Kefir is one of the easiest ways make sure everyone in the family gets enough probiotics – eating a few forkfuls of a raw sauerkraut before a meal is also pretty easy (see my food prescription and brands I recommend here)! The best way to ensure that you’re getting more probiotics and health benefits from fermented products is to make them at home as it’s hard to tell the residual sugar content (especially with kefir and kombucha) with store bought products.
There are two kinds of kefir: milk kefir and water kefir. Dr. Axe has an amazing article on the different kefirs and the health benefits associated with each – read that article here. I will give you the quick and dirty on these types of kefir and some easy recipes to get started…
Studies have linked everything from autism, diabetes, IBS and depression to leaky gut syndrome and improper digestion. Bottom line is that if you can’t absorb the nutrients in your food because you don’t have the proper bacteria balance in your gut, your body will never run on all cylinders because it lacks the fuel.
By adding a probiotic loaded food like kefir into your diet you can help fight cancer, support detoxification, boost your immunity, heal IBS and IBD, and help improve allergies.
All probiotic-rich beverages use a starter kit of “live” active yeast which is responsible for creating the beneficial bacteria. The best way to aquire these grains (water and milk grains are DIFFERENT colonies of yeast so one can’t be used for the other) is to simply get them from a friend that makes their own kefir or ordering them online through an online forum like this one from Kombucha Kamp.
Milk Kefir is made from cow, sheep or goal milk but also from coconut milk. Once fermented, milk kefir has a tart taste that is somewhat similar to the taste of Greek yogurt. How strong the taste is depends on how long the kefir fermented; longer fermentation usually leads to a stronger tarter taste and even yields some carbonation which results from the active yeast.
Water Kefir is made from sugary water or coconut water making it dairy free. It is a naturally fizzy and mildly sweet drink that is created when the grains (not actual grains but a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria) interact with the natural sugars in the water to create probiotics and enzymes.
The finished water kefir can be flavored in a secondary ferment with juice, ginger root, fruit or other natural substances and this step creates natural carbonation (and a texture very similar to soda).
Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe (from Wellnessmama.com)
- 2-4 tablespoons of milk kefir grains (I got mine here)
- 4 cups of coconut milk (or two cans of organic coconut milk)
- Place the milk kefir grains and the coconut milk in a half gallon glass mason jar.
- Cover lightly (I use cheesecloth) and leave at room temp (70-75 degrees) for at least 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, start tasting the kefir until it reaches desired level of fermentation.
- Strain out the milk kefir grains and add new coconut milk to repeat the process.
- Store the fermented coconut milk kefir in the refrigerator until you drink it.
PRO-TIP: if you love your grains your grains will love you back – always keep them covered in water or milk depending on what type you are using. To revive grains that haven’t been actively fermented in a while place them in a dish and cover with milk/water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Replace milk every 48-72 hours until the proper fermentation is reached again.
Coconut Water Kefir Recipe
- Open young thai coconut (search on Youtube if this is the first time doing this and be careful!) and pour our fresh coconut water or use coconut water.
- Warm coconut water to 100 degrees (able to feel warmth on finger without burning).
- Place in a fermenting jar and add starter. For 12 ounces of coconut water add approximately 1/4 teaspoon probiotic.
- Mix with wooden spoon and put on a lid. Put in a warm location and wrap jar with a towel to keep the light out.
- Depending on the warmth of your home it takes an average of 36-48 hours for fermented coconut water to be ready. It is ready for drinking when there is no residual sweet taste left, and the water starts to bubble like a true ferment. There should be a small layer of white foam on the top and the water will turn cloudy. It should have a vinegar tang with a coconutty aftertaste.
Like any new kitchen project, making your own kefir may seem like a lot at first – but once you make your first batch you’ll realize there really isn’t much to it! There are endless ways to flavor and enjoy kefir too.. milk kefir can make a great base for soups and stews and water kefir can be added to smoothies, healthy desserts, oatmeal or even salad dressings!