Kefir: The Secret of Living Long and Healthy, from Caucasia

I first got to know Kefir when I was an undergraduate student at the university. When I went to Turkey this summer to see my family, I brought some kefir grains which my mother prepared and dried for me back to Singapore. I even brought some kombucha mushroom (I can write about in another post later). As Singapore’s climate is hot and moist, I was not sure that my kefir grains will grow well or not. Luckily, they do grow well but I have to harvest them after a shorter incubation time. Kefir is a perfect drink especially in such a hot weather. Aytaç loved its taste and got used to drink it too. Some of my local friends also loved kefir and I shared my growing kefir grains with them. I am happy to share it with whoever wants to drink because it is a very healthy drink. I do not want to explain all the benefits of this drink, however, let me briefly explain why and how it is very beneficial as some people might not have familiarity.

Kefir is originated from Caucasia and it is a frequently consumed drink in Turkey. You can buy its grains from universities’ Faculty of Agriculture or some stores. Moreover, people share their grains with their neighbours. Here, I announce to my friends in Ankara that my mother is very happy to share her grains. You can ask her to give some ☺. In Singapore, I found a kefir community, which gives information via the website and people share their grains. They are producing kefir using milk and also from glucose rich water/fruit juices. I am using milk to produce kefir but have never tried the water-kefir before. I learned from the website that there are many people love it a lot.

Anyway, let’s continue with the benefits of milk kefir: Kefir grains are composed of many probiotic yeasts together with lactic acid bacteria. Probiotics are very useful for the intestinal flora. Kefir is a slightly acidic beverage with vitamins, minerals and proteins. When consumed regularly, it may prevent many digestive problems, ulcers, chronic fatigue, lowers cholesterol. It is also said to be good for depression and sleeping disorders. Moreover, it is explained in many scientific resources that it is antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic. Many people with lactose intolerance can benefit from kefir. As they are unable to consume milk, they have many problem related to calcium deficiency. As kefir grains contain some microorganisms that produce lactase, lactose is converted into glucose and galactose when milk turns into kefir. So, one can meet your calcium needs by consuming kefir but not face any lactose intolerance problem. If you have any special health conditions, you should consult with your doctor before changing your diet.

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Kefir grains look like small cauliflowers. You incubate the milk with these grains (one table spoon of grains around for 1L milk) at room temperature. Normally, it took two days to get kefir but as it is hotter in Singapore it is usually ready if you keep it overnight. If you keep it longer it turns into curd due to the actions of proteases, which we do not like to get. I usually use semi-skimmed milk for kefir fermentation. Usually after dinner, I transfer the milk to a glass jar, put the grains, mixed well using plastic spoon and close the lid tightly. You can use full-fat milk to have a kefir with higher quality. We are using semi-skimmed milk as we like to go with low calorie option :) It should be noted that the microorganisms do not like metals, so you should not use any metal spoon, caps or container when you are using or handling your kefir grains. In the morning, I open the lid and I add a little water if needed and then filtered it to collect the kefir grains. I wash kefir grains remained in the filter, transfer milk and the grains to a clean jar and then keep the jar tightly capped to leave it to ferment for the next day (if you put a few tablespoons of kefir to your milk when you are inoculating the grains, kefir’s flavor is getting even better). As I incubate my kefirs overnight in Singapore, after collecting the grains, I keep them in a small jar which is filled with water and then cap it tightly and put it to the refrigerator until the evening. Then, incubate it after the dinner time. I am drinking kefir every morning before leaving home. It is also good and refreshing after exercising. You can also drink it when you feel hungry at late hours as it gives the feeling of fullness.

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If your grains grow a lot or you do not want to produce kefir for sometimes, you can keep your grains in a jar which is filled with water and tightly capped in the refrigerator. You can keep it for a week in this form. If you want to keep it for longer period of time, you can dry it in a clean place at room temperature and keep the dried grains in a tightly capped container in the freezer. However, you have to activate your dried cultures if you want to use later. Still, this activation is not a big problem, it will just take time. I would like to spare some of my grains in dried form in case of any problem happens.

In short, I suggest you to drink this healthy drink, and share with your beloved ones.

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