Are you familiar with Kefir? I'm guessing most folks have not tried it. Kefir is an incredibly health-giving probiotic drink that tastes great, similar to yogurt. What's awesome is that it's like yogurt on steroids. Where yogurt contains 3-5 strains of cultures, kefir contains around 50 strains of beneficial flora.
To dig even deeper, the few bacterial strains in yogurt are cultures that are made in a lab. These cultures stay static. Conversely, when you start culturing kefir at home, the fleet of wild 50+ strains of cultures are allowed to grow, change, evolve to the biome of your home and you. Some claims go so far to say that kefir cultures permeate the air in your home and can be protective against harmful pathogens and incredibly healing to the immune system.
If you've been a dedicated yogurt eater but haven't really noticed much increase in health, try kefir!
Here are a few other amazing differences:
Kefir vs. Store-bought Yogurt
+Kefir works great with fresh raw milk
+Get the benefits of raw milk plus a whopping 50+ strains of wild, strong strains of healthy culture
+Yogurt is generally with older, pasteurized milk
+Yogurt takes a lot of time to make - you must heat the milk very slowly and incubate for hours
+Kefir takes about 5 minutes to make (every 2 days in cold weather, every day in warm weather)
Did you know? Yogurt from the grocery store is poured into plastic containers while warm. I don't know about you, but this makes my skin crawl. I do my best to avoid food in plastics, especially hot fats poured in plastic left to extract who knows what kind of estrogenic/toxic compounds in the plastic leach in micro doses into food.
Making kefir at home (or yogurt for that matter) gives you the ability to keep warm milk in glass/ceramic.
So anyway, let me tell you how to make this bubbly, champagne-y amazing drink!
You will need:
Raw Milk Kefir Grains - I would be happy to share grains with you - just let me know! (Pick up at the farm store only)
Ceramic or Glass Vessel
Silicon Colander with small holes - this is what I use and is a real time-saver!
Spoon (ideally silicon)
Flip top bottles
2c. Measuring Cup - I find that the kefir pours into flip tops easier using a spout cup than a funnel
Flavoring - fruit, etc. optional
Steps to Making Raw Milk Kefir
1. Start with Copia Raw Milk Kefir Grains and your fermenting vessel (open top, ceramic or glass, cover with dish towel)
3. Add 1 cup raw milk - NO more than this at first!
4. Cover with dish towel
5. Set in a WARM SPOT - 70 degrees is optimal. THIS IS CRITICAL.
Our home is pretty chilly so I have to keep the covered bowl on top of the warmest floor vent in the house. Use a temperature gun to check the real temperatures. If you're in the 60's, I have found that it's too cold to get good results.
6. Change kefir. Timing is temperature-driven. In winter, change every day-and-a-half/2 days. You'll know when it's ready because it'll "set" and look like clumpy yogurt. This "clumpy yogurt" stage might not happen for the first few cycles, while your culture is getting established.
Here's what your healthy, established kefir should look like after about 2 days of culturing at 70 degrees. It's thick but still looks fresh.
At this point, you're ready to drink the kefir. But! To make it so much tastier, you can do a second fermentation.
You can flavor your kefir at this point or just leave it plain. I started out flavoring my kefir but now mostly drink it plain. However, it's fun to mix it up! What about a banana lassi-style flavor? Mango?
I am lucky to have 150 raspberry bushes in my front yard. So I have bags and bags of frozen berries all year long. To flavor my kefir, I'll take a bag of berries, thaw them out, and mix them with some water to get a thin enough puree to pour into a flip top bottle.
Then I'll add however much I want to the kefir.
I don't recommend store bought frozen fruit at all! Frozen fruit is often washed in chlorine. Chlorine and kefir don't mesh well. Chlorine and your gut do not mesh well either. So if you don't have access to home grown frozen fruit, you could always use fresh or dried fruit. You can also experiment with adding honey or maple syrup.
Back to the 2nd Fermentation...
The second fermentation lends a zippy, effervescent texture. When you add fruit or sugar, the kefir quickly digests it and makes an amazing, health-giving, probiotic drink.
Simply add your kefir to a flip top bottle like the one above. Sometimes, you can find drinks bottled in these flip tops at the grocery store, so you don't need to purchase expensive bottles. Grolsch beer comes in green flip top bottles. I can't attest to the beer, but the bottles do a nice job.
Add your choice of sweetener - 1 tsp organic sugar / 1/2c or less of pureed fruit
Close flip top and shake to distribute sweetener
Set bottle in a cooler area, in the 60's is fine overnight
This fermentation builds up pressure in the bottle quickly! Be careful of temperature again.
As the weather heats up, ferment for less time
Be careful when opening the bottle!
Refrigerate (or try it and see if you like the taste at room temp. I do!)
To Change Your Kefir
1. Strain kefir through a silicone colander into a bowl, reserving kefir grains in colander
2. Rinse kefir grains with warm water
3. Clean your fermenting vessel
4. Place kefir grains back into your fermenting vessel
5. Add raw milk - 1tsp. kefir grains per 1c. milk. You can add more milk as your grains increase
5. Cover with kitchen towel
6. Place in warm spot
7. Bottle/drink kefir