Kefir, pronounced KEE-fur, is a cultured / fermented milk drink that has been around for thousands of years and it is said that it originated in the Caucasian Mountains. Apparently traditional kefir was made in goatskin bags that were hung near a doorway and the bag was knocked by anyone passing through to agitate the kefir and help to keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed.
Kefir is a creamy, sometimes slightly fizzy, dairy drink with a consistency of drinking yogurt and a taste similar to that of thick greek yogurt. However, kefir is not the same as yogurt and has many more strains of beneficial bacteria. Kefir has between 30 – 56 strains of bacteria compared to yogurt, which has between 7 – 10 strains of bacteria. Additionally, half a cup of kefir can have up to 40 billion cfu’s (Colony Forming Units).
Kefir is made with kefir “grains”, which are a yeast / bacterial fermentation starter that look similar to cauliflower, which are added to milk and allowed to ferment over a period of 24 to 48 hours, after which time the kefir grains are removed and the milk drink can be consumed. I either drink my kefir straight or combine it with fruit to make a smoothie. If the grains are left in the milk for a longer period, the kefir will eventually split into curds and whey, as shown in the image on the right. Curds can be used to make kefir cheese and the whey can be used to culture vegetables.
Kefir is a great source of live probiotics and some of the benefits of consuming kefir, as noted from personal experience, friend’s experiences and from research, include:
- Eliminates constipation
- Enhanced digestion
- Reduces / eliminates allergies
- Improved immune function
- Improved skin condition
- Promotes a general good feeling / sense of well-being