This time of year it is nice to do something good for your tummy. It has endured through the overindulgence of the holiday season. The overeating of rich, creamy, sugary foods that run alongside all the get-togethers that go along with all the winter celebrating.
Kefir is a yogurt-like culture that is made from milk or milk-like liquids. It is a fermentation of the milk that turns it into a microbial rich drink that is easier to digest and that stimulates a healthy bowel environment. Kefir can be found in ready-to-drink bottles at health-food stores or can be made from milk with kefir grains.
I was gifted with some kefir grains from a friend just a few weeks ago. I thought it was perfect timing, as I need to be eating healthier and putting away those holiday eating habits. She brought them over in a little jar nestled in some half-n-half for their journey. Three marble sized organisms, knobby and slightly translucent white. Sheila, my friend and fellow kefir keeper, said that they were living organisms, and they do grow and multiply. She suggested that I put them in about a quart of milk and cover the top of the jar with a paper towel (which I either fasten with a rubberband or lid ring). The kefir then sits at room temperature for about 48 hours, swishing it around 2-3 times a day. It seems from what I have read that how long the kefir is left out is up to personal preference on taste and texture and what kind of nutritional qualities are being sought.
I like kefir, but I also enjoy the taste of yogurt and buttermilk. Some might say it is a little sour. I like adding a spoonful of homemade jam or preserves to a cupful of kefir just to take the sour edge off and add a little sweetness. It can also be used in baking as a substitute for buttermilk or sour cream. Sheila enjoys dipping bits of italian bread into the kefir, and I can imagine that adding herbs to the kefir would make it very savory as a dip for bread or raw vegetables.
Kefir is a new thing for me, so I don't know a whole lot. Please share with us in the comments below how you use kefir, or any helpful tips. Here are a few links to other information:
An article about Komubucha and Kefir, Kefir grains available around the world, The wikipedia information on Kefir
I could tell that Sheila felt a sense of responsibility with the kefir grains in taking care of them and giving them the environment that they need to survive. I guess I feel that way now, too. Kefir is living and should be taken care of and shared as it grows. I have already shared it with two friends, and have more that I need to pass along. At least if I do share it, I can get a start if mine does perish for whatever reason. But, for now, it lives contently in a jar of milk, on my kitchen counter.
photo credit: Sherry Tucker. Top; kefir (fermented milk that had kefir grains for 2 days). Bottom; my three big keifer grains that can be split for sharing.