Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Ancient Antidote for Modern Maladies

 Last year at the Farmer's Market I met a couple from North Carolina who introduced me to Kefir. I guess I must have told them that I had an abundance of goat milk and needed something new to do with the milk. The next week they brought me a small water filled jar with kefir grains in it. I had to do a little research on kefir and found it to be truly remarkable.

The grains resemble a small head of cauliflower
Kefir (I pronouce it ke-feer) is a fermented milk drink that originated with shepherds of the Caucasus region. They discovered that fresh milk (probably goat milk) carried in their leather pouches would occasionally ferment into an effervescent beverage. Traditionally kefir was hung in skin bags by a doorway where it would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway This would help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. In Arabic it means joy or pleasure. And what a pleasure it is!

The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins. For the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

Easily digested, kefir cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because it is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
peaches and cinnamon

I enjoy the tart flavor (similar to yogurt) by making a smoothie type of drink. Some people like it neat (or straight up), but I like to add honey and fresh fruit to make it a little sweeter. When we had wild blackberries growing on the farm (earlier in the summer) I added them by the handfuls. YUMMY!!

The grains can be kept going by allowing them to colonize new batches of milk. The beneficial bacteria and yeasts help to prevent the kefir from spoiling but it gets very sour and fizzy.
Definately not for the fainthearted!

After straining I reuse the grains in a new batch

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