Make your own Kefir "Kuh-feer" - (its easier than you think)
Soooooo!! unless you've been living under a rock, the Health conscious among you will undoubtedly have become familiar with the phrase 'Gut Health', with words and phrases such as 'Microbiome','digestive tract', 'Flora', 'pro-biotics', 'diverse bacteria population' and my favourite 'the belly-brain connection' being tossed casually in to most Health related conversations!
It's a truly fascinating field, a weird and wonderful Magical Multiverse residing inside each and every one our,for want of a better word 'Bellies'.
There is a great deal to be said on the mind blowing topic of Gut-health which really deserves it's very own blog, but bottom line is, it IS super-important.
The state of your gut basically determines the state of your well-being, did you know that between 70-80% of your immune system in housed in the cells of your gut wall? or that 90% (yes you read that right, NINETY!!) of your serotonin (your body's natural Happy Chemical) is produced in the Gut?
Studies have shown that an unhealthy/unbalanced gut can be the cause of a whole array of issues, including poor sleep, fatigue, skin & hair complaints, food intolerances, digestive problems and discomfort, gas, bloating, auto-immunity, and even in some cases anxiety and depression.
Interest piqued? - well there is a world of research and resources available, which I will try to write more coherently about at a later date (I am in danger of launching into a fully blown waffle).. but for now, lets keep it basic.
What we do know for sure, is that for optimal Health, we need to keep a happy tummy!
And How?..How do we keep a happy tummy / healthy digestive tract?
(Here is where I start slinging in some of the 'catchy' phrases I mentioned in my opening paragraph.)
In short, we need to keep our digestive tract populated with a diverse variety of bacteria and microbes, to keep that crazy complex system running smoothly.
The best way we can do this is by eating a good diet, high in whole foods and by feeding the gut with probiotics.
'Pro-biotics', there's that key word!!, luckily, there is a heap of ways to get that good stuff into your belly, I'll list a few here:
-Real Sourdough bread
- and of course Kefir.
So adding any or all of these foods into your diet, will certainly help.
I have chosen Kefir in particular to write about here, as, firstly, it's my favourite and secondly, it's pretty darned pricey to buy pre-made, and even more so, if like me you prefer to keep things dairy-free!
Now, if you haven't tasted Kefir, it's akin to a yoghurt drink, a kind of tart, mildly effervescent (don't be alarmed by the fizz!) milk drink.
I love this stuff, but I understand that not everybody enjoys the flavour, the good news is that its hidden really easily by popping it into a smoothie, or even just mixing with fruit juice.
You can make it with dairy milk, if you wish, or dairy free Milk or coconut water, (I haven't tried the coconut water one, but I think it would be good).
As I mentioned, I prefer to keep things dairy free and have tried fermenting a few different dairy free Milks, but have found I get the best results (by far) from the rebel Kitchen 'Whole Mylk. - This isn't an advert for them, I have no affiliations with the company, they just happen to be my absolute fave, and it makes a gorgeously creamy Kefir - If any of you manage to get great results from something different, I'd love to hear from you?
Before I begin, I would like to make it clear, that I am no expert in the art of making Kefir, but I have been making my own for the past year..and this is what works for me!
It's easy, REALLY easy!!
You need Kefir grains and Milk/Mylk - and that's it!! (well almost)
Here is a photograph of my highly complex and scientific 'Kefir Making Kit' in it's entirety.
- 2 clip top bottles (one to brew the kefir, and one to store the strained ready to drink Kefir)
- 1 sieve (to strain the kefir once its brewed.
- 1 jug to strain it into.
- 1 funnel (makes it easier to get the grains into the bottle)
- 1 spoon (to spoon the grains into the funnel)
- Some Kefir Grains (not visible in the pic, but they are in the bottle on the right)
So - the first thing you need to do, is buy some fresh Kefir grains. (if you are dairy free, don't forget to ensure that your grains are dairy free grains or 'water grains).
I bought mine from an Etsy seller called 'Fivebeesyard' it cost me £6.40 and I'm still using the same batch 1 year later.
I have found these ones very good, my Kefir has been ready in 24 hours since day 1.
Obviously, shop around if you prefer, and again, I'd love to hear from any of you who find a good source!
So, this is what Fresh Kefir Grains look like:
Put the Kefir grains into 1 bottle.
(I personally prefer to use large bottles with a closed clip lid, but you can use a jar covered with Muslin cloth too)
Pour in your milk.
I only ever fill my bottle about 1/3 of the way up, as when the milk is fermenting, it produces gases,and can grow and get a bit frothy, so leave it some room!
Close the lid and leave it for 24 hours (not in the fridge, the grains are happier at room temperature).
After, 24 hours, unclip your lid (slowly) - if you get a rush of air hissing out, that's a great sign that the fermentation magic has been busy at work.
Take a sniff - it should have taken on a tangy kind of smell, a hint of gone off milk, and possible a little cheesy...….if this is all sounding like yours, then it's ready!
if not, then maybe leave it for another 12-24 hours and check again.
If you are happy that your Kefir is ready, simply strain the contents through a sieve into a jug.
the contents of the jug will be your tart, slightly fizzy milk, ready for you to consume in any which way you desire.
The contents of the sieve will be your grains, and probably some gunky frothy looking business, simply rinse this under cool running water (not hot, they like heat, but extreme heat can kill the grains).
So you should be left with your grains, in your sieve, ready to start another batch.
So you can do just that! and pour your strained Kefir into your other bottle. (I keep mine in the fridge door once its ready)
I'd be thrilled to hear from any of you who use this as a stepping stone into a life of Kefir making and brewing!
I'd love to hear any of your stories, mishaps and successes!!
and as always, feel free to ask questions.
Good luck, and I hope you guys love this as much as I do! your tummy/gut/microbiome for one will definitely be a little happier for it!