We have kefir in our house 24/7. Brett demolishes it quart by quart. The first time I tried it, I immediately thought…”hmmm drinkable yogurt.” Given it’s recent popularity, I had a slew of questions when he first started bringing this mystery drink home. What is kefir? What are the benefits? Given our lactose intolerance, will we be occupying the bathroom frequently? (gross, but seriously…) How is kefir different from yogurt? I set out on a quest to find some answers for us.
Kefir is…an enzyme-rich, cultured, creamy food that contains beneficial yeast and probiotic bacteria to clean your innards (similar to yogurt).
Lactose intolerant friendly – YES! The yeast and bacteria found in kefir produce lactase, the enzyme that consumes the lactose remaining after the culturing process.
Kefir is made by…starting with a white or yellow particle called a “kefir grain.” The grains combined with milk (goat, cow, coconut, rice, soy, etc.) begin the fermenting process. The grains contain the yeast, bacteria, milk proteins and complex sugars necessary to culture the milk. After a certain period of time, the grains are strained out of the milk mixture and wah-lah, kefir is born. See below for our very own homemade recipe 🙂
Kefir and yogurt are both cultured milk products. Kefir:
- Colonizes the intestinal tract, whereas yogurt simply keeps it clean and provides nutrients for the “friendly” bacteria located there.
- Contains more friendly bacteria than yogurt does, in turn the yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive content than in yogurt.
- Simply put: you can drink it vs. spoon it. Kefir is easier for travel and quicker to pack in the healthy calories.
Now, back to kefir in our house. At Wegmans, a standard quart of kefir goes for roughly $3.50. With Brett in the house, that becomes a huge hit to our bank accounts. So, I decided to make it instead.
Note: You can make kefir 2 different ways. 1) Most stores offer a “starter kit” that does not require straining any grains during the process.
Starter kit = so easy!
2) You can purchase the kefir grains online or at select health stores. Option 2 is more expensive up front, BUT you can reuse the kefir grains indefinitely! COOL. For the recipe below, I used a starter kit, but moving forward, I plan to order kefir grains to save money.
Orange Jubilee Kefir (Makes 2 1/2 Quarts)
1 Kefir starter kit
4 cups milk (for this go around I used 2% reduced fat milk)
6 cups OJ
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp coconut extract
Follow the instructions provided on the kefir kit to begin the fermentation process. For my kit, I brought the milk to a boil in a medium sized pot until it reached 180 degrees.
Remove the pot from the heat and let cool to 75 degrees. Once cooled, mix a starter kit packet into the milk and pour into a quart sized container. We used an old glass cherry juice bottle.
Cover the bottle top with saran wrap and a rubber band. Make sure the wrap is air tight! Sit out on the kitchen counter for 24-48 hours until it reaches a thicker consistency of your liking. We felt like 8th grade scientists – inspecting our creation every few hours 🙂 For us, it took 48 hours because the house is on the cooler side – you’ll want to maintain a room temperature if possible.
Time for the flavor
Combine the OJ, sugar and extract into a large bowl and whisk. Once the kefir mixture is thickened, add to OJ and whisk thoroughly. Pour into air tight containers to store in the fridge. You’ll want to refrigerate for roughly 6-8 hours before drinking.
Yum #kefir #homemade add chia seeds for some additional benefits!
By using milk and the starter kit, you’re saving $1.85! ($3.50 for a store bought container). If Brett were to drink a bottle a day for one week, it would cost us $25. If we make our own kefir and do the same, it would only be $12/week. You’re welcome, Brett – enjoy the kefir made with love! 😉