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MAKE YOUR OWN KEFIR – OCT 20/14

KEFIR
Kefir is a wonderful fermented food. It sort of reminds me of yogurt but has slightly different beneficial nutrients. I find it simpler to make than yogurt, so I do make it oftener than yogurt. But they are both healthy for our gut flora.

Today I am busy baking bread by using kefir in the dough. Actually I use kefir in all the dough or batter recipes and we enjoy yogurt more for smoothies or as a dessert with fruit on top. Kefir helps to develope the gluten in yeast baking & helps to break down the harder to digest parts of the bran in freshly milled grain flours.

When I was first introduced to kefir I stopped at a Health Food Store and bought a small box of powder packages so I could start making it. One package made one litre, but after that when I used a half – 1 cup of the kefir I had made and stored in the fridge, it easily made 4 litres in the same amount of time.

The direction said to use one bag of the powder and make 1 litre of kefir by mixing it into 1 litre of milk.

I have been making it for more than a year I guess. I will continue to share new recipes using it in coming blogs because it is a great way to enjoy fermented food. Kefir is a great probiotic. These are excellent reasons to begin eating it.
Kefir can be made from kefir grains or kefir powder or from a half – 1 cup of the kefir itself. I bought the powder and used one small package and gave the other five packages away. Now each time I make it, I just save a cup or so in the fridge to use when making another batch and I never have to buy the powder again. Now the cost of kefir is just the cost of the milk.

NUTRITION IN KEFIR
This fermented food has both beneficial yeast as well as beneficial bacteria. It can be called a natural antibiotic or a probiotic.
It coats the lining of the digestive tract creating a place where beneficial bacteria can settle and colonize. It contains different beneficial microorganisms than yogurt as well as lots of beneficial nutrients.

MAKING A BATCH OF KEFIR
When I made the first batch of kefir from powder, I followed the directions on the box. The one package made one litre. I stored this in the fridge and then the next week I used a cup of the kefir to make a larger batch of 4 litres. It turned out just as good as the first batch. Now all I need to buy to make it is milk.
Directions:
Heat 4 litres of milk until it comes to a boil. Let it cool down to about 80 degrees. Mix 1 cup of kefir into the milk well. Pour this into 4 (one-litre) jars and cover with lids. Put a cup into a small marked jar to use the next time you want to make a batch. Leave all the jars on the counter in a draft free place for 24 hours or until it thickens. I cover the jars with a heavy towel to keep the temp constant. Then store them in the fridge for at least 8 hours to stop the process. It is now ready to use or leave in the fridge to use in the coming weeks.

NOTE:
The last time I made a batch I decided to forget about bringing the milk to a boil and just heated it to reach the point needed and it turned out just as great. I am thinking that the recipe on the powder box said to bring the milk to boiling point for anyone who is making it from raw milk.

STORING KEFIR
Kefir can be stored in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or even a bit more, or frozen for longer. I find it a good idea to take a cup of the freshly made kefir and store it in a marked closed small jar in the fridge. That way I don’t make the mistake of using it all up and then not have any to start another batch. If you are not making any for months, freeze the cup full so when you are back to making it, it can be thawed and used to again make a fresh batch.

Words on the box I bought at the Health Food Store:
Yogourmet – culture Kefir starter cost was $5.85 for the box

Box of 30 g. – had 6 packages inside
It is a cultured drink and a great source of friendly bacteria and yeasts. (When I make it, it is thick like yogurt)
Contains 6 – 5 gram packs

This is the instruction on the package.
Use one 5 g pack per litre the first time as follows –
Heat 1 litre of milk to boiling point. Let cool to 73-77 º F or 25 degrees C.
Dissolve the 5 g pack in a small amount of the cooled milk and then stir this into the rest of the milk as well.
Pour it into a litre bottle. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours or until thickened.
Refrigerate 8 hours to stop the process. Stir to liquefy and drink or use as you would yogurt.
Save ½ cup of the first batch for the next time and then you can use the half cup to make 3 litres by adding the half cup to the cooled milk instead of another powder mixture. No more need for any packages of the powder. Now the only cost is the cost of the milk.

I will make it with whole milk next time and use it to replace sour cream in dressings or sauces or recipes calling for sour cream.

In a few days I will share other ways I am now using kefir.