At the Request of several mammas, here is a thread devoted JUST to creative ways to use up that KEFIR which I know some of us are having a 'time of it' drinking it straight up and all by our lonesome...
For those of you yet to get some grains...you might ask:Just what is Kefir?
Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food (usually dairy milk) filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your "inner ecosystem." More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins. While yogurt provides your digestive system with friendly bacterium as long as you eat it, Kefir helps to repopulate it for good!Kefir is simple and inexpensive to make at home.
Kefir is used to restore the inner eco-system after antibiotic therapy.
Kefir can be made into a delicious smoothie that kids love.
Kefir is excellent nourishment for pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, and those with compromised immunity.What if I'm lactose intolerant, don't do dairy or don't digest milk products well - is kefir right for me?
The beneficial yeast and friendly bacteria in the kefir culture consume most of the lactose (or milk sugar). Eat kefir on an empty stomach first thing in the morning before (or for) breakfast and you'll be delighted to find it can be easily digested -- as numerous people who have been lactose intolerant for years have discovered.
Kefir's tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly 'probiotic' bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly.How is Kefir Made?
Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. Although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a "clean" quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria.
Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called "grains, that look like little pieces of cauliflower."
These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars.
They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.To culture milk with 'LIVE Kefir Grains'
Add your 'grains' to a clean glass container (mason jars work well) of milk, and cover or lid the jar. You let this sit at room temperatur for 12-24, up to 48 hours. Then you gently strain the resulting Kefir'd milk from the grains, and add the grains to a fresh amount of milk, and repeat brewing cycle. It is suggested to use a non metal strainer, to capture the grains. You may use raw milk, or store bought milk. Organic milk is suggested!
Ratios of grains to milk vary, but for a good TBS size piece or portion of grains, you can usually add 2-4 cups milk. If in 12 hours the milk starts seperating into a clearish layer and a thick, cheesy curdy looking layer, that is fine and perfectly natural. You are either brewing too long or not using enough milk. It is still fine to drink. Use a plastic or silicon spoon/spatula to stir the 'whey' back into the 'curds' and then strain out your grains. The 'kefir' might be a bit on the tart side, but it's fine. Use one of the smoothie recipes to make it sweeter or use the kefir as buttermilk in baking. Ready-Made Kefir
If you prefer to purchase ready-made kefir at your health food store (in this form it is perishable and would be found in the refrigerated section). Helios is a really good, organic brand.How to Introduce Kefir into Your Diet
Some people thrive on kefir right from the start and others may need to proceed more slowly. Remember that people with candidiasis usually lack enough 'good' milk-digesting bacteria, so you may have to build up your "tolerance" of kefir. Start with about four ounces in the morning on an empty stomach. Every second day increase the amount until you are able to drink a full eight ounce glass.
Moreover, people with candidiasis have what Chinese medicine calls the condition of dampness. Unfermented and improperly combined dairy products can lead to even more dampness and excess mucus. Here are some suggestions for introducing kefir while conquering dampness:
1. Drink plenty of water and eat grains that have been soaked and then cooked. These add moisture and fiber to the colon.
2. Clean your colon. If a colon is free of blockages, kefir is tolerated more quickly. We have found that people, who report having trouble with kefir, often have not followed advice on colon cleansing.
3. Be sure to get adequate exercise. Exercise stimulates the colon and improves elimination. Even just walking daily will assist in this goal.The Benefits of Consuming Kefir Regularly in the Diet
Easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer.
Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced by allowing the body to remove and process MORE of the needed nutrients in your foods . Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.Why Kefir and not just Yogurt?
Both kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products...but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient
beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize
the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.
Kefir's active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy.
Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, invalids and the elderly, as well as a remedy for digestive disorders.More than just Beneficial Bacteria!
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids
that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested
and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves.
Kefir's ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin, which aids the body's assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
Ok, so hopefully you are now 'stoked' about Kefir and want to get some of this wonderful stuff!
So stay tuned for a VARIETY of ways to get this stuff in your tummy!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------KEFIR BREWING INFO SHEETBrewing Directions:
In a clean, wide mouth glass container (ie, a mason jar is wonderful), place these grains and 1 cup milk (whole, 2%, skim, pasteurized or not, homogenized or not – organic is preferable, though).
