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.
“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.
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!