Table of Contents
- What is Kefir
- Health Benefits of Kefir
- Kefir is Highly Nutritious
- Kefir is Great for Your Gut
- Kefir’s Probiotics Improve Your Health
- Kefir Fights Infection
- Kefir Promotes Better Digestion
- Kefir Can Help with Lactose Intolerance
- Kefir Strengthens Your Bones
- Kefir Can Lower Allergies and Asthma Symptoms
- Kefir Helps Fight Cancer
- Kefir Is Good For Your Weight
- Kefir Promotes Detoxification
- Kefir is a Helpful Preservative
- Kefir Helps You Heal Faster
- Kefir Slows the Aging Process
- Kefir is Good for your Skin
- Kefir Can Help You Quit Smoking
- Kefir is Good for Your Brain
- Kefir FAQs
- Recipes Using Kefir
- Using a Culture Starter Kit
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Natural health aficionados and foodies alike are singing the praises of kefir.
This probiotic-rich delight, which has been a staple of diets in parts of Russia, central Asia, and Chile, has garnered a lot of notice by those who understand the health benefits of fermented foods and beverages like kefir.
The health of your gut dictates the health of many other systems in your body, including your ability to fight infections and ward off diseases.
Fermented foods, like kefir, keep your gut healthy and provide valuable bacteria that support its effective working.
You may not be familiar with kefir or its many health benefits, which is why our guide can help.
We’ll tell you everything you’ve wanted to know about kefir, as well as all the amazing things it can do for your health.
We’ll even share how to make your own kefir at home, as well as delicious recipes that utilize this wonder food.
First, let’s investigate more the basics of kefir.
What is Kefir
Kefir, which is usually pronounced kuh-FEAR, is a fermented beverage that can be made from either water or milk.
Kefir is made using what is called “grains,” which are actually a fermentation starter comprised of bacteria and yeast.
These grains are used to inoculate either milk from a cow, sheep, or goat or a water mixture that contains fruit and sugar.
This resulting fermented drink is rich in probiotics, and tastes slightly sour but also delicious.
When making water kefir, the grains used are made from three primary types of microbes – Lactobacillus Brevis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Streptococcus lactis (1).
Because it can absorb other bacteria and yeast from the air and the liquid, water kefir can include other types of yeasts and bacteria, though.
Water kefir grains are added to water, dried fruit, and sugar.
When the kefir grains consume the available sugars, they ferment and release the probiotic bacteria that are helpful to your gut health.
Kefir tastes slightly sour and is lightly carbonated, due to the fermentation.
Water kefir is not as well-known or -studied as milk kefir varieties, and for that reason, we will be primarily discussing and referencing milk kefir varieties in the remainder of this article.
The primary bacteria found in milk kefir is Lactobacillus kefiri (2).
Colonies of it are added to milk, and as they consume the sugar found in the lactose, they ferment and release the valuable probiotics that benefit our health (3).
Fermentation of milk kefir usually occurs over a period of about 24 hours, after which the grains are strained and the liquid remains.
Milk kefir has the consistency of runny yogurt and the slightly sour taste of Greek yogurt.
Once kefir grains are strained from the liquid that they were used to inoculate, they can be used again to start another batch of kefir.
Also as long as the grains have sufficient sugar, liquid, and nutrients, they can live indefinitely.
In fact, as they age, kefir grains, like other forms of symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), take on different characteristics based on the yeast and bacteria from which they are made (4).
Making your own kefir at home is fairly simple, but you must start with the correct grains.
These can often be purchased either online or at health food stores.
If you don’t want to make your own, milk kefir is becoming more readily available commercially.
Health Benefits of Kefir
Milk kefir has been heavily researched, so we understand a great deal about the benefits it provides to those who consume it.
The following are the top reasons you should be drinking kefir regularly.
Kefir is Highly Nutritious
Because the kefir grains consume the majority of the natural sugars in milk, kefir has little sugar left after fermentation.
You can use any type of milk to make kefir, including animal milk from cows, sheep, and goats, as well as plant milk.
If you opt to use plant milk, your kefir culture will not last indefinitely, though.
Plant milk lacks the proper nutrients to keep the bacteria and yeast alive forever.
Milk kefir is thicker than milk but thinner than yogurt.
