Kefir is nothing more than a fermented milk with well known nutritional values, but we also call Kefir to those nodules (small organisms) that are responsible for this fermentation process. There are different kinds of kefir, there is milk kefir, water kefir and tea Kefir or “Kombucha”. Contrary to what some might believe, fermentation is a traditional process that actually slows the deterioration of our foods and in some cases it even adds nutritional value to them. There are many well known fermented products ie: wine, beer, vinegar, bread, yoghurt, Kefir, Cheese, Soy sauce, Chucrut, amongst others.
Although these days you can acquire Kefir nodules in some establishments it has traditionally been shared between different collectives throughout history. It is difficult to pinpoint its origins however the artisan way of reproducing the Kefir nodules comes from some regions in the Caucasus mountain range. The Kefir nodules are a living organism in the form of granules that will ferment your milk and grow in the solution whilst doing so. It is for this reason that to maintain our Kefir we would save the milk that is inside the jar that contains the nutritional properties for our consumption replacing it with new milk so that the Kefir has new food to survive and grow, continuing to ferment your milk daily.
Kefir has a double fermentation process, lactic and alcoholic, that ensures the elimination of all germs that are detrimental to our health and for this reason it is safe for us to use fresh raw milk without any risks. In all supermarkets the only milk we can buy is milk that has been subjected to Ultra High Temperature (UHT) processes or is pasteurized , this type of milk has lost for this reason many types of vitamins and nutritional values along with the bacteria that “might” spoil our milk and reduce its shelf life. We can however use this milk to add it to our Kefir granules and they will ferment the milk, although in this case the resultant milk obtained will mostly benefit your gut flora facilitating intestinal absorption , preventing you from some infections and diseases . The best milk in the market that we can use would be the ecological full fat milk since it will be the most similar to the original product that we can buy. We however encourage you to get in touch with a small local farmer that produces his own milk from his animals to acquire your fresh supply of milk. If the animals are naturally grazing fields free of pesticides and aren’t full of antibiotics the better, we don’t want harmful toxins in our milk. You can also subject the milk to a triple boiling process yourself to eliminate any possible harmful bacteria & preserve almost all of the original vitamins of the milk that will in return nourish you more.
Specially for those that are lactose intolerant, there is also water Kefir and tea Kefir , which both need external sugars to survive in their solution and for the fungi to create the fermentation process. There is lots of evidence out there provided by many doctors whose research proves that consuming these products benefits your general condition and on the long term it increases your organisms natural defences, favouring your internal biochemical processes.
You can play growing your Kefir granules as you increase the amount of food you give them , so that with time you can share your Kefir granules and its health benefits with friends and family, or even start your own Kefir distribution business. Have fun “DIYing” your own products from this wonderful organisms called Kefir in its different forms. If you are interested in knowing more and acquiring your Kefir granules we suggest for you to consult one of the many books out there to expand your knowledge on the subject, also ask around to see who around you might already have some Kefir and can help you out, if not you can always source it on-line.
What to do with our Kefir nodules:
We will introduce our Kefir nodules in a glass jar (aprox. 250ml) and then add our milk to it, at room temperature. Although you can leave it with the lid open it is best if you close it, so that the anaerobic fermentation reaction is facilitated. If we place our jar in a dark protected environment the vitamins A and B2 that might be affected by light will be preserved. Also if it happens that you can’t attend your Kefir you can always leave it in the fridge and this will slow the fermentation process, however the perfect environment at which we should preserve our Kefir will be at room temperature, around 20 degrees centigrade.
We can consume the Kefir milk the next day of introducing it to the Kefir if we wish to drink milk with digestive properties as part of our regular diet. 24h. will result in a mild laxative effect whilst 36 hours will result in a mild astringent effect. We like to leave ours for longer, a week or so , so that the solution becomes clumpy and is totally fermented. We then proceed to strain through a fine strainer to preserve the Kefir granules, letting the produce fall into a cheese cloth that we then fold and tie with an elastic band and leave it hanging from a hook with a bowl placed underneath as dripping tray. The result, a nice spreadable cheese if you leave it hanging for a day or so, the longer you leave it the harder it will be as it looses all its fluid contents. You can experiment yourself making your own different selection of cheeses using different types of milk and seasoning, the possibilities are amazing. Experimenting with different methods of elaboration to see what results you obtain, mixing the flavours of your choice, is indeed a fun process. Our friend Vladimir Bures, likes to create bigger quantities of cheese so what he does is boils in a pan some raw milk and then adds the Kefir milk (sometimes with some Kefir nodules) to it , at around 80 degrees centigrade , the Kefir milk starts clumping the solution almost immediately, he then removes it from the heat stirring it for a bit allowing it to continue clumping , before placing it in a cheese cloth to leave hanging for days until the cheese has the selected texture he is looking for. There are many books with recipes that use milk Kefir to make cakes and much more. Ourselves we normally use triple boiled goats milk sourced locally to add to our Kefir nodules, not only the flavours are more prominent but also what the goats graze is from pastures free from pesticides. The result a nice spreadable goat cheese that tastes so much better than the ones you can buy in the shops, and also a much healthier option.
Below a list of health benefits amongst others (sourced from ,”Como cura el Kefir” written by Mercedes Blasco.):
– Regenerates intestinal flora because it possesses a great source of lactic acid that has antiseptic properties , that facilitates the cleansing of pathogenic germs.
– Its antibiotic and antiviral effects prevent certain diseases.
– Your intestine will be cleaner and in better shape to do its work properly allowing the absorption of more nutrients.
– Better bowl/gastric movement.
– It stimulates your appetite.
Water Kefir , is by itself a good remedy for treating herpes and certain allergies. Some of its properties are listed below:
– As remedy for stomach ulcers.
– To treat intestinal inflammation.
– To strengthen the nervous system; to combat stress and anxiety.
– Eczema when applied topically.
– For anaemia.
– Arteriosclerosis, heart attack, hypertension and excess of cholesterol.
-For problems in the kidney and bladder and urinary infections.
– To revitalize tissues.