I have just recently discovered Kefir, in my exploration of fermented foods. I had always assumed that kefir was ‘dairy’ based, in the form of a cultured yogurt or drink. Now whilst milk kefir does not contain lactase, and is therefore good for those who are lactose intolerant…I still cannot have it.
So I was delighted to discover that there was also a water kefir.
Kefir is a probiotic food, plump moist grains of bacteria and yeast. Kefir contains a greater variety of strains of microorganisms and more good bacteria than can be found in organic probiotic yogurts.
The grains, also referred to as ‘starter grains’ can be combined with milk, water or coconut water, to make a fermented drink, depending on which type of grain you are using.
I bought the ‘starter grains’ online from a reputable source and the grains arrived with 48 hours. They were sealed in a small plastic bag and were quite moist. They came with instructions and we began to make the drink straight away. We mixed the kefir in a sugar solution and stored it an airtight container for no more 48 hours.
Water keifr needs the sugar in the sugar mixture to grow and ferment, so in effect, the kefir grains eat all the sugar in return for lots of bacteria and fermentation. This means we end up with a very low sugar drink which is packed with good bacteria.
The drink will take on the colour of the sugar you use; I have tried it with jaggery which gives it the deeper colour in the photo. I will admit it took me a two cycles before I got a flavour I enjoyed, but I think this was mainly due to the rehydration required for the grains after transit. The first one was very strong, almost like vinegar, but the following versions have been really very pleasant and refreshing.
I have also begun to experiment with different flavours such as fresh ginger, mint and lemon or lime. I store the liquid in a glass container in the fridge and have now increased my consumption to a glass a day; 150ml. I had to do this in stages to observe any reactions and benefits; so started with half an espresso cup worth of keifr and built that up over two weeks.
The grains have multiplied and become fatter and eventually I can use them to make two bottles at a time.
So what are the benefits of Kefir and why should we bother:
Firstly I would recommend making the kefir at home. It is easy and you are guaranteed you know what has gone in it.
Milk and water kefir have many of the same benefits. However if you can tolerate dairy or are lactose intolerant I would suggest trying the milk kefir as the benefits of the milk kefir slightly outweigh those of the water one. For example Kefir made from whole fat dairy has high levels of calcium from the milk and improves nutrient absorption.
Kefir contains large amounts of probiotics which play such an important role in our overall well-being; from digestive issues to how we process and store what we eat and to help control and manage inflammation.
Kefir also has something called kefiran, which is an insoluble polysaccharide which is claimed to have the ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Drinking kefir, loaded with probiotics, also helps your gut after taking antibiotics by replacing the good bacteria which have been killed off, along with the harmful bacteria.
I have been taking the Kefir daily for about 2 weeks and it has become very much a part of my daily routine and my practice to heal my body, give it nourishment which will help reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of IBS. However be prepared to take it in small doses and gear up slowly. I found my body needed a bit of time to adjust. I actually use it as my go to drink before meals and first thing in the morning.
I’m going to try it with a bit of soda water and ice as an alcohol free beverage. You never know I may start a trend with friends and family!!