As gut health and the importance of a healthy and stable immune system are increasingly becoming both the mantra of mainstream science, health professionals, and nutritionists, kefir has been thrust into the spotlight as a way of boosting our health in general. So what is all the fuss about? Here’s all you need to know about kefir.
What is kefir exactly?
Kefir is a gel-like grain composed of various strains of healthy bacteria and yeast. They’re healthy microbes that ferment by breaking down sugars and as a result, produce lactic acid and a degree of carbonation. The end result is a fermented, probiotic drink that is both delicious and extremely versatile in promoting gut and immune system strength, along with many other more general health benefits.
Is kefir good for you?
There are many potential health benefits associated with drinking kefir water or even kefir milk. Water kefir grains interact with the added sugars or premix and create a strong probiotic culture that stimulates and promotes healthy bacteria in your gut. It’s similar to milk kefir grains except the ‘food’ for the kefir is found naturally in the sugars of the milk.
Here are some potential health benefits of kefir:
How do I make water kefir?
As a drink, kefir is both simple and easy to make. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying supplements or picking out specialty foods that aim to achieve similar results. Here’s what you will need:
- 500ml of water. Make sure you’re using fresh, spring water
- 15 grams of water kefir grains
- A tried and tested water kefir growth premix is ideal for activating the fermentation process. Otherwise, the following ingredients can easily substitute the following:
- 15 grams of unprocessed, raw sugar, one pinch of bicarb soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of molasses The kefir grains will feed off the sugars as they ferment
Once you have all your ingredients, mix them in a jar or a custom kefir maker, ensuring the lid is slightly open to allow for airflow. Leave it to ferment for 24 to 48 hours and shake the jar every now and then. Taste after 24 hours to test the fermentation process, it should start to taste ever so slightly sour and alcoholic. Strain the kefir grains out and serve.
Does kefir contain probiotics?
The simple answer is yes. Kefir is composed of different strains of bacteria and yeast that make it a powerful probiotic. Kefir is a diverse source of probiotics and can be even more beneficial than yoghurt for example. These healthy bacteria are useful in preventing the likes of salmonella or E. coli.
How long can kefir stay in the fridge?
Depending on how long the culture has been fermenting, usually, kefir will last up to 2 weeks. Due to the lower temperatures, the kefir will slow down its fermentation process but not stop completely. The result will be a more sour taste or, in the case of milk kefir, a more cheesy texture. Normally the culture will last 1-2 days after completion, but storing it in the fridge can prolong this period.
What if it becomes over fermented?
Over-fermentation occurs when the kefir has run out of ‘food’. This is when all the sugars have disappeared. In the case of water kefir, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to salvage an over fermented batch. However, you may be able to add sugars to take the bite away or even repurpose it by baking with it.
Is kefir lactose free?
Kefir grains themselves are lactose free. However, when using dairy milk to grow your culture, this will not be lactose free, but rather a much more digestible form of lactose, making it drinkable for many who would normally struggle with dairy products.
The other option, of course, is to stick to water kefir and forget about milk products altogether. For vegans, this is a great option especially if you’re searching for fermented kefir products but want to steer clear of all animal products. All kefir products are naturally gluten free too.
Is there such a thing as too much kefir?
The recommended dose of kefir is between 200-300ml or roughly one cup per day. While having more than this won’t do any serious harm, drinking too much too often may start to see side effects. Always contact your doctor if you experience any negative side effects. Sticking to the recommended dose will ensure you make the most of the health benefits.
Can you have kefir when Pregnant?
Yes, absolutely. Kefir is a fantastic source of good bacteria and healthy vitamins that contribute towards a healthier immune system, stronger gut, to name a few benefits. The trick is to stick to natural and organic kefir and ensure if using milk kefir to buy pasteurised.
Can I re-use my kefir grains?
This is the beauty of fermented foods and drinks - the culture lasts, well as long as you want it to. There is an art to it though, staying in tune with your culture as you feed it will mean yours will last longer and be far more active. Remember to feed your culture every 24- 48 hours for optimum results.
Where can I buy kefir?
As its popularity rises and the health benefits become more widely appreciated kefir is becoming more readily available. At Nourishme Organics, we always make sure we stock plenty of kefir grains to satisfy this growing demand. Not only do we stock water kefir grains but also offer milk kefir and the appropriate growth premixes. For a fully natural, raw, vegan, and organic source of kefir grains - check out our range and order online