Start with a small amount of milk (like 1 cup), you can increase it over a few days time, as your grains grow (it may take weeks to noticeably grow or a matter of days, depending on the temperature of where you have them ‘brewing’ and how much they need to adjust to your brand of milk).
Place a lid on the jar or a cloth with rubber band to keep it on tight. Leave sitting on your countertop, out of direct sunlight for 12 - 24 hours.
During the brew time, gently swirl the jar to make sure the grains are ‘bathed’ with the milk and this will help feed them and convert the milk to Kefir. You can omit this ‘swirling of the jar’, and it will turn out fine, especially if you are using the smaller amount of milk. Just give it a gently ‘swirl’ in the morning to make sure it looks like all (most) the milk was ‘converted’.
12 - 24 hours later, depending on milk to grain ratio and ambient temperature in your kitchen, you will have ‘real’ Kefir. It will be a bit tart and tangy. You will need to adjust the ‘brew’ time to get it to taste best for you. Less time will be less tart and more ‘yogurty’, longer will be sourer tasting.
Just prior to straining, I stir the contents with a silicon spatula or spoon. Definitely use a plastic utensil and NOT metal. This makes straining a little easier as it breaks up any large ‘curds’ that have formed and makes it a smoother Kefir.Straining:
Use a non metal strainer (I found a nylon ‘tea strainer’ made by ‘Tea Republic’ that I love, it catches all the grains, and I can gently rub a silicon spatula back and forth, and the Kefir milk strains into a new mason jar and is super creamy and smooth.
After straining off the liquidy ‘Milk Kefir’, the Kefir grains (which might still have some ‘curds’ clinging to them, but this is ok) are placed straight back into a pre-washed and room temp mason jar or fermenting vessel of choice, without rinsing the grains.
Fresh milk is added to the grains to prepare the next batch and a lid/cloth is put on.
The strained kefir is either consumed fresh, immediately, or poured into a sealed container and stored in the refrigerator (will keep up to a few weeks or longer). It can also be stored on your counter top for 1-2 more days at room temp to help reduce lactose content, then refrigerated and used..
Eventually you will notice the grains increasing in mass, and you can add more milk to the jar for brewing or remove some of the grains to give away or make a ‘back up’ copy.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Short Term Kefir Storage:
Put your grains in a glass jar of milk with a lid on it (~a cup milk per 1-2 TBS grains)
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.Longer Term Kefir Storage:
By straining off the refrigerated, kefir’d milk at least once a week, and replacing with fresh milk, you can usually extend the ‘refrigerator’ storage method indefinitely. I would try to get them reactivated a few times a year, though…just to be sure. The longer you do this, the more chance of the grains dying or becoming inbalanced from loosing too many of their unique cultures.Freezing Kefir Grains:
Rinse off your grains with clean, filtered water. Pat dry and place on a paper towel or clean tea towel to allow to dry.
Place your grains in a jar or plastic baggie and freeze for up to one year, but you might only want to do it for a few months, as the yeast component can completely die off using this method. The Dom suggests adding powdered milk to coat the grains to help protect them, but I do not use powdered milk and do not have any in the house. It might take up to two weeks to get them active again, once you thaw them.Drying Kefir Grains:
Kefir grains may be dehydrated to store long term (a year or so).
Prepare the grains, as for freezing, then as they dry on the paper towel, or tea towel, allow them to continue drying in a well ventilated, warm spot (maybe on the top of your refrigerator?) for up to 3 days or longer for large grains. They will become smaller, hard and yellow looking. Store in a plastic baggie, or in a glass jar, in a cool dry spot or in the refrigerator, once you know they are well dried.Reactivating Frozen and Dried Kefir Grains:
To reactivate frozen and dehydrated kefir grains, place in a glass jar with cool water and soak for a few minutes. Rinse them off in a strainer to get out any powdered milk if you used it. Place them in a small amount of fresh milk, and allow to sit at room temp for 24 hours.
Every day change the milk and toss out the kefir milk (don’t drink it yet). You will want the milk to be coagulating, and have a clean, yeasty smell (or like good buttermilk). Once that happens, you can start consuming your kefir and continue as for normal brewing, and increasing the amount of milk again. This process could take a few weeks to happen, to reactivate. Be patient and use smaller than normal amounts of milk until you are confident you have happy, active kefir cultures again.