Many of you have been with me here on this beautiful blog journey for many years now. Many of you have stumbled with me through the beginnings of our way of eating and our way of life. Seeing your names come through the comments is like enjoying a cup of coffee with an old friend.
That being said, many of you are new here as well. And many of you have no clue about many of the things that have become very ‘basic' for us here on the farm after all these years.
When I first began the blog, many of these things were new. And now that they're so engrained in our routine, it's easy for me to skip over them and mistakenly assume that many of you know what I'm talking about.
Stupid, Shaye. Stupid, stupid.
In an effort to close this gap and refocus on what is so important about the way that we eat and how that affects our lifestyle, I'm launching a short series of posts I lovingly refer to as ‘Back To Basics'. In these posts, I'll be reposting some of my earlier posts – with new photos, resources, and material – to help bring back to life some of these long-ago-written-but-still-wonderfully-relevant tutorials.
My prayer is that it will breathe new life into them. That it will revive the ‘why' and ‘how' of what we do and how we eat.
This week, we're going to refocus on kefir. Because for over four years, we've been enjoying this fermented goodie.
Have you heard of it?
Have you tried it?
I still have to thank my Mom for gettin’ me going on this “fermented” goody. It’s always something that I had wanted to try, but never got around to it. When my Mom showed up with enough kefir grains to go around, I jumped on the band wagon. Because. Why not?!
Gut health is essential to overall health. And fermented goodies like kefir contribute crucial bacteria to our guts.
Fermented foods = happy gut. Happy gut = happy body.
Essentially, kefir is fermented milk. ‘Grains‘ are introduced to milk, which in turn ferment the milk and culture it to a rich, tart, liquid. Like kombucha, for some, the flavor takes some getting used to. It’s fermented, and therefore, has a slightly sharp flavor to it that many are not used to (as we typically steer-clear of this type of food).
Think about kefir as yogurt on steroids. Millions and millions of beneficial bacteria, just swimmin’ around in that milk for your digestive pleasure.
Please feel free to read the following information, which is far more specific and accurate than anything I will tell you:
How To Make Kefir
1. Acquire kefir grains. There are separate grains for both milk kefir and water kefir (I only have experience with milk kefir, so that's what I'm going to focus on here). These grains are a culture of bacteria and yeasts that break down the milk and make nutrients more accessible to our bodies. They look like rubber cement boogers (What? I couldn't have been the only one that made those in elementary school?).
2. Fill a mason jar with milk. Add in the milk kefir grains.
3. Set the jar on the counter and leave it out at room temperature to culture for twenty-four hours.
4. At this point, the entire jar can be put into the refrigerator until you're ready to drink the kefir. When you're ready, simple dump the contents of the jar through a fine, mesh strainer. Use the back of a spoon to gently smoosh the cultured kefir through the strainer, while reserving the grains.
The liquid kefir can be utilized in a variety of ways; the grains will go into the next jar of milk for culturing! And so the cycle continues.
We have found that our favorite way to drink the kefir is in smoothies. It acts as a great yogurt or milk substitute. It’s very easy to just drink the kefir straight, like you would milk. Or even with a little bit of flavoring and sweetener (it’s delicious with a dash of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of maple syrup!)
Tips For Great Kefir
– Use raw milk! I've found that my kefir that has been cultured with raw milk is even better!
– Use it often! The more often you strain your kefir and give your grains fresh milk to culture, the healthier your kefir grains will become! Remember – they're alive! They need TLC.
– Keep your grains in plain milk. While sweeteners or flavorings (such as fresh berries!) may be added to the kefir, make sure you only add it to the strained kefir liquid! The grains should only be in contact with the milk.
– Play around with flavorings! Don't give up on enjoying this fantastic food if you don't like it at first! Keep trying different ways to enjoy it! (P.S.: My favorite kefir smoothie recipes are featured in my cookbook, From Scratch!).
– As you continue to use your kefir, your grains will grow! You can easily share extras with friends. I try and always keep a tablespoon of grains for myself to culture 4 cups of milk with each time.
I love kefir. I really do. And after 4 years with the same grains, it's like an old friend that comes out to visit us for breakfast three times a week. Fermented foods are a simple, traditional, and easy step to take towards a healthier, whole food diet.
Come on, you know you want in on this action.
Your gut will thank you!
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.