Kefir (pronounced kuh-feer) can be off putting when you see what the tasty, tart yogurt like liquid comes from. Don’t knock it though! Kefir benefits are too good to pass up.
Kefir grains are these weird, squishy white grains all clumped together. They remind me a bit of Quebec cheese curds, you know the ones you get on top of real poutine. Except they are more lumpy….
I know this doesn’t sound the most appetizing but if you are just buying kefir at the store, it does not contain the grains.
These lumpy beauties are used to culture the milk into a lovely probiotic product that tastes great. And you can even make it at home!
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a very probiotic rich beverage. It can be made with milk and tastes similar to yogurt. It can also be thickened into a creamy consistency or even a cream-cheese consistency.
Kefir can also be made with:
- coconut milk
- coconut water
- goat’s milk
- rice milk
Kefir originated in the Caucasus mountains and has been a part of the diet there for thousands of years. It is a self-carbonating beverage that has been popular in Russia, southwestern Asia and Eastern and Northern Europe for ages.
More recently, kefir has seen a rise in popularity in North America as people grow increasingly concerned with their gut health and increasing the amount of probiotic rich foods in their diets.
It was mythologized to the point that people believed kefir contained magic strength giving properties.
What Are the Benefits of Kefir?
Well, science has now shown that kefir benefits are rather magical. Kefir grains contain:
- Saccharomyces kefir
- Torula kefir
- Lactobacillus caucasicus
- Leuconnostoc species
- lactic streptococci
Other kefir nutrition facts:
- 150 calories
- 8 grams fat
- 11 grams carbohydrates
- 9 grams protein
- 25 percent of DV for calcium
- 9 percent DV for potassium
- 10 percent DV for zinc
- 7 percent DV for magnesium
- 48 percent DV for vitamin A, RAE
- 30 percent DV for vitamin B12
- 13 percent DV for vitamin D
- 26 percent DV for vitamin B2
- 19 percent DV for B5
- 9 percent DV for B6
- 8 percent DV for B9 (Folic Acid – very important for pregnancy)
Kefir benefits babies and children as well. It helps negate the effects of radiation and improves immunity. It serves as a natural antibiotic (not to replace prescribed medicine) and an anti-carcinogenic.
It is a fantastic idea to take kefir in order to recover from a round of antibiotics. It can also help people suffering from sluggish digestion and constipation.
Read more: The 25 Healthiest Foods for Weight Loss
The Art of Making Kefir
Making kefir is very straightforward.
In fact, as someone who has been making yogurt for 11 years and other ferments for 8, making milk kefir is one of the easiest.
What You Need for Making Kefir:
- A medium to large sized glass jar or fermenting jug made for this purpose
- A wooden, silicone or plastic stirring spoon (no metal)
- A rubber band or canning jar ring without the lid
- Cheesecloth or other fine cloth or even a coffee filter or paper towel
- Active fresh milk kefir grains or reconstituted dried milk kefir grains
- A strainer with a fine mesh made from plastic (not metal), like this one
How to Make Kefir:
- Place your kefir grains in the jar or fermenting vessle
- Add 1 litre (4 cups/1 quart) of fresh milk to the jar
- Cover the jar with the cheesecloth or coffee filter or breathable covering of choice
- Store in a safe, warm place 20° to 29° C (68° to 85°F) for culturing
- Culturing will vary depending on the temperature of your environment. 24 hours can be enough, but the kefir can also be ready earlier if it is warm (be sure to check). Kefir should smell good and be a bit thicker than milk
- Remove the grains from the milk by filtering off the milk using a plastic strainer
- Add your kefir grains to a new batch of fresh milk (they need more food!)
- Your completed kefir should be stored in the fridge
There are so many ways to use kefir!
Any recipe where you use yogurt or milk, you can use kefir. In fact, in my crazy good Protein Pancakes, I use kefir to help make them even more fluffy and delicious.
The effervescent property of the kefir helps to make them bubble up and get all poofy and yummy!
You can also make a delicious Dirty Chai Latte with kefir. See the post for a diy chai spice mix made into probiotic rich latte.
Kefir is also perfect for making smoothies, dips, kefir cheese (like cream cheese!), in overnight oats, and more.
Add kefir to mayonnaise, fresh herbs, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper for a delicious dressing.
Kefir is also super delicious plain or simply blended with strawberries or chocolate syrup!
Shop This Post!
If you would like to try your hand at making this healthy beverage on your own and reap all of the kefir benefits, I have created a list of products for purchase on Amazon below!