The Gift of Kefir – How to Make Easy Tasty Probiotics at Home

Milk Kefir Grains

The Culture of Kefir

The culture around kefir is interesting (no pun intended…) It seems a gifting tradition that goes on and on like the potentially eternal bacterial colonies that are used to make it. My neighbor Lois came by a few weeks ago to surprise me with some living kefir grains. They needed care and she was going to be traveling for a while. I wasn’t quite sure what they were or why they needed care but, hoping to be a good neighbor I said I would be happy to babysit.

I read up and was amazed. Kefir is a traditional yogurt style dairy product. It is made by letting milk ferment with the kefir grains. Originally these colonies of bacteria were used in Turkey and the Caucasus to ferment and therefore preserve milk.

I decided to name the colony Mike…and then Mikes when I realized how many there were in the jar – billions maybe trillions! A kefir colony looks a little like a bit of really squishy cauliflower. Some people drink it plain. Some guy on the internet puts molasses in it, a mixture I don’t recommend. I like to let it ferment a second or third day so that it is extra tart and a bit fizzy. I blend a cup and a half of that with a cup of frozen berries, a bit of vanilla and brown sugar. It is the best way to start my day I have found yet.

I’m a coffee addict and can’t really get going until halfway through my second cup of strong java. The day I started the kefir I finished my first cup and didn’t even bother to pour a second. I was super-charged but not in that jittery coffee way.

I have heard kefir translates to “feels good.” I’ve always got a big boost of energy and good feeling from well made yogurt. Now that I have a kefir smoothie for breakfast I start my day energetic, calm and focused.

The Science of Kefir

Our gut actually contains a large amount of bacteria or “flora.” We co-evolved with them in fact and would be six feet under without the friendly ones.

From Wikipedia:

Gut Flora

“The metabolic activities performed by these bacteria resemble those of
an organ, leading some to liken gut bacteria to a “forgotten” organ. It is estimated that these gut flora have around 100 times as many genes in aggregate as there are in the human genome.”

Health Benefits of Kefir

Kefir is a fantastic source of easily digested protein, B Vitamins, pro-biotics and vitamin K.

Using real kefir grains is a great way to keep a cheap and perpetual source of these important nutrients on hand. I don’t know about you but, my budget for vitamins and other health products has been given up. I try to get all I need from the food I eat now.

Here’s a great series on caring for your kefir.
Making Kefir Part 1
Making Kefir Part 2

Thank you to Lois of Stonehaven Shetland Sheep Farm for the gift of kefir…and being my neighbor.

How to Get Kefir Grains

As I mentioned there is a strong gifting tradition around live kefir grains. I am not comfortable recommending sources at the moment as I am new to the world of kefir. Though in my research I have come across this fellow mentioned many times both as an expert and a source for live kefir grains. He lives in Australia and will ship globally.

I would also encourage you to ask around your community and share them if you got em! If you know of reputable folks that are growing and sharing them please post in the comments!

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Why the purple….

The purple today is all about grown ups stepping up and doing what we can to tell kids who are bullied for who they are that life does get better – after school – when you are on your own, surrounded by people who love you for who you are, your family and your new chosen family.

You will find the right mix of people and your joy.

You might have to move from where you are but you will find them.

We all did.

Stick around for it.

For those that are bullying but especially the adults that are sending their children messages that it is OK to hate, OK to discriminate, OK to judge a person on their looks, their skin color, their size, their gender, their orientation, their money, their ability or disability and not their hearts and minds – It is time to grow up.

Talk to your kids tonight. It’s not a “normal part of childhood” to kill yourself or want to kill or harm yourself.  Those adults that are saying “kids will be kids” – are complicit. Those of us that think it’s “just a right of passage” or that terrifying people to conform is OK need to wake up.

Bullying today is not like it used to be – it’s 24/7 these days as kids act out in anonymous packs online. Check out youtube comments on any disabled child’s page, any child perceived to be gay…and you’ll get just a taste of how horrible the children have become. It really is different. Because of the way the net is, it is cumulative. It rarely goes away. For a child who is already struggling it can send them over the edge. Kids need to know we get it.

The bullies aren’t to blame though…We show them how to do it every day by creating second and third class citizens of the LGBT community or the disabled community, the Muslim community… the list, of course, is much longer…

For any kid you know that seems to be struggling with this… send them these links:

http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com/

http://thetrevorproject.org

And put some purple on your profiles… Write a note about what you went through as a kid and how it got better. Make a video or just reach out to a kid you know who might be feeling outside of all the good things in life…Let them know you get it and that it does get better.

Everyone complains about the weather…

but no one does a damn thing about it….

Early this season before any of the veg had really started to flower we had a freak hail storm. Most people in our valley escaped any damage. We didn’t. We live in seems very much in the shadow of Cornucopia mountain. As storms go they seem to swoop down onto our wee acre and then disappear but not before acting out.

Surveying the damage, the plants hit most hard were the large leaved and the green tomatoes that were fist sized by then. Quarter sized holes on most large leaves and bruises on the tomatoes which healed eventually but left scars shocked me into the reality of weather and farming.

We noobs have a very romantic vision of what it is to live off what you can grow. We are playing farmer.
I have a kitchen garden and don’t plan to become dependent on my little patch because I understand Mama may contradict me. She may wipe me out in a fit of pique. Kitchen gardeners have no safety net…and urban farmers don’t either. The bleeding edge is a risky place.

BK Farmyards logo

Stacy Murphy @brooklynfarmyards is out on that limb too though on a larger scale. She’s got folks depending on her and what they can grow on her patchwork of experimental urban farms. They were hit hard by the devastating hail storm that blew through my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. If you haven’t read about what she’s doing please do. If you can throw some dollars or attention her way as she tries to bring the urban farms she runs back please do that too!


Here’s the story.