Kefir has a uniform creamy
consistency, a slightly sour refreshing taste, with a mild aroma resembling fresh yeast.
Kefir also has a slight naturally carbonated effervescent zest or tang. There are an
assortmant of approx. 40 aromatic compounds, which contribute to the unique flavour and
distinctive pleasant aroma of kefir. To round this off, kefir may contain between 0.08 to
2 % alcohol.
Traditional authentic kefir
can only be prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains. Kefir grains are not to be
mistaken for cereal grains i.e. the "grains" part of the name is a misnomer.
Kefir grains or "granules" are in fact a natural mother-culture. The grain's
structure [which I refer to as a bio-matrix], is created through the efforts of a
symbiotic relationship, shared between a vast mixture of specific friendly lactic acid
bacterium [LAB] and yeasts. The grains are a soft, gelatinous white biological-mass
[biomass], comprised of protein, lipids [fats] and a soluble-polysaccharide [Kefiran]
complex. The microbes and yeasts not only create this bio-matrix structure, they are
harboured by the very structure they create; either on the surface [interior and
exterior], or encapsulated within the bio-matrix itself.
Today, real authentic kefir is
easily prepared at home. To culture real kefir, the addition of raw or pasteurized,
full-cream or nonfat fresh milk is placed in a clean suitable container with the addition
of kefir grains. The contents are left to ferment for approx. 24 hours at room
temperature [between 18 - 30° C (65- 86° F) but not specifically]. After the
fermentation period, the cultured-milk is strained to separate the kefir grains from the
liquid-kefir. The grains are added to fresh milk, and the process is simply repeated, to
produce the next ongoing batches. This simple process is performed on an indefinite
basis... for real-kefir is forever! The liquid-kefir may either be freshly
consumed, refrigerated for later use, or further brewed at room temperature, forcing a
secondary fermentation [but omitting the kefir grains].
After a period of time
culturing daily kefir, the living kefir grains increase in size, quantity or overall
volume and weight. A point is then reached, where one has the option to either remove a
portion of grains, or add a larger volume of fresh milk with the culture. The latter is in
order to maintain a constant grain to milk ratio. Traditionally, excess kefir grains were
either eaten, dried as a back-up source, or shared among family or tribal members.
The actual size of kefir
grains can vary from the size of this 0, to the size of a walnut or larger. The size of
each individual kefir grain doesn't seem to effect the quality of the finished kefir.
Usually, kefir grains used with large milk ratios, preferably with fresh raw milk, which
are not traumatized by any harsh means [squeezing or pressing on the grains with a spoon
e.g.], and with regular milk changes, grow larger in actual size and faster in quantity or
volume [biomass increase].
I have expanded the use for kefir grains
and in fact kefir, to produce several new products. These are easily prepared at home.
Just follow the links below for each product's details and enjoy the journey to this newly
found land of... probiotic wonders!
: A fresh cheese and a variant to fresh Mozzarella which is stored under Kefir-brine.
There are 2 versions of this cheese. One is fluffy with a textures that resembles bread,
while the other version is much like fresh Mozzarella.
Kefir Cottage cheese : Much like traditional cottage cheese but using
kefir as the coagulant. This is a rennet free cheese.
Mascarpone : This is a rich creamy fresh cheese, which has a taste and texture much
like Italian Mascarpone. This could be substituted in recipes that call for the [original]
: A drained fresh Kefir-cheese much like "Labneh" or concentrated yogurt.
Kefir-Leban is a rennet free probiotic cheese!
Kefir-Straightjacket : A kefir-cheese dip or spread made from draining
kefir [as in Kefir-Leban above] then adding other ingredients for a taste sensation that
many people have gone crazy #@|@# for. The selected ingredients also help to keep the
microbes in this fresh "live" cheese, viable, even during storage... it only
gets better! A probiotic fresh cheese-dip, come spread, come pizza topping... come on down
and make these for yourself!
Kefir pizza : A wholemeal pizza made from a kefir sourdough starter
[used for making the dough rise], topped with generous dollops of Kefir-Straightjacket
cheese and other ingredients... get into that kitchen and rattle those pizza pans!
Pickled cabbage /or other vegetables similar to traditional sauerkraut [but without the
use of salt!].
: A fermented grain drink using kefir grains and sprouted grains. This is an extension of Rejuvelac.
d'acqua : Or water-kefir prepared with either milk-based kefir grains or the common
method using traditional translucent water kefir grains.
The sugar-water-media more commonly used is
explained with my own rendition to the recipe.
d' erba medica : Probiotic herbal teas. This is an extension to kefir d'acqua
d'uva : This is another extension to kefir d'acqua cultured with grape juice instead
of lemon juice, water and sugar.
d'pollin : This is a water-kefir with the addition of bee pollen included. This recipe
may help to unlock many nutrients, which through normal digestion are mostly unavailable
from bee pollen. This limitation is due to the indigestible cell-wall of each pollen cell.
When including bee pollen in a water-kefir, the enzyme-rich medium may help to at least
partially break down the cell walls of pollen cells, so our own digestion may then be able
to further breakdown and absorb the nutrients found within pollen-cells.
recipes : A few recipes to try, including The Butterfly [Fruit juice + kefir
beverage], the Water Butterfly [water-kefir + kefir beverage] and the Kefir
Charmer [kefir-smoothie]. Great for introducing kefir to children or to fussier taste
Brine [KPB] : I also discovered that kefir can be made into a brine, which may then be
used as a natural preservative to prolong the shelf life of certain perishable foods
[stored under low temperatures]. Fresh cheeses such as Bocconcini. Tofu, cooked or raw
legumes and other perishables enjoy a longer shelf life due to controlled fermentation.