It has a slightly sour or acidic taste, typical of yogurt and other fermented foods.
While the nutritional content of your kefir will differ slightly based on the type of liquid used, kefir contains high percentages of many essential vitamins and nutrients.
Six ounces of kefir can contain up to seven grams of protein and 20 percent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium and phosphorous.
With two grams of fat, over half of which is from saturated fat, and only 150 calories, kefir packs a lot of energy into a small portion.
Again, the amounts of these will differ depending on the milk used to create the kefir.
The kefir grains are what turn milk into this delicious, fermented beverage.
They add amino acids, enzymes, and beneficial microbes, making kefir the probiotic superfood it is (6).
Other factors that influence the final nutritional count of kefir include the fermentation time, as well as environmental factors.
Final Tip: Because kefir contains high percentages of nutrients, is low in fat, and contains a healthy balance of fats, it is highly nutritious.
Kefir is Great for Your Gut
Not only are the probiotics found in kefir beneficial to your stomach, but they are also able to support your entire intestinal tract.
Unlike the probiotics found in yogurt, which are unable to survive past the harsh acids found in the stomach, kefir probiotics can be carried all the way through to the large intestine.
It is believed that the dairy in kefir reduces stomach acidity, allowing the bacteria to move on undigested through the gastrointestinal tract (7).
When subjected to pH levels similar to those of stomach acid in a laboratory setting, kefir probiotics are able to survive.
In addition, the microbes found in kefir thrive when they adhere to cells like those found in your gut lining.
This means these cells are able to help colonize your gut, which protects you from harmful bacteria.
Final Tip: Laboratory tests on kefir show how it behaves without our GI tracts, including that it can survive in the large intestine.
This means kefir could have the potential for restoring gut health and returning proper levels of bacteria in an unhealthy gut.
Kefir’s Probiotics Improve Your Health
When most people think of probiotics, they immediately think of yogurt.
While most know that eating yogurt can improve digestion and your bowel movement regularity, you may not be aware of the other benefits probiotics have for your health, or that kefir contains more probiotics than almost any other food (8).
Among the health benefits that probiotics can offer, the most significant include:
- Lowering inflammation (9);
- Supporting your immune system’s ability to fight acute illness (10);
- Lowering your risk for certain allergies (11);
- Reducing high blood pressure (12);
- Helping you maintain a healthy weight (13);
- Improving the condition of your skin (14).
While most yogurt does contain active, live cultures that are made up of probiotics, not all do, and kefir includes at least 40 strains of bacteria which is many more than yogurt.
Yogurt contains only bacteria, while kefir also contains yeasts that provide additional vitamins and amino acids.
Final Tip: Kefir’s mix of bacteria and yeast means it has more probiotics, as well as a greater diversity of microbes that are beneficial to your health in many ways.
Kefir Fights Infection
One of the primary bacteria found in kefir is Lactobacillus, which is known to fight against certain types of infection.
In particular, Lactobacillus is effective at slowing the growth of E. coli, salmonella, and H. pylori, which are all harmful pathogens that can cause severe gastrointestinal distress (15).
When you take antibiotics for an infection, not only do these drugs destroy the harmful bacteria in your body, but they also destroy the helpful bacteria in your gut, as well.
Drinking kefir can help rebuild your store of good bacteria in your gut, allowing you to fight any other pathogens you might encounter.
The antibacterial properties of kefir can even be useful in treating external wounds.
Applying kefir topically has been shown to promote healing and prevent infection, likely due to a sugar found in kefir known as kefiran (16).
Final Tip: When consumed or used topically, kefir has antibacterial properties that help fight off infection.
Kefir Promotes Better Digestion
The probiotics in kefir act to restore the natural balance of healthy and helpful bacteria in your gut, which not only resist infection but also help optimize your digestive functions.
Kefir is so good at this that is referred to as a functional food, which means that it’s more than just nutrition.
It’s a positive addition to your health.
Diarrhea can be caused by a number of factors, including bacteria, an overgrowth of yeast, and disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The probiotics in kefir help restore the natural balance upset by these factors, minimizing gastric distress.
If you have a gastric ulcer or other disorder linked to H. pylori bacteria, kefir can also help reduce gastric distress (19).
Final Tip: Whether you have acute or chronic gastrointestinal problems, kefir can help reduce symptoms and the severity of flares.
