I recently started buying raw milk from a co-op and since the order overlapped with milk already in the fridge – we were literally overflowing with the white stuff! It seemed that the raw milk was not going to “make” it and would most likely start to turn before we drank it all – so what to do? I have been doing a lot of reading on the benefits of gut flora and probiotics – so decided I would try making my own kefir. You can make kefir by using kefir grains or a kefir starter (more like a powder). I wanted to use the grains, but could only find the starter at the local health food store. I will need to get the grains, either on-line or from my food co-op – which I will do when I am done with the starter I have.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria similar to those found in people’s guts. Most friendly bacteria come from the Lactobacillus or Bididobacterium groups. There are several different species of bacteria in each group. Some probiotics are also friendly yeasts. Taking probiotics is a way to keep your friendly bacteria population up to full strength so it is always at the ready to defend you. If you have taken antibiotics, taking probiotics is even more important because you probably have unfriendly microorganisms living in your gut that your reduced levels of friendly bacteria are having difficulty handling. Taking probiotics will increase and strengthen your friendly bacteria population to a level that will allow it to oust the intruders.
Kefir is a creamy, drinkable yogurt style fermented milk that tastes a little sour or like buttermilk. You can buy plain or natural fruit flavored kefir in the health food stores and most grocery stores, it is fairly expensive. I may, down the road make flavored kefir – but since I am adding it to our morning smoothie that has plenty of fruit – I will leave plain for now. You can make kefir from cow milk, coconut milk, or almond milk. Kefir is full of naturally occurring bacteria and yeast living in sharmony as the result of the fermentation process.
Kefir is a balanced and nourishing food, loaded with vitamins, minerals and easily digested protein. It can even be consumed by the lactose intolerant because the yeast and bacteria provide the enzyme lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process. Kefir is fermented by kefir grains that contain the bacteria and yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk protein) and complex sugars. The bacteria and yeast mixture can actually colonize the intestinal tract, whicht yogurt cannot match. Several of the strains of bacteria in the kefir culture are not even found in yogurt. The yeast in kefir is able to deal effectively with pathogenic yeasts in the body. The bacteria/yeast team cleanses and fortifies the intestinal tract making it more efficient at resisting pathogens and other bad guys!.
Note: I could not find kefir grains at the local health food store and I needed to use up the last of of my raw milk. Once I finish the box of kefir starter I will order kefir grains on line. Kefir grains can be used over and over again and the other benefit is that you do not have to heat the milk.
1. Heat 4 cups whole raw milk in a saucepan to 180 degrees. Do this slowly – it took me about 30 minutes to get to that temperature.
2. Once it has reached 180 degrees turn the heat off and allow to cool to about 75 degrees.
3. Take some of the cool milk and add the kefir starter – mix really well.
4. Add the kefir starter milk back to the saucepan of milk. Mix really well.
5. Pour the milk into a glass container and cover with a coffee filter and rubber band. You want the gas to be able to escape.
6. Allow to sit on the counter for about 24 hours. This will allow the curds to form.
7. After 24 hours, refrigerate your kefir to stop the fermentation process.
Stir before serving. We are using ours in our morning smoothies, replacing the whole milk yogurt.
Our Morning Smoothie
Ingredients (quantity of each depends on how many you are making – we do not measure when making ours, just eye it in the Vitamix/blender)
Whole, raw milk kefir
Whole milk plain yogurt
Frozen blueberries, peaches, mangoes, pineapple
Organic coconut oil
Morning juice blend (optional and only if needed to thin some)
We make enough for 2 people for 2 days with recipe. We have it either as breakfast or lunch. Stella could drink them all day long!!