This humble super-drink has been around for centuries but only now finding prominence in western culture. It is packed with probiotics, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, biotin, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin K2. Great for gut health and easily digestible even for those with a lactose intolerance – it really puts a spin on all the bad press dairy products have been receiving lately. Check below for the best kefir recipe.
Kefir is a sour, carbonated fermented milk drink made using kefir grains (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter) and milk. It is made using the process of lactic acid fermentation in which lactose, the sugar present in milk, is broken down into lactic acid (mostly) resulting in acidification of the milk giving it that sour taste. These lactic acid bacteria are also known as probiotics and have been shown to improve gut health – aiding with digestion and absorption of nutrients. For more on the health benefits of probiotics check out my Kombucha page here.
What separates kefir from yogurt and other sour milk products is that the slow-acting yeasts further break down the lactose into ethanol and carbon dioxide. This gives it a bubbly appearance and carbonated taste as well as a small (1%-2%) alcoholic content. As a result of the fermentation, very little lactose remains in kefir allowing people with a lactose intolerance to tolerate kefir. Fermented milk products also have a slower transit time than milk in passing through the body, further improving lactose digestion.
Other health benefits of kefir include:
1. Empty the the starter cultures into the jug. Add a splash of milk, just enough to cover. Stir gently until all the lumps have dissolved.
2. Pour in about a quarter of the milk and again stir gently mixing in the cultures. If any lumps float to the surface, using the back of the spoon, smooth them out against the side of the jug and continue to mix in.
3. Fill the jug about half way full and continue stirring gently for about 10 minutes. The time duration is important as it is the only way for the cultures to be fully mixed into the milk.
4. Add the remainder of the milk and stir for another 10 minutes. You want to make sure the cultures are properly mixed and distributed throughout the milk – not just at the bottom.
5. Finally, seal the jug with a lid or cling film and set aside, away from the sun, at room temperature (22-24 degrees) for 24 hours. When the kefir is ready it will be lightly set – like a thin custard or yoghurt. Transfer to the fridge to chill – around another 6 hours. Consume within 4 days.
Try experimenting with different milk alternatives to find your own best kefir recipe!
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