Kefir is the King of our pro-biotic cultures, a wonderful lactose-free yogurt. This ancient culture feeds off our raw unpasteurized milk. The Kefir plant (grain), originates from deep in the Caucasus Mountains, Russia. This immensely diverse group of pro-biotics thrives best in unpasteurized raw 100% A2 milk. Now almost 3000 years later its powers and feel-good benefits are available to you. Containing 5 billion real live pro-biotics per table-spoon! The communities of Kefir microorganisms that ferment our raw milk into a thicker yogurt naturally produce unique ‘champagne of milks.’ Feel the digestive alkalizing bliss, sustained energy to the moon, complete protein uptake and slow-release oils and fats. The lactose and pasteurisation side effects that everyone is encountering in the modern dairy industry – no longer exists with our well cultured Kefir. The lactose is eaten up by the Kefir SCOBY, and spreads billions of strong beneficial bacteria into the yogurt. The profile and structure of the milk totally changes into a new phenomenon. The layer of watery substance that sometimes forms on the top of the Kefir is the Whey Protein in its purest and most natural state. The Whey can be shaken back into the Kefir yogurt and enjoyed. Mix your Kefir yogurt with everything as a condiment, an excellent on-the-go meal replacement, works as a post or pre-digestive food, its smashing inside smoothies and dressings.
Kefir is notable among milk cultures in that rather than using a bit of fermented milk to start the next batch, it relies upon a SCOBY. Kefir is a powerful tribe of strong bacteria that live in a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), a rubbery white mass of good bacteria and fungal cells (a grain similar looking to a small cauliflower head) that has evolved an elaborate symbiotic arrangement, sharing nutrients, coordinating reproduction, and co-creating a shared form, which is not microscopic. The biology of Kefir is quite fascinating. It is a symbiotic entity that self reproduces; combining each of the individual bacterial and fungal members will not result in a new kefir grain. All kefir grains evolved from a spontaneous symbiosis – or a number of them – that has perpetuated it. Despite intensive research and many attempts to produce kefir grains from the pure or mixed cultures that are normally present in the grains, no successful results have been reported to date. Kefir can no more be made by the ‘right mix’ of chemicals or microbes than oak trees or elephants. Kefir grains do no posses ‘programmed physical death’ as animals, plants, and certain other organisms do, and therefore can physically live forever (given adequate nutrition and tolerable environmental conditions). Kefir grains require regular care and feeding.
Kefir is a sparkling demonstration that the integration processes by which our cells evolved from bacteria still occur – Kefir grains involve a community of 30 different types of microbes, including common food fermentation favourites, such as Lactobacilli, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter, and Saccharomyces, as well as others more obscure. Fewer than half than half the microbes involved are known or named. These specific yeasts and bacteria must reproduce together – by coordinated cell division that does not involve fertilisation or any other aspect of human reproduction- to maintain the integrity of the unusual microbial individual that is the kefir grain. The component organisms are inextricably connected by chemical compounds, glycoproteins and carbohydrates, of their own making. Kefir microbes are entirely integrated into the new being just as former symbiotic bacteria that become components of nucleated cells are integrated.
I have suffered from store-bought dairy my whole life. It was amongst the biggest cause of my congestion, allergens, and sensitive immunity. After feeling the immediate effects, post-chemotherapy of removing pasteurised milk from my diet, this lead to crystal clear perspectives of the effects that ‘dead dairy’ was having in my life. I went for 4 years not drinking any form of dairy, and started introducing nut milks into my diet as a replacement. Nut milks however also seemed to cause congestion and inflammation in my digestive system, especially the store bought nut milks. Nut milks done at home, activated, self blended and strained, without the store-bought preservatives were fine in very small quantities. The nut milks however, didn’t seem to give the substance, the alkaline digestibility, pro-biotic recovery, and sustained energy I was after. When I came across a few Kefir grains and raw A2 milk through a good friend, the whole dairy industry dilemma became clear to me like a lightning bolt after my first sip of this distinctive champagne of milks, the Kefir!Digestive bliss; alkaline lubricated cylinders; straight to sleep at night; up fresh and light in the morning; and smooth bowel movements! It has allowed me to maintain multidimensional energy levels I could previously never achieve. Milk and dairy are by no means the problem, it’s the heated pasteurised manner in which the milk is preserved in order for it to be able to stay on the store shelves with all the modern day laws passed, the circumstances and feed the cows are surviving under, and the scarcity of this miracle Kefir culture that removes the lactose. Today, the Kefir remains my victory lap drink in celebration of coming across this ancient Russian warrior secret. They lived to 120 years on it, why can’t we also?!
