Everyone knows by now just how important probiotics are to the body. So many things in our modern lifestyles wreak havoc on the living organisms that inhabit a healthy digestive tract, otherwise known as our gut flora. It is widely known that antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicilln destroy healthy gut flora. But, our modern diet, full of non-organic meats, plenty of processed sugar and the USDA's recommended 11 servings of grains per day is also responsible for poor gut health. Since imbalanced gut flora can contribute to degenerative diseases like cancer and also hamper the effectiveness of our immune system, it is vitally important to rebuild a damaged gut. Enter....fermented foods and for the purpose of today's discussion, specifically, kefir.
Milk kefir is a fantastic way to begin with fermented foods. It is so simple to make that you can't really mess it up. It requires no specific temperature to culture, like yogurt does. It doesn't grow mold, as sometimes happens with fermented vegetables when not made correctly.
Kefir is just plain simple, easy to make and easy to use.
To make milk kefir is easy. Place grains in a clean quart size Mason jar. Fill with milk to two inches below rim. (The beverage will expand slightly, so be careful it doesn’t get too full and spill over.) Cover with coffee filter, or small towel, and secure with a rubber band. Let sit on counter until desired thickness and sourness is reached. This will depend on your personal preferences. I like the probiotic benefits of extra thick and sour kefir, so I leave mine out about 36 hours. Some people leave it out only 12 hours. You will find what works best for you.
When kefir grains are "fed" regularly with fresh milk, they will multiply like crazy. Soon you will have more than you even know what to do with! Pass them along to your naturally-minded family and friends.
I use raw milk and I find that makes the highest quality kefir. However, you are still able to make kefir with store bought milk. The only milk that will not work is ultra-pasteurized milk, (example: Horizon Organic milk is ultra-pasteurized) so make sure to check your label. You can also make kefir with coconut milk, but you need to alternate back to cow’s milk after a few batches to revive your grains. They will start to lose their effectiveness in milk alternatives, like coconut and almond.
Incorporate them into your daily life with a morning smoothie. We like to add frozen bananas for sweetness and to give a nice thick, creamy consistency and then other fruits for flavor. Strawberries and blueberries are our favorites!
Between batches store your grains in the refrigerator in a glass jar covered with milk.