What is Kefir
Kefir refers to drinks that are made by kefir grains, which are much like drinkable yogurts while recognizable differences include being tauter and having effervescence. They are one of the oldest fermented milk cultures which are enjoying popularity among Russia and Caucasus.
Being very old the history about origin of the kefir is quite fuzzy as well as interesting. The details about the exact origin are not well known although many stories came into play like, they were the actual MANNA coming from the heaven found by Israelis by wandering for forty years, others believe in these grains being gift to the Prophet Muhammad given by ALLAH Almighty. Another theory states that grains find their origin from Russia where Caucasian shepherds carried milk in their leather bags where it would change into sour fuzzy yogurt.
They remained hidden from world for a long era because whoever found them, never disclosed their secrets to others due to their magical health benefits. At last a spy from Russia was able to know some way and then they became famous in Russia, Europe and ultimately throughout the world.
To understand kefir we must know about the grains which are used for its production – the kefir grains. These grains are symbiotic combinations of many bacteria and yeast embedded in matrix of lipids, proteins and sugars giving them appearance of cauliflower. E. Metchnikoff got noble prize for suggesting first of all that lactobacilli may be present in these complexes owing to their beneficial effects on human health.
Streptococcus thermophilus lactis, Lb delbrueckii subsp., Lactococcus lactis subsp., Lb casei subsp., Pseudoplantarum, bulgaricus and Lb brevis, and some yeasts, like Kluyveromyces, acetic acid, sacchromyces, etc. have enriched with quality of keeping putrefaction of milk as they resist the growth of E. coli as well as Salmonella.
Kefir grains can be
1. Dried (dormant)
2. Fresh (living)
Interesting thing is that living kefir grains cannot be cultured or prepared, although they are rapid in their fermenting action, they cannot be stored.
Dried grains are useful, available to buy, can be stored and can be gifted, however they have long latent period and may take a week or more in starting their fermenting action.
Kefir drinks are of two types:
1. Water kefir
2. Milk kefir
Water kefir contains small transparent grains growing on the sweetened water while milk kefir grows on milk products and has yellowish creamy colonies which look like fermented milk.
Typical products in kefir
1. YEAST and bacteria
2. Fermentation products CO2 and ETHANOL
3. Vitamin B COMPLEX, Nicotinic acid, folic acid
4. Polysaccharides and proteins
5. Minerals like iron, calcium
Kefir health benefits
- Kefir is magical for its effect on the immune system. It boosts up immunity making us less vulnerable to diseases, so it is a gift to the people with compromised immunity like AIDS.
- Kefir contains many complex-B vitamins which are necessary for regulation of many essential body processes. So it’s very useful for people suffering from chronic depression, phobias, exhaustion, stress, and for people who are deficient in VIT B-complex like who are mal-nutrient, take processed foods, refined sugars the Kefir is of great value for them.
- Kefir contains Tryptophan which is essential amino acid and is normal relaxing factor to the body, due to its effectiveness for sleep and relaxation. In this way kefir finds its application in treatment of problems like, Insomnia, Premenstrual stress, sleep apnea, anxiety and to improve athletic performance.
- Kefir also has antitumor properties, it improves digestibility, and is an excellent antitoxin as well. It can also be used as a supplement for people having iron and Calcium deficiency.
Normally the smartness is in in consuming some foods in small amounts in start, but it doesn’t hold in case of kefir.
You can consume as much as you wish by keeping in mind normal daily consumption of milk. Normally 3-4 glasses per day are considered to be balanced and healthful. But usually it is recommended to start with 1/8 cup per day, gradually increase it to ½ cup and then 2-4 cups per day. It is also recommended that there should be a break of one day after consuming kefir for a week.
In some people GIT disturbances can occur at start because of acidic nature, and production of gases but the problems subside soon.
Consumption of 175g of kefir provides about 20% RDA of Ca.
Tryptophan in the kefir helps in induction of sleep and has relaxing effect.
Kefir is a probiotic and can prevent GIT problems.
American Dietetic Association published a journal in 2003 and found that Kefir improved the digestion of lactose over milk, so it was useful for people who were lactose intolerant.
It has been proposed that stimulation of the immune system may be one mechanism whereby probiotic bacteria in kefir produce their effects.
Dozens of recipes are present to prepare different verities of Kefir according to likeness and needs. Some of them are mentioned here:
- Take 1-3 spoons of kefir grains (available in market) and put them in a clean mason jar.
- Add raw milk in the jar preferably of Cow; leave some space at the top of the jar for gas production. Adding some cream makes it thick and tastier.
- Tightly close the jar and place it in some warm place like kitchen or cupboard but not in the freezer.
- Wait for 24-36 hours till u feel it becoming thick and creamy. When it separates into a clear liquid and a clumpy; IT’S READY.
- Pour it into a glass bowl by filtering with mesh, so that grains get separate.
The creamy fluid in the bowl is KEFIR and can be used.
Blueberry kefir ingredients
Homemade KEFIR (4 cups)
Frozen organic BLUEBERRIES (1 cup)
Quarter cup of some sweetening agent
Add all the ingredients in the blender and shake them well to mix thoroughly, after that pour them into mason container and refrigerate. In freezer they can separate, so shake before drinking. Blueberry Kefir is ready.
Healthy hot chocolate
Add in cocoa, vanilla and honey and do the procedure same as mentioned above. It will make Tasty cocoa.
Add kefir or anything new to your diet only after consulting your physician in cases of chronic illness like Hypertension, Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Chronic Liver Disease and other long term maladies.