Kefir Can Help with Lactose Intolerance
If you are lactose intolerant, your body has difficulty digesting the sugars found in milk.
Because kefir grains consume the sugars found in milk, kefir has less lactose than unfermented dairy.
Also, kefir contains enzymes that can help your body process properly the remaining sugars found in milk.
Researchers have discovered that yogurt causes less distress than milk for people who are lactose intolerant.
Those who drank kefir experienced even fewer symptoms than those who ate yogurt, which means some who are lactose intolerant may have few or no symptoms when drinking kefir (20).
This is good news for anyone who is lactose intolerant, but would still like to enjoy the health benefits of kefir.
Remember, though, that you can also make kefir using plant milk or other alternative kinds of milk, including soy, coconut, and rice.
You can even freeze kefir, which means lactose intolerance doesn’t have to mean an end to frozen treats.
Final Tip: Those with lactose intolerance may find they are able to enjoy kefir.
Because the fermentation process consumes many of the sugars in milk that can cause problems, kefir is often better tolerated by those who otherwise cannot have dairy.
Non-dairy kefir is also an option.
Kefir Strengthens Your Bones
Kefir can enhance your ability to absorb calcium, which is essential for preventing diseases such as osteoporosis.
When your bones have low mass and show evidence of deterioration in their structure, you have osteoporosis, which can lead to an increased risk of fracture due to fragile bones.
To reduce your risk of osteoporosis, you need not only plenty of calcium but also Vitamin K, which plays a vital role in supporting your body’s use of calcium to build strong bones (21).
Full-fat milk contains a large amount of Vitamin K, and drinking kefir made with full-fat milk is an excellent way to boost your bone health.
Because kefir helps you absorb more calcium than regular milk, drinking kefir is actually better for your bones than drinking milk alone (22).
Final Tip: Drinking kefir is good for your bones.
The probiotics in kefir make it easier for your body to absorb the available calcium, which enhances your bone health and can help prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
Kefir Can Lower Allergies and Asthma Symptoms
Asthma is a direct result of allergens and inflammation in the lungs.
Most allergic reactions are also a result of inflammation caused by your immune system.
Because kefir is known to reduce inflammation, it has been studied to examine its effect on allergies and asthma, with surprising results.
Kefir is able to suppress some significant inflammatory markers responsible for asthma and allergy symptoms (23).
While this needs further research to examine its full effect on humans, kefir holds promise as a treatment for reducing the symptoms associated with allergies and asthma.
Final Tip: Because kefir can lower inflammation, it holds promise for reducing allergy and asthma symptoms.
Additional research is required in this area.
Kefir Helps Fight Cancer
When cells mutate and grow uncontrollably, there is cancer.
Tumors are masses of cancer cells in one location.
Probiotics like those found in kefir are known to slow the growth of tumors and support the immune system via high concentrations of antioxidants (24).
Kefir’s probiotics are more effective at fighting many types of cancer cells compared to yogurt (27).
Because it has antioxidants, regular consumption of kefir could help reduce your risk for many kinds of cancer (28).
Final Tip: Kefir’s probiotics are powerful cancer-fighting tools that can not only reduce your risk of developing cancer but may hold promise for treating some forms of cancer, too.
Kefir Is Good For Your Weight
Kefir contains five types of bacteria that can actually help you reduce your weight and lose body fat.
Below, we explain how each type of bacteria can help you reduce your overall weight, and help you control your body fat percentage.
- Lactobacillus gasseri – This bacterium is able to increase the size of fat molecules, helping you absorb less fat with each meal you eat. This is helpful when you are trying to reduce belly fat, also known as visceral adipose tissue, as well as your overall BMI and weight. Adding regular kefir intake to your diet can help reduce your body fat significantly in just four months (29).
- Lactobacillus paracasei – This strain of bacteria increases a particular hormone that regulates your ability to burn fat. By increasing intake, you are telling your body to burn more fat (30).
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus – This bacterium increases satiety by releasing leptin, which is sometimes called the obesity hormone. You can increase your weight loss by up to 50 percent more when you include this strain of bacteria in your diet regularly (31).
