How to make kefir and why

I won’t bore you with the history of this great drink, but I will tell you how to make kefir and why. There are two main reasons to make it.

The first reason is the health benefits, which are immense and the second is that its delicious.

Regular consumption of kefir has been associated with the following benefits.

  • improved digestion and tolerance to lactose
  • antibacterial effect
  • hypocholesterolemic effect
  • control of plasma glucose
  • antihypertensive effect
  • anti-inflammatory effect
  • antioxidant activity
  • anticarcinogenic activity
  • anti-allergenic activity
  • better immune system

A number of recent studies have shown numerous health benefits from the probiotics when consumed as Kefir. These range from cholesterol metabolism and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition, antimicrobial activity, tumor suppression, increased speed of wound healing, and modulation of the immune system including the alleviation of allergies such as asthma (Bourrie et al., 2016).

Basically Kefir is great, and if you don’t like it, chances are you’re not a good person. But then again, at least you want to learn how to make kefir, so that kind of counts.

How to make kefir
The fact that it doesn’t mention it’s deliciousness bothers me

So how to make kefir and what do you need?

  • Milk
  • Kefir grains
  • Non metal strainer
  • Big glass container
  • The right environment

Milk

If you want to get the most benefits I strongly recommend you get fresh milk. That means unpasteurized and unhomogenized. Why?

Because pasteurization destroys beneficial bacteria along with the bad ones and destroys enzymes essential for nutrient absorption. Pasteurizing milk also destroys all its phosphatase. 

Phosphatase is essential for the absorption of calcium, and calcium works with Vitamin D, not only available through sunshine but is an essential nutrient in raw cream. Nature packaged a superb design for human sustenance in milk as it comes from the cow with all original essential nutrients — so long as it is not pasteurized.

Heating any raw food destroys the active enzymes, so lipase (an enzyme unique to milk and needed to complete digestion of fats) is blasted along with many other essential nutrients that pasteurization destroy

And homogenization which is a process that breaks up fat globules in cream into very small particles which then do not separate from the rest of the milk.

There is no known health or nutritional advantage to homogenization and quite a bit of science proving its harm. Some research suggests that this fracturing of the lipid (fat) molecule creates a free radical cascade that can cause allergic reactions and, through complex metabolic processes, even heart disease.

And this is just scratching the surface. The history of milk and pasteurization as homogenization is quite an interesting and broad topic, which I will address in the near future.

Kefir grains

You have two options here, depending on which way you want to go. You can get true kefir grains, or you can go with a starter culture. The difference is the following

Kefir starter culture

Kefir starter culture is for a simple cultured dairy product that contains some of the bacteria that are present in the traditional milk kefir.

If you want to make kefir only for a brief period or only occasionally then the starter culture may be the better option.

Milk kefir grains

If you want to make proper kefir for its specific and beneficial strains of bacteria and yeasts as well as the much touted polysaccharide kefiran, the you should acquire milk kefir grains.

Also if you want to make kefir regularly you should get fresh or dehydrated Kefir grains.

But if you can’t get fresh one from your circle of acquaintances I recommend buying dehydrated.

Dehydrated kefir grains are in a dormant state and while you should take care of them, they are not in as fragile of a state as the fresh grains are. Dehydration does create a minor stress on all cultures, but with proper activation they should be up and running in no time.

Dehydrated kefir grains also have the advantage of having a longer shelf life. This is advantageous in that it gives you a buffer of time both in the shipping of the grains and in the time frame you have once you receive them.

The right environment

  • Temperature

Room temperature is great for milk kefir.  Basically anything in the 64 to 78 degree F (17.7-25.5 C) range will work just fine. In my experience, a broad range of “room” temperatures work well for kefir, but major changes in temperature will impact the speed at which your kefir ferments. So you should know, warmer temperatures will speed up fermentation, lower temperatures will slow it.

  • Time – fermentation

The longer they ferment the more acidic your kefir will be and the lower it will be in lactose. So the more time it ferments, the less sugar it contains, as the lactose gets eaten up and lactic acid is produced.

My preferred time is around 24 hours during normal periods. During winter, this my increase up to 36 hours, or lower even to 12 hours during the summer. It really depends, and also you should experiment yourself to find, which suits you best.

So how to make kefir

You take a big glass container fill it up with milk and add kefir grains, pretty simple isnt it. Ok ok, lets go through the bullet points.

  • Obtain grains.
  • Place grains into a quart jar.
  • Pour in your milk.
  • Place the lid on (don’t seal), or cover with a cloth and a rubber band.
  • Let your jar sit at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 24 hours
  • Strain finished kefir into a jar through a nonmetallic, fine-mesh strainer.
  • Place grains into a new jar or vessel and cover in milk.
  • Enjoy your kefir

 

Hopefully this how to make kefir article inspires you to make your own.

Until next time.

Yours truly, Ivan.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

  1. Bourrie, B. C., Willing, B. P., & Cotter, P. D. (2016). The microbiota and health promoting characteristics of the fermented beverage kefir. Frontiers in microbiology7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854945/

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Author: Ivan Vlahinić

I am not a scientist. But i don’t have to be a scientist to be able to deftly use the scientific method in your daily life. In fact, you can be one helluva ‘thinker’ (in the scientific sense) and not be a scientist. For instance, nutritionists and personal trainers like me, who use and embrace science and the scientific method are better trainers because of it. Why? Because rather than just being a parrot and telling my clients what to do, because that’s what I have been told when I was younger I understand the "why" of my advice. And if I dont? Then I fully admit that i don't, and that's fine. The more you learn in the field of fitness and nutrition, the more you realize there is a lot of stuff that you dont know. But this is something that is true of all fields of work or life. The scientific method is the single most powerful way of thinking, that's why I embrace it. Anecdotes are nice, but data and facts trumps anecdotes.

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