Kefir Milk: The Food that Makes Modern-Day Miracles
Got milk? Many people sadly reply, “No!” and fondly recall milk memories – dunking Oreo cookies in milk before bed, pouring it over cereal, tasting it in soups, and eating its flavorful dessert counterpart, ice cream. These people each have their own personal reasons for choosing to leave milk out of their diet forever – usually an inability to digest milk, intestinal disease that creates upset stomachs after any milk product consumption, or the desire to appear macho based on the belief that ‘cool’ teens don’t drink milk, especially in public.
The truth is that nothing beats a glass of cold milk when you want it. However, what has happened on modern-day farms has changed our desire for this nutritious beverage that is used as a source of protein, an immediate carbohydrate source, and “good” fat calories in many cultures around the world.
You are most likely familiar with the three major controversies about milk in the diet:
- Is milk even necessary and good for those who aren’t nursing?
- Doesn’t the pasteurization process kill good bacteria, leaving bad flora that are linked with Crohn’s disease, colon cancer and asthma?
- Will the hormones added to non-organic cow’s milk cause health problems many years later?
Because of all these controversies about milk, many people are actively looking for a good substitute. Soy milk, rice milk and almond milk may be used as a substitute in some daily recipes, but these still don’t approximate the taste, texture and value of wholesome “raw” milk. Raw milk is quickly gaining back popularity as generations of people have experienced many health problems due to their inability to digest pasteurized milk. To read more about Raw Milk go to: www.organicpastures.com. But, this article is not about Raw Milk and/or pasteurization, it is about cultured milk – Kefir. Kefir, or cultured milk has been known as a food staple for years within cultures of people who live vibrant, healthy, disease free lives up into their 80 ad 90’s.
Healthy, Nourishing, and Healing Benefits Kefir milk has been a regular part of the cuisine in Russia and Bulgaria for hundreds of years, most likely contributing to longevity.
Since kefir milk protein is easier to digest than non-fermented milk, the tasty beverage is an excellent choice for those with digestive disorders, the elderly, invalids and babies. Kefir milk, when made from mammal’s milk, is rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, which is helpful for its relaxing benefits on the nervous system. It also contains calcium and magnesium, is a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B12, B1, vitamin K, and biotin. By providing many nutrients in substantial amounts, kefir milk can also help eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods.
Kefir’s friendly microbes contribute to a healthy colon by reducing flatulence and promoting colon motility. The microbes ‘cleanse as they go,’ establishing a balanced inner ecosystem necessary for longevity and optimum health. Kefir strengthens the immune system and is said to have helped many alleviate their sleep disorders, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
With the numerous benefits that beg you to indulge in adding kefir milk to your diet, why not start today? Incorporate it into your daily diet and don’t forget it when socializing with friends. But beware – a glance in the mirror will soon uncover a milk mustache… and your friends will start asking you, “Got Kefir?”
Make Kefir a Permanent Food Staple for the Whole Family! A great way to learn to make Kefir is through the DVD – Cultured Veggies/Kefir Kitchen.
To make your own Kefir, take the healthiest form of milk, raw milk from a mammal, and add micro-organisms to it to ferment it. The result is one of the most satisfying and healthiest beverages you have ever tasted: kefir milk. And, if you can’t get raw milk in your areas, and your only choice is commercial pasteurized milk, you are still ahead of the game if you enliven by culturing it. The good news is, it is so simple to make!
Just as yogurt uses Lactobacillus bacteria to ferment it with the end result of a slightly sour creamy curd that can be flavored with fruit, kefir milk uses a similar process:
1. In a glass jar, add one quart raw cow’s, goat, or sheep milk or rice, coconut or soy milk that has been warmed to about 100 degrees, and kefir starter granules. The starter granules contain not just one species of bacteria, but several strains including Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter, and Streptococcus. Surprisingly to many, kefir granules also contain beneficial yeasts such as Torula and Saccharomyces species that can dominate, control and eliminate pathogenic yeasts. (Torula yeast is one of the yeasts that nutritional yeast is produced from.) The more healthy strains of micro-organisms that live in your intestinal tract, the better. It’s possible you could discontinue your probiotic supplements with the addition of kefir milk to your diet.
2. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on the geographical area (One day: Hawaii, southern California and southern parts of the U.S.; two days for the central states including Nevada, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia); and between three and five days for the northernmost parts of the U.S.)
During the incubation process, the gelatinous kefir granules swell, clumping together with casein and the milk sugars. Some may be the size of a broccoli flower clump. The microbes ferment the milk and multiply, leaving millions of friendly flora, which have been proven to colonize the intestinal tract.
Lactose milk sugar, which often causes gas and bloating after milk consumption, is used up by the kefir bacteria and yeasts. The kefir milk product has a substantially lower level of lactose that those with intestinal issues can handle successfully.
Kefir Milk: It’s White and Creamy, Slightly Sour and ‘Grows’ on You… The resulting beverage can be whisked or blended for a smoother consistency. Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process; kefir milk will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
There is much versatility for kefir milk in various parts of the daily diet. Add it on top of cereal in the morning for breakfast and it will perk up your day. The mixture of kefir milk with vanilla, bee pollen, honey, coconut oil, and fruit makes a great quick meal when you need energy for a few hours. Similarly, you can add cinnamon, lemon, or ginger for three smoothie variations.
Kefir milk can be mixed with mayonnaise and herbs such as basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, or ginger for a different blend of flavors for salad dressing.
Right before serving, add kefir milk to thicken a thin soup.
Use kefir milk as a substitute for yogurt. Use it in cream pies as a binder. To create a different type of whipped cream, blend until it becomes a frothy cream and spoon a tablespoon on top of fresh fruit or fruit pies.
Add an egg and fruit to kefir milk, blend thoroughly, then freeze for a new version of homemade ice cream.
The list of what to do with this excellent cultured food is almost endless. Enjoy this delicious food every day.