- Lactobacillus amylovorus and Lactobacillus fermentum – Research indicates that these two strains are able to reduce body fat more in patients who use them, compared to those who do not. These two probiotics are essential for healthy gut microflora, and when they are present, they promote an altered energy metabolism and improved body composition (32).
Kefir Promotes Detoxification
We are exposed regularly to toxins from heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants, preservatives, and poisonous chemicals.
These pollutants enter our bodies when we eat, breathe, and touch things in our environment.
Once they are inside your body, these toxins remain in your tissues and cells.
They have significant health impacts, including causing mental health problems, cancer, and digestive, metabolic, and reproductive disorders (33).
Kefir can be used to help detoxify your body and rid your cells of these unwanted wastes.
Kefir is particularly good against aflatoxins, which are commonly found in foods.
Aflatoxins spread via mold spores, and are common in groundnuts.
They also are known to affect grains like wheat, corn, and soy, and they can appear in oils like canola, soybean, and cottonseed.
Because some of the bacteria in kefir bind to aflatoxins, they can kill these and other types of fungal contaminants.
If you want to protect yourself from these and other food-borne contaminants, detoxification using kefir and other detox ingredients is an excellent choice.
Final Tip: Kefir is a detoxification ingredient that binds to aflatoxins, to which you are regularly exposed in your diet.
Kefir is a Helpful Preservative
When foods are fermented with kefir, they stay fresher longer.
While this is not a direct health benefit, it certainly has positive, indirect effects on you.
Fermentation is a way to encourage healthy, good bacteria to thrive, which in turn gives no room or food for unhealthy, bad bacteria to survive.
Using kefir in your diet promotes the positive microflora in your gut, which means bad bacteria can’t take hold.
As an example, bread made using kefir grains instead of yeast tends to stay fresher longer, resisting mold and other microbes that promote decay.
The kefir bacteria and yeast prevent other invaders from taking over, ruining your food (34).
Final Tip: Kefir is a good preservative because it promotes healthy microbes and resists unhealthy ones.
Kefir Helps You Heal Faster
The probiotics and anti-inflammatory properties of kefir can help wounds heal faster, and reduces the risk of scarring.
When compared with conventional wound treatments like silver sulfadiazine, kefir has been shown to reduce inflammation and scar formation, and promote wound healing, as well as or better than conventional treatments (35).
It is believed that the probiotics in kefir play a role in healing these wounds by restoring balance to any microbial communities that may be living in or on the wound location.
By providing the healthy, necessary microbes our bodies need to function and heal, kefir is facilitating more efficient wound healing.
Final Tip: As an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, kefir is effective at healing wounds.
Kefir Slows the Aging Process
Oxidative stress is a primary cause of aging and age-related disorders and diseases (36).
When made with milk or soy milk, kefir is high in antioxidants, which are known to slow oxidative stress and thus aging in general (37).
Diseases linked to aging, such as dementia and certain types of cancer, can be delayed when you eat a diet rich in antioxidants, including foods like kefir.
Other side effects of oxidative stress include cardiovascular problems.
Final Tip: To live a longer, healthier life, consume foods high in antioxidants, which inhibit oxidative stress and its effects on your body.
Kefir is Good for your Skin
Kefir’s benefits are not just for what’s inside your body, but also for what is on the outside.
Your skin can benefit from kefir, too.
Not only can kefir help fight the bacteria that cause acne, but many of the compounds in kefir can be used to lighten the color of your skin (38).
Many people wish for an evener skin tone, and the reasons vary significantly.
While some want to reduce irregularities such as moles, birthmarks, vitiligo, or lentigo spots, others are seeking lighter skin for aesthetic purposes.
Regardless of your reasons, the compounds in kefir are a more natural solution to skin bleaching and lightening products that often contain harsh chemicals.
Final Tip: Kefir works on your outside as well as your inside.
Applying kefir to your skin can help relieve acne, as well as naturally lighten your skin.
Kefir Can Help You Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking can be a difficult task that sometimes feels impossible.
The nicotine withdrawal symptoms you experience can be very troublesome and include depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment.
The high tryptophan concentration in kefir may reduce some of these symptoms, and help you kick your smoking habit for good.
Initial testing on animals showed that a diet containing kefir has a potential for alleviating these side effects of nicotine withdrawal, which means there is hope for future research in this area (39).
