MILK KEFIR GRAINS
WHAT IS KEFIR?
Milk Kefir is a natural probiotic and is superior to yogurt. It is a living culture containing more than 30 micro flora that form grains that resemble miniature cauliflower florets. As the culture ferments the milk, these structures grow, creating new grains in the process. Real kefir from live culture is an endlessly self-propagating process.
It has a tart taste with a creamy texture which can be adjusted to suit your palette.
Most probiotics sold at the supermarket are full of sugar and flavourings and are often no different than watered down yogurts with added sugar.
DRINKING KEFIR HAS NUMEROUS HEALTH BENEFITS:
Kefir helps replenish healthy bacteria which are essential to fight viruses that can cause illness.
Kefir is beneficial for those suffering from IBS.
Kefir improves your immune system.
Kefir is a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, B12 and Vitamin K.
Kefir reduces candida overgrowth and yeast infections.
Kefir is easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, providing beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals and complete proteins.
The regular use of kefir may help relieve most intestinal disorders, promote proper bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system.
Kefir is full of amino acids like tryptophan which relaxes your nervous system and improves your mood.
Kefir is said to have strong anti-aging properties, due to its high content of lactic acid.
Kefir is used to restore the inner eco-system after antibiotic medication.
Kefir is easy and inexpensive to grow at home!
With care your kefir grains should last a lifetime. The grains will keep growing, and reproducing providing you with a fresh supply of kefir grains and plenty of cultured milk to drink every 12 – 24 hours.
You may use cow, goat or coconut milk to make fresh kefir everyday.
Goat’s milk requires more starter when making the initial batch.
It is very important that you never use any metal utensils or tools when handling living cultures such as kefir grains.
Add about a tablespoon of grains to about two cups of raw organic milk in a glass container and cover loosely to allow fermentation gases to escape. A piece of cheesecloth secured with an elastic band works very well. If you use an air tight lid you will get a fizzy kefir.
When you first receive your grains you will have to wait for a few days for the grains to adjust to their new environment before they start to grow – after that they will multiply rapidly.
Let the kefir stand for 24 hours at room temperature. Gently shake the container occasionally to keep the contents mixed.
After 24 hours strain with a plastic strainer into a container– do not use metal utensils. Place the grains that were caught in the strainer into another container with 2 cups of milk to make a fresh batch of kefir. The strained milk can be used or refrigerated until required. Repeat this process about every 18 – 24 hours.
If you prefer your kefir to taste stronger you can leave the container to set at room temperature for longer and this will contain substantially greater quantities of B vitamins.
As the kefir ripens, the whey (clear, yellowish liquid) may begin to separate. This is normal. Simply stir with a wooden spoon before straining.
Alternatively you might like to make kefir cheese. (See recipe section).
After about a week the quantity of grains will increase. You should now divide the grains which you can eat for extra health benefits.
Experiment until you have the grain to milk ratio that produces the thickness and taste of kefir you prefer.
Time and temperature are the two most important factors that will affect how your kefir will look and taste. During the warm summer months it may be ready in 18 hours. If you let your kefir sit too long in a warm temperature it will at first become thick and eventually start turning into curds and whey.
If your kefir is too lumpy or too sour you are leaving it out too long. Kefir should be creamy, slightly thickened and drinkable – just a little thicker than milk. Taste your kefir and when it is right for you strain it and place it in the refrigerator. Kefir will often thicken up a little more in the fridge since it is continuing to culture – but at a much slower pace. During the winter months it will take longer for your kefir to culture. With each batch you make, adjust the time until you get it just the way you like it.
Once kefir is made it will keep for about 1 week in the fridge.
Buy Kefir Milk Grains
In order to keep our stock under control and to satisfy as many customers as possible – orders for milk kefir grains are restricted to maximum 2 packages per customer.
Making cheese from kefir is easy and it contains all the beneficial probiotic micro-organisms that kefir is famous for. It is a great way to use up excess kefir.
Make kefir as usual but allow to stand for several hours longer until the curds and whey separate – approximately 48 hours.
Line a plastic strainer with cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a bowl and gently pour the curds and whey through the strainer. The strainer will catch the cheese or curds and the whey will drip into the bowl. Let it sit for 12 hours. Place the bowl and the strainer into your refrigerator and allow to drain for a few more hours. Store in a covered container for up to 7 days.
Once the kefir is placed into the refrigerator and cooled, the fermentation process is inhibited. You cannot then bring it back out to room temperature to turn your kefir into cheese.
This cheese is excellent tossed into salads. It is also delicious flavoured with chopped herbs, onions or garlic and served with an assortment of raw vegetables.
A kefir smoothie is about the easiest and most delicious way to enjoy kefir. It makes a super quick and incredibly nutritious breakfast.
Measure out ¾ mug of kefir into your blender. 1 cup of your selected fruit and a tablespoon of raw honey. Add 1 teaspoon of flax seeds. Blend and enjoy. The combinations are endless!
Make extra quantities of the smoothie mixture (leave out the flax seeds) and pour into ice lolly moulds and freeze.
Make plenty as everybody loves them!
Kefir dip or salad dressing
A delicious and easy salad dressing.
- 1 cup of kefir
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon herb salt
- ½ teaspoon kelp
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives
- Pinch cayenne
- Ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly. Allow flavours to infuse overnight in the fridge.
Water kefir is ideal for people who do not wish to consume dairy products but still wish to enjoy the numerous health benefits this fantasic pro-biotic drink has to offer.
Water kefir grains are different from milk kefir grains. Milk grains are white and look like cauliflower florets and are rubbery in texture. Water kefir grains are translucent white and break easily, they look like irregular crystals. Water crystals share the many varied benefits of milk kefir without the use of dairy products.
