Kefir is a delicious probiotic drink, useful for improving gut microflora, if taken regularly (e.g. each morning). It is made with kefir ‘grains’, comprising a mother culture that digests sugar in a fermentation process. The easiest way to make it is to use a kefir starter kit. These are readily available online.
Although cow’s milk is traditionally used, kefir can be made with sheep’s milk, soy, coconut, rice or nut milk or the liquid from young coconuts. Kefir has many benefits, including better digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It is an ancient cultured food rich in amino acids, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and B vitamins. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria (Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species and Streptococcus species) and beneficial yeasts (such as Saccharomyces Kefir and Torula Kefir). Once you have made a batch, you can use some of this to make up to 6–7 more batches before you need to purchase more starter powder. Generally one starter kit will make about 1 litre/2 pints kefir but the exact amount will vary according to the size of the starter pack. It takes between 24–30 hours to ferment the cultures in milk at room temperature on colder days but less if it is warm. Once fermented, store it in the fridge and consume it within 4 days. You can then take 200ml/7fl oz of your freshly made kefir to make another one litre portion of kefir, if you wish.
- 1 starter kit – available online
- 1 litre/2 pints milk or milk alternative or coconut water from young green coconuts
- A clean, sterilised jar big enough to hold 1 litre/2 pints
- Empty one starter culture sachet into a small glass, pour over a little of the milk and stir to make a smooth paste.
Gradually add more milk and keep stirring to ensure there are no lumps. Then pour all of the milk and culture into your prepared jar. Cover the jar with cling film or put the lid on and leave the mixture to ferment at 23°C/72°F for at least 24 hours (up to 48 hours is needed for coconut water). The mixture should be pourable but still thick. Coconut water and rice milk will not thicken.