Final Tip: If depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment are troublesome symptoms of your nicotine withdrawal, a diet that includes kefir may offer some relief from them.
Kefir is Good for Your Brain
Because of research on the impact of kefir on cognitive impairment due to nicotine withdrawal, we also understand that kefir may have other cognitive benefits, as well.
In animal trials, kefir has been shown to improve spatial learning, promote better consolidation of memory, and slow the cognitive decline most commonly seen in dementia disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (40, 41).
Because of the success of these initial results, further research is needed to understand the impact of kefir and its compounds on human cognitive functioning.
Final Tip: In the future, we may be using kefir and the compounds found in this food to treat cognitive disorders, including dementia and other age-related diseases.
- How much Kefir should I be Drinking?
For best results, drink one to two cups of kefir every day.
If you are new to drinking kefir, start with less and gradually increase the amount in your diet over a week or so.
If you do not enjoy the heaviness of milk kefir, consider drinking water kefir instead.
- What are Some Side Effects of Drinking Kefir?
If you have an allergy to milk or are lactose intolerant, you may experience some side effects from drinking kefir.
Using plant kinds of milk, such as soy, rice, or almond milk, or drinking water kefir, may be a better choice for you.
When you first start drinking kefir regularly, it will take some time for your body to adjust to the levels of healthy bacteria and yeast in your system, and you may experience a few side effects during this transition.
The most common are:
- Loose stools
- Body aches
While these are unpleasant, they are not a cause for concern and should dissipate within the first week of regular use of kefir.
During this time, the healthy bacteria are destroying the unhealthy microbes in your gut and restoring your natural balance, so you need to get rid of the wastes and toxins from this process.
As you adjust, these symptoms should disappear.
If you are uncomfortable, drink less kefir and slowly add more over time until your body makes the proper adjustments.
- How do I Keep my Grains Alive when not Making Kefir?
If you want to stop making kefir for a short time, you can place your grains in a container, cover them with either fresh milk or sugar water, and store them in the refrigerator or a cool place.
This will keep your grains fresh for a few weeks, while you are not using them.
Once you are ready to use them again, give them new milk every 24 hours for two days, then resume making your kefir as before.
It is important that you do not rinse your grains (unless following the instructions below for reviving damaged grains), or use any type of detergent.
Never squeeze or scrub your grains.
Always use non-metallic containers, utensils, and surfaces when working with your kefir grains.
- How long can I Expect to Keep my Kefir Grains?
Kefir grains stored in the freezer will be fine for up to two months.
Once they are being used actively to make kefir, they will last indefinitely, as long as you are feeding and straining them every day.
- Where did Kefir Grains Come from?
No one is quite sure how the first grains originated, but we know this process originated in the Northern Caucasus Mountains in central Asia.
There is no historical data to support kefir’s origins, but it has been around for many centuries.
- How do I Store my Kefir Grains?
To store your grains, you must first prepare them for freezing.
Rinse your grains in filtered water to remove any milk particles.
Lay them in a single layer on parchment paper, then place this in a dry location in your home away from direct sunlight.
This can take up to five days or longer, depending on the humidity level in your area.
When they are completely dry, put them into an airtight container such as a plastic bag or sealed jar, then place this into the freezer.
The grains can be stored like this for up to two months.
- How can I Revive Grains that Seem “off?”
Like all living colonies, kefir grains depend on optimal nutrition and the right environment for survival.
If your grains begin to develop an odor, change size, have a white film on them, or seem slimy, something may be wrong.
Kefir grain problems can be caused by overcrowding, improper nutrients, or contamination.
All hope is not lost, though!
Many times, you can save your grains and begin to use them again.
Here is one way to restore grains that are struggling to stay healthy.
- Rinse them. Only do this when you are trying to rehabilitate your grains. Use a shallow bowl and a plastic strainer. Use your fingers lightly to brush the grains, loosening and removing any contaminants that may be on their surface. Pour cloudy water out, and rinse again until your water runs clear.
- After rinsing, place some filtered water in a glass jar and completely dissolve some sugar in it. Add minerals by including either sea salt and baking soda, or blackstrap molasses. Make sure everything is completely dissolved in the water. Add your grains and cover the jar, placing it in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
- Remove the kefir grains from this resting solution, and add them to a new mixture of sugar water to check if they have been sufficiently revived. You can try this process up to two times. After that, they are likely not able to be saved.
