Thursday, 8 January 2015

Kefir Grains: A Powerful Probiotic!

What are Kefir Grains?

Firstly and most importantly, you need to be aware that there are scare tactic campaigns about kefir, being made by people who don't know about kefir and/or don't want you to be healthy.  So, simply ignore them.   Kefir grains have been used in Russian farm homes for fermenting brews for many many years.

Kefir grains are combinations of yeasts and bacteria living on a substrate made up of a variety of dairy components.  These live kefir grains look a little bit like cauliflower florets and are somewhat gelatinous in texture.

There are water kefir grains and milk kefir grains.  Water grains look more translucent in colour, these are for brewing water ferments with fruits; and the milk grains for fermenting raw milk are white in colour.

Kefir milk has a consistency of drinkable yogurt but is tart and effervescent in flavour.  Kefir grains consume the lactose during the culturing process, so this is very ideal for intolerant people. Kefir is very versatile – you can drink it plain, add it to a smoothie, use it in baking, or even drain the ‘whey’ from it to make kefir cheese (like cream cheese) to use in dips.

Storing Kefir Grains:

Kefir grains are a living organism and so need to breath.  Do not store it in an airtight jar, instead cover with a breathable cloth.   Some recommend rinsing the grains in water after each use.  However age old tradition advises against this, as chemicals in the water could destroy the grains, just place into a little fresh milk and store in the fridge.  Kefir grains can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, when not being used.

Making Your Own Kefir:

Glass jars are best for fermenting.  One should avoid metals and aluminium.   You want to use raw organic milk for best results, not processed milk, as the pasteurization process destroys living enzymes in the milk.

I place raw organic milk into a jar and then pop the kefir grains in and cover the top of the jar with a breathable cloth and elastic.  I then put it into the cupboard and leave it to do its thing and brew the healthy bacteria and probiotics.   I leave it for 24 to 48 hours and voila!  You can then strain the Kefir grains out and consume the kefir milk.

The Fermentation Process:

 When used in the fermentation process, the best temperature for Kefir is between 22o C and 30o C (72 - 86o F).  I like to use a cupboard upstairs in my home, this room gets very warm, and this is ideal for kefir.

Fermentation times are recommended between 12 and 72 hours. Shorter fermentation results in a milder, sweeter aroma and a lively sparkling product. Longer fermentation makes a stronger Kefir aroma, sparkling and slightly sour.

"Kefir fermented for 24 hours has a mild laxative effect, fermented for 48 hours is balancing and longer fermentation of about 70 hours has a very mild constipating effect." ~ Brigitta Cadisch-Umbricht.

Health Benefits: 

Homemade Kefir has 35 different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts.  Kefir isn’t at all like yogurt in that kefir actually colonizes our digestive tracts with this beneficial bacteria and yeast.

Yogurt and many other so called probiotic foods on the market today actually only provide prebiotics or simply – they provide food for the good bacteria that live in the intestinal tract.

Laboratory grown yogurt has only 1 to 5 strains of beneficial bacteria and laboratory grown kefir for manufactured products has only 10 strains.  Commercially made kefir sold in the stores is not fermented long enough. In addition the pasteurization process after fermentation kills the probiotic microbes.

When you start making your own kefir, START SLOWLY.  Just a spoonful a day for the first two weeks is enough to slowly introduce your body to this magical substance.  The first two weeks is called the ‘die off’ period, because the kefir is killing off bad substances and this shows up in different ways for different people.  After a few weeks, I could tell when I was ready for more because I suddenly wanted more kefir.  I am now able to drink a cup a day!

Kefir boosts our immune systems by keeping healthy bacteria in our digestive tract (and 80% of our immune system is in our digestive track!). The fermenting bacteria produce lactic acid which heals and soothes the gut lining. Kefir is rich in vitamin A, B2, B12, D, K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and typtophan.  It has anti tumor properties, prevents disease, increases digestibility and it controls toxins.

Where can I get Kefir Grains?

You can buy them at some health stores, or ven better, find someone in your area that uses Kefir grains and ask them to please share with you.

Protect your gut bacteria.  Be well!


#kefir #gut #health #immunity

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