What is Kefir?
Kefir is a beverage that contains beneficial microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria. It is a refreshing beverage that can be made using milk, water, and coconut milk.
Traditionally, milk kefir is one of the most popular types of kefir that is made from milk kefir grains. It contains various enzymes and acids that are beneficial for the body.
But if you wish to avoid dairy you can also make water kefir that is as beneficial as the conventional milk kefir.
What is Milk Kefir?
Milk of cow, sheep or goat is fermented using active yeast that cultures lactobacillus bacteria and makes milk Kefir high in probiotics and more nutritious.
The process of further preparing the milk kefir includes metabolization of the sugars present in the milk via the yeasts and bacteria present in the milk kefir grains. This fermented beverage incorporates 40+ bacterium strains and gives a major benefits of treating health issues.
There are several non-dairy products such as nut milk, soy milk, coconut milk and almond milk, which can be used for preparing the milk kefir. But they would not match the nutrient and protein level of the milk kefir prepared with natural milk.
The milk kefir grain mostly appears like small clumps, which is similar to that of cauliflowers. The taste of milk kefir would depend upon the level of fermentation. More fermented kefir tastes sourer and can also render a carbonated taste towards the end.
Milk kefir can act as a perfect alternative to yogurt or buttermilk. It can also be used as the base for preparing several types of smoothies or salad dressings.
What is Water Kefir?
Water Kefir does not contain any dairy products. Its texture is lighter than Milk Kefir. The grains of water kefir are a jellylike and semi-transparent structure which consists of a symbiotic colony of yeasts and bacteria.
The appearance of water kefir is slightly yellowish, and the crystals inside have a bubbly and fizzy appearance.
The user must always be cautious while preparing the water kefir on what type of water type of water to be used. Only filtered water must be used to prepare the water kefir, as the tap water contains chemicals such as fluorine and chlorine in itself, which may destroy the kefir.
These grains provide a probiotic-rich beverage, which can be processed in various ways with different flavors.
The usage of water kefir varies from being used as a dessert to being a replacement for soda.
Water kefir being semi-solid edible items may be utilized for salad dressings, non-dairy smoothies, fruit gelatin desserts.
Extracts of fruit juice, vanilla, fresh fruit, honey, dried fruits, and even herbs can be utilized in order to put flavor to water kefir.
One point to remember here is, that the more the kefir is fermented, more the sweetness would disappear.
Kefir Health Benefits
- Kefir reduces allergic reactions by reducing the inflammatory cells that cause the disruption of lungs and air passages. It also helps in regulating the mucus buildup.
- It constitutes anti-oxidants in high amount and thus fights back against problems related to ageing.
- Kefir prevents acne and helps in skin lightening thus procuring the skin as well as serving as a cosmetic benefit.
- The microorganisms that are present in kefir are useful for fighting gastrointestinal diseases. Thus, they aid in digestion and eliminates any digestive disorders.
- Kefir is an excellent booster of immunity. It strengthens the immune system by protecting your body cells with the help of folate and biotin present in it.
- The lactose content of the milk is destroyed during the process of fermentation. It is consumed almost completely by the microorganisms during the fermentation process. Therefore, milk kefir is safe to consume by people who are lactose intolerant.
- Kefir has a rich quantity of nutrients such as potassium, calcium, amino acids, and vitamin D. The levels of calcium and phosphorus inside the body are regulated by vitamin D. This is essential for maintaining a proper bone health.
- Kefir aids in the prevention of various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. It helps lower don the blood pressure of people who are suffering from the problem of high blood pressure.
Click here to know 22+ detailed health benefits of Kefir!
How to Make Milk Kefir at Home?
Milk Kefir is a delicious and nutritious beverage that you can easily make at home. Although there are certain things that you should keep in mind before you start making it.
- Activation of milk kefir grains with pasteurized milk is a must. Then you can gradually make the transition into raw milk.
- Gather your supplies beforehand to avoid any hassles.
Supplies to Make Milk Kefir:
- A glass jar
- A stirring utensil that is not made up of metal
- A breathable jar cover like a paper towel, butter muslin, or a coffee filter
- A mesh strainer made up of plastic for the removal of kefir grains
- Milk Kefir grains (one or two teaspoons)
- Goat or cow milk
Procedure for Making Milk Kefir:
- Take about 4-5 cups of fresh milk and add some active kefir grains to it.
- Cover up the container with a breathable jar cover like a paper towel, butter muslin, or a coffee filter and secure it by a jar ring or a rubber band.
- Place the mixture at a room temperature.
- Culture till the milk thickens slightly and gives out a pleasing aroma. The time it takes for the milk to thicken depends upon the temperature. The process is usually quicker in warmer temperatures.
- When the culturing is fully done and the texture of the milk modifies, it is time to carry out the separation of the kefir grains.
- Now, take a new batch of fresh milk and place the grains in it.
- When it is finished, store the kefir inside the refrigerator.
How to Make Water Kefir at Home?
If you are looking for a dairy-free and a nutritious beverage that is easy to make then water kefir is your way to go.
If you are planning to use dehydrated grains you need to activate the kefir grains before making the water kefir.