Except for the challenge of getting into a rhythm, making kefir is extremely easy. No heating or temperature regulation is required. Simply pop the Kefir grains into a glass jar of raw milk straight from the cow, with a little bit of Amasi from the previous batch (starter liquid). Use about a heaped tablespoon of kefir grains for 1 Litre of raw milk, about 5% grains to liquid is good. Do not fill the jar all the way, as carbon dioxide production can result in an increase in volume. Seal the jar with muslin cloth and an elastic band. Leave Kefir to ferment at ambient temperatures, out of direct sunlight. It is important to gently stir the grains with love once a day with a clean wooden spoon. Because microbial activity is concentrated on the surfaces of the grains, the agitation is important to move the grains around, spreading microbial activity. Kefir is ready when you can see that it has thickened, around 24 – 48 hours, or longer in cooler winter periods. Once the Whey Protein separates in your Kefir, generally show casing a layer of see-through watery liquid somewhere around the middle of the Jar – this will signify the stage that the sugar (lactose) is being feasted on by the microbes, one more stir of the Kefir is needed. After the last stir, it is time to carefully drain the delicate Kefir Grains into a new jar of raw milk with some already fermented Kefir yogurt starter. The drained batch of now lactose-free Kefir, amplified and pre-digested, is ready to be sealed and relax in refrigeration for a day or two, this is a good ritual to embrace, allowing room for expansion and settling of the mighty microbes. After a day or two in the fridge, the creamy frothing Kefir settles down, and a small layer of Whey Protein may form on the top. You can both gently pore the Whey Protein out and keep for alternative uses (creating a thicker Kefir Yogurt texture), or shake the Whey back in and enjoy plain Kefir style.
The grains will multiply and this is awesome, you can have up to 10% of the jar up in grains, or you can split into many more jars for making bigger quantities for the family. If there are more grains in the jar, the milk will ferment slightly quicker as the lactose will be eaten up a little faster. Getting into the rhythm is what its all about. Each time you strain a batch of mature kefir from the grains, you start another batch. Maintaining kefir grains, or any other SCOBY, ultimately is like having a pet; they require ongoing attention and love. You can slow kefir grains down in the fridge, but you still need to feed them after about a week. You can suspend them for a long while also by freezing them. But kefir grains work best, and stay healthiest with frequent engagement and regular feeding.
I love Kefir plain style straight out the fridge after it has settled – sometimes mixed with honey and foraged sea greens & kraut; or the thicker yogurt style after sieving out the Whey Protein liquid; or the creamy herbed cheese style for decadent occasions, this requires further sieving out of the Whey Protein liquid. If you sieve the double thick Kefir yogurt further with a muslin cloth and a weight, you will receive the most creamy and delectable cheese that you can mix with herbs and store in the fridge for ages!
Kefir in its smooth and early runny stages slowly gets more tangy and bubbly in the fridge, this is all good and premium for many Kefir connoisseurs; only once mould starts forming on the milk, does it become important to remove.
As discussed previously, whey is the thin liquid that separates from the solid Kefir as the milk acidifies or otherwise curdles. Whey is an excellent starter for many other fermentations – from veggies to tonics to naturally carbonated sodas. This has led to the confusion for some people who do not clearly understand what whey is, or how to obtain it from fermented milk. Whey Protein Powder is a different story! Whey contains much protein, with most of the milk fats removed. Thus, one of its uses in commercial industry is drying it for consumption for bodybuilders or others wishing to ingest concentrated forms of protein. But in drying whey into a powder, whatever live cultures may have been present in the original whey are destroyed. Furthermore, because there are so many different ways of curdling milk, some of which involve heat, not all whey contains live cultures. Whey derived from Kefir is rich in live bacterial cultures. To obtain whey from Amasi Kefir, hang the fermented raw milk in a fine-mesh muslin cloth resting on a colander, situated on a jug for the whey to sieve through into. In the early separation of whey from the Kefir milk, the curd (Kefir) will float about the whey. Once the kefir grains have been drained and the fermented milk is sealed and stored into in the fridge, the whey will float above the curd (Kefir). This layer of whey above the curd can be gently pored off, or shaken and mixed back into the Kefir. If the Whey Protein layer is sieved out with muslin cloth, you will get a double thick Kefir yogurt. When the Whey Protein is removed, the Kefir preserves for longer in the fridge without slowly going more tangy. The Whey Protein serves as a great pro-biotic protein shot by itself, or mixed in smoothies and dressings, or in marinades and stocks. The Whey Protein serves as a great starter liquid in the beginning stages of Kraut or Kimchi or Lacto-pickling veg fermentation.
