Until a few months ago kefir was a mystery to me. I’d heard of it but didn’t really know what it was until I was offered some kefir grains to make my own. Now I’m hooked and just wish I’d discovered it sooner because it is soooo easy, delicious, versatile and it’s good for you.
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink, similar to yoghurt made from a culture and milk. It’s full of nutrients and is a probiotic which means it is excellent for the digestion system and gut health.
The kefir starter/culture is made up of soft grains that stick together and multiply with time. They are actually colonies of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. A friend gave me a small bundle in milk a couple of months ago and now I have a large mass that looks a bit like soggy cauliflower.
How is Kefir good for you?
Kefir contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins B12 and B2, magnesium and is a probiotic which is said to benefit digestion, weight control and mental health. It also has anti bacterial properties which is believed to help protect against infection. I have certainly never felt better since I’ve been using it on a daily basis. It has even stronger health benefits than it’s famous cousin yoghurt and it’s much easier to make.
There are lots of other health benefits, you can read more about them here
How do you make kefir
The process of making kefir couldn’t be simpler.
- Place the drained grains in a clean jar, add milk, any milk – I use Bio semi-skimmed UHT milk, put the lid on,
- leave at room temperature for about 24 hours. I leave mine on the kitchen side so I don’t forget about it .
- Approximately 24 hours later the kefir will be ready to use. You know when it’s ready because it will be thick when you shake it, if it’s not thickened enough, leave for a few hours longer.
- When it’s ready, fish out the grains with a plastic spoon (not metal) and place them into a new, clean jar.
- The remaining thick liquid is kefir and it’s ready to use and will keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks. I keep a large jar of it in the fridge and add to it every day.
- Repeat the process by adding milk to the strained kefir grains and you’ll have a fresh batch the next day.
You can get the grains from a friend if you know someone making kefir near you (like I did) or ask at a local health store, you can even order grains online.
You need to keep the culture going by changing it every day, but if you are going away or want a break, just keep the grains in milk in the fridge and it will apparently be fine for a couple of weeks. You can also drain the grains, dry them and put them in the freezer for up to a year, but I haven’t tried that yet.
There are so many easy ways you can use it. I use mine as I would yoghurt. You can drink it as it is for a nutritious probiotic drink (like those little bottles of actimel you buy in the supermarket). I add it to oats in the morning with dried and fresh fruits and nuts, yum. You can add fruit and honey, put it in a blender to make delicious smoothies. Use it in cooking – it’s particularly good in a curry… I make a mean pumpkin, chickpea and spinach Korma with it. I’ve made some really delicious and incredibly simple cheesecake cups and have also used it to make some very simple and quick naans.
I will start sharing some of the recipes I use over the coming days and weeks and will put a link to them here, so please check back regularly, sign up to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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