Kefir is a powerful, fermented probiotic beverage that has been around for centuries, originating in the extreme South Eastern Europe known as Caucasus. Originally the name Kefir represented a fermented, probiotic dairy product but there are also non dairy versions of kefir available. This super food is filled with friendly, health giving micro-organisms that help balance your gut flora. The kefir strains of bacteria are unique and superior to yogurt strains as the bacteria can colonise the intestinal tract, kill and displace unfriendly bacteria and are also directly toxic to yeast. Kefir is anti-inflammatory to the gut, immune enhancing and anti-aging. Kefir contains an abundance of lactobacilli bacteria, streptococci/lactococci bacteria, beneficial yeasts and acetobacter.
Traditionally made dairy kefir is rich in amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins. Kefir means “feel good” in Turkish, which correlates with the way it has made people feel for thousands of years.
There are quite a few options when it comes to how you prepare your kefir and the kind of kefir you make. Traditional, live, real kefir grains look like gelatinous, cauliflower florets in a way and come in two varieties milk kefir grains and water kefir grains. The grains are made up of a complex bio-matrix structure of soluble gel-polysaccharide, organic acids, yeasts and bacteria. This polysaccharide called Kefiran is made from two mono-saccharides, Glucose and Galactose in almost equal proportions with the milk grains based on milk and the water grains based on water and sugar. You can purchase live milk and water kefir grains from here and here. And you can look out for free live grains here. Another option is to begin your culture with a freeze dried isolated kefir starter such as the Body Ecology Kefir starter which is dairy free. An Australian company Kefir Culture Natural produces a kefir starter which can be re-used for 2 months. Their kefir starter culture contains a much wider variety of bacteria and yeast strains than the Body Ecology starter but is not dairy free.
After you have decided on what culture you will use you then need to decide what you will ferment. The live milk kefir grains can ferment milk and cream and some find it also cultures coconut cream. The water kefir grains ferment young coconut water, water and organic sugar, some have success with juice or adding in flavourings such as ginger and fruits. The Body Ecology kefir starter cultures all dairy (cow, sheep, goat) products, coconut water, coconut milk, young coconut meat and other alternative milks.
I have previously used live kefir grains but am currently using Donna Gates Body Ecology Kefir starter. I either buy bottled young coconut water or young coconuts from the supermarket and culture that. After I have the finished product I then use a small amount to culture some coconut cream or young coconut flesh to make a kind of kefir yogurt.
Recipe: Young Coconut Kefir
What you need
A jar with a secure lid
1 sachet of kefir culture starter or 2 tablespoons of fresh water kefir grains
2 young coconuts worth of young coconut water or 900ml of bottled coconut water
Warm young coconut water in a pot until it is body temperature, check with your finger. Pour into fermenting jar.
Add kefir starter or grains to the luke warm coconut water. If you are using a starter mix this into the coconut water thoroughly.
Secure lid and leave in a warm place to ferment for 24 – 72 hours depending on the temperature. After it has fermented it will taste sour but slightly sweet. Place in the fridge.
Recipe: Young Coconut Kefir Yogurt
What you will need
A jar with a secure lid
2 young coconuts
Young coconut water kefir
extra water or young coconut water
After opening a fresh young coconut scrape out the young coconut flesh.
Place in blender with 6 tablespoons of young coconut kefir and any extra water or coconut water to make a thick yogurt consistency.
Place in a fermenting jar and leave in a warm place for 12 hours, refrigerate, then consume.
You can also ferment pre-made coconut cream with this recipe. I use Ayam 100% coconut cream. All you need to do is warm the coconut cream, add the 6 tablespoons of coconut kefir and ferment for around 12 hours.
Have you tried kefir before?
Have you reaped the benefits?