER???? Sent in panic)
I really need to start planning out the week’s meals. And I need to start baking too. I have a great bread recipe to share and I want to try substituting with gluten free flour.
Maybe later this week.
For now here is a quickie recipe for you. Kefir.
What is it you ask? Basically it’s a liquid yogurt drink, made in a similar way but with a different culture. You can buy bottles of kefir in about any grocery store in lots of yummy flavors. It is an excellent way to get good probiotics into little tummies. its also a REALLY great first food for babies. I often chug it for breakfast, really filling, and good for you, and etc. etc.
(Do you sense my lack of energy? Sorry. I will try to do better.)
KEFIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(ha ha)
kefir grains ready to go
But it really is good stuff. And, like I said, its good for you. Like yogurt (but even better than yogurt because it’s made with more bacteria strains and is more easily digestible) kefir claims the following health benefits (from one of many kefir fansites out there):

Easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The regular use of kefir can help relieve intestinal disorders and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity. Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition
Trouble is, it can be expensive to drink daily ($5 for a small bottle?!).

However, if you can get your hands on some kefir grains (the culture used to make it) it is seriously a snap to make. I mean. Seriously. A. Snap.
You can buy grains all over the internet. Here and here.
So, here is how it works.

Store your grains in a small plastic container, covered in some water, in the fridge. When you are ready to make kefir let your grains warm up first to room temperature. Dump some milk into a glass quart size jar (you can use raw milk, if you can get your hands on it, but otherwise regular organic whole milk works too. Whole milk is best because it will result in creamier kefir.) Let your milk warm up too. You can actually warm it on the stove – just to room temp/lukewarm! Or, do like me and let it and your grains (in their separate container) warm up on your stovetop (well, if you have a gas stove, mine is always slightly warm on top from the pilot light.) Don’t microwave your milk or grains to warm them up (ew).

kefir kefiring up on the stovetop

Once the grains have warmed up a bit dump grains into your jar of milk. Cover with a cheesecloth or woven dishtowel, secure with a rubber band and let sit for 24-48 hours. Your kefir should have a slightly thick consistency. It won’t be as thick as store bought (apparently they use gelatin and the like to thicken it) but it shouldn’t be as runny as milk. How long this takes depends on your environment. If you are in the frozen tundra like me it will take 48 hours or more. (Even with it sitting on a stovetop!)

straining out kefir grains

Once your kefir is thick enough its ready to go. Strain out your grains with a plastic strainer, dumping the kefir into a bowl (never touch metal spoons, bowls, strainers, to your kefir grains. I forget why -  its not good for the bacteria? Something like that.) Put your kefir into a clean jar and your grains back into the container, cover with water, and refrigerate. Store your finished kefir in the fridge.
some yummy goats milk kefir ready to drink.
So, you can drink it straight up. Really good kefir is thick and has some effervescence. It has a slightly yeasty smell, but not in a bad way. I like mine best mixed with OJ or grape juice. Or use in a smoothie. There are endless uses in cooking too and to ferment foods. I use it to soak my flour in my favorite bread recipe (forthcoming!!)
Oh, and you can buy goats milk at Trader Joe’s and make goat’s milk kefir for those of you who might be lactose intolerant. Goat’s milk is much more easily digestible. It is also closest to human milk and therefore a really great first food for babies.  (I have been meaning to do a first food for baby post…I will soon)
Ok. There you have it. YUM.


  1. Very interesting, thanks for sharing! I had never heard of it before but those are some awesome health benefits!
    Oh, and i have the larger one of that old Pyrex! :)


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