Whey is a wonderful nutritional by-product of Kefir making. It can be used to ferment beans, salsa, or just about anything. It is great in dressings, or a super power Pro-Biotic shot! Whey can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks or months.
FRUIT KVASS: To ferment a beverage using whey, simply add whey to the beverage base (5-10% volume of glass filled with whey), pick out a combination of fruit, berries, and fresh herbs or spices, use fruit/veggie juice or Spring Water to fill the jar. Combine all ingredients, place a weight of some sort on top of the fruit top keep it submerged, and close tightly. Keep on the counter for 24 hours-3 days, until beverage is bubbly, then transfer to bottles and seal. Leave sealed bottles at room temp for 24 hours or so, until pressurised, then refrigerate. As always, be aware excess pressure and avoid explosions! Serve chilled.
A glass or two of Kefir remains a full meal in my books, and is the winning formula to a light mind falling asleep with a light gut, both mind and body resting and recovering together, replenishing and flushing during the night. I have found when the digestive system has to work throughout the night, whilst the mind is sleeping, my body wakes up tired and out of sync with the mind. It is very difficult to say no to hearty more-ish dinners after a long days work, and escape joyfully from all the subtle stresses. This habit caused my digestive system to work over drive in the night time when it was calling for rest and recovery with the mind. Kefir and Kraut has been a winner as they are a pre-digested, broken down and alive condiments to give my internal digestive system and good holiday during dream time. Light evening meals are definitely a discipline that has given me the most rapid progress in recovery. It certainly isn’t about starving yourself, it is about adding key real live probiotics to your evening meal, and drifting off with mind and body in happy harmony.
Now that you know the ins and outs of Kefir, you can start making your own…. here’s a little information on how to ENJOY IT. Some people get off on drinking it straight as is. Go ahead and enjoy your quench of tart and creamy champagne milk. If it’s too much to handle plain, you may need to flavor it up into smoothies or shakes, inside dressings, until you level up to taking it straight.
KEFIR SHAKES & DRESSINGS
At Sexy Food, we blend the plain Kefir with raw honey, banana, seasonal fruit, foraged seaweed greens and superfoods, fresh herbs like mint, cacao, ground coffee bean, turmeric, coconut, rooibos tea, miso paste. You can flavour it the way you want to. The kefir culture is alive and kicking (how it will be in your gut), it devours lactose and other sugars you add to it
Some of the most popular Kefir Shake & Dressing recipes are the simplest. Plain with a spoon of raw honey – ooh yeah!
KEFIR FOR SKIN CARE
Kefir remains a winner ingredient to our end of day soothing face moisturizer. What it does to your inner technologies, it does to your skin. The bacteria clean the skin of all its toxins and lubricate the inflamed pores for ultimate oxygen cleansing and moist glowing skin.
The Nutritional Benefits of these Fascinating Ferments
Most people’s diet is devoid of fermented food and drinks other than alcoholic beverages. Few people ever eat lactic acid-fermented foods or drink lactic acid-fermented drinks. This is true even of those who eat commercial yoghurt.
Though many people eat yogurt, it is often “pseudo-yoghurts” that are consumed which no longer contain adequate quantities of beneficial cultures, often because the yoghurt is heat-treated, killing off the live bacteria. Centrifugation of commercial products is another treatment that results in insufficient Pro-biotics (microorganisms/ferments) in the yoghurt.
Yet it is the living Pro-biotics (microorganisms/ferments) that are the magic key in the realm of nutrition. Living Pro-biotics are super-metabolizes that cause miracles such as food constituent conversion, nutrient assimilation, cell transformation, elemental transmutations and plant and animal metamorphoses. They help the diseased body reassemble healthy tissues. Pro-biotics are the ultimate promoters of continued good health. But why should this be so? Where does the energy for transmutation come from? Well, you see, Pro-biotics are minuscule converter reactors that create tremendous energy for living tissues. Inside our bodies, Pro-iotics – or enzymes, as modern day society prefer to call them – control anabolism (synthesis of complex molecules) and catabolism (breakdown of complex molecules). Pro-biotics or Enzymes are in charge of the build-up and separation of the metabolic pathway. So it behooves us to look a little closer and give these magical enzymes a try.