Kefir (“kuh-feer” although “kee-fur” is also heard) is a unique fermented milk drink, more ½ correctly healthy food, used for generations in Asia and revered for its health promoting properties. Real kefir can be produced only by traditional methods at home and only from original grains. These original grains, slightly yellowish “cauliflower” like things, are 5000 years old bacterial culture originating either from the Caucasian Mountains or monasteries in Tibet. These real kefir grains are complex symbiotic colony containing more than 35 probiotic bacteria proven highly beneficial to humans.
In the Caucasian Mountains is a legend Mohammed gave kefir grains to the Orthodox people. The “Grains of the Prophet” were guarded jealously since it was believed that they would lose their strength if the grains were given non-believers. Kefir grains were regarded as part of the family and tribe’s wealth and they were passed on from generation to generation as a well-guarded secret. For millennia, the people of the Caucasus enjoyed this healthy drink without sharing it with anyone else they met. Some other people from the West occasionally going to the Caucasus region heard strange tales of this unusual fermented beverage, which was said to have ‘magical’ properties on wellbeing. Even Marco Polo mentioned kefir in the chronicles of his travels. However, kefir was unknown outside the Caucasus for all the time until the end of nineteen century when news spread of its successful use for the treatment of tuberculosis, intestinal and chronic diseases. At this time Caucasus region was under control of Russia and the Russian doctors working there had first-hand experienced that kefir was greatly beneficial to human health. Professor Dr. Kanschlikow devoted a large part of his life to kefir research and in 1893 published first scientific study of the health effects of kefir. Although Russian working in Caucasus were able to occasionally drink kefir, kefir grains were impossible to get.
However, the members of the All-Russian Physician’s Society were determined to obtain kefir grains in order to make kefir available to their patients, and developed plan to get kefir grains. One young and beautiful girl, Irina Sakharova, was given this mission. She was sent to Kisslovods and then to the court of a local prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov. She was instructed to charm the prince and persuade him to give her some of the best kefir grains kept in their ruling family for centuries. Unfortunately, it didn’t go according to plan. The prince, fearing retribution for violating religious law, had no intention to give away any “Grains of the Prophet”. However, he was very taken by the beauty of young Irina and didn’t want to lose her either. After some adventures and dangers, Irina succeeded and in September 1908, she returned to Moscow with a cup of real kefir grains. Today, most of the real kefir grains around the globe, are babies of Irina’s original cup of grains. Smaller kefir grains originate in Tibet and are common among kefir lovers too.
You may be familiar with commercial “kefir” available in some grocery stores; that’s an enhanced version of buttermilk, NOT the real kefir. Many attempts were made to produce kefir commercially; all have a long way to go to be close to the real kefir. The real thing with uncountable health benefits is still ONLY the traditional home brew made from the original Caucasian kefir grains of Irina – but you cannot buy these grains in any store anywhere. They are NOT for sale. The original Irina’s grains are kept alive and cared for with love by a devoted group of people. These people believe that greedy humans cannot imitate God, therefore, they will be forever unable to commercially duplicate the full extent of healing properties of the real kefir grains. For this reason, the real kefir grains are passed around the globe for free to whoever needs it or believes in it – it is like a chain love letters from one person to other person – with love and wishes of good health. However, although the grains are free, you pay symbolic price of R150.00 for a teaspoon – it is an appreciation for previous care, cost of milk and/or shipping. This graceful attitude is to honour the original belief that humans have no right to monetary gains from the true gift of God.
Real kefir grains are precious living beings. Love them, talk to them, handle them gently, feed them regularly and they will pay you back with your health. When you take loving care about them, they will be with you for the rest of your life and you will be the one who benefited most.
Effects of kefir From experience of generations, here are some of the properties possessed by the real kefir.
* Regulates the body’s immune system and improves resistance to diseases. * Regulates the blood pressure, blood sugar and cures diabetes. * Heals the lungs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, allergies and migraine. * Has a positive influence on the heart and blood, heals circulatory conditions. * Heals various eczema, all skin disorders and leads to cure of acne. * Heals the kidneys, the urinary tract and protects prostate. * Has a positive influence on cholesterol, osteoporosis and rheumatism. * Supports enzymes production and heals the pancreas. * Improves the liver and gallbladder, regulates bile production, and influences positively hepatitis. * Regulates metabolism, digestion and heals diseases of the colon. * Heals colitis, diarrhoea, catarrh, reflux, leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis and more. * Rebalance the intestinal flora and stomach acid, heals duodenum and cures ulcers. * Produces its own antibiotics, eliminates unfriendly bacteria, and cures internal and external inflammations. * Heals lactose intolerance and provides full digestibility of milk based products. * Produces own anti-cancer compounds, prevents metastasis, and leads to cure. * Slows the aging process, smooths and improves skin, hair and muscle tonus. * Reduces anxiety, depression, increases energy and feeling of wellbeing. * Produces all necessary vitamins and beneficial bacteria needed for our healthy daily life.
