What is Kefir?

The word Kefir originated from the Turkish word 'Keif', meaning "good feeling".


Plenty of milk still at the farm. Still looking for ways to use it up. Kefir is next on my list. Then, perhaps yogurt. I’m holding off on the cheese because I can’t have it yet and so far no one in the fam is a huge fan of goat cheese. Don’t want it to go to waste, you know.

What is Kefir (Ka-feer or as some prefer, kee-feer)?  It’s a fermented/cultured milk. Why in the world would you want a fermented milk, Kathleen? Well, think yogurt friends. Why do we eat yogurt? It’s suppose to be good for us. Well, you think yogurt is good for you, you should take a hard look at kefir. Oh, boy.

While yogurt has 2-3 good-for-you bacterias (the good ones that are excellent for your gut), kefir can have anywhere between 10 and 39. I know. What’s up wtih the huge variance in numbers? It depends on who you talk to. The fine people at Redwood Hill Farm (you may have seen their goat milk kefir at New Seasons) claim theirs has 10 live active beneficial bacteria. So, I’m not sure how many goodies you’ll have floating in your homemade kefir, but to be sure, it will be more than yogurt.

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And these bacteria clean house, people. Yogurt will come in and help things get digested, but kefir hangs around and creates an environment for more good bacteria growth. It actually feeds the good bacteria so it can kill any ickies you’ve got in your intestines. I’m telling you, kefir is a powerhouse. As a matter of fact, it is suppose to attack any excess yeast you’ve got going on. That’s great news for the Moldville Portland area. My naturopath says in the Winter/Spring around here, we all probably have a little too much candida.

Sorry. It’s okay. Drink some kefir.

So, what’s it like? It’s reminiscent of a drinkable plain yogurt, but can be a little effervescent (that’s bubbly). If you take a look at Safeway or Fred Meyers, they even have some of the commercial brands. I’m a bit suspicious of these, but then you know, I’m pretty suspicious myself. I think mostly I’m unimpressed with the amount of added sugar.

Don’t like plain yogurt? No worries. Easily remedied with some honey, maple syrup, jam, or okay, you can add sugar. Me? I’ll be adding stevia/xylitol. Just don’t add these ‘sugars’ until you are ready to drink your kefir. If given time, the yeast will eat the sugar and cause it be a little too alcoholey (you know, taste like alcohol).

I’ve been making kefir smoothies for Music Man every day lately because kefir is said to boost your immune system. Gotta keep Tom Sawyer (he’s in the musical Tom Sawyer) healthy, you know. So far I’ve made him Banana and Strawberry/Mango. He says they’re delish.

By the way, if you are lactose intolerant, you can probably drink kefir. Kefir is made using a bacteria/yeast combination. So, the yeast eats the sugars (lactose) in the milk causing it to be easily digested. ~This is also what gives kefir its slight bubbly effect.~

And if your kefir is made with goat’s milk, your chances are even better of not getting a tummy ache. Goat milk has smaller fat/protein globules than cow’s milk making it almost predigested. Okay. That just sounds gross. But you get the point.

And if you absolutely can’t do milk? You can make it out of any kind of milk substitute. Almond, Coconut, Rice. Notice I did not mention soy. I have issues with soy. Done too much research on its ill-effects.

Some other health benefits? Here’s what Redwood Hills Farm has to say,

In the research we found on kefir and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, it was the distinct anti-inflammatory effects of kefir that was cited for cholesterol health and thus protecting against cardio vascular damage.

Well, that sounds good. I’ve read a miriad of things that claim kefir is good for cancer prevention, acne, depression, constipation, lowering cholesterol, weighloss. Don’t know if  it’s true, but I’m ready to put my candida to the test. I just got the thumbs up from my naturopath to give it a try. I’ll keep you updated.

Just FYI, most of  the world drinks their milk cultured. The US is a bit weird in that we drink so much fresh milk.

So, are you ready to make your own? It’s so easy and so much cheaper than yogurt.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment of ‘How to Make Kefir”.  I know.  Riveting title, huh?


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About kathleen

I'm a stay at home chicken momma with 2 boys and a very understanding husband. In December of '09, we moved to our dream farm. I'm excited to try to become more self-sufficient. So far I have 1 rooster, 9 chickens, 2 goats (some babies on their way this spring), 1 llama, a dog, and a cat. Come along and join us, as we city-slickers figure out how to make our own homestead. You're sure to be entertained.
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4 Responses to What is Kefir?

  1. Misty says:

    “alcoholey” is this a real word? Really though I had no idea kefir was so much better than yogurt. I had been thinking “oh it’d be nice to have kefir and its so easy to make” but I didn’t know it was so superior. BRING ON THE KEFIR!

  2. kathleen says:

    Misty, it’s just a word I made up. You get to do that when you write a blog. It’s the rules.

    Yeah, you know I didn’t know it was superior either until doing this research. I may just skip out trying to make yogurt. This is so much easier. No babysitting a pot with a thermometer. And it tastes deelish. When my grains grow, you can be sure I’ll pass some along.

  3. Joan Porter says:

    Wow, yet another Mother’s Day gift! You better quit blogging until after Mother’s Day because I now havr quite a lengthy list. Seriously though…are you going to sell kefir? If so, I want to buy some. I don’t want to speak of my intestinal issues on your blog….so not cool…however I think perhaps this concoction might help.

  4. kathleen says:

    Boy, oh, boy. I think I’m going to ban you from my blog until Mother’s Day.
    I don’t know if I will sell it. The thought has occurred to me that others might want some. Hmmm. I’ll have to wait for my kefir grain to grow a bit more so I can do bigger batches. But kefir might be your ticket for better intestinal health.

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