Kefir….my secret ingredient

by Michelle on June 25, 2008

From Wikipedia:

Kefir (alternately keefir, kephir, kewra, talai, mudu kekiya, milkkefir, búlgaros) is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus region. It is prepared by inoculating cow, goat or sheep’s milk with kefir grains. Kefir grains are a combination of bacterua and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids and sugars. This symbiotic matrix forms grains that resemble cauliflower. Today, kefir is becoming increasingly popular due to new research into its health benefits. Many different bacteria and yeasts are found in the kefir grains, which are a complex and highly variable community of micro-organisms.

I first heard mention of Kefir about 3 years ago. But we were neck deep in our construction project and I had no time for anything but contractors and suppliers. When we finally organized our temporary kitchen in the basement in November, ’06, I bought my first Kefir grains. Believe it or not I bought my grains on Ebay! Unfortunately, the seller is no longer available but there seems to be several new vendors offering a good product. But do beware Kefir sold in the grocery stores is not really Kefir. Kefir grains keep forever as long as they’re kept in some kind of milk product, even powdered milk is fine. It also multiplies, so eventually you will have more grains then you know what to do with!

I use my Kefir in baking only and I substitute it for milk, cream, buttermilk and sometimes even water. But some people eat Kefir like yogurt or as a dietary supplement for lactose intolerance. Kefir Grains are edible but they are not very appealing and resemble rubbery tapioca.

Making Kefir is a no brainer. Just put the Kefir grains in a milk product and let it sit for 1-2 days. I usually refrigerate my Kefir but you can facilitate the process by letting the Kefir ferment at room temperature and it will also thicken to the consistency of yogurt.

Make sure you put the Kefir Grains and the milk in a sterilized glass jar. I use a glass, square refrigerator pitcher with a vacuum seal lid. And when you strain the grains use a plastic strainer…contact with any metal will retard the Kefir.

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Comments

  • OhioMom June 26, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I have never had Kefir, interesting tutorial.

  • Lucy..♥ June 26, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    New to me too, thanks for the lesson :-)

  • Ivy June 26, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    GREAT POST!I remember having Kefir as a kid.And now it has been gaining popularity ever since. Weird.

  • Michelle June 26, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Ivy, the Kefir is so nice to keep in the frig. It never spoils and you always have it when needed. I’m for anything that simplifies my life!There’s many Kefir lovers out and about. I tried the Water Kefir, totally different then milk Kefir, and did not care for it.

  • giz June 27, 2008 at 1:00 am

    I’ve heard of it, seen it, never had the guts to try it – just didn’t even know what to do with it. Great tutorial

  • brady June 28, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    My wife and I did the kefir thing for a while, but we had a hard time keeping up with it. The grains multiplied like crazy and we grew tired of daily straining the kefir and adding new milk.Also, the strong yeast flavor became too much for me. I could never eat/drink it plain and it seemed to still shine through in baking. I tried replacing the buttermilk in pancakes with kefir and all I could taste was the kefir.Maybe you have some tips for me.

  • Michelle June 29, 2008 at 12:54 am

    You do not have to strain the kefir daily and add more milk. I use 2% milk, about 3 cups, to my grains and put it in the frig. I do not let my Kefir ferment at room temperature because I do not use it up fast enough. Fermenting in the frig slows the process down. Also when I get an abundance of grains I give some away so I’m only working with about 1/2 c. of grains at a time. Brady, you might be more sensitive to the kefir then I am. It just smells like yogurt or buttermilk to me. You might try rinsing your grains with bottled water and then adding them to some fresh milk. Plus to make a fresh batch of kefir, I use a sterilized bottle and fresh milk and then add the grains. I do not reuse previously made kefir in a new batch. If you just add milk to older batch of kefir it will ferment very quickly and become stronger which is not a bad thing, but it’s not what I want or need. Hope this helps.

  • brady June 29, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Thanks, Michelle. That helps a lot.

  • Meghan March 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Interesting, I’ve never tried kefir. Do you have a recipe that you especially like to use it in? I want to try it out…

  • Michelle March 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Meghan,I use Kefir in most of my baked good and substitute Kefir for milk or water. Lately, I’ve been using kefir in bread too and it’s working out very well. You have to buy kefir grains to start out. I bought my first grains on Ebay. Kefir is sold in some grocery stores but it’s not really kefir so be careful when you buy it.

  • […] did change Reinhart’s recipe and added about 1/2 c. sourdough starter and I used kefir instead of […]

  • Ciabatta September 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

    […] I was looking forward to making Ciabatta! I am a very enthusiastic sourdough baker and I love using kefir in anything I am baking. I choose to make the biga version and substituted sourdough starter for […]

  • Feast on the Cheap March 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Great notes! I’ve never cooked with Kefir before

  • Lana @ Never Enough Thyme March 27, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I’ve heard of kefir but never really thought much about it. It sounds so interesting! The treatment and storage of it reminds me much of the way I treat and store my sourdough starter :-)

  • Winnie March 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I killed off my kefir grains a while ago, so need some new ones :) thanks for reminding me to get some…I just love kefir.

  • deeba April 19, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Never heard of this and not a chance will get it here…but it sure is intriguing Michelle!

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