You may have not heard of kefir but it is easily one of the healthiest and most nutritious beverages in the world (but not necessarily the most delicious). From its name alone you might not take kefir seriously and doubt if any beverage with such a strange-sounding name could do you any good at all. This would be ill-advised though, as such a snap judgement would rob you of the chance to benefit from this astounding beverage.
To millions of health watchers in the world including me, kefir is not actually a new thing. It is not a just-thought-of health sensation that’s just beginning to get a marketing boost. Shepherds in North Caucasus have been downing this drink and benefiting from it for about 2,000 years already!
Below is a list of everything you need to know about this intriguing beverage and there is a good chance that by the end of this article you will start looking for glass jar to make your own kefir drink and start saying good things about kefir, too.
- 1 What is kefir? Where does kefir come from?
- 2 What is kefir good for?
What is kefir? Where does kefir come from?
Kefir is fermented milk; a creamy, yogurt-like beverage that leaves an interesting, unforgettable flavor in your mouth. Dictionary.com defines it as “a tart-tasting drink originally of the Caucasus, made from cow’s or sometimes goat’s milk to which the bacteria Streptococcus and Lactobacillus have been added.”
The name “kefir” is Russian, which explains why it sounds exotic. The Caucasus region where this drink originated covers the southern provinces of Russia, as well as the nations of Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. A couple of thousand years ago, local herdsmen in this part of the world accidentally produced kefir as the milk in their leather pouches fermented. Records show that people in this area were very healthy and enjoyed long lives, and though there may not necessarily be a direct relationship of causality here, there is certainly enough of a suggested correlation for many scientists to remark on it.
Today, you don’t need to go to Russia to get kefir or ferment milk inside your leather purse. You can simply purchase kefir grains or ready-to-drink kefir beverages from any health store. There are also several outlets online. Whenever time allows, I prefer buying grains so I can make my own kefir drink
What is kefir good for?
I was delightfully surprised to discover the many health benefits of kefir. Generally, it cleanses my intestines and improves the performance of my immune system. As a result, regular consumption of kefir provides relief from any intestinal discomforts, promotes bowel movement, balances my inner ecosystem, improves the health of my digestive system, eliminates unhealthy craving for food, lowers cholesterol levels and controls high blood pressure. Although this list looks impressive enough, there is more: several studies as well as thousands of kefir drinkers around the world have proven that it also helps in fighting herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disorders, cancer and HIV/AIDS. There’s even more. Kefir has a soothing effect that makes it good against depression, sleep disorder and ADHD.
How can all these benefits be real?
The secret is in the contents. Kefir grains have yeast, proteins, vitamins, minerals, calcium, phosphorous and helpful life-giving bacteria, referred to as probiotics. These are cultured, living organisms that fight bad bacteria, viruses and pathogens. Think of them as tiny janitor-like creatures inside your body.
How is kefir made? Can I learn how to make kefir from kefir grains?
Kefir grains look like tiny white cauliflowers. They grow and reproduce easily, which is why they aren’t expensive at all. There are even communities of growers that give out free grains for the asking. Once you have the grains, making the drink is very basic. Here’s how.
- One, get a 500ml glass jar and put 1 tablespoon of kefir grains.
- Two, fill the jar with milk. The type of milk is completely up to you. Any kind will do ñ fresh milk, skim milk, non-fat, cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
- Three, let it stand for at least a day, or if you want it thick and a bit more sour, two days. You’re actually fermenting the kefir at this time.
- Four, once you think you’ve fermented it thick and sour enough, it is time to stir using a wooden spoon. Stir gently and see how the creamy, jelly-like substance gets mixed, producing a sour, tart-tasting yogurt. It is easy, if you wonder how to know when kefir is ready, because it completely depends on how you want it to taste: ultimately, it is ready when you want it to be.
What does/should kefir taste like after? How can I get a smooth and non bitter tasting Kefir?
The longer you ferment your kefir, the more sour and thicker it gets, and probably (from recent findings) becomes much more beneficial to your health. But if you don’t exactly enjoy anything sour or yogurt-tasting, grab your blender and create a sweet and delicious kefir smoothie. Blend with your choice of fruit (papaya, banana, mango, pineapple or cantaloupe) with ginger and brown sugar.
Finally, is there another variant that fits my liking for beer and soda?
Milk kefir is the more popular form of kefir but we should not forget about its cousin, water kefir. From its name, this drink is produced by using water to ferment the grains. And these are not ordinary kefir grains; they are crystal-like water kefir grains also known as tibicos. Water kefir grains are white to yellow crystal specks that are popular in several parts of the world but with various names. They are called California bees, kefir di frutta, tepache, piltz, colonch, rapaddura, Japanese water crystals, and the Drink of the Prophet (supposedly pertaining to Prophet Mohammed).
How you prepare your milk kefir is exactly how to use kefir grains in making water kefir. There’s nothing much to it but to simply allowing the grains to ferment in the liquid. When fermented, water kefir grains produces carbon dioxide (among other things) and so carbonates the water. The result is a vinegary, apple-cider-tasting carbonated drink that could just replace your craving for soda or beer. You can add fruits and sweeten with brown sugar, but don’t use honey because there are properties in honey that can damage water kefir crystals.