Whenever I start to think about the effect that probiotics have on our bodies, I get this vision of one of those great big robots that are actually being driven by tiny aliens. Similarly, we are made up of millions of bacteria. In fact, according to the NIH Human Microbiome project, bacteria outnumber human cells by 10:1.. that’s 10 bacteria for each cell!!
Our gut is prime territory for bacteria and, before you get totally grossed out, these little work-horses are necessary to digest our food and absorb nutrients. They even carry our genetic information!
As with everything in life, it’s all about balance. We need different bacteria in our gut to help support digestion, immunity, combat inflammation, and pretty much keep us alive and healthy.
When certain strands of ‘bad’ bacteria dominate for various reasons (i.e. antibiotic use causing Candida, which is an overgrowth of a certain type of naturally occurring bacteria), we suffer various unpleasant symptoms (gas, discomfort, stomach cramps, headaches, food sensitivities, low immunity, etc).
Kefir to the rescue!
Kefir, similar to yoghurt, is made from milk and a specific strain of lactose-eating bacteria. (It’s also similar to Amasi, but less sour (kefir is cultured and Amasi is fermented), and it outdoes Amasi in terms of micronutrients, except with potassium, and Vitamin E. which were higher in Amasi). Kefir has a LOT more strains of live bacteria than a shelf-stable probiotic, and therefore has a wider range of health benefits.
The awesome thing about Kefir is also that it is really easy to make, it tastes good, and is as versatile as yoghurt.
How to make Kefir
Ingredients & Equipment
- 1l Dairy Milk (It’s good to have a second liter extra, so that you can have for the next day).
- 1-2 Tbsp Kefir culture
- 2 x 1l glass mason jars
- 1 x wooden spoon (keep one especially for kefir cultures)
- 1 x plastic sieve
- 1 cloth napkin, or a coffee filter
- 1 rubber band or ribbon
- Plastic or Glass jug or bowl (to strain the kefir into)
- Sterilise a clean glass mason jar (Even though we sterilise the jars in the dishwasher, just before I use a jar, I like to swish some boiled water around to warm the glass, then air dry the jar)
- When the jar is cool, add the kefir granules.
- Add milk, and stir into the kefir with the wooden spoon.
- Secure the cloth or coffee filter over the mouth of the jar, and secure with a sturdy rubber band (this keeps the fruit flies out, and stops them from contaminating your lovely kefir).
- Put the jar on a cool spot on your counter, out of direct sunlight.
- Wait a day. If your milk looks like it’s separating before the day is up, give it a good stir with a wooden spoon and keep an eye on it.
- When it’s time to ‘harvest’ your kefir, pour your kefir through a sieve into a glass or plastic bowl.
- Tap the sieve to help the milk separate from the granules.
- Repeat from step 1 (using the second mason jar).
Note – This article is about dairy kefir. You can also make coconut kefir, water kefir and other probiotic drinks, but you need specific cultures for specific liquids – i.e. if you feed dairy kefir coconut milk, it will not have any lactose to eat, and will die eventually, leaving your coconut milk to rot, rather than culture.
How to enjoy Kefir:
- replace yoghurt with kefir
- blend with fruit for a delicious smoothie
- make cheese & use the whey in bread or soup, etc.