All of us have been brought up on milk, technically, and emotionally. So much so, that we were fed all kinds of lies by our mothers, just so we could drink our daily quota. Fortunately, for me, who was “forcibly” made to drink milk, there have been many tasty combinations and mixtures discovered lately, more because of diet fad.
Nowadays, people truly understand the value of nutrition, in order to maintain their trim and healthy body. That is the reason that many takes have been taken on the traditional milk, to give more taste to it, and at the same time maintaining its nutritional value. One such drink is Kefir. Let us explore more about it:
Kefir? Sound funny! What is it exactly- Milk or Yogurt?
Kefir is a tangy, creamy dairy product with amazing health benefits. Not to forget, it's good on your taste buds as well. Kefir is abundant in beneficial yeast and bacteria provided lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process. Sounds too scientific to your happy mind? You can just remember that it is a beneficial (and tasty) health drink, a dairy product (which means it is a milk product), but, different from traditional yogurt.
Many people assume that because yogurt and milk kefir are both cultured dairy products, there isn’t much difference between them. This is not true. There are many differences between yogurt and milk kefir, including how both are made, the types of bacteria present in them, and the flavor and consistency of both. 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.
What is the origin of Kefir? Where did it come from?
Well, it is natural to be curious about the origins of something that you might have heard for the first time, right? So, time for a short general knowledge session. The word “Kefir”, exists in modern Russian, Polish, Turkish and English. It is probably of a North Caucasian Turkish Origin.
What are the key ingredients of Kefir? How is the Kefir available in market made?
Basically, since kefir is a dairy product, kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat, or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.” This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains. These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. 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.
Where can you buy it?:
I have not yet heard of any dairy to sell kefir in India i.e. Well, no worries, you can make your very own Kefir drink at home. It’s not a difficult thing, and is quite a fun task.
How can you make your own Kefir at home?
Firstly, you are going to need Kefir Grains, as these are the first things that you need in order to make this drink. You can find them online. Also, you can find it at some stores in Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad and Delhi.
- Kefir grains work best with whole fat animal milk i.e. whole fat milk from cows, goats and sheep. If you're looking for a non-dairy option, try making kefir with coconut milk. Since coconut milk lacks the same proteins and nutrients as animal milk, the kefir grains will lose their vitality after a little while. To refresh them, put them back in some animal milk for a batch or two.
- Mix one teaspoon of active kefir grains to one cup of whole fat milk in a jar. Milk can be cold or at room temperature, either is fine.
- Cover the jar with a paper towel or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw the lid as the fermenting process and resultant build up may cause the jar to burst.
- Ferment for 12 to 48 hours. Store the jar at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
- Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy- it is ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures. The milk ferments faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cooler temperatures.
- Strain out the Kefir grains using a small strainer.
- Transfer the grains to fresh milk.
- Refrigerate for a cold drink.
You know, you can drink this Kefir straight up! Also, as I said earlier, you can add your own twists to it as per your taste and preference. Like you can add it to your regular yogurt and milk too. You can use it for baking too! Just replace your regular milk, yogurt and buttermilk with Kefir. Further, you can reuse this batch of kefir grains batch after batch. So, even if they are expensive, they are going to last long enough to justify the initial pinch on your pocket, not to forget the health benefits that you will be getting.
The biggest advantage of Kefir is that it improves your digestion. It is full of probiotic, which aids healthy digestion. Also, I know many people who dislike milk. Even momma’s magic could not make them drink milk. Kefir is a boon for them.
Before I conclude this super healthy discussion, I just want to give a word of caution. Introduce Kefir slowly into your diet, and do not plunge straight in. This is because, while some people thrive on it right from the start, others might need to build up tolerance for it, mostly in the case of people who are suffering from any yeast infection. Start slowly, and gradually proceed to a full glass.
I hope that you will definitely try out Kefir recipe. It is not a very commonly known drink, yet, in India. Still, it is a boon for those who are intolerant to milk, and beneficial in every possible way.