Recipes Using Kefir
Since we have now convinced you of the health benefits of kefir, you may be wondering how you can enjoy this delicious and nutritious treat at home.
First, we start with the two basic types of kefir – water and milk; then we share some delicious recipes that utilize kefir in fun and nutritious ways.
Making Raw Milk Kefir
This recipe yields two cups of milk kefir.
Start with one to two tablespoons of milk kefir grains. Place these into a jar.
Add two cups of any milk of your choice.
Be sure the container is large enough that this only fills the vessel about three-quarters full.
Stir the mixture with a non-metallic spoon.
Cover loosely with a lid, and place the jar in a location where it can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
Do not refrigerate.
After 24 hours have passed, strain the liquid to remove the grains.
If you don’t plan on drinking your kefir right away, refrigerate it, or store it at room temperature in a sealed container.
Wash your fermentation jar, place your grains back in, and start a new batch of kefir.
Making Water Kefir
Water kefir is a versatile and thirst-quenching beverage.
It does well in many recipes and is an inexpensive option to enjoy.
This recipe yields six cups of water kefir.
Start with a small saucepan, and add one cup of filtered water to one-third cup of sugar.
Heat this mixture until just before it boils.
This will dissolve the sugar, but not turn it into syrup.
Remove from the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Next, add three more cups of filtered water to the saucepan, stir to combine, then pour the entire mixture into a large jar.
Add the final two cups of filtered water and one-third cup of kefir water grains.
Cover the jar loosely with a lid, and place it in a location where it can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
Do not refrigerate.
After 24 hours, strain the mixture to remove the grains, placing them in a clean fermentation jar for your next batch of kefir.
Be sure to use a non-metallic strainer.
To your liquid, you can now add lemon extract, vanilla extract, or any flavoring of your choice to enhance the flavor of your water kefir.
Because water has no natural sugars, you must add sugar to this recipe in order to feed the kefir grains.
Without it, they will starve.
Your grains are now ready for another batch of water kefir.
Making Kefir Frozen Yogurt
Now that you can make your own kefir, you can start enjoying some delicious treats using this healthy food.
This frozen yogurt is a healthy dessert option, and you can always adjust the sweetness to your liking, giving you more control over your diet.
In a large saucepan, combine together one cup of plain, unsweetened yogurt, one-half cup sugar or natural sweetener of your choice, and one cup of half & half.
Stir and heat over medium-high heat to near boiling, making sure the sugar dissolves completely.
To the pan, add one egg yolk, whisking to combine.
Next, add two cups milk kefir and stir.
Remove the pan from the heat and place it, covered, into your refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to cool it quickly.
Remove from the refrigerator and pour the entire mixture into a prepared ice cream maker.
Follow the directions for your machine to complete your frozen treat.
It will likely take about 20 minutes to reach the consistency of frozen yogurt.
After it has frozen, you can add fruit or nuts to flavor your yogurt.
Serve immediately, or freeze to enjoy later.
Making Kefir Cheese
Making cheese with kefir is actually pretty simple, and you only need kefir and a few basic tools!
Start by placing cheesecloth into a non-metallic strainer over a glass or plastic bowl.
Next, pour four cups of milk kefir into the cheesecloth.
The cheesecloth will separate the liquid from the solid particles.
It will take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours for the entire contents to separate completely.
What remains in the cheesecloth is a soft kefir cheese.
Place this in an airtight container and refrigerate.
You can save the liquid, or whey, to use in other fermented beverages.
The soft cheese made from kefir is sometimes compared to goat cheese in its flavor and texture.
Some also compare this cheese to cream cheese or sour cream.
You can use it in recipes or applications where you might use these other dairy products.
Making a Kefir Fruit Smoothie
Using kefir to make your morning or after-workout smoothie is a great way to enjoy this fermented treat.
Start with one cup of kefir, and add one-half cup of fresh or frozen berries of your choice.
Add one tablespoon of honey if you prefer a sweeter beverage.
Add three to four ice cubes, then blend all these ingredients together in your blender.
You can always add your favorite smoothie ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, nut kinds of butter, or grains.
Making a Kefir Breakfast Parfait
A parfait is a layered dish that usually consists of various textures and flavors.
