How to make Kefir with Dr. Kelly Baltuska, DC
Buy Kefir Grains Starter Kit for $20 at Baltuska Chiropractic
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains a powerful supply of beneficial probiotics. One of the very best and most affordable ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is to obtain raw milk and convert it to kefir yourself. After obtaining kefir grains from someone you know (call me 913-283-9803), simply soak the kefir grains in the milk overnight at room temperature. By the time you wake up in the morning you will have made kefir. If it hasn’t obtained the consistency of yogurt you might want to set it out a bit longer and then store it in the fridge. Kefir has a very mysterious history. I have read that the kefir grains cannot be recreated and must be acquired and grown from someone who is already enjoying their benefits. Some companies sell “starter cultures”, but these lose potency after a few batches and must be replaced. Other companies have commercialized the production for sale in stores but after the processing and added sugars, there is little to offer you in terms of health benefits. Much like other foods, grow and prepare at home to achieve the best health benefits.
The grains may have originated in the Caucus Mountains, where nomadic sheepherders would store their refreshing milk in leather pouches on their belts. After a long days work they would reach for their drink, it will have transformed into what they described as a deliciously effervescent, bubbly drink. The name Kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif” – meaning “good feeling” – for the sense of well being experienced after drinking it.
The fermentation is triggered by Kefir “grains”, consisting of various species of symbiotic bacteria and yeast. There are no true grains in the process, the term was applied because of the appearance and has stuck ever since. Bacteria (mostly lactobacteria and streptococci) ferment lactose, the sugar found in milk; yeasts perform alcohol fermentation, producing negligible amounts of alcohol. The resulting drink has a pleasantly tangy taste. Easy to digest, Kefir cleanses the intestines while boosting your immune response to illness.
Kefir is an excellent source of protein, calcium, iodine and vitamins A, B, and D. Plus, it’s gluten-free, 99% lactose-free. It can and should be enjoyed any and all the time. For best results, it is recommended to drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Many different healthcare professionals agree that it is beneficial to your health to regularly take a probiotic supplement. From dermatologists and psychologists to GI specialists and Cancer doctors, they would all agree of the importance of a healthy digestive system. There are MANY different brands and varieties of probiotic supplements available. Fortunately, Mother Nature also provides natural, affordable and sustainable probiotics in certain superfoods. Kefir is one of these superfoods!
How to Make Kefir
(this information is in a printable booklet at this link)
1. Place the kefir grains in a quart jar and fill it ¾ full with milk. (Approximately 3-4 tablespoons of grains per jar or 1 Tbsp. Of kefir to every 1 cup of milk) This ratio is not strict and can vary without any problems.
2. Cover the jar with coffee filter or paper towel and secure with a rubber band to let it breathe and keep bugs out.
3. Leave the jar in a room temperature, dark area (68-80°F) in your home. Stir or agitate the jar a few times a day if desired but not required.
4. Kefir normally takes at least 18 to 24 hours to form. The longer the fermentation after 24 hours, the more sour the taste. This window of time is not strict (2-3 days is fine).
5. Once the milk has thickened and there is a clear layer of liquid in the jar, the kefir has formed. Strain and remove the kefir grains with a plastic fine mesh strainer.
6. Pour freshly made Kefir into a new jar and seal tightly with a lid. Enjoy right away and/or store surplus in the refrigerator, which will be safe to use for up to 30 days.
7. The kefir grains can then be placed in fresh milk and the process repeated.
Tips/Warnings/Do’s and Don’ts:
• Direct light will destroy many precious nutrients in the Kefir. Keep the jars in a dark place. Mine are in the cupboard. I’ve read that all metals should be avoided when handling/storing kefir. The fermentation process may leach unwanted substance from the metal.
• If the temperature in the house is cooler, it will slow the fermentation process. If the temperature is warmer, it will speed the fermentation process. Extreme heat will kill the kefir grains. Be careful not to place the kefir or kefir grains in a jar that is still hot from the dishwasher.
• If you are going on vacation or simply want to stop fermenting milk for a period of time, store your grains in a sealed jar with milk in the refrigerator. Use a larger milk to kefir ratio so that there will be plenty of lactose for the bacteria to dine on. This will keep the grains alive while slowing the fermentation process. The kefir may still be used when ready to resume the process.
• Trust your feral instincts and don’t consume foods that smell or taste rancid.
• To avoid a difficult or uncomfortable transition into better health, gradually introduce kefir into your diet. Example: 4oz/day for first 2 days, 6oz/day for next 2 days, 8oz/day for next 2 days etc.
• Enjoy kefir as is, or add honey to sweeten it. My morning breakfast smoothie usually contains kefir, banana, mixed berries, kale/spinach/broccoli, coconut oil, and ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and 2 eggs blended together.
• Hundreds of other recipes can be found online. My family’s favorites are: kefir popsicles, avocado dip, pancakes, and smoothies. The pancakes are DELICIOUS; unfortunately, the heat does destroy the bacteria and decreases the health benefits.
• Healthy kefir grains will grow up to 25% in size/quantity with each cycle/batch. They can quickly overwhelm you so keep talking about the great health benefits to friends and family to see who may be interested in taking some off of your hands when this happens. Some people eat the extra grains or feed them to their pets.
If you have any questions while learning to prepare your own kefir, just email [email protected]
Check out this beautiful 5 minute cartoon that was posted by NPR that educates about the importance of probiotic bacteria for optimal health and wellness:
Click here if you would like to learn how to brew your own Kombucha at home for other probiotic health benefits.
Cheers to good health,
Kelly Baltuska, DC
Buy Kefir Grains Starter Kit for $20 at Baltuska Chiropractic