How to make and live with Kefir

You may have seen kefir for sale in health food stores. It is sort of in between buttermilk and yoghurt, and is very good for your stomach. Most people love the commercial kefir, which is often flavored and sweetened, like commercial yogurt  Unlike yogurt  though, you can’t culture it from the bought product. You need the kefir “grains.”

You can get kefir grains for milk and kefir grains for water. If you have ever had or made Kombucha tea, it is a little like that, but rather than a big opaque sheet that covers the surface, it is little translucent, rubbery globules that eventually multiply. The water kefir grains are for making something similar to Kombucha tea, but I haven’t really gotten into them as much as the milk kefir. You can buy kefir grains
for about $7-$9 on Amazon, like you can buy sourdough culture
online. Mine was given to me, and I share my culture with any friend who asks me, if I have a few spare tablespoons, but if you don’t know me, it’s not too expensive, and then you have it forever.

Kefir grainsKefir is easier to make than yogurt. I’ll put a post up next time I make it, but you have to scald the milk, whereas for kefir you just put the grains in a clean jar and pour in 1 cup of milk per tablespoon of grains. In 12 hours at room temperature it is ready. And my house is not very warm. Yogurt has to be kept warm while it ferments, so again, kefir is easier.

When it is fermented you will see a firmness on the top, and an uneven texture of grains. You can take a little sip through your teeth to check the flavor. Pour it through a small colander into a larger container. Stir the mixture so that the cultured milk runs through. Press the grains with the back of a spoon to push the thickest of the cultured milk through.  Then put the grains back into a clean jar and put more milk on it. The lovely woman who gave me mine told me the grains don’t like metal, because of the conductivity and the acid. She uses one of those collapsible rubbery colanders and a wooden spoon. I’ll look out for one at the Goodwill, but for now, the stainless one works fine. I guess the grains understand I mean well.turn grains with a spoon to drain off the kefir

Kefir gets sourer and sourer if you leave it. It is very slightly fizzy.  I like it sour, but you can add in more milk if it is too sour for you. If you are making more kefir than you are drinking, here are two suggestions: Make your kefir into cheese or put the kefir into sleep mode.

To make cheese, put a clean square of cloth (I use a square torn from a worn sheet) in a colander or sieve, put it into a bowl, and pour in the strained kefir. Cover and set aside overnight. Gather the cloth together and squeeze out remaining whey. Use the whey to give a tangy flavor to soup or smoothie- it is very good for your body. Form the cheese into a ball. Taste and see how you like it. I love to crush a clove of garlic witha 1/4 tsp of sea salt, and mix with a few tablespoons of virgin olive oil, and pour that over it. You could mix it, but the flavor penetrates within an hour, and it looks good. Herbs are also delicious with fresh, tangy cheese.

To put it in sleep mode, just cover with fresh milk and put it in the refrigerator until you need it gain. The first batch will take longer when you take it out. It sulks a little, but soon recovers its goodwill.

You really should use the most natural milk you can get. Don’t insult your body or your kefir grains with skim milk or ultra-pasteurized dead milk. You can’t expect to look like the people in the Got Milk commercials if you drink that pus-laden travesty. I can’t get raw milk here, but I have a wonderful source of milk in my bff’s cousin’s nephew who has the Nice Farm Creamery, in Federalsburg, MD. Their cows are grass-fed and happy, and the milk is pasteurized to the legal minimum but not homogenized. The milk is rich and the cream rises. The butter has great  buttery flavor. My friends pick it up and distribute it through the community network, fridge to fridge, so I get it about once a week. The website is really nice. The guy likes cows.

I like how kefir feels in my stomach, and I find it easy to make and use. The cheese is easy to make and I like it for flavoring gravy as well. If you like it sweetened, put in a little homemade jam or raw local honey and stir well. Easy. You should try it.

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