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Kefir, the Best Way to Improve Your Health

Updated: Apr 28

If there was ONE EASY THING you could do to improve your health, would you do it? Especially if it tasted good? And made you feel good?


Kefir is that thing.


Kefir is a velvety smooth drink made by fermenting milk. It tastes good, but its true beauty lies in its deep rooted health benefits.


Kefir contains an astonishingly wide array of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that colonize healthy microbes deep into your gut. Yogurt only impacts the microbiome of the upper digestive tract, while kefir has such diversity that it colonizes the entire gut with beneficials. In this country where processed foods kill microbes in the gut, and cause gut inflammation, the bumper stickers should say "Drink more kefir" --not eat more kale!


I know a man who healed his ulcerative colitis by simply drinking kefir and bone broth every day. It is transformative. Good health starts with a healthy gut. Kefir makes your gut healthy.


History

Kefir is a Turkish word that means "feel good." It really does make you feel good. It is slightly effervescent and can be further fermented to become mildly alcoholic. (I do not drink alcohol. If you only ferment milk for 24 hours till it gets thick, and not beyond, it is safe for children and anyone who avoids alcohol.)


It's hard to pinpoint exactly how and where kefir came into being. Nomadic herders on the Asian steppe were likely the first people to discover or create kefir. They kept goat skin bags of fermenting milk hanging in their yurts. I try to imagine what happened... one lucky herdsman who had been keeping milk fermenting in the same goat skin for years discovered one day that not only did his milk take on a pleasing, velvety texture, but there were little white clumps in the milk that could be given to friends and they would create the same delicious drink for that person as well.


What is Kefir?

Kefir is different than other types of fermented dairy because it is made with a SCOBY: Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. Scoby's are fascinating little critters that are not quite an organism, but complex structures made up of individual organisms that rely on each other to function as a unified whole. Kombucha mother is another example of a scoby.


Kefir scoby's are called grains, not because they are grain such as oats or wheat, but because they form small round clumps. To me, they look like little pieces of cauliflower.


There is no way to spontaneously create kefir grains, even if you put all the right bacteria and yeasts in milk and hope for them to join forces. That is what makes the origin of kefir so mysterious. If you can't take milk that was fermented by kefir scoby and let it sit for a long time and new kefir scoby will form, then how did the first one originate?


I don't know. But I'm awfully glad it did because this stuff is awesome. You can drink it plain if you like pleasantly tart foods. You can add maple or honey if you want it sweeter. You can make smoothies by blending it with bananas and berries so that your family gets their daily dose of super food. Like all fermented raw grass fed milk, kefir is super easy to digest and the nutrients are 100% bio-available.


And it's quick and easy.


1. How to Make Kefir with Scoby

If you have a friend who makes kefir, simply get some active grains from them and begin your own kefir journey.


If you don't know anyone who has grains and you have to buy them online, be careful. I have had poor luck buying dehydrated grains. They just never really get going and they kind of fizzle out. Grains that have been frozen might come back, but it takes a long time for them to really act the way they should and produce real kefir.


What you need is to find someone who ships kefir scoby fresh, not frozen or dried. One reputable source online is Marilyn Kefirlady. Her grains will bounce back within a day or two of putting them in fresh milk. She includes detailed instructions to get you started.


Once you have healthy grains, they are easily maintained by being scooped out of yesterday's milk where they will be floating on top and being put into a fresh batch of milk. At first they will sink to the bottom, but over the course of 24 hours, they rise to the surface. Rising is a good indication that the grains are healthy, as grains which have been frozen or are otherwise compromised will not rise.


The amount of grains you need varies depending on how much milk you use. I find that 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grains is sufficient for a half gallon of milk.


You can start with cold milk. Just keep the kefir jar in a room that is in the low 70'sF. Too warm or too cold will adversely impact your grains.


If you find that the milk is not cultured (thickened) within 24 hours, you don't have enough grains for your milk. Decrease how much milk you are using until you notice that it is culturing in 24 hours. Also consider that your jar might be in a room that is too cold.


If you find that the milk has cultured too much in 24 hours (because it has fermented to the point of being curds and whey, and is mildly alcoholic), decrease the amount of scoby by half and see how that does. Also consider that your room might be too warm.


Here are some tips for keeping kefir grains happy:

  • they like small batches more than big batches, because they have easier access to milk if they aren't surrounded by as many grains

  • they like wider jars because they are more spread out and have better access to milk

  • stir them once or twice a day to redistribute the milk around them

  • as they multiply, take some extra once a month and put them in a small jar with some milk in the back of your fridge as a back up in case anything happens to your active jar

  • (Update 4.22.24) if your kefir has separated into curds and whey because of culturing too long, stir it so that the grains can be found and remove them, then blast it in a blender and it will have a nice, smooth texture


(Update 4.28.24) To achieve the thickest, smoothest, creamiest kefir possible, after removing the grains, run it through a blender and then refrigerate. Pour a little maple on it, stir it in, and ENJOY.



2. How to Make Kefir without Scoby

I believe that authentic kefir made with scoby is the healthiest for you. However... You don't have to keep kefir grains to enjoy delicious and beneficial "kefir".


If keeping the scoby sounds like a hassle, you can buy powdered kefir culture. These are human selected strains of yeast and bacteria that create a product similar to real kefir.


Creating this kind of kefir is just like keeping clabber going. Stir a packet of culture in a jar of fresh milk and set it in a room that is about 70F. The next day pour out the fermented milk that you want to drink, replace it in the same jar (that has residue of the last batch) with fresh milk and let it ferment another 24 hours, and repeat.


Over time, the product will change as certain strains take over and others die out. At that point you start with a new packet of culture and a clean jar.


Making kefir with raw, grass fed milk is a powerful way to nourish your family and improve gut health.



If everyone adopted raw milk kefir into their diets, America's health would drastically improve.

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