Kefir: A Post for my Readers

(Update: My own kefir grains died some time back so I won’t be able to provide any for now. But I do have a small community on my Facebook page, Manila Kefir Sharing, where you can post a request for kefir grains. Just provide your location as well so potential donors can check if they are near you.)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about kefir. But my past posts on kefir continue to draw responses from readers who have been asking me for free grains.

To those who have left comments on my other kefir posts, please be patient. I’ve got only a limited batch of kefir and I cannot give out to all of you immediately as I need to wait till the grains multiply before dividing them. I am trying to arrange pickup of the grains on a first come, first serve basis and I will email you privately if your grains are ready for pickup.

This is a chance for those who have already received my grains to pay it forward by dividng and donating your excess kefir grains. If you have received grains from me and you are willing to be part of the donation process, please email me privately or leave your email address in the comments section below. I hope we can get a good number of kefir users to share their grains as well.

If you have never heard of kefir yet, here are my posts on this potent probiotic:

Kefir – An Intro

Kefir – Paraphernalia & Process

A Kefir Smoothie

Kefir – Loads of Good Bacteria

Kefir – Time for a Second Look at this Potent Probiotic

 

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Kefir – Time for a Second Look at this Potent Probiotic

In February of 2007, a co-parent at our boys’ school gave me a batch of what looked like cottage cheese-like, curdled milk. I saw kefir for the first time.

It was only after I did some googling on the internet that I discovered that kefir was one of, if not THE most potent, probiotic there is. It contains different varieties of good bacteria and far outweigh the benefits of products claiming to have lactobacilli and even yogurt.

Since then, that first batch of kefir grains has multiplied over and over again. From just that one batch, I have given out kefir grains to friends and even unknown persons who ask for them — many times over. And up to this day, our household continues to culture it, harvest its liquid and drink it plain or as a smoothie (for the kids). Our youngest, who used to consume Yakult by the pack (that comes in packs of 5 bottles), has totally switched over to kefir smoothies, thereby saving me quite a sum of money.

Kefir is not a miracle drug and does not claim to be so. But its powerful live organisms have been known to normalize the digestive tracts of people suffering both from diarrhea and constipation. Other kefir users I have come across on the internet have claimed it boosts the immune system, lowers high blood pressure and reduces the effect of acne (it can be used as a facial mask too!).

With the H1N1 virus threatening the world and who knows what other diseases are out there waiting to explode, it might be good to take a second look at kefir and see if its benefits go beyond just the ones we know so far. At the very least, if it boosts our immune system, we could stand a better chance resisting whatever viruses there are out there.

Here are links to my older posts about kefir:

1. Kefir – An Intro

2. Kefir – Paraphernalia and Process

3. A Kefir Smoothie

4. Kefir – Loads of Good Bacteria

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Kefir — Loads of Good Bacteria

It has been a while since I blogged about kefir so I thought it was good to talk about it again. Are you asking: What is kefir? That was my very first question when my friend asked if I wanted some.

In my very first post on kefir, I recounted how Vera gave me my very first culture — rich in good bacteria for the digestive tract. I learned how easy it was to make my own kefir using simple, everyday paraphernalia.

Since February 2007, I have been culturing my own kefir at home and everyone in the family drinks the liquid. When kefir has multiplied in mass to more than what you need for your family, you can either eat some of the solid flora as is, incorporate them into food you can make with kefir as an ingredient, or divide them into more batches to give away to friends. Leftover kefir stuck to the coffee filter can be scraped and used as a great facial mask. Continue reading

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A Kefir Smoothie

It’s not easy to introduce my kids to new foodstuff.

Looks and smell have something to do with it.

If it doesn’t look good — forget it; if it does not pass their olfactory (smell) standards, chuck it too.

So, when I was introduced to the health benefits of kefir, I wracked my brains as to how to get them to drink this. First of all, plain kefir is not exactly akin to the commercial yogurt or Yakult we are used to. It is sourish and has a smell that needs getting used to. The light greenish color of kefir does not help either (if only I could pour in yellow or red food coloring…but THAT would be UNHEALTHY, right?)

Then I came across an internet article that suggested blending in fruits with kefir. The only no-no about choice of fruits was that it should NOT BE CITRIC. So no oranges, lemons, calamansi, dalandan…(you get the point…)

I have tried banana, mango and honeydew melon (mango is THE popular choice hands down!). I fill the blender more than halfway with kefir juice, then put in slices of fruit, blend them all into a smoothie, add ice and voila! KEFIR SMOOTHIE READY TO GO!

Not only do the kids drink them willingly, some of them even ask for it when they come home! It is actually a very refreshing drink when drank after chilling in the ref.

As summer comes in and more fruits come into season, it would be interesting to try papaya, watermelon, avocado, maybe even durian!

I will be researching other recipes using not just the juice but also the kefir grains as ingredients. Till next kefir post!