Almost century of scientific and medical research confirming the above is available from Diary Research Institute in former USSR. With the worldwide cost of medical care getting inflated by chronic diseases, real kefir is gaining popularity not only for its health benefits, but also for its effects in lowering medical cost. With increasing resistance to antibiotics, intensive research of the real kefir is conducted in Europe and Japan. The results are supporting the experience of generations.
On ordering Ideally you pick up some grains from a friend or somewhere nearby. I have a limited supply, and would be open to anyone in Port Alfred who would like some. If you’re going to need to have them sent to you, your options are dehydrated, frozen, or having someone send you live grains in the mail. If they’re dehydrated or frozen it just means you’ll need a couple days to wake them up, but it’s a less iffy deal then having someone send you live organisms in the mail and hoping they’re still kicking if they ever arrive.
- Always use only clean and clear plastic or glass containers, clean plastic or wooden spoons and clean plastic or bamboo strainers!
- Always keep all the utensils clean, wash them only in non-chlorinated water, dry well with natural cotton, and never use any solvents or detergents!
- Never let the grains come in contact with chlorinated water!
- Never subject the grains to cold below zero Celsius!
- Never subject the grains to heat above forty Celsius!
- Never let the grains to get in contact with any metal!
- Never let the grains on direct sunlight!
- Never let the grains without food!
- Never squeeze the grains!>>>>>IF YOU DO ANY OF THE ABOVE, THE GRAINS WILL DIE! <<<<<
What you will need before you start
- One 1 >1½ litre mixing bowl with opening similar to the diameter of strainer.
- One plastic strainer for vegetables with holes about 2-3 millimetres wide.
- Two 1 litre clear glass/plastic containers with wider opening and a lid.
- One cooking thermometer, better digital
- One set of plastic measuring cups.
- One plastic or wooden spoon.
- One flexible scraper.
What milk to use
The best is raw goat milk from certified organic farm. However, un-pasteurized cow’s milk works also fine.
Kefir production and taste is matter of balance between following factors:
- the amount of grains more grains = use more milk or set for less time
- the activity of the grains less active = use less milk of set for longer time
- the amount of time less time = use more grains or use less milk
- the temperature warmer = the faster the grains work and grow
- tightly closed lid or loose lid tight = carbonated, loose = non-carbonated
In addition to temperature, a pinch or two of unrefined cane sugar helps the grains to work and grow faster. With established grains and right balance of factors, common time to full fermentation is around 24H. When you will be more experienced, you will know how to adjust the factors and get always the same quality of kefir you like. The kefir grains grow best when they have steadily their spot in your room, when frequently agitated during a day, when grains to milk ratio is between 1:20>35, when room temperature around the glass container is about 25°C and when there is not much direct light. Should you wish to slow the fermenting process, do not add the sugar and keep temperature around the container about 15C.
When is the kefir ready?
You can tell by the level of coagulation. The last place of coagulation is at the bottom of the glass container; you should see curds and whey separate into layers and pockets. When you turn the container around, if the coagulated bottom moves as milk, it is not yet ready. When the coagulated bottom will be firm as a thick jelly, not much moving, it is ready. It may be tricky when without experience, but within a week or two, you will find out when kefir is ready. The longer fermentation time, the sourer the kefir is. If you are in drinking kefir for eliminating lactose intolerance, you will need to ferment close to 36H. However, never drink a kefir fermented over 48H, it provides a serious constipation! With 12H of fermenting, it works like a gentle laxative, 24H gives fully fermented balanced kefir. Over fermenting is not advisable, since kefir pH becomes too acidic and growth of grains slows. Normally, the grains tend to double in size about every 20 days. When you will have more than you need, offer some to your friends or anyone around the globe who may need their miraculous power. When you do so, always supply with the grains the Kefir Manual and ask for the symbolic monetary donation.
For starters, you should have about 1/4 of teaspoon of real kefir grains, either fresh or suspended for shipping. If fresh, put them in milk and they will continue to work right away. If suspended, put them in milk too, but they will work slowly since there is activity recovery time about 4-7 days. If they come in winter, use glass thermometer (for children) to find their temperature. Warm 1 cup of milk to the same temperature (that’s why you have cooking thermometer) as the grains have. Add to the milk a pinch of unrefined cane sugar, mix to dissolve. Pour the warm milk to the glass container and move carefully the grains there. Cover the glass container with a lid, and place it to a warm (22-25C) and slightly dim spot.
Every few hours agitate/shake gently the glass container for a few seconds to move fresh milk to the grains. Never place the glass container in a fridge or on a direct sunlight! When you see on the bottom of the glass container that the milk is clearly separated into whey and curds (this may take more than 24H for the first few batches) shake again to mix the whey and curds into homogenous liquid. Then is time for first milking!
Take the glass bowl, place plastic strainer on it and pour the whole content of the glass container to the strainer. Shake the strainer to separate the thick curds from the grains. The slightly yellow things in the strainer are your kefir grains. Gently separate the grains from the curds and place the curds into the glass bowl. What is in the glass bowl is your first batch of kefir. However, do not drink this first kefir. Take from it about half of its volume, return it back to the glass container and throw away the rest of the first kefir. Then add to the returned kefir 1 1/4 cup of new milk (warm around 20-22C), then move grains gently with a spoon from the strainer to the glass container. Cover with a lid. Now you are brewing your second batch!
