What is Kefir? - The Fermented Foody

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What is Kefir?

I set you aside in a jar and forget you for 48 hours; no nurturing required.

Within the curves of the glass walls surrounding you, the miracle of nature allows oodles of good bacteria to infuse into your milk.

Tiny bubbles fizzle away; your natural carbonation.

On cue, I pop in to collect you from where you’ve been sitting quietly for two days.

You’re never any trouble.

Hello again! I’ve miiiiiisssssed youuuuu!

And there you are, a delicious, health giving drink …

Sweet, yet tart; waiting to be stirred and poured into a glass, used in a smoothie or any number of yummy recipes.

You should feel very proud of yourself, multiplying the good bacteria in someone’s tummy.

As you balance their beautiful ‘good flora,’ you’re giving their immune system an amazing boost, which in turn will give them so many general health benefits.

Thank you for being you.


Kefir is one nature’s forgotten secrets.

I’ve been asked so many times “What is Kefir?!”

Here are 21 facts to introduce you to this life giving elixir:

It won’t be long before you begin your love affair with it …. 😉

  1. Kefir (Kef-eer) is another name for fermented/cultured milk.

    • The word kefir is derived from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good” after its ingestion
    • It has many other name variants, but this one will do for you and me. 🙂
    • There are lots of varieties of milk you can make or use .. and it works with all dietary requirements. Yay!
  2. It is said to have originated 1000’s of years ago in the Caucasian mountains of Eastern Europe.

    • It was believed to have amazing healing powers.
    • For centuries, it was considered to be a source of family and tribal wealth and was kept secret, passed from generation to generation.
    • Travellers eventually took it to Europe in the 18th & 19th centuries.
    • Go on.  Admit it.  You’re intrigued now … Haha.
  3. It can be made with full fat, low fat, cow, goat and sheep milk; also grain and seed milks. (Nuts can be used, although they contaminate quickly, so I wouldn’t recommend using them.)

    • Would I introduce you to something that wasn’t versatile?  😉
  4. Kefir is not a process of producing mouldy, or rotting, milk.

    (This is a very common misconception.)

    • Fermentation is actually a process of preserving food and drink.
    • It’s a way of breathing new life into food and extending its lifespan.
    • Some ferments can take 2 years to mature (savoury miso) and many mature ferments can live for over a year in the fridge or a cellar/cold store.
    • Kefir, as a rule, can generally live in your fridge for up to 3 weeks.
    • Trust me, it won’t last that long though – because you’ll soon be addicted!
  5. Kefir is a combination of ‘live’ bacteria and yeasts that work together to create a drink that is thicker than milk.

    • It can have a deliciously, mildly tart or super sour flavour.
  6. For those with a sweet tooth, kefir can be added to:

    • Smoothies and cereals after a second fermentation with fruits and spices to create your own perfect flavour.
    • I know. It just keeps on getting better! (Stick with me kid 😉
  7. The friendly bacteria in the grains eat the lactose (sugars) in the milk and sugars in nut milks.

    • This means that little or virtually no sugar is left in the ferment once it’s matured, making kefir drinkable to many people who are lactose intolerant.
    • Along with eating and drinking other ferments, ingestion of kefir can help people with various food intolerances to enjoy their favourite foods again with more ease.  For some, intolerances can become a thing of the past.
  8. It can be created two ways:

    • With kefir grains (they aren’t really grains, but resemble rice pudding grains, or cauliflower florets. They’re sooooo cute!)
    • With kefir powder starter culture (freeze dried powders, derived naturally from plants – dead handy and really easy to use.)
    • Yay!
  9. Kefir is pre-digested and is therefore helpful to our digestive system.

    • Digestion usually begins in our mouth, when our digestive enzymes set to work on breaking down the food we eat.
    • However, food is broken down during any fermentation process, which means when we eat or drink anything fermented, it eases the load on our bodies.
  10. If you store it in an airtight bottle, it can also be beautifully bubbly!

    • Or you can store it the way I do – in a jug – and it remains less fizzy.  (Gosh, just typing that has made me want to make a fizzy bottle of it right now!)
    • (Oh, stop it – it’s just toooo good this stuff 😉
  11. Kefir milk ferments are like pets.  

