Many of my friends have asked me to teach them how to make fermented foods, in fact, it is one of the reasons I started this blog. Kefir contains probiotics as well as many vitamins that are made bio-available by the fermentation process. Lacto-fermented foods are an inexpensive way to obtain probiotics. (Good quality probiotics can be expensive, especially if you have a large family).
Kefir was the first fermented food I experimented with. I initially heard about it in a book called “The Four Hour Body“, by Tim Ferris. He mentioned consuming fermented foods to help lose weight and kefir was one of the foods listed.
Of course I was living in South Korea at the time and I had no idea how I was going to find this product. I searched for it for a few weeks with no luck. Then, I found a website for a company in Korea that made kefir products. They did not sell directly to the public but I did get some helpful information from the site. I found out the Korean word for kefir grains, and searched for them on Korean websites. I found some live grains for sale on Gmarket, and ordered them right away.
They arrived packaged in a small container covered with milk. I also received a small plastic colander with it. (Apparently, metal is no bueno for the grains, it harms them). Once I was equipped with the grains, I walked to the organic grocery store across the street and purchased some organic milk.
Making the kefir was very easy. (I think it is easier than yogurt). All I had to do was place the grains in about 500 ml of milk in a glass jar, cover the jar with cheesecloth, and let it sit on the counter 12-24 hours before consuming. That’s it. The hardest part was getting the courage to drink milk that had not been refrigerated for 12-24 hours.
Sure, I was nervous at first, but I did it, I drank it, and I was fine. No stomach issues or illness followed the consumption of the kefir. I only let it sit 12 hours the first time and worked my way up to the 24 hour ferment. It was incredibly easy to make. The only part that got annoying was the need for a constant supply of milk. I didn’t want to kill the kefir grains. You are able to leave them in the fridge for up to two weeks in a container filled with milk if you switch the milk once a week, so I did that a few times. But at first I was feeding them every day, so they multiplied pretty quickly. I started giving the grains away because I had too many.
Apparently you can dehydrate your kefir grains. All the grains will not revive upon rehydration, but it is something I will consider doing in the future instead of letting the grains die.
The taste of kefir is very interesting; it is definitely an acquired taste. It has a stronger taste than yogurt, more sour than yogurt. When I make it with goat milk the taste is very different than cow’s milk. I didn’t start drinking kefir for the taste, I wanted the health benefits. In his book, Tim Ferris talked about how probiotics can help you lose weight, so that was my motivation for making it the first time. Later on I drank it because it was loaded with nutrients. I drank homemade goat milk kefir every day for a month when I was trying to conceive, and I got pregnant that month. Of course it could be a coincidence, but it would not surprise me if drinking kefir helped prepare my body for pregnancy.
So kefir was my “gateway” ferment. My experience making it paved the way for future ferments.
Have you tried kefir before? What did you think?