Cheryl Cole mug

Cheryl Cole

I remember when I first heard about kefir. After having worked in a commercial kitchen for several years and attended many trainings about food safety, the thought of leaving milk on the counter to ferment was enough to make me say no way to homemade kefir for quite a while.

I had heard that kefir was a great source of probiotics and had other health benefits. However, I figured I could take a pill to get all the probiotics I needed and skip the homemade part.

When I finally got past my fear of food borne illness, I got my first set of kefir grains and left it on the counter covered in milk, to ferment. The result was a delicious sour and tangy creaminess that I fell in love with! The process was also easy and extremely forgiving.

What’s even better is how beneficial kefir is to our health. There are many probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals in kefir. The probiotics in kefir can reestablish intestinal flora which can help promote regular bowel movements and ease bloating and gas.

Kefir can also be tolerated by many people that are lactose intolerant since the fermentation breaks down most of the lactose.

Kefir has lots of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2 to keep bones strong and is loaded with B vitamins to help ease stress. According to a Russian family member kefir is used by her and her friends as a beauty aid. She has said that it is her go-to superfood to make the skin vibrant and to maintain health and weight.

To get started making kefir at home you will need kefir grains, milk (preferably raw), glass quart jars, coffee filter, canning rings and a nice warm spot on your kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.

You can purchase kefir grains online or, better yet, find that friend that’s been trying to get you to try them and has an overabundance of grains they would love to share. Facebook is a great place to ask your friends and neighbors for grains also. The grains look like little heads of cauliflower and feel like delicate rubber. Secure cow, sheep or goat milk, preferably raw, from your local farm.

When you receive your grains, strain off any milk on them and put them in your glass quart jar. Cover them in about a cup of milk, then with a coffee filter and canning ring. Keep the jar at room temperature and out of the sunlight for about 12-24 hours.

Now, if you are a diligent person that remembers what you’ve done, check your grains every few hours to see if the milk is thickening. If you are forgetful — like me — don’t worry about them until the next day.

Give your grains a stir with either a plastic or wooden spoon and taste the milk. This is very important since the kefir grains do not like metal and it will weaken them. The milk will become a creamy consistency like a drinkable yogurt. Drain off the kefir with a plastic strainer, put grains in a clean glass jar, and cover with another cup of milk.

Your kefir is now ready to drink or refrigerate and your grains are ready to make more kefir.

To up the benefits of your kefir you may now do a second ferment. Simply strain the kefir milk into another clean glass jar, add a drop or 2 of lemon or lime essential oil (food grade, organic and optional), and cover tightly. Let rest at room temperature for approximately four hours.

If you forget until the next day the milk and whey may be separated but, it is still usable. This extra time to ferment actually makes the kefir less sour and ups the health benefits.

Once you have your perfectly fermented kefir you can use it in smoothies, make ice cream or drink it plain.

If you decide that fermenting is not for you and want to buy it at Sherm’s Thunderbird, then I recommend getting plain kefir without any added sugars.

Kefir is easy to make at home and I encourage you to give kefir a try for all of its health benefits.

Cheryl Cole is a holistic nutritionist and graduate of Hawthorn University with a love for fresh, local, organic foods. Find her on Facebook and lazynutrition.net.

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