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KEFIR – Paraphernalia & Process

Making kefir is not difficult. It just needs attending to over a span of a few hours each day. I took a shot of the paraphernalia I use for it:

1. A small bowl
2. Plastic strainer (the one in pic is the medium size of its kind) – NO METAL STRAINERS!!!
3. Ice cream cover (with the center cut out to a size that would fit the strainer bottom snugly)
4. Measuring cup or measuring spoon (able to measure out in TABLESPOON, OUNCES and ML)
5. Glass (kilner jar) or plastic container for the kefir (use good imported plastic if possible, not cheap kind — kefir’s acidity could react with cheap plastic)
6. Coffee filters that fit into the strainer
7. Sponge (for exclusive use of kefir paraphernalia)
8. Perla bar – this is best soap. Others have perfume that could affect kefir.
9. Small plastic spoon (to stir kefir during straining)

You will also have to have liquid milk on hand as well as bottled water. The milk can be fresh or full cream. It does not seem advisable to use skim milk or other types of milk but I still have to do some research on the internet on this. Some have tried soy milk but I think that will give the kefir a different taste.

OK, once you have all these stuff, the process is as follows:

FIRST STRAINED BATCH:

1. Put a coffee filter into strainer, put strainer into ice cream cover, then put these over the bowl.

2. Get the kefir which has stood for 24 hrs. Pour it into strainer.

3. Let stand for 2 hours to drip.

4. The liquid from this initial straining is the most potent. Set it aside for a family member who needs it most (sick, weak, senior citizen, etc.)

SUBSEQUENT STRAININGS:

5. Measure out 200ml water. Pour slowly into kefir in strainer. Sometimes since kefir has coagulated, a very gentle stirring of the bottom ensures that it does not clog the filter’s holes. Allow liquid to drip into bowl. Check once in a while the progress of drip. Once bowl is almost touching strainer bottom, transfer liquid to a glass or plastic pitcher with cover.

6. Put in a second measure of 200 ml water. Again allow liquid to drip into bowl. Stir the bottom of strainer gently with plastic spoon, if necessary, to de-clog blockages by kefir. Transfer liquid to pitcher.

7. Repeat a 3rd time with another 200 ml water and allow to drip. Stir strainer’s bottom gently if needed. Transfer liquid to pitcher.

8. The liquid kefir from all the strainings must be stored in the ref.

CULTURE PREPARATION FOR NEXT DAY’S STRAINING:

9. The kefir remaining in strainer is now ready to be cultured for the next day’s straining.

10. Pour 8 oz. milk into the kefir to activate the fermentation process.

11. Let stand in room temperature (away from direct sunlight) for 24 hrs. The start of the 24-hour counting is from the time of 1st straining, not from the time you added milk. So if you started 1st straining at 6pm, you do the following day’s straining at 6pm also.

SCHEDULE OF STRAININGS:

12. Kefir should be strained for 20 consecutive days. Then it is made to “sleep” in the ref for the next 10 days to gain back its potency. (To keep track, you can mark the kefir’s container with masking tape to indicate straining and sleep days.)

13. During the “sleeping days”, you may opt to stop drinking kefir (or consume any remaining kefir in your ref). Some want to continue drinking so they set aside another batch with a different sleeping schedule so they can use its liquid during the other batch’s sleeping days.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

* NOTHING METAL should touch the kefir. Metal reacts with the kefir’s acidity.

* Always wash hands prior to handling the kefir and paraphernalia.

* Kefir paraphernalia must be exclusively used only for kefir and not for storing food, etc.

* Kefir paraphernalia should be washed with Perla and sponge used exclusively for this purpose.

* The kefir grains that look like cauliflower must not be mashed to preserve their potency. Stirrings must always be gentle to avoid cutting the grains.

* The kefir will naturally multiply over time. The batch can be divided into 2 or more batches for as long as each batch contains 2-1/2 TBSP of kefir grains. Each batch must have 8 oz. milk to allow it to ferment.

* Any kefir left over in the coffee filter is still usable. Scoop these and use on face as a mask or on rough spots on the body. It is supposed to help soften, moisturize and whiten skin. If there is more than enough kefir even after applying to face and body, store this in clean plastic container in ref for future use.

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KEFIR — An Intro


One day some weeks back, my friend Vera texted, asking if I knew what kefir was. Ke-WHAT???

Well, she explained that kefir is a fermented drink from cultured milk. Kefir itself is a living organism that looks like tiny cauliflower or sago (I actually think it looks like cottage cheese!). When mixed with milk, the milk is cultured and when strained, the strained liquid can be drank.

Kefir is touted to have many health benefits. Of course, since I just started, it remains to be seen. But on the internet, there are many testimonials as to its health benefits.

In a subsequent post, I will recount my own personal experience making it as I am just a newbie. Meanwhile, below is a bit of history and background to get you going.

(picture above is from Dom’s Kefir-Making Site)

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WHAT IS KEFIR?

By Egon Skovmose

http://www.danlac.com

In November 1881 the German naturalist Eduard Kern reported to Botanic Society in St. Petersburg about a mysterious beverage, which was exclusive common to the higher regions of the Caucasus and said to assure the inhabitants of this area good health and a very long life expectancy.

This beverage is kefir, a fermented milk product whose particular features is that in addition to lactic fermentation it also undergoes alcoholic fermentation caused by the presence of yeast, which yields this sourish, yeasty, sparkling, refreshing end product.