Using kefir as a part of a delicious breakfast parfait means you are starting your day off with a probiotic-rich meal that will help you get your day going.
All these variations include protein, fat, and energy from natural carbohydrates.
You can vary this dish in many ways.
Start with the creamy layer, which should be made from the milk kefir of your choice.
You can even use kefir cheese for this layer for a creamy, decadent start to your day.
Use one cup for this layer. Next, create a fruit layer.
Use any combination of fresh fruit of your choice.
Berries are always a good choice, and you can add sugar-free jam or compote to your fruit for a little added texture and flavor.
Top these two with a crunchy layer that adds texture as well as protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients.
Chopped nuts, nut butter, crunchy whole grains, or even cacao nibs are perfect for this layer.
You can drizzle your parfait with raw honey or another natural sweetener of your choice, and dig in!
Here are some great flavor combinations for your parfait.
To your base of milk kefir or kefir cheese, add:
- Apples, cinnamon, and pecans or walnuts
- Mangoes, pineapple, and pistachios
- Raspberries, vanilla extract, and toasted almonds.
- Peaches, cinnamon, and vanilla granola
- Blueberries, lemon zest, and hazelnuts
Using a Culture Starter Kit
If you want to keep kefir alive and ready to use, you have to commit to feeding it regularly.
Kefir should be strained and re-fed with new milk every day if you want your grains to stay usable.
If you decide you need a break from making kefir, place your grains in the freezer for up to two months.
There, they will hibernate and be ready to use again once removed.
If you decide you cannot or do not wish to maintain this process indefinitely, you can opt to use a powdered starter culture for your kefir, instead.
This single-use item is a good option for those who are not able to commit to maintaining grains every day.
Powdered starter culture is a good idea if you are just starting out and are not sure you will be drinking kefir every day, or if you travel a lot and cannot maintain your grains at home.
While maintaining grains is less expensive for most kefir drinkers, powdered culture may be the better choice for some.
If you are considering purchasing any kefir products, including culture starters or other products to make your own kefir at home, consider the old adage “Quality over quantity.”
You don’t need a lot of kefir grains to make your own kefir, and you can reuse these grains indefinitely, so you only need a small amount to maintain a consistent supply of kefir.
Here are some other features to look for when purchasing kefir products:
- Always look for high-quality active, live cultures.
- Look for organic products, whenever possible.
- Any additional ingredients included should be non-GMO.
- Always purchase from suppliers who offer customer service. You’ll want someone to call when you have questions on your first few batches.
- When purchasing grains online, be sure you are buying from a reputable dealer who is not using rehydrated grains. Fresh grains should arrive express or overnight shipping, telling you they are not previously dehydrated.
Using and storing kefir takes practice and a little know-how since these are active colonies.
Here are some recommendations for working with kefir:
- Never expose grains to direct sunlight, especially during fermentation.
- Ferment your kefir in glass jars that are covered, but keep the lid loose. Fermentation produces gas, which can cause the container to explode if there is no room for the gas to escape.
- Always use filtered water when making kefir. If possible, be sure all traces of chlorine have been removed from your water.
- Because metal can destroy the microbes in kefir, never use metal of any type in the fermentation process. This includes spoons, bowls, measuring items, and strainers.
- Kefir grains require food to survive. If you are not feeding them regularly, they will die. Put unused grains in the freezer for up to two months, where they will hibernate and not require constant attention.
- If left to ferment for too long, milk kefir can separate into whey and liquid, and it is no longer drinkable. Instead, you have started the makings of kefir cheese.
Kefir is a nutritious drink that is good for your health.
The probiotics in this fermented beverage offer many important health benefits.
Kefir can be made from water, milk, or plant milk.
While yogurt is the most well-known source of probiotics, milk kefir actually contains more varied and plentiful probiotics.
Kefir is made from a liquid combined with kefir grains, which are small colonies of bacteria and yeasts that ferment the sugar in your liquid base.
You can purchase starter grains to use to make your own kefir at home.
Kefir is also widely available commercially, now.
Kefir has a sour, slightly carbonated taste, and you can enhance the flavor of your drinks with fruit and natural sweeteners.
Because of kefir’s many health benefits, you should be drinking it every day for best results.