Kefir (pronounced Ka-feer) not only offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals but also provides a variety of beneficial probiotic organisms and powerful healing qualities. Kefir literally translates to the good feeling one has after drinking it. The best milk to use when making kefir is milk which has not been tampered with at all to receive the maximum nutritional benefits. Besides kefir containing highly beneficial bacteria, it has been found to protect against gastrointestinal diseases. Kefir is a rich source of minerals, vitamins and essential amino acids that promote healing and repair as well as general health maintenance. Kefir contains high levels of B12, Vitamin K2, thiamin, biotin, folates, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which helps the body utilise carbohydrates, proteins and fats for cell growth, energy and maintenance. Kefir also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
The complete proteins in kefir are already partially digested, therefore utilised by the body more efficiently. Certain compounds in Kefir have also been found to play a role in regulating immune function, inflammation and allergic response.
Pour 2L of the milk into a saucepan and bring close to the boil (stirring occasionally) as this kills off the bad bacteria which interfere with the fermentation process. Gentle heating is not nearly as destructive as commercial processes such as pasteurisation and homogenisation. Do not boil the milk as this will change the structure and taste of the milk.
Once just simmering, take the pan off the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and place in the sink half filled with cold water to cool the milk down to 40-45C. If you do not have a thermometer wait until it is Luke warm (place on the inside of wrist, if the milk is slightly warm the temperature is just right).
Once the milk is Luke warm add the Kefir to the milk and stir with a wooden spoon. Do not use a metal spoon.
Pour the milk into 2x 1L glass jars or a few smaller jars and secure cheese cloth over the top with a rubber band to allow the kefir to breath. You can either wrap the bottom of the glass jars in alfoil to keep them warm or place them in a warm place. Ferment the yoghurt for no less than 24 hours.
Once the kefir has fermented you can store in the refrigerator. If you like your kefir thicker, line a colander or large glass jar with cheese cloth. Place the colander into a large glass bowl and pour the kefir on top of the cheese cloth and let it drip for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. You will get very thick kefir and liquid kefir whey which is highly pro-biotic, perfect to add to soups, smoothies or juices. If you are using raw organic milk you can skip these steps and just add the kefir and stir through. Keep in mind the raw milk has its own bacterial population so the fermentation will not be as controlled as with using heated milk. Your kefir may turn out a little more sour or lumpy and each batch may vary slightly but it will be the most beneficial nutritionally. Kefir is very versatile you can make salad dressings, add it to dips, serve with fruit, honey, nuts and coconut, eat it plain, stir through soups, add to smoothies and use it in raw desserts.