Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let's Talk about Kefir!

Hey, everybody - Giselle from Your Kefir Source wanted to drop by and talk about kefir. She has a great website with everything you could ever want to know about kefir. I played around with water kefir last summer and even made some really good cream soda with it, but alas, my kefir grains finally died. After reading Giselle's website today, it made me want to try again.

Here's Giselle:

My name is Giselle and I love Kefir. It changed my life. I feel like I got a second chance when I found out about this. I had Ulcer problems because of a stupid decision I made when I was young. Thankfully, I found out about Kefir in one of my visits to Beijing.
Since then, I have been trying to spread the word and I have seen it change many lives. I hope you could support my cause and spread the word too. That would be totally awesome. :)
This blog started in the first quarter of 2010 and it has been updated regularly ever since. We appreciate all your inputs and we’d love to see you join our discussions and also our Facebook page. (Update: We have a Google+ Page as well!)
Tell your friends to come on over and sign up! NOW!

PS. If you have personal stories and experiences, contact us! We want to know! We’ll put it on the site for you so we can spread the word about kefir!

Giselle even gave me this great recipe for a baked potato with kefir topping:

Baked Potato with Kefir Topping Recipe

Kefir is a marvelous fermentation of milk that hails from the Caucasus Mountains, where it’s long been believed to promote longevity. Tangy, yoghurt-like, and creamy, it can be used in various culinary preparations as a replacement for several dairy products. Here, we use it as a replacement for yoghurt or sour cream in a delicious baked potato recipe.

* A baking potato, washed and dried – russets are the best for this sort of cooking
* Olive oil
* Kosher salt
* 1/4 cup of strained kefir
* 1/4 cup of good, shredded cheddar (you can also use similar cheeses such as Colby or even a Cantalet)
* 1 pinch black pepper, ground
* 1 tsp. butter

Straining kefir is pretty easy. What does it do? It thickens the kefir to the consistency of a soft and creamy cheese—much like a yoghurt cheese, actually. All you need is a good cheese cloth, into which you can pour your kefir and bundle it up. Hang that cloth over a bowl to catch the whey that will drip out and leave it for about 3 hours (more if you want it to be thicker). Transfer the strained kefir to the fridge while not using it.

1. Bring your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pierce the potato several times with a fork. Coat it with oil afterwards, sprinkle a dash of salt on it, and then put it in the oven. The average cooking time is an hour, but this may go up or down depending on the size of the potato, among other things. Once it’s golden brown and feels soft when prodded, it’s cooked.
3. Take the potato out of the oven and split it, then place the rest of the ingredients on it as toppings.

This seems really simple, and kind of funny, because I guess I never knew there was much of anything you could do with kefir besides drinking it.

Giselle will be here in the comments if you have any questions or go visit her at her site.



  1. I drink my glass daily after making it daily for a year (once you get the technique down - it is so fast)- got the grains from a little old lady on a remote farm, who got them from a guy, who knew a guy who had been in Tibet - kefir grains always have a history!
    Do you know if it is possible to get bad grains that have harmful bacteria/yeasts/etc.?? I always wondered about that.

  2. Every now and then I'll dump my kefir grains into cream and make my own creme fresh.I usually use what I think you call half and half,we call it single cream in UK..It will keep thickening slightly in the fridge after you take the grains out or leave it out for a day to thicken even more.
    A thicker type cream will mean prising the grains out of a solid block lol.but it's great very rich cream cheese.
    I sometimes thicken kefir with psyllium,potato starch or strain it and add some stilton for a yummy spread or potato salad.
    I think the strains vary somewhat,my latest strain seems smoother and creamier with the grains mostly in a single solid lump,looks just like a brain.Great for teasing people.

    1. If I leave the jar with the grains in it for an extra day on the counter - the whey separates out even more and even after I shake it, the kefir is quite liquidy. If I separate out the grains at the end of 24 hours, then put the liquid in the fridge, it gets that thick texture. I've never had it so thick that that the grains are stuck in it! What you describe about yours makes me wonder if all grains make the same end product??

    2. My post was for using single cream instead of plain milk I don't think that has much whey left in,I get seperation with longer ferment with plain milk too unless I strain it.Then again I never get so much as with earlier kefir strains.

  3. I just want to also put in a good word for Donna at She started with kefir and her life's work and love is now cultured foods. My problem with kefir is it's too good. I can't stop. It's like cake used to be for me. Fermented vegetables don't quite do that to me, so I just stick with those now. I was literally binging on kefir. Love it!


