Making Kefir

Several months ago I was watching Dr. Oz and he was talking about the health benefits of drinking Kefir. Kefir is a fermented drink made with kefir 'grains' (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter) and has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains around 3,000 BC. If you like plain yogurt, sour cream, or even buttermilk you would like Kefir. If not, it's about as gross as they are.

But it's good for you, helping restore your gut back to a healthy condition. I really didn't want it for us though. I was thinking more of our dog Nellie who has suffered from Colitis for several years. I did continuing research and found a great story about a dog that was saved by Kefir for stomach problems worse than Nellie. I bought 6 quarts of the stuff from the store. It's damn expensive, running about 5 bucks a quart.

The good thing is that she loves it. She has always liked sour cream so she took to it easily. I pour it in a little bowl twice a day and she even looks for it now when it gets time. But after 2 months I didn't see a lot of difference in her symptoms. Maybe the episodes weren't lasting quite as long but still I wasn't too sure. I posted my results on the woman's blog about the dog and her quick response was in question form, "Are you using store bought or homemade Kefir?" I should have known she would ask that because that's what her site is about and she sells the grains herself. As much as I wanted to buy them I had a hard time paying 26 bucks for a Tablespoon of the grains (on sale).

For fun, I took a chance and looked on Craigslist searching for Kefir grains. In December someone had posted that they were giving some away (they multiply). I emailed her and she actually still had some left. We met a week later and she handed me some weird cottage cheese-looking stuff in a baggie and gave me instructions on  how to make it; and she didn't even charge me for it!

It's really easy--put the grains in a glass jar and put in a cup of whole milk. Cover it lightly with cheesecloth or a paper towel and put in a dark warm place (the furnace room in our house). The warmer the better, it will produce faster. When you think it's done (kind of hit and miss until you get the hang of it, but average is 24 hours), strain it and place the Kefir in a glass container in the fridge and start the grains all over again. As the grains multiply you can add more milk because that's what they feed on.

Straining Kefir
The 'Grains'
When we're able to get more out of our batches I might make some smoothies or you can use it in cooking. As for Nellie? I'm still not totally convinced it's helping her. About 3 days after I started making it, she had a real bad episode and slept for almost 24 hours straight and didn't eat. The good thing is that she snaps right out of it as quickly as it comes on and eats twice as much the next day.

I guess I'll keep making it until I get bored. When you want to take a break you stick the grains in the fridge in a little milk and they will essentially go into hibernation. Cool, huh? Anybody else ever had this?


Grumpy said…
You got me started on sprouts, which I quickly lost interest in (not your fault). I'm not trying this one.

No concern about milk that's been sitting for hours without cooling?
kden said…
You're not sprouting anymore? I still am probably only b/c I eat so many salads. And they've been making Kefir this way for thousands of years so I'm not concerned. You do put it in the fridge after the 24 hr. ferment.

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