Kefir making anyone?

CassandraJanuary 30, 2013

Just wondering if anyone here makes their own kefir. A recent bout of GI trouble got me VERY interested in doing all I can to get probiotics into my system. At the same time I was doing a lot of genealogy lately on my Slovenian ancestors who, I found, most likely used kefir as a daily food. I just ordered some kefir grains--they should arrive in a few days. I'm obviously new to this so any words of wisdom are most welcome. . .

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I haven't made kefir, but I'm interested in the recent stuff written about the gut flora and how it interacts with your immune system, your weight, etc. Two books I recently acquired and I'm working with: Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillipo, and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Katz covers every possible fermented food, from kefir to yogurt to sauerkraut to pickles. I've ordered a starter culture and some 2 qt mason jars, and will soon be fermenting away--at least on some vegetables, kraut etc. Might be a while before I try dairy.

Here is a link that might be useful: art of fermentation

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:07AM
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Grainlady recommended Nourishing Traditions (which I bought) and it covers all of this - fermentation, yogourt making, broth soups, etc. It is a great resource.
Sorry, don't have any tips on the kefir though. I just love the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in their health and eating properly.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:28AM
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You will find the most helpful and complete information at Dom's Kefir In-site (link below).

I've been making kefir for many years and use it on a daily basis in our morning smoothie, as a substitute for buttermilk, drained and used instead of plain yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese, so it's versatile. I'll be happy to answer any questions I can. It is a healthier choice than yogurt, plus it's much easier to make than yogurt.

I use the whey for many things as well, including soaking grains, for lacto-fermentation, as a refreshing drink in the summer (whey lemonade)....

Along with introducing kefir and possibly other fermented (pre-digested) foods to your diet (I agree with arley about "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz), you may also want to read "Wheat Belly" by William Davis, M.D. When it was mentioned here several times I checked it out from the library and it was a real eye opener. Especially for a person who goes by the name "grainlady". You can also find clips on YouTube to give you a general idea.

It's really simple to make kefir once you get started. Just keep everything clean. Scald the jars you ferment in with boiling water, as well as any spoon/strainer used to remove the grains. I have a slotted spoon I use to "fish" the grains out of the kefir. They float to the top when the milk begins to ferment, and that's how you'll know it's working. I also give the jar a swirl a few times during fermentation to keep everything well mixed, but it's not completely necessary. I never wash my grains, but you occasionally find that information. I plop them into a cup of milk in a pint jar and refrigerate it between use. I leave the pint jar at room temperature (after I take the grains out and place them in the quart jar) and there is generally more than enough good bacteria in the milk to make curds and whey, so don't waste it.

The cooler the temperature, the longer it will take to ferment, but the kefir will also be smoother and less tangy. I generally ferment 2-1/2 c. milk at a time (I use powdered milk - Grandma's Country Cream non-fat dry instant - because that's what I store and use). Occasionally I'll get raw goat's milk and I'll ferment it, or if there is some heavy cream or half-and-half available, I'll add a little to the powdered milk for a richer/thicker curd.

I also ferment reconstituted powdered coconut milk (Wilderness Family) and that is one of my favorites. The grains won't grow in coconut milk, so I make sure I put them back into milk for storage and will use them in milk a few times before using a portion of my grains in coconut milk. If I have an abundance of grains I will ferment some grape juice just for something different.

Good luck....


Here is a link that might be useful: Dom's Kefir Insite

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Many thanks for the replies, esp. to grainlady. The Dom's site is very useful! Can't wait to get my kefir grains and begin. . .

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 3:57PM
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grainlady, I seem to see conflicting information on the web about using whole vs. skim milk. Several sites say that whole has to be used because the grains live on the fat. However I don't need the saturated fat in whole milk and am very used to skim milk. I'd prefer to use it, or at least 1% or 2% rather than whole. What will work? Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:00AM
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Yes, the fat content of milk is one of those issues I had to work around because I use fat-free powdered milk for all our drinking and cooking (we practice home food storage). I haven't purchased milk from a store since 1981, although I occasionally buy raw goat's milk from a farm not far from my house, and an occasional container of half & half or heavy whipping cream.

To answer your question... you can use whatever kind of milk you like. If you notice the grains aren't growing all that much you can always add some higher-fat product for several fermentation sessions and that will "perk" them up a bit. You may want to use whole milk or 2% when you get your grains to make sure they get a good start.

Even using non-fat dry milk powder I still get a nice layer of curds and whey (the whey is where the "good" stuff is, so make sure you use it). When I make the powdered milk a higher ratio of powder to water it will affect the thickness of the curd - similar to adding powdered milk when making yogurt at home. The same goes for adding a high-fat dairy (cream or half & half) - these add richness especially nice if you are making a cheese ball with drained kefir curd, or a rich dessert.

Instead of 2 T. of milk powder per cup of water I'll use 3 or 4 T. per cup - depending on what I'm using the kefir for (less powder for liquid use (smoothies or a buttermilk substitute), and more if I want to drain the whey and use the curd). The grains don't grow as fast using low- or fat-free milk, but they still ferment the milk. I've used these grains for about 12 or 13 years now.

I don't see a need to be concerned with consumption of saturated fats in moderation. Personally, it's the highly-oxidized "fake" fats I avoid. Watch the documentary "Fat Head" on YouTube or Hulu. A good fat to use for digestion and nutrient absorption is coconut oil which may be beneficial for G.I. issues. Coconut oil is another food storage item I've used for many years. (Check out: "The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil" by Bruce Fife, N.D.) The Standard American Diet is a silent killer..... In other words, if you do what you've done, you'll get what you got. The good news is you are now thinking about food for help.


Here is a link that might be useful: More Saturated Fat Attacks

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Thanks grainlady!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:38AM
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One other piece of advice--start slow! When I started making Kefir we just guzzled a glass, and it caused some, um, digestive issues. We backed off and started with just a little, like a quarter cup or so, then gradually increased the amount over days and let our systems get used to it. I had no such trouble with the stuff from the store, but the stuff you make yourself from grains is much more powerful.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 3:30PM
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