What is kefir?

 

What is Kefir?

It’s fermented milk. Think probiotic yoghurt but thinner and with more tiny living things swimming about in it.

How is it made?

It’s made by adding kefir grains (which confusingly are not grains at all, but rather cultures of yeast and bacteria that look a bit like cauliflower, yum!) to cow, goat or sheep’s milk and left to ferment at room temperature for around 24 hours. Or as one recipe memorably put it, ‘until it starts to look lumpy’. Then you strain it and drink it.

Why?

It’s supposed to be terribly good for your gut. And a lot of other things, but I think we’re on solid ground with the gut stuff. It’s also a good source of calcium (because milk) and phosphorus (again milk) and low in lactose. Most of the lactose gets converted to lactic acid or other substances during the fermentation process so it can be suitable for people with lactose intolerance. In fact it might even help with any lactose issues.

Is it actually good for me?

I may just be tired but I’m actually considering buying some. This is mostly because some guy shilling goat kefir claims it’s good for your skin and whilst I am immune against claims about cancer, cold fighting and asthma attacks, I am a sucker for anything that claims it will clear up my skin. However, I think we’re on relatively solid ground saying probiotics can help with various digestive issues and kefir is a good source of probiotics (much better than certain unnamed yoghurts that actually contain barely any probiotics at all), and there has been some research suggesting that kefir can be helpful if you do suffer from lactose intolerance, stomach ulcers or IBS.

What does it taste like?

Like slightly sour milk or very thin yoghurt, it’s really fairly palatable even on it’s own. You can either add it to a smoothie or buy some flavoured version that tastes like whatever it’s been flavoured with.

But I’m a vegan

Weirdly you can also buy kefir type drinks that are based around water, coconut milk or coconut water. However you have to be willing to be the sort of person who walks around drinking coconut water based kefir-type drinks.

What the expert says

Club Soda expert member Sam Waterhouse, who is a professional chef and nutritional therapist, had this to say:

“For optimal health, you should empty your bowels once or twice a day, which is why I suggest healthy fiber, lots of water and probiotics. I encourage you to consume all-natural probiotics like cultured vegetables or cultured drinks such as coconut milk kefir. Kefir has 65+ strains of good bacteria. Try Kevita, coconut water kefir available from Whole Foods.

You can also try this paleo cleanse smoothie:

350 ml coconut milk (kefir)

1 handful kale or baby spinach

1 orange, peeled

1 teaspoon bee pollen, optional

2 tablespoon aloe vera

1 inch fresh ginger root

Ice (optional)

Place ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.”

Where do I get it?

You can get goats milk kefir online.

Organic kefir and riazhenka (which is like kefir but the milk is baked beforehand to make it sweeter) can be bought online from Ocado or you can find a stockist here. Bio-tiful dairy also sell two flavoured variations, Honey and Mint, and Cherry.

Nourish also sells kefir from stockists in the London area, find out more here.

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