Sugar is added to water kefir recipes because that is what it thrives on. Stevia, chemical substitutes or honey will not support kefir fermentation or growth.
Recipe for water kefir
- 1/2 cup of water crystals. Remove some as they grow and maintain about ½ cup of grains to 3 cups of spring or mineral water. Do not use tap water because of the chlorine. Do not use filtered or distilled water as they do not possess the minerals that water kefir requires.
- ¼ cup of organic or unprocessed sugar.
Put the sugar in a glass jar – 1 – 1.5 litre in size. Heat some of the water and add to the jar with the sugar to dissolve it, and then add the remainder of the cool water to achieve a tepid temperature. Hot water will kill the grains. Now add the water crystals.
Cover the jar with kitchen roll or something similar and secure with an elastic band to keep fruit flies out.
Leave the kefir to culture for 24 – 48 hours. 24 hours will yield a sweeter water kefir. However after 48 hours the grains will have consumed a larger quantity of the sugar making it less sweet. Do not leave the grain culture longer than 72 hours.
Strain out the kefir grains using a nylon sieve. Bottle and store the liquid water kefir in the fridge.
Repeat the process with the kefir grains in fresh sugar water each day or two.
It is common for water kefir grains to appear inactive for the first few weeks; this is not an indication of whether they are working. Often bubbles are so small and infrequent it is difficult to see the activity. You should proceeds as above with your first batch.
It can take a few batches before your kefir grains effectively remove sugar from the water; this is a normal part of the process.
Water carbonation may vary from batch to batch. A lack of carbonation does not indicate a problem with the water kefir grains.
After fermentation – when the grains have been removed you can then go for a secondary fermentation if you wish. This involves adding juices or fruit to the kefir water and allowing it to continue fermenting out of the fridge for about 12 hours. After which time it should be stored in the fridge.
Suggestions would be freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice for a delicious lemonade or limeade.
Fruit such as raspberries, apples, ginger, oranges, pineapple, grapes, cranberries, etc.
Many of these additions would hinder the kefir grain growth if used in the first fermentation, but are great once the grains have been removed.
After your first few batches you will notice that your kefir grains grow quickly – you can add them to your smoothies if you wish or store them in the fridge in some sugar water for up to a week. The cold temperature will slow down their growth. Be sure to rinse and change the water on a weekly basis.
Coconut water kefir
1 litre of coconut water
3 tablespoons of water kefir crystals
Place the water kefir crystals into the coconut water and cover the jar loosely with a coffee filter or similar and secure with a elastic band. Allow to culture for between 24 – 48 hours at room temperature. When the taste is to your liking strain and remove the crystals.
Coconut water kefir is a popular healthy drink.
Note that coconut water does not contain enough sugar to feed the water crystals and they will eventually die if you continuously use them in the coconut water. it is preferable to alternate them between coconut water and sugar water so they keep healthy and active.
The benefits of coconut water kefir are huge. It is very healing to the digestive system and the liver. It creates a strong immune system – which is responsible for your good health.
Coconut kefir will enhance hydration and recolonize your gut and mucous membranes with healthy strains of beneficial microflora.
It helps speed up metabolism and helps to kick sugar cravings.
STORING YOUR GRAINS
If you wish there are two ways you store grains long term as it is good to have a back up set if you loose your active grains.
You can freeze or dehydrate the grains.
TO DEHYDRATE THE GRAINS
I have an Excalibur dehydrator to dry my grains – but you can easily dry them without one.
Take your grains either milk or water and rinse them in unchlorinated water.
Place them on a ironed tea towel to kill unwanted bacteria and absorb excess moisture.
Place the grains on a flat draining rack (not metal) making sure they are spread evenly so avoiding clusters as you want to encourage even drying.
Leave to dry somewhere where they are not likely to become contaminated in a warm place (not hot) and allow between 3 – 5 days to dry. Water crystals may take a little longer than the milk grains.
Once the grains are dry store them in a zip lock bag along with a cotton wool ball to absorb excess moisture and store them somewhere cool and dark.
The grains will shrink when dried. The milk grains will be a yellow colour and the water crystals will look like preserving sugar crystals or brown sugar depending on what was used when feeding them. They can be stored this way for between 6 – 12 months.
Activating the kefir grains
Cover the dehydrated grains with unchlorinated water for an hour or so, strain and place in a cup of fresh milk. Cover with a cloth or coffee filter paper and leave at room temperature for about 24 hours. Proceed daily as for fresh grains.
Do not use coconut, soy, nut milk or any alternative milks for rehydrating. The kefir grains need dairy milk to feed on. If using raw milk make sure it is very fresh due to rising bacteria counts which can conflict with the bacteria and yeast present in the kefir grains.
TO FREEZE THE GRAINS
Wash the grains in unchlorinated water and pat dry between pre ironed cooled white towelling or a tea towel. to absorb excess moisture. Place the grains in a jar or plastic freezer bag. If freezing milk kefir grains first add some dried milk powder adding enough to completely cover the
grains and then place in the freezer. Dried milk powder is used to protect against freezer burn. Frozen kefir grains can be viable for up to 12 months, though this length of time may completely remove the yeast component found in healthy kefir grains. For this reason I feel that the grains should not be frozen for more than 2 –3 months to reduce this possibility.
To reactivate frozen kefir grains, thaw by placing the grains in unchlorinated water for a few minutes. Place the grains through a strainer and rinse off any dried powdered milk that may be sticking to the grains. Continue to feed as you would live kefir grains, although they may take a little longer to adjust maybe tree or four batches or more.