Again, every few hours shake the glass gently container. When the whey and curds clearly separate on the bottom, proceed as above. This second batch is drinkable. However, the right kefir will come after the first 4-6 batches. For the first batches, the ratio between grains and milk should be 1 part of grains to 20 parts of milk. Later, when your grains will adapt to their new home and your love, you may achieve ratio up to 1:60 for 24H fermenting. With all the next batches, follow the above procedure. In principle, always return about 1/2 of the kefir back to the glass container (don’t forget the grains!) and add the same amount or more of milk warm between 20-22C. Those of you, who are into kefir drinking for eliminating candida overgrowth, may be scared to death learning that kefir culture contains also candida yeast. Don’t panic, all is OK! The candida yeast in kefir is a vicious cannibalistic sister of the infamous Candida albicans! In addition to it, the kefir culture contains host of other microorganism and all of them eat Candida albicans 24H per day. All available scientific research and uncountable personal experiences confirm that drinking kefir will free you (with no side effects) form burden with candida overgrowth.
Small glass, 3/4 to 1 cup daily, preferably after the evening meal, is a common prevention drink. Kefir is not only special nourishment, but also a special medication. If kefir drinking is intended for treating serious diseases, it is advisable to change diet to living foods, then detoxify and cleanse the body, liver, kidneys and bowels. This greatly increases effects of healing properties of kefir.
For candida overgrowth or general disorders of colon, take 1 cup first thing on the morning and 1 cup one hour after supper for 3 days, then for 3 days take no kefir. Apply this on and off regime for 3-4 weeks. If no relief was obtained, you may gradually double dosage and continue for 3 months or more. However, even when you will have kefir pause, the grains don’t pause. You must regularly milk the grains and feed them as if you would need to drink the kefir! The same on and off regime applies to eczema, skin problems, acne, allergies, arthritis and so on.
When chronically ill with a serious disease, again, the same regime applies. Start with 1 cup first thing on the morning and 1 cup one hour after supper. Within a week, gradually increase to 2 cups & 2 cups per day. At this time you may experience body rash or shingles, however, gradually increase to 3 cups & 3 cups per day and continue for at least 6 months. If wasting continues, gradually increase to 4 cups & 4 cups per day for 20 days then do not drink kefir for 10 days. Then drink 20 days. Apply this potent on/off regime for the next months. Although there are many documented studies that kefir is able to miraculously heal even gravely ill, kefir is a gift of God, not omnipotent God.
For generations, the people from Caucasus give kefir to new-borns as a substitute or addition to mother’s milk, they also drink pure glacial water; breath unpolluted air, eats living foods and thickened kefir as bread or dessert. Their verified life span in a full physical and mental acuity, lies between 110 – 140 years (the last is not a rare occurrence), they have no cavities, they are free of diabetes, prostate, tuberculosis, digestive disorders, cancers and other common diseases of our highly evolved society. Clearly, prevention and living food is the best thing for health and longevity.
Serves 2 1/4 cantaloupe or other sweet melon, seeds and rind removed 2 big sprigs of mint, washed and leaves removed A big handful of blueberries 1 banana, peeled 2 cups kefir milk, yield A handful of ice cubes
Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend until you can no longer hear the ice being crushed. Pour into glasses and enjoy!
If this still sounds a little foreign to you, consider this: one in every 10 cells in our body is human! Our body consists of about 100 trillion cells, and there are ten times as many microorganisms living in our gut. Whether we like it or not, all animals (ourselves included) participate in symbiotic relationships with microorganisms. Symbiotic relationships have different scenarios: where one organism benefits, where both benefit, or where a parasite benefits at the expense of the host. The first scenario, called a mutualistic relationship, is what we consider when looking at living foods like kefir. In the case of living foods, not only do these microorganisms help keep other yeast and bacteria in check (like the yeast Candida), they fend off parasites by consuming them, liberate nutrients from indigestible foods like cellulose by eating them and allowing us to absorb the vitamins, and generally keep our digestion healthy. Some live ferments are active at mealtime (like yogurt), but kefir, whose organisms continue to thrive in our gut, are working in our defence even after the nutrients of milk have long been absorbed into our system.
On taking a break If you’re going away or need a break from making kefir you can either store your kefir in the fridge for a few weeks or the freezer for longer. If in the fridge, wash your grains and bottle, put the kefir back in and add some water, fasten the lid, then store it in the fridge. If you need a longer break wash out the grains, place them in an airtight container, and place in the freezer. Just remember when you “wake them up” it’ll take a little longer for them to start fermenting again.
If you want to slow the process down by own a couple of days, just place your milked kefir in the fridge and check on it ever now and then by taking off the lid and smelling it. Once it becomes real strong, you know you’re going to need to replace the milk again.
Wild Fermentation – Sandor Ellix Katz,
Real Food: What to Eat and Why – Nina Planck. www.yourkefirsource.com