What is Kefir?
Kefir (pronounced kee-fer) is a cultured milk, similar to yogurt, that originated in the Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe. Known for it’s intense health benefits, kefir is a favorite source of live probiotics. Probiotics are essential for a healthy gut—they fight the bad bacteria and boost the good ones which results in a stronger immune system. Kefir is also high in protein, Vitamin B, and calcium.
I just finished making a third batch of homemade kefir.
Flavored with local honey and a drop of lemon essential oil, kefir is pretty much my new favorite thing in life. My inner hippie is dancing.
Please do not hit delete or leave me forever. If it makes you feel any better, I promise I had red wine and nachos for dinner Friday night. After making the second batch of homemade kefir, she admits sheepishly.
Maybe right about now you’re feeling a lot like Husband who can frequently be heard cajoling in his best Cuban, “You got some ‘splainin to do.” Bless his heart. And, yours too.
Kefir is good. Homemade Kefir is Amazing.
Long ago, when the Littles were still little, and we gave up gluten and dairy for a couple years, I learned about kefir. Desperate to allow some kind of dairy back into our lives and fill their growing bodies with immune boosting probiotics I got on the kefir bandwagon. I found a few brands at Whole Foods, but the kefir that wasn’t too sour for the kiddos was loaded with sugar. Plus, flavored kefir drinks are expensive.
So, I broke up with kefir.
Last week, Chelita asked if I wanted some búlgaros. After an hour of googling Spanish translations we celebrated and high-fived each other when I finally understood what búlgaros meant. Búlgaros are kefir grains. Which is odd since they are not really grains rather rice-like looking clumps of live bacteria and yeast culture. The good stuff.
I admit my trepidation. I mean who has time to make homemade kefir? And, why? Not to mention the live bacteria and yeast culture dubbed “búlgaros”? It all seemed a bit much.
Gratefully, I set fear aside and let Chelita teach me once again. Homemade kefir is worth it y’all.
Three Easy Steps to Make Homemade Kefir
1. Obtain high quality kefir grains. Ask around, especially at the Farmers Market. If you can’t find local kefir grains, you can purchase a starter kit at Cultures for Health. There are two kinds of kefir grains – water and milk. I have the milk kefir grains.
2. Keep your kefir culture covered in the milk of your choice – whole or 2% organic cow milk, coconut milk, goat milk. Whatever you like. Keep the milk covered kefir grains unrefrigerated in a vented glass jar on the kitchen counter. I use a mason jar with a coffee filter.
3. Every 24 – 48 hours (depending on how strong you like your kefir), strain the milk into a storage container. Rinse the búlgaros in cold water, and return the cultures back to the mason jar, and add fresh milk. Be sure to rinse the mason jar so it’s nice and clean first.
That’s it. The strained milk is your kefir. It’s not as thick as yogurt, but smooth and creamy. Kefir will last for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Ways to Use Kefir
1. Drink kefir plain as an easy, healthy way to enjoy immune boosting probiotics.
2. Add kefir to your favorite smoothie recipe.
3. Kefir can be added as a nutritional boost to baked good recipes — think banana bread, pancakes, or even cupcakes (the Littles will never know they are getting a healthy boost!)
4. Flavor with your favorite essential oils. My favorite add ins to kefir are honey, vanilla, and a drop of Lemon essential oil.
5. Top kefir with berries and The Best Granola for a perfect breakfast.
What do you think? Ready to join the kefir bandwagon with me? If you are in the ‘hood, let me know if you want to stop by for a taste. I’ll also have some búlgaros to share soon so your inner hippie can dance along with me.