Diet and Milk Kefir

Thanks for listening to a small part of my journey to health. I could go on and on about kefir. I’d love to shout if from rooftops. It is that great.

In addition to helping the body’s immune system function at its best, milk kefir helps with skin, teeth, bad breath problems, constipation, joint pain, weight loss, and more. If you think you cannot drink it because you are lactose intolerant, have no fear. The grains eat away all the sugar leaving you with a lactose free super beverage.

I hope you try it!

See my posts about how to Make Milk Kefir  and Kombucha. Not only can these be made at home, but it is drastically less expensive than buying the finished product at the store.

Making Milk Kefir Is EASY!

First, find a friend who already has kefir grains growing. Ask for about one Tablespoon to get started.

Or, if you do not live near a source, find a reputable vendor online. I used Fusion Teas as recommended by my best friend Jamie.

I could make a video for you, but I like this one from Chrone’s Babe. It’s well done and easy to follow. I pronounce kefir differently though. Not sure which is the right way. I say it like keefir.

Also, fyi, I use regular whole milk from the grocery store, usually off brands like Kroger or Great Value. There is a lot of debate over the quality of kefir based on which milk is used, but in the end, you get super powerful kefir from both kinds of milk. You get the same result, in my opinion. Do what works for you!

I also do a second fermentation, usually with flavor. Look below for some photos of my kefir and some very simple recipes you can make in no time for your family.

Troubleshooting with Kefir 101:

When I first got my grains in the mail, there was a learning curve to making kefir. The grains were working so well that my kefir turned super runny and smelled heavily like sour milk. But I knew from talking to Jamie and doing research that bad bacteria could not grow with the grains. So I drank it while plugging my nose.

The problem was that I had too many grains in a small amount of milk. You want a very thick creamy kefir that after fermentation, has what looks like a thick layer of cream (think Greek yogurt consistency), on top.

Cream Top
Cream Top

To get my grains and kefir on track, I moved the grains to a larger jar, quart sized, added in one cup of heavy cream, and filled it the rest of the way with whole milk.

I covered the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band, put it in my “fermentation basket” covered with a kitchen towel, and waited. 24 hours later, I had silky smooth, thick creamy kefir. After that I did not need to add any more cream.

Before straining into your nylon mesh strainer, give your kefir and grains a vigorous stir to mix everything together. Pop the grains back into the jar, fill it with milk, and put it in your fermentation spot.

At this time, you can pour your finished kefir into a jar and flavor it before doing the optional second fermentation.

Because I make kefir every day, there is always at least 2 jars doing first fermentation, 2 jars in the pantry doing second fermentation, and the nice cold flavored jars in the fridge that we drink.

You’ll learn to know when your kefir is done just by walking by and smelling the kefir. Without lifting the towel, I can usually tell by the strength of the yeasty smell coming from the jars.

If I think “ok, think it’s done” I pull a jar out and look at the bottom for large pockets of whey. When I see them it’s time to strain. This is how we like our kefir. Some like to ferment longer until the whey goes halfway up the jar. It’s entirely up to you.

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy kefir.


 

Flavoring Kefir:

Second fermentation with orange peel.
Second fermentation with orange peel.

My all time favorite flavors are lemon and orange. Simply place a large piece of lemon or orange rind in the jar of kefir. Cap it. Place it in your pantry for about 12 hours.

When it is done it will look something like this with more or less whey forming. Just stir it all up and it’s once again a thick creamy beverage.

Flavored Kefir
At this point, I just stick it in the fridge to cool until the next day. I leave the peel in until we serve it.

 

Gelato Kefir:

Unless we are doing a smoothie, our favorite way to drink kefir is to mix it with fresh lemon or orange juice, liquid stevia, and vanilla extract. I call it Lemon Gelato Kefir.

Lemon Kefir

 

2016-01-15 20.17.02
Our morning servings of Lemon Milk Kefir

I do not eat gelato or ice cream so to me, this concoction tastes like Lemon Gelato. So delicious! Quite a treat.

My one year old will not drink plain milk, only kefir. She loves and I have to put a cup of it in her hand at least 10 minutes after she wakes up.

Vanilla and Stevia
I use Penzey’s Vanilla, but pour it into this retired stevia dropper bottle. It is so much easier to control, not to mention I don’t have to worry about the cap getting sticky.

I prefer to sip mine, whereas Brent likes to chug his down as quickly as possible.


 

Green Kefir Smoothie.

This came from my friend Kathy. We all love this smoothie and it’s the only way my kids will eat spinach.

For one serving, simply place 1 cup kefir, 1 banana, and 1 big handful of raw spinach in your blender. Mix it up and drink it cold. If it’s really thick and won’t blend, you may need to add a liquid like a little almond milk.


 

Kefir Cheese:

Simply place your mesh strainer over a 4c. measuring cup or a bowl big enough to hold your strainer. Place 2 white coffee filters in the strainer. Fill the strainer to the brim with kefir. Cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 24 hours.

When it is done, it has the texture of a thick ricotta. Not quite as thick as cream cheese.

You can eat it plain or use your own seasonings or a dip mix. We like it with Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix. I used about half a packet.

We eat it with carrots, snap peas, and whole wheat crackers.


 

Please let me know if you try it and how it works for you! Or if you already drink it, please chime in with your own flavoring ideas and what kefir has done for you.