Kefir: What is it and why am I talking about it?

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As I sit here, with my teacup full of straight Kefir (still trying to get used to it straight), I am trying to figure out what all the fuss is about. Kefir is basically fermented milk. I thought it would be similar to a liquid yogurt, but it’s not. It’s (as Canuck stated) interesting. I ordered some Kefir grains a few weeks ago, and have been using up almost all our milk making Kefir. Mostly, because I want to figure out how to drink it, how to use it, and is it really something I want to add to my diet.

You take the Kefir you receive and add it to milk in a 3:1 ration (3 parts milk:1 part Kefir). Place it in a sterilized container (I used a 1-gallon mason jar) and cover to keep dust/dirt out (I used the jar lid, without tightening). Let it sit (out of the sun) at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Strain it into another sterilized jar, and enjoy! With the Kefir grains, place those into another sterilized container, and add milk (repeating the process).

Now, for my observations after the first batch was finished. Kefir smells like yeast dough rising. It tastes like sourdough smells, has a slightly carbonated feel and a mild buttery aftertaste. My initial reaction? What the heck am I going to do with this stuff? So I asked my online friends. Here are the suggestions I received:

  • I haven’t tried making it myself, but it is readily available at the store
    and occasionally I get a yen for it. I find it quite delicious either
    straight or even with a pinch of salt, rather than sweet. Very refreshing.

    Kat Morgenstern
    Sacred Earth
    Educational Forum and Networking Resource
    for Ethnobotany and Ecotravel
    http://www.sacredearth.com

  • I drink it straight…have also used it in a pinch as a substitue for plain
    Yoghurt (for example in a recipe for something like Zitziki sauce) or sour
    cream in dressings, etc… No one knew the difference except me … being
    the cook of course.

    Shannon Younger

  • I received some Kefir grains a few months ago and what I have been
    doing with them is making Kefir Cream Cheese. I use heavy cream with
    the grains and when thick I sieve out grains & place into colander
    lined with coffee filter and let drain until really thick. I then mix
    in fresh herbs and finely grated garlic & a pinch of sea salt. I am
    into a toasted bagel phase right now so spread it on them also use with
    veggie sticks. Makes a great spread to put out with crackers and smoked
    salmon or smoked oysters for appies when friends drop over.

    Heather in Oyster River, B.C.

  • When I lived in Germany I loved it with granola in the morning.
    Tastier than milk and a better consistency than yogurt. I also substitute it for sour cream in a baked pork chop recipe.

    Ellen Zachos

  • I used to drink kefir, not homemade, but a commercially available brand. I used to like the raspberry kefir. I just drank it like a shake.

    Cathy, Wise Weeds
    http://www.wiseweeds.net
    Botanicals from Wise Weeds
    http://www.wiseweeds.blogspot.com
    Celebrating Our 15th Anniversary in 2007!

  • I drank the stuff back in 1979-81 when i was still in high school, got the culture froma nieghbor who was in to alternative therapies for a variety of illness and the kefir came from what i remember was russian athletes drinking it for energy… anyway long story short my mother thought i ought to try it.

    What i used back then was strawberry syrup [tried others but the strawberry was the better tasting of flavor “hiders”… I tried it straight, tried it one day fermented, 2, 4 and even a week…. but at a week all it got was THICK and VERY sharp almost unedible but i drank it down anyway as it was an “experiment”…. my bad monshine has a better flavor than the bitter sharpness of over fermented kefir. Now tha “curd” or culture itself does not have that but the texture was not to my liking…

    and after one drink, no one else in the family would drink it… so it was only meself, changin it our of the fridge in a quart mason jar [now the truth comes out as to where i get my afinity for moonshine] then one day some one was cleaning out the fridge and tossed it cause it “smelled bad” and that was the end of it for me….

    We had beef cows [registered shorthorns] and would run in a fresh cow every few months [mostly in the spring only] and milked half until the calf got older, and the fresh milk was all i had to use anyway… so it may have different results even from that over the pasteurized store bought chemical laden stuff available now [and i have friends who are ddairymen, they regularly pull teats for a living] maybe sheep milk would do good if a person could find a farm selling such, not sure about goat though…. and horse milk might be alright in it too, gotta know them mongols were tough from drinkin something!!!!

    Blueduck
    Central Idaho Martial Arts Center
    The Lawball Game

With the first batch I made a shake.

Strawberry Kefir Shake

  • 3 cups Milk Kefir
  • 3 cups Strawberries, partially frozen
  • Honey, to taste

Pour all in a blender, and pulse until you have attained the desired consistency. The only reason I used honey was due to my our-of-season strawberries. This was FANTASTIC! Even two teenagers loved it!

With the second batch I made sourdough starter and tasted a little bit straight. It tasted better this time, now that I know what to expect.

Brenda’s Kefir Sourdough Starter

  • 1 cup Milk Kefir, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar

I probably did not need to add the sugar, but did for good measure. Mix together in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Cover with a towel and let stand in a warm place for a few days (stir once a day). When you remove any of your starter, add the same amount of warm water and flour back to the starter, and let sit. This keeps the starter active. If, at any time, you cannot keep this going, put the jar in the refrigerator. Take it out once a week, add flour and water, let it “do it’s thing”, then put back in the fridge.

For the entire Sourdough Bread recipe and directions, go here:
Kefir Sourdough Starter and Bread

The third batch, I made a Blueberry Shake (the same as the strawberry shake above), but there was something missing. I don’t know what it was, whether it was lemon or something else, but the reaction from everyone (not just highly-critical me) was “Something’s missing”.

The fourth batch, I am still working on. Drinking it straight was surprisingly refreshing, as long as it was COLD (this is probably how I will end up finishing off this batch). I also tried it over granola (I make my own). It was almost like the two flavors were competing with each other. I won’t do that again. An after-effect was a surge in energy after I drank my second cup. It was a strange feeling! I could get used to that! The next three suggestions I will try are Kat’s Salt, Cathy’s Raspberry, and Heather’s Cheese. As of right now, I am happy I got into this!

Now, for the websites that know all, and do more with Kefir than I ever will:

Wishing you all Happy Fermenting!

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