  4. I got on the home-made kefir bandwagon a few months back (it's been a deluge of good gut bugs around here :P) and it's impressive stuff - as well as much more diverse and delicious tasting than the commercial kefir I've had.

    I don't tolerate cow milk (even really well cultured milk - it's the casein that's a problem for me, not the lactose). I culture cow milk for my husband. Currently I'm using the same grains to culture goat milk on alternate days, though they don't like goat quite as much.

    Does any one know of a goat-specific kefir strain? Kefir comes from the land of goat milk - there must be such a thing! I'd love to lay my hands on one :)

    1. Redwood Hill Farm Goat Kefir. It's a commercial product, so it should be possible.


    2. Oh I know about the commercial goat milk kefirs - I'm asking whether anyone knows of a source for a goat-milk specific strain of kefir grains so that I can culture my own :)

    3. @ Terra Don't know anything about her but the 'Kefir Lady' also raises goats. Perhaps she would be a good resource for goat milk kefir grains.


    4. Ah ha! Thanks so much for that link, sl! In her FAQ she says goat, cow, whatever animal milk, the kefir grains will happily eat all of it - apparently they are not milk-specific. Good to know my kefir grains are just fine switching cow to goat every few days :D

    5. I've heard goat milk does not thicken as much as cows milk so It's not that they don't like it.On a goat milk yoghurt label in the UK it says every litre is made with 2 litres of goats milk so I would either strain or search out powdered milk to add.I don't bother when I use goats for a change,just slurp it down anyway.

    6. DaveC.
      Goat milk is lower in both protein and carbohydrate (but higher in fat) than cows' milk. That could be why

    7. I am no expert but I think that your kefir grains will adapt well to the goat's milk if you quit switching them back and forth between the cow and goat's milk. I lost my source of raw goat milk for a couple of months and had to use lightly pasteurized cow milk until I was able to start getting the raw goat milk again. After a week or two of using nothing but raw goat milk, my grains have adjusted and are doing well - very healthy. But as I said, I am no expert and this is just an observation of how my grains have responded.....


    8. DaveC & G - thanks for the comments, very helpful!

      Yeah, switching the grains back and forth isn't the best plan - but my new grains won't arrive for a while! It's good to know they'll be happy in either medium, once I don't have to switch them up :)

  5. I have been making kefir for about 3 years. I used coconut milk,which contained no preservatives. Every 2-3 weeks I would put my grains in regular whole milk for 24 hours. My grains grew in quantity but not overall size. They stayed the beige color. I was definitely starving my grains because I was not adding enough milk to the quantity of grains. So this month I decided to try and give some of my grains to friends. One took some and the rest had no clue about kefir nor did they want any. So I ate them for about 10 days to get to a recommended amount. Now I am just using milk and have seen a big difference in my grains as far as size and color. I drink what I make each day(a lot) since my husband thinks it taste awful.

    Between the amount I drink and my fermented vegetables...there is some gas. But gone the next morning but only to start all over by evening.

  6. Man! I had my goat milk kefir this morning...and then proceeded to kick ass and take names all day. This has happened a couple of times when I had a long day - that drinking the home made kefir gave me this really intense clear energy that lasted hours. Commercial kefir, needless to say, has never had that effect on me.

    I'm amazed what live cultures do for my body. You'd think I'd get used to the effect, but it remains amazing ;D When you've had chronic fatigue your whole adult life, having energy, even intermittently, is an amazing experience.

  7. Thanks to the folks who shared goat milk kefir info and experiences. The Redwood Hill Farm plain cultured goat milk kefir is the only store-bought kefir I've ever gotten any benefits from (all the other goat and cow milk kefirs had negative effects). Now I'm curious to try making my own goats milk kefir.

    1. The only other dairy product I've noticed any benefits from is traditional (made in the old-fashioned way) jersey cow buttermilk from a local farm.

    2. Once I adjusted my expectations to a thinner kefir (most commercial ones are thickened with starches. sigh.), the goat milk has shown itself to culture remarkably well. I stopped looking at texture and just started going by taste :)

      I found a cool way to simplify the culture process! I culture the milk in a wide-mouthed bell jar, with a plastic grid "sprouting" lid on the top. The grid is wide enough that the milk pours right out, but narrow enough that the kefir grains stay in! Culture, pour, add new milk :) Much less fuss than a strainer & spatula.

  8. I tried kefir several years ago and got tired of caring for those grains. I make yogurt. That's easy. I've had mixed success with beet kvass. The last batch had small blue green mold circles floating on top. Dumped it.

    1. Try some of the other milk cultures that don't need heat.Fil Mjolk,Villii,Matzoon or Pima.None have grains you just add a dollop of last culture.