Tag Archives: Milk kefir benefits

The History and Myth of Kefir

Where do Kefir grains come from ?

The history of milk kefir was initially part of a legend and a bit mysterious too. People living in the northern slopes of Mountain Caucasian believe that Muhammad, the Great Prophet gave kefir grains to the Orthodox people and showed them how to make it as well. They guarded the grains and the knowledge given to them by the Prophet for fear of losing their strength. The kefir grains became the families’ and the tribe’s wealth and the uses and techniques of preparation were known to the future generations only.

Milk kefir grains

Milk kefir grains

What is Kefir ?

Kefir is a milk product made from the milk of goats, cows and sheep also. There were sacks made of animal skin in which kefir was made. The sacks were kept in a way that it came in contact with direct sunlight which helped in the fermenting process of the milk. In the evening the sacks were carried back home and hung behind the doors so that people passing the door would prod them with their hands or feet so that the content mixes well. More fresh milk was added after the kefir was taken out so that the fermentation process did not stop. This exclusive food was enjoyed by these people for many years. They believed that the beverage prepared with it had magical properties.

How Kefir came to be known worldwide

However, around the 19th century, Russian doctors believed that kefir had great healing properties like treating tuberculosis and other intestinal disorders and published the first scientific research studies. To produce the grains the source of the grains were required urgently to use this unique food for treating ailing patients. The Blandov brothers owned a Dairy in Moscow as well as properties in the Mountains of Caucasus area. They were asked to gather the grains of kefir so that they could be manufactured on a large scale in Moscow itself. Although it was not an easy process, finally the grains were brought to Russia by princess Irina and the first bottles of kefir drink were on sale in Moscow in 1908. They were consumed especially for medicinal values. In the 1930s commercial production began in large quantities.

Since the original method was not appropriate for large scale manufacturing, scientific methods were used to obtain this useful food. In 1950s, VNIMI invented easier methods that included fermentation, agitation, coagulation, ripening and then cooling in huge vessels. The Soviet Food Minister thanked Irina for bringing this invaluable grains to Russia. Today, kefir is the most popularly used fermented milk in Russia. In modern times, kefir is manufactured in Finland, Norway, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia and other places also like USA, West Germany, Canada and Denmark on a commercial scale.

What kefir grains looks like and its health benefits

Kefir grains look like small-size cauliflowers more or less like wheat kernels. They are processed in such a way in leather sacks that they naturally ferment. These grains contain innumerable gelatinous micro-organisms and casein that are symbiotically grown together. Yeast is also present in the grains. These microorganisms are extremely useful for health and makes kefir so different from other milk products that are cultured in different ways. This self-carbonated beverage has probiotic properties and offers medicinal benefits for which the effervescent drink is so popular worldwide. It contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, K2, enzymes, folate and biotin and other unique nutrients that boosts immunity, increases bone density, fights allergies, supports detoxification and improves lactose digestion as well.

Milk kefir grains are named differently in different places like Kefir Yogurt, Snow Lotus, Kewra, Bulgaros, The Grains of The Prophet Mohammad, Tibetan Mushroom, Yogurt Plant to name a few. It is an amazing drink that is enjoyed by all.

Milk kefir grains floating in raw milk

Milk kefir grains floating in raw milk

(Water kefir grains are also named differently, like tibicos (tibi), Japanese water crystals and California bees.)

How to Make Milk Kefir ?

Make Milk Kefir at home ?

Milk Kefir (usually pronounced as keh-FEER) is basically a slightly carbonated but delicious milk beverage, fermented and similar to buttermilk or yogurt. Kefir is nothing other than fermented milk (room temperature) with the kefir grains for almost 24 hours. It has amazing health benefits, flavorsome and is endured well, even by person who is lactose intolerant. It's easier to prepare than yogurt because it involves no heating/ incubating. Moreover, kefir has comparatively a larger spectrum of probiotic when compared to yoghurt. The sustainable, reusable grains make it economical.

With the popularity of kefir comes misinformation accompanied with deceiving products. Authentic milk kefir is only made with live kefir grains, instead of any form of pre-made or powder (or store purchased kefir). A kefir that is available in stores is mere imitations. Real and healthy kefir can be made only with experience at home.

The Basic ingredients

  • 500ml glass jar similar to any Kilner jar
  • A tablespoon of kefir grains
  • Fresh milk

Milk kefir grains

How to prepare milk kefir

  • Pour the milk kefir grains into a glass jar. Fill two third of the jar with fresh milk. Cover it using a cloth or lid the jar. (If you are putting the lid on it, don't fill above two thirds)
  • Leave the contents at room temperature up to about 24 hours. 48 hours makes it thicker, and sourer, 12 hours makes it sweeter and thinner.
  • The temperature affects how quickly this culture works. As a result, during the summer months, milk kefir ferments faster.
  • Once it has been ready, strain the kefir in a jar.
  • While fermenting, the kefir grains float on top of the milk with cream. So stir to mix the solids and the liquids, gently using a wooden spoon. That way it gets easier to strain. Use the clean wooden spoon or hands for scooping the culture from this kefir (it is easy separate and feel from liquids).
  • Kefir culture gives birth to a polysaccharide substance which is jelly like and develops around grains, looking 'gloopy'. Its name is kefiran and it bears unique properties. As you scoop the kefir grains you might find them to be coated with a substance which is a gel like. Providing a good stir to the kefir distributes the kefiran and it also contributes to the thickness. (This is, however variable, some strains produce a lot while others not that much.)

Note for Cleanliness and Storage of Milk Kefir

The post is straining, these grains are to be placed back in a jar without washing. Fresh milk is to be poured to the grains for making another batch. Ensure everything you use is well cleaned (jars, hands and implements). You wouldn’t surely like to contaminate a living culture. Store the prepared kefir in your fridge, in any glass jar. You may keep adding new batches of milk kefir to the jar and shake to mix.

link : kefir