Supplies to Make Water Kefir:
- A glass jar
- A wood or plastic utensil for stirring
- A breathable jar cover like a paper towel, butter muslin, or a coffee filter
- A hair elastic or a rubber band for securing the cover on to the jar
- Water Kefir Grains
- Flouride and chlorine- free water
- Put 1/4 cup of sugar in the jar.
- Add about 3-4 cups of water that is at room temperature to the mixture.
- Stir the mixture in order to dissolve the sugar particles thoroughly.
- Put the grains in the mixture.
- Cover up the jar with a breathable jar cover like a paper towel, butter muslin, or a coffee filter and place it in a warm place.
- Use a mesh to separate the grains from the finished product.
- Place the grains in the new batch of the sugar and water mixture.
Must follow Tips:
- If you decide to remove the grains with your hand, make sure that your hands and fingers are clean and free of germs.
- Never use a reactive metal to strain the mixture.
- A double mesh strainer made up of plastic is the best option.
How to Make Coconut Kefir at Home?
Coconut milk kefir is an amazing option if you want to avoid too much dairy. Here are the steps to make coconut milk kefir.
- Water kefir grains
- Coconut milk or Coconut Water
- Place the kefir grains in a container filled with coconut milk.
- Use a spoon that is not made up of metal and use it to stir.
- Cover the container with a cover like a paper towel, butter muslin, or a coffee filter and secure it with an elastic.
- Use room temperature to culture the mixture.
- Check the coconut milk from time to time and keep it as it is for about 12 hours, maximum 24 hours.
- Remove the grains once the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
How to Store Milk Kefir Grains?
- Always store milk kefir grains in a glass container. Do not store them in a metal bowl as the metal would react in a way that would destroy its microorganisms.
- Use 1 parts grains with 20 parts of milk. The milk will provide food for the microorganisms such as the healthy bacteria and yeast in the kefir grains and will keep them activated.
- You should be careful while placing it as it should not fill the top of the jar.
- The best way to store unused kefir is to make more batches of milk kefir. This keeps the kefir activated and the grains healthy.
- If you cannot pour fresh milk in the kefir grains frequently, keep the grains in the refrigerator.
Is Kefir Drink Good for Diabetes?
Kefir is good for diabetes management. It helps to slow down and control the rate of glycemic index.
This brewed beverage is high in nutrient content and helps in the promotion of gut microbes that controls the cellular absorption of blood sugar.
The sole reason for controlling of blood level is the production of lactic acid during the process of fermentation and lowers the pH level of blood.
Kefir is highly recommended for diabetes owing to its tangy nature and can be used as a substitute for vinegar and lemon.
Kefir contains probiotic bacteria that controls the body glucose levels and is a great healer for diabetes.
Consuming this fermented beverage on a regular basis appears as a therapeutic treatment for diabetic patients as it possess the qualities of bringing down the glucose levels.
Does Kefir Help you Lose Weight?
This particular fermented drink certainly helps one to lose weight. Kefir incorporates forty strains of bacteria and reduces body fat. It regulated the process of fat burning.
Amongst the 40+ strains, it constitutes four basic ones – Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus amylovorus, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus that help to reduce fat.
Can Babies and Children have Kefir?
Kefir is absolutely safe to consume by babies and children in order to have a healthy system.
After the age of 3 years, they can consume it if they like the tangy taste. As Kefir contains high nutritious values, it can benefit the kids to attain the right quantity of vitamins and minerals needed by one.
Children can consume it just like they have milk and such fermented drink will have more effect on them and hence improve the immune system.
Kefir provides them with the necessary nutrient that helps them thoroughly throughout their growing years.
Kefir in Paleo Diet
Though Kefir is not in the original Paleo diet, the diet presently encourages the selection of plain flavoured and less sweetened Kefir that is made from grass-fed cow for intake of Vitamins -B12, B1, K and probiotics.
Kefir is made Paleo-friendly by longer fermentation that reduces the chance of cancer by increasing casein tolerance.
Kefir vs Yogurt
It is often assumed that Kefir and Yogurt are one and the same just because they are identical in appearance. Well, that’s not true. If they both were to be same dairy products, why would we have separate nomenclature for them?
There are myriad differences between both the dairy products in terms of how each is cultured, the process of preparation, bacteria used in their culturing, taste as well as consistency.
While it is important to understand the stages included in their preparation, it is equally important for each of us to understand the various health benefits of Kefir and Yogurt notwithstanding similarities in health benefits of both.
Kefir vs Kombucha
Kombucha is a slightly effervescent, sour tasting beverage that is made by culturing kombucha with a combination of sugar and tea.
It has a fizzy, apple cider vinegar like taste that is on the sour side. Both are beneficial in their own way. But in order to make a choice between these two, there are some things that should be considered.
- Although both kefir and kombucha consist of beneficial microbes kefir is rich in lactic acid bacteria.
- The probiotic content of kefir is more than kombucha whereas kombucha is more of a digestive aid.
- Milk kefir contains calcium whereas kombucha doesn’t. Although kombucha is rich in caffeine as it is made from tea.
- The enzymes and acids in kombucha have a stronger effect than those in kefir.
- Kombucha is dairy free, so it is a better option for people with a lactose intolerance.
- Although the lactose content of milk becomes negligible after fermentation via kefir.
- Kefir is sweeter than kombucha which has a fizzy, sour taste. So, the choice of beverage greatly depends on your taste.