    • They need tending to!
    • If neglected you may see their demise, but the grains sit perfectly well in milk in a fridge for up to a week, before needing fresh milk for the bacteria to feed on.
    • (Let you into a secret though: I’ve treated mine real bad and they’ve fought back and survived.  The ‘treat ’em mean’ system works well in our house 😉
    • They can also freeze successfully.
    • The only thing you need to avoid is leaving grains, in milk, out of the fridge for too long.
    • Easy!
  12. There can be up to 60 strains of beneficial bacteria in kefir milk.

    • That’s around 6 times more than yoghurts, that usually have around 10
  13. Kefir provides:

    • Beneficial bacteria
    • Yeast
    • Amino acids
    • Enzymes
    • Calcium
    • Magnesium
    • Phosphorus
    • B vitamins
    • Complete proteins (composed of whey and casein)
    • Kefir is your friend!
  14. A diet including complete proteins in diary form can promote fat loss and lean muscle gain in certain body types.

    (Notably, obese women.)

    • ‘Journal of Nutrition,’ 2011
  15. A 175 g serving of kefir can replace your usual milk and will provide 20% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium

  16. The bacteria in kefir (known as probiotics) can aid digestion.

    • They can also prevent the growth of harmful bacteria (pathogens) in the gut.
  17. 85% of our immune system is located in our gut, making gut health – and a healthy balance of gut flora – of primary importance.

  18. Candida albicans (yeast) are a normal part of the macrobiotic found in most adult humans.

  19. Scientific laboratory research has shown to date that kefir:

    • Can improve Gut Health
    • Can help improve Lactose Digestion
    • Has anti-inflammatory properties
    • Can help lower cholesterol
    • Builds the Immune System
    • Fights Pathogens (the organisms that cause disease) and thereby helps to Prevent Disease
    • Inhibits the growth of Cancer Cells
    • Can help to reduce Blood Pressure
    • Has Anti-Diabetic properties (soy kefir milk was used for these tests)
    • Offers Protection against UV irradiation and has shown to have potential ability to repair damaged cells (from sun, cigarettes, x-rays, CT scans and other pollutants)
    • Is anti-Ageing (with it’s protective qualities against UV radiation that damages cells, this could prevent freckles, liver spots, skin cancer and wrinkles)
    • Has shown potential to lower the side effects of irradiation in patients with malignancy who are going through irradiation therapy
    • Has antibacterial Qualities – i.e. the killing action against food borne pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella etc
    • Can Significantly Lower Blood Glucose (another soy milk study)
    • Inhibits Mucous Secretion (offering potential for treatment such as Asthma)
  20. Because kefir is a balanced and nourishing food, it has been used to help patients suffering from:

    • AIDS
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Herpes
    • Cancer
    • It has a tranquilizing effect on the nervous system and is beneficial for people with:
    • Sleep disorders (the amino acid tryptophan has a calming effect)
    • Depression
    • ADHD (again: tryptophan)
    • Kefir promotes healthy bowel movements when used regularly, and helps reduce flatulence.
    • It also helps reduce food cravings by allowing the body to feel more nourished and balanced.
  21. It has been said that kefir is as powerful as any antibiotic .. and kinder to the body.

    • If you feel the need to take antibiotics, taking kefir alongside it and continuing afterwards will help to keep your gut flora in balance because:
      • Drugs in general kill not only the pathogen that is making you unwell, but also many of your good bacteria.

There is also a thing called Kefir Water (yes, there’s more fun to be had!!!) but that’s quite a different drink, so I’ll deal with that in another post sometime.

So, what is kefir? It’s a very exciting drink.  That’s what!! 😉

Tomorrow, I’m going to post the first and simplest instructions for making milk kefir.

Are you ready???!!!

Catch you soon …

KISSES - CBemail-signature1













Antimicrobial and healing activity of kefir and kefiran extract. Kamila Leite Rodrigues, Lucelia Rita Gaudiona Caputo, Jose Carolos Tavares Carvalho, Joao Evangelista, Jose Mauricio Schneedorf.
Lab. Biologia e Fisiologia de Microoganismos, Ufineos, Alfenas, MG, Brazil; Lab. Patologia Experimental, Unifenas; Lab. Fitofarmacos, Unifenas, Alfenas, MG, Brazil Rec’d 27 May 2004; Accepted 17 Sept 2004

Kefir and Health: A Contemporary Perspective. http:/ / dx.doi.org/ 10.1080/ 10408398.2010.540360

About the Author Sarah Jackson

I love to experiment with food, write poetry, read, walk in nature, take iphone photographs, sing, cycle, watch good movies, documentaries, dramas and comedy.

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