Kefir is not only a very valuable tasty, physiologically nutritional milk product it is said to be a “miracle” product.

Research conducted by East European institutes has proven that there is something to the reputation of kefir. In Rumania where research has been carried out by Professor Dr. Asian on the causes of old age, the effect of kefir on prolonging life is being studied. According to gerontologists at the Geriatric Centre of Suchumi (former USSR) the importance of kefir has not yet been completely recognized. The general opinion is that the life-prolonging effect is to be attributed to certain components of the kefir grains.

Moreover, kefir seems to have a stabilizing and, to some extent, a youth-preserving effect on the human organism, but only if one’s entire diet is completely altered and the kefir is not only consumed as a side-dish, a snack or a dessert. When following the kefir diet recommendations developed in Rumania, one’s organisms re-adjust within six months.

The functioning of liver, gallbladder, circulation, heart activity, metabolism, oxygen supply to the cells, blood circulation to the brain improves and stabilizes. Also so-called senility does not occur or is even reversed and the elasticity of the blood vessels and joints is restored. Rheumatism and coronary thrombosis do not stand a chance if a special kefir diet is followed: between the ages of 25 and 30 at the latest. 1-1/2 Tblsp. of kefir should be consumed twice a day. Numerous scientific tests are being performed to determine the effect of kefir especially in Eastern Europe.

Originally Kefir beverage was obtained by adding the so-called grains to fresh milk and then incubating them at 64 – 75º F for approx. 24 hours. The origin of Kefir grains themselves is unknown. To date it has not been possible to simulate the spontaneous formation of kefir grains using single isolates of kefir flora. New kefir grains can only be obtained from propagating and dividing of existing kefir grains. Click here to view a picture of actual Kefir Grains.

CHARACTERISTIC COMPOSITION OF KEFIR FLORA

Kefir is a natural probiotic. It contains live active cultures of normal flora that will actually repopulate your digestive tract and aid in digestion. Kefir is superior to yogurt because yogurt is made with transient, less potent bacteria.

The bacteria in yogurt will last a few days in the digestive tract, and you need to keep reintroducing them. Kefir contains more organisms than yogurt, and the “normal flora” in kefir is made of very strong strains of micro organisms (unlike yogurt) which will help to overtake pathogenic organisms that have taken over. Kefir will repopulate the digestive tract with good organisms. We consider this the more natural way to add good bacteria to the digestive tract and feel these strains are superior to any capsules which might contain organisms that have been dried.

The cultures on Kefir are active and growing when they enter your body. They thrive in dairy and use up the lactose and partially digest the proteins, making it a product that most people can ingest and will benefit from. Even people with milk sensitivities can usually drink kefir.

In addition to repopulating the digestive tract, enzyme stores are added to the body. Many people in the US currently take digestive enzymes. They have been told they are not digesting their food properly, that their enzyme stores have run out, and they will have to take enzymes the rest of their life. Unfortunately, their health care providers have missed something that Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price people along with people like Donna Gates of Body Ecology have come to realize: that cultured foods will actually add back enzyme stores into the enzyme banks of the body and aid the body in digesting other foods.

Kefir, cultured cream, buttermilk, cultured vegetables, etc all add predigested food full of vitamins and minerals, normal flora, and enzymes to the body. We believe these are valuable foods, part of all good traditional diets, that have become lost in the society of today. And We believe bringing them back is essential for optimal health.

IS IT DIFFERENT THAN YOGURT?

Yes. There is research showing that Yogurt contains left turning bacteria and kefir contains right turning bacteria. This researcher even states that young children and nursing mothers should stay away from the left turning bacteria found in Yogurt. He shows from his research that kefir and its right turning bacteria are far superior and much more beneficial to the digestive tract than the cultures found in yogurt.

Yogurt contains transient bacteria and will not repopulate the digestive tract, but the active, growing, living cultures in kefir will.

The lactose in kefir is all digested by the time it is ingested, and some of the proteins have been broken down. Therefore, kefir can be used by many people who have sensitivities to milk. The same is not true with yogurt. Kefir can be made from any milk: goat, cow, ox, sheep, etc. A dairy-free kefir can also be made from young coconuts. This is very exciting.

IS TAKING PROBIOTICS JUST AS GOOD?

Probiotics are capsules or tablets that contain some of the same healthy bacteria found in kefir. The differences between kefir and probiotics are significant, however. While probiotics contain good organisms that can repopulate the digestive tract, they need to be kept dormant (refrigerated) and are not actively replicating and growing when they arrive in your intestines. In addition, they are not in any medium that will coat the digestive tract and help them to become established, but rather they are in the process of being dormant and are actually slowly decreasing in population as they die off over time.

Kefir, on the other hand has massive quantities of healthy normal flora that are in the process of growing, increasing in number, and thriving. They are eaten in the medium they are thriving in, such as the cultured milk or coconut water, which will coat the digestive tract and help them to establish residence there. This is a tremendous boost to your system and will repopulate your digestive tract more quickly, more efficiently, and more thoroughly than probiotics.

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