From the day I met my first kefir culture I have been in love. I’ll be honest it was a mothering instinct and a strong desire to nurture that first captured my heart, but as the grains built in strength and reproduced in quantity and I introduced it into my diet I began to feel the immense benefits to my health and I have never looked back.
Plagued with recurrent Candida infections, adult acne and psoriasis my skin and gut were a constant source of discomfort. As part of several other things I do, eating kefir on an almost daily basis has meant that these issues are thankfully mostly a thing of the past. This feel good factor is not so surprising when you realise that the word ‘kefir’ is derived from the Turkish word ‘keyif’ which means ‘to feel good after eating’!
One of the reasons for this is that even though kefir is slightly mucus forming it greatly benefits us by lining and protecting our digestive tract. Donna Gates of The Body Ecology Diet says. ‘The mucus has a ‘clean’ quality to it that coats the lining of the digestive tract, creating a sort of nest where beneficial bacteria can settle and colonise’.
Whenever I teach people how to make kefir I am always amazed at the number of diferent ways people like to eat it. Some people prefer it with a thinner consistency, drinking it as it comes straight through the sieve, including the whey with all its glory. Others, (like me) prefer it to be thick and creamy, with more of a Greek yoghurt consistency.
To achieve thicker kefir you have to first look to the fat content of your milk, whole un-homogenised milk gives the best results. I find the easiest way to get a lovely thick kefir is to let the whey drip through the sieve into a bowl undisturbed. If I want my kefir really thick I will leave it overnight in the sieve with a plate or cloth on top to protect it from flies. Often by leaving the kefir whey to drip through slowly like this it produces a milder sweeter tasting kefir. Even if you can only manage an hour or two letting the whey drip through will give you a thicker result. Once the whey has collected below in your bowl pour it off into a jar for further use.
Next push the thicker kefir through the sieve to separate it from the grains. You can be gentle but firm, the little grains are pretty tough and very resilient. What you end up with is a beautiful thick and luscious kefir which you can eat, bake with