Kefir is a popular probiotic known for centuries. However, relatively recently it has started to become popular. This is due to the many benefits and properties it contains. It is a fungus that produces a fermentation process, in milk or water. The result is a very healthy drink, loaded with probiotics so beneficial to our intestinal health.Moreover, we can prepare it at home if we follow some simple tips for its use. So, today we want to know more about kefir. As well as how to use it. And what we have to keep in mind if we have it at home.
What is Kefir?
Although it is already a very popular and well-known natural probiotic, let’s take a closer look at what it is.
As we said, kefir, or rather, kefir grains, are a combination of bacteria and yeasts that live grouped together, forming a gelatinous and granulated mass. This fungus, or rather, microbial colony, is added in milk or water, as there are two types of kefir, where they feed by fermenting the beverage.
In the case of milk, this microorganism decomposes the sugars present in the milk, converting them into lactic acid, carbon dioxide and a minimum percentage of alcohol. In this fermentation process, kefir consumes the lactose in the milk, so the result is also suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.
Tradition has it that giving kefir to someone is a blessing.
Its use has spread widely and is becoming more and more known. Nowadays you can find in the market a multitude of products with Kefir. But as with all jarred shakes, be careful with the rest of the ingredients. It will always be much better if you get your own kefir and make these products at home. Also, in order to sell it, it has to go through a pasteurization process, so these drinks will not have any of the benefits of real kefir.
Origin of kefir, where does it come from?
We call kefir both the fungus itself and the yogurt or milk (depending on the time we leave it) that results from fermentation.
It is one of the oldest known dairy products. Its origin, although not known with certainty, is located in the Caucasus, in Eastern Europe. There are records of this fermented beverage in that area as early as the 8th century.
According to legend, kefir was discovered by chance. The nomadic tribes of the area transported milk in leather bags, which contained kefir grains. Remember that kefir is nothing more than a combination of bacteria and yeast. These bacteria accidentally triggered the fermentation process resulting in what they called “ayrag”, a slightly acidic and effervescent milk drink, fermented in goatskin wineskins.
Over time, this drink was considered a treasure that was passed down from generation to generation, due to its multiple properties. Until, in the 20th century, kefir grains began to be shared and spread throughout the world. Achieving an important acceptance.
The word kefir comes from the Turkish “Keif”, which means: “to feel good” or “pleasant sensation”. In reference to the sensation that one has after drinking this drink, and that, in addition, carries the connotation of blessing. It is believed that giving kefir to someone is a blessing.
How to use Kefir?
How to get it
Nowadays you can buy kefir grains, both water and milk, in multitu of specialized stores or in online stores. However, tradition says that the fungus has to be given. That is to say, if you know someone who already has it, ask them to give you some. Because this fungus grows by leaps and bounds, and we have to separate it into smaller pieces to avoid excessive fermentation.
Because, depending on the size of the kefir, as well as the time we leave it, the result will be more or less thick. So, depending on the growth of your kefir you will have to divide it, or even freeze it, as you have a lot of it.
Once we have obtained our kefir, what do we have to do with it?
To “take care” of this microorganism we simply need a glass jar, where we will put our kefir with milk. The best (and how it will grow the most) is to use whole cow’s milk, although you can use any milk you want.
The approximate proportion is about 60 grams of kefir for each liter of milk. As the normal thing is that they give it to us small, it uses a small jar according to it. If it is not enough kefir and the milk does not curdle, do not worry. Drink it just the same and give it time to grow (using whole milk it grows very fast). Although you can also add a little more milk so that the result is not like yogurt, but more liquid. As it is a matter of taste, you will see how you prefer it.
To ferment the milk, leave it from one day to the next. In the jar where we have the kefir, add the milk, and cover it with a clean piece of cloth. Hold the cloth with a rubber band so that it does not move and nothing gets inside. This is very important because, in the fermentation process, it will release vapors and gases, so we cannot close it hermetically.
How to handle and consume it
You can drink the kefir milk every day. Simply, with the help of a plastic strainer, pour the contents of the glass jar into a glass. Our kefir will remain in the strainer (do it this way in case any of the granules separate). You can help yourself with a plastic spoon to move the kefir and separate it from the yogurt or milk.
Put the kefir back in the jar and fill it with milk.
You can now consume the milk or yogurt obtained. You can drink it alone, at breakfast with fruit, with honey… Or even make smoothies, cakes, etc. with this milk.
It is very important that all the utensils (strainer, spoon, etc) that you use with kefir are made of plastic. Never put it in contact with anything metallic. And, of course, never touch it with your hands, because we could contaminate it.
Why can metals not be used?
When in contact with an acid medium, such as kefir, metal can release particles that are harmful to health. As it is a product that we are going to consume, it is totally inadvisable to use any type of metal in direct contact with the kefir or in the fermentation process.
Where it should rest
For the kefir fungus to do its job, we will have to leave it at least from one day to the next. But where should we store it? Ideally, it should be at room temperature. The ideal temperature for the fermentation process to take place is below 20ºC.However, as it is difficult for a house to keep it at a constant temperature, you can store it in a thermal bag, like the ones used to carry the food boxes. In summer, if you do not want to leave the milk in the thermal bag or it does not seem enough, keep it in the refrigerator. It will not do exactly the same process, nor at the same speed, but it will also prevent it from spoiling.
Kefir also needs a little maintenance.
Remember to change the milk every day, or, at the most, every two days. If it is left for two days, the result will be thicker. And, once a week, we must wash it very well under the tap. After straining it, in the same plastic strainer, it will be enough to leave it under the faucet and to help us with the plastic spoon to move our kefir and to wash it perfectly. Once clean, also proceed to wash the jar where it “lives”.
With these tips you will have kefir for years, and in perfect condition. So you will be able to benefit from all its contributions. Let’s see what they are:
Benefits and properties of kefir milk
As we were saying, this food has been very important for centuries due to the amount of benefits it has on our health. Already the ancient peoples of the Caucasus passed on this knowledge from generation to generation so that all families could benefit from the properties of kefir milk. In fact, that is why it has become such a popular food all over the world.
Let’s see what those benefits are:
- Boosts immunity. Kefir has compounds such as biotin and folate, which help our immune system to function better.
- As it contains large amounts of probiotics it also strengthens our immune system from harmful bacteria, and inhibits their growth.
- It also has antimicrobial properties. In addition, it helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Strengthens bones. In addition to the calcium we get from milk when we drink kefir, kefir has bioactive compounds that help our body absorb calcium properly. It has vitamin K2, which improves bone health and bone density.
- In general, the probiotics in kefir help the absorption of the other nutrients in milk, such as phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D, to be well absorbed.
According to a study conducted at McGill University, Canada, kefir was able to reduce cancer cells by 56% in an in vitro test.
- It can help fight cancer. Its compounds kill stomach cancer cells. It can slow the growth of early tumors and their spread throughout the body. According to a study conducted at McGill University, Canada, through an in vitro test, it was able to reduce cancer cells by 56%.
- It aids digestion and promotes intestinal flora. Kefir helps to maintain an optimal balance in the intestinal flora.
- Helps with allergies. Many allergies and respiratory problems are related to inflammatory problems in the body. And kefir is a good natural anti-inflammatory, so it relieves these problems and their symptoms.
- On the other hand, the live microorganisms in kefir help our immune system to naturally suppress many allergic reactions.
- Improves the skin. Any problem that our body may have is reflected in the skin. And kefir, helping our intestinal flora to have an optimal balance, also makes this is reflected in the skin.
- So it is a great ally if we suffer from acne, psoriasis or eczema. But it has also been shown that kefir carbohydrates improve wound healing and can protect connective tissue.
- Improves symptoms of dairy intolerance. Kefir helps break down lactose, making it easier to digest.
And finally, how to take kefir?
Although we have already told you how we can consume this fantastic natural probiotic, here are some other options. Many people take it on its own. When it’s fresh, it’s a delight to which we don’t need to add anything else.
But there are many other ways to consume kefir milk. But they will depend on how fermented we leave it. For example, if the fermentation process has been short, or it is cold, you will see that kefir milk is more liquid. In this case, we can use it to make milkshakes, sauces, desserts of all kinds….
If, on the other hand, it is warmer, or you leave it to ferment for a couple of days, you will see that the result is thicker. In this case we can drink it as if it were yogurt. Add all kinds of fruit, nuts, syrup, honey … We can also use it to make great dressings for our salads. Try mixing it with some spices, aromatic herbs, lemon, salt, pepper, etc. And create a healthy and delicious dressing.
In short, use your imagination and use kefir milk or the resulting yogurt in your favorite recipes.
And you, do you drink kefir, do you know it? If you liked it, remember to leave us your comments, ideas, tips… We love to read you! You can also follow us on social networks to keep up to date with all our publications. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.