Dairy Kefir is a fermented yogurt-like milk. It is slightly sour and not as thick as yogurt, and it contains more probiotics than yogurt. Dairy kefir grains (they are not real grains, but a SCOBY –symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) are required for making kefir. Kefir is alive with beneficial bacteria and yeast which depend and work in harmony with each other. Just as the kombucha culture feeds off of the sugar, dairy kefir grains feed on the sugar in milk (lactose). That is why people who are lactose intolerant are generally able to drink kefir without problems.
Kefir is one of the easiest and healthiest things you can make. All you have to do is pour milk over a small amount of grains in a glass jar. Cover with a cloth or coffee filter, and let it sit for 24 hours. It’s ready after 24-48 hours, when the milk has thickened. Strain out the grains, and you’re ready to make a kefir smoothie. After you strain off your kefir yogurt drink, refrigerate. It is alive, and it will keep getting stronger in flavor if left at room temperature.
Dairy kefir grains are reusable, and they don’t need to be rinsed between batches of kefir. They multiply slowly over time, if taken care of and fed. They don’t go bad, unless something contaminated the batch and caused mold. Don’t forget that metal will harm the culture. Stir the kefir with a plastic or wooden spoon, use a plastic strainer, and store in glass jars.
Raw milk is best for making kefir, but pasteurized milk can also be used. However, ultra-pasteurized milk will not make kefir. It is dead milk, and won’t ferment correctly. Grass-fed milk is safest for the health of the culture and for you.
Raw milk kefir is full of enzymes and vitamins that help with overall health. Kefir can even reverse health problems by healing the digestive tract and restoring proper gut flora. People with lactose intolerance can usually drink RAW milk kefir. Kefir is known to heal heartburn, and heal an imbalanced gut.
The most popular way to drink kefir is in a fruit smoothie sweetened with honey.
Other uses: You can experiment with creating thicker kefir to use as cream cheese or sour cream, by letting it sit on the counter for a couple more days than normal. Sour cream is made the same way as normal kefir, but with cream instead of milk. Kefir cream cheese is also made the same way as normal kefir, but let it sit longer until it separates into curds and whey (a couple days). Wrap it in cheesecloth and hang over a bowl to strain off the whey. Use the cream cheese like you normally would, and use the whey for other homemade fermented foods. Kefir can also be used as leaven in sourdough bread. It can be used in place of yogurt or sour cream in recipes, or used however you like.
There is also a water kefir version of the culture. It feeds off of sugar instead of milk. It’s similar to kombucha, except it is not vinegary in flavor. It doesn’t have the same detoxifying qualities as kombucha, but it contains more probiotics (the same as dairy kefir, but less concentrated).
Visit Culturesforhealth.com for more information, or to order dehydrated kefir grains.