Healthy, Natural Living

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What Are You Drinking? “Milk Kefir”

When I began my journey to health I discovered a whole new world of ancient foods.  There were so many things I had never heard of before.  Where have these things been my whole life?  It has been very interesting to see these things start to hit the supermarket shelves over the last few years.  But I have to question their purity to the original design. Anytime things are massed produced, I have to believe the art of the process is lost. In this post (per request) I am going to introduce you to milk kefir. In the days to come I will cover water kefir and kombucha.  These beverages can be cultured in your very own kitchen.

It is estimated that 80% of immune system comes from the gut.  According to, Dr. Charlotte Mathis a senior medical editor with WebMD she says, “Quite simply, a well-nourished immune system is better able to ward off infections.”  Gut bacteria is vulnerable to your diet and lifestyle.  Gut bacteria can be harmed by antibiotics, conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, processed foods, chlorinated and/or fluoridated water, antibacterial soap, agricultural chemicals. Generally speaking these can destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast.

There is a “new study” that proves what we eat effects our brain function.

UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans.  Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well.

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,” Tillisch said. “Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”

Re-seeding your gut with healthy bacteria is important for the prevention of virtually ALL diseases, from colds to cancer. This is why we Wards, drink fermented, full of good bacteria beverages.

What is Kefir?

Kefir is pronounced kə-FEER if you live in Russia. In the U.S.A it is typically pronounced kee-fer or keh-fur.

Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated centuries ago in the Caucasus mountains. It is slightly sour and carbonated due to the fermentation activity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that make up the “grains” used to culture the milk (not cereal grains). The various types of beneficial microbiota contained in kefir make it one of the most potent probiotic foods available.

Besides containing highly beneficial bacteria and yeasts, kefir is a rich source of many different vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair, as well as general health maintenance.  Kefir contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folates and Vitamin K2. It is a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that HELPS the body assimilate other B vitamins. The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, and are therefore more easily utilized by the body. Like many other dairy products, kefir is a great source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, which helps the body utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons kefir grains (I got mine from ebay)
3 1/2 cups milk (preferably organic, raw milk from grass-fed cows)

Put kefir grains into a clean quart-sized mason jar.

Step 1

Fill jar 1-2″ from the top with milk

Cover with breathable top I use a piece of old sheet, but cheesecloth or coffee filter would work, too.

Allow to culture 24 hours.  Once it starts to layer it is ready to strain.

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Put a lid on the jar and shake.

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Strain using a nylon strainer.  Reactive Metals should never come in contact with kefir or the grains. I use a plastic spoon with small holes.

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Place grains into a clean jar and repeat process.

To increase the vitamins a second ferment is highly suggested . Pour the strained kefir back into the jar and loosely cap. Allow it to sit for another 24 hours.

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After the second ferment I pour it into a 1/2 gallon jar.  While consuming one jar I am filling up a second jar to keep a rotation.  Milk kefir will keep for in the refrigerator for several days/weeks.  Do not consume anything that looks, tastes, or smells unpleasant.

We enjoy kefir sweetened with maple syrup or molasses. I use it in our smoothies. I use this to soak grains overnight (that will be another post). I often use this in place of buttermilk.  I also add the grains to heavy whipping cream. This makes a thick, rich, sour cream type substance.  I use this in place of sour cream and to make ranch dressing/dip.

Update~

I forgot to tell you that kefir grains multiply. Once there are too many grains to milk, kefir will form in less that 24 hours and there will be separation of curds and whey.  The whey will settle at the bottom while the curds will rise to the top.  Your kefir is still good, but to get the best nutritional benefit a minimum 24 hour ferment is recommended. Remove a spoonful of grains and store them in the refrigerator with a little bit of milk in a small jar. When you have enough share with a friend.

For an in-depth understanding of the science behind kefir, check out Dom’s website, he has a several years of research and study available.