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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kefir, What?

We've started making and enjoying dairy kefir and our first round of water kefir for "soda" is working away in the cabinet.

When I tell my friends and daycare parents about kefir, they're all, "Whaaaaaaaat?".

It's simple, really.

Pour fresh (raw, if possible) milk into a clean glass quart jar (pour boiling water over the jar after its washed).  Add milk kefir grains.  Place a coffee filter on the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band.  Place in your cupboard (or other dark, warm place) for 24-48 hours.  In our (cooler) house, it takes about 48 hours for a batch to finish, which is perfect because we use half a jar per day in our afternoon smoothies.  Once the kefir is finished, remove the grains from the jar, mix the kefir milk using a plastic utensil and store covered in the fridge.  I place my grains directly into another jar for a fresh batch, if you need to take a break, simply cover them with a small amount of milk and store in the fridge for a couple days.

For the smoothies, we have tried several variations...  in this photo, we used our "base", unfiltered organic apple juice, bananas, and strawberries.

Our base includes:
1/2 quart dairy kefir
2 large handfuls fresh, organic spinach
Small amount of sweetener, we are enjoying maple syrup, agave or honey

To this we add a variety of fruits, some of our favorites have been-
Bananas and Mixed (frozen) berries
Fresh strawberries and bananas
Banana and Peanut Butter
Strawberries and Natural Orange Sherbet

When my kids first discovered that I use spinach, they were all, "EWWWWW".  Then I made a smoothie batch without the spinach and they decided it was much better with.  The dark colors of the berries disguise the color well, if the green color is a turn off in your house.  Today's stayed a bit green since it only had a few strawberries for color.

I was blessed to get my dairy kefir grains from a fabulous family friend whose grains had grown to a larger than needed size, so she simply cut off a section for me.  I purchased our water kefir from Cultures for Health (they also have dairy kefir). Kefir grains may not appear frugal at first glance, but you get to culture batch after batch with your grains and dairy kefir will multiply so you can also share with your lucky friends (water kefir doesn't multiply as much).  My water kefir starter kit was $22.99 and I also purchased 3 grostch style bottles for $4.99/each.  If I can replace my husbands soda habit, the grains and bottles will pay for themselves in less than two weeks time.   Even if he keeps buying his junk soda, the rest of us will be reaping health benefits that far exceed the start up price!

Over at Passionate Homemaking, you can watch a video on making coconut milk kefir, the process is the same for dairy kefir.  I haven't made coconut milk kefir yet, but will start alternating every batch or two (kefir grains should be replenished with dairy at least every few batches to keep them healthy).  I realized (too late) that the coconut milk we purchased at the local Asian market has some nasty preservatives added, so we won't be using it and I haven't made it back for more!

*Side Note* My GF daughter has been having major bowel issues lately... as in can't go without major drama... since we started the smoothies, she's having zero problems in that area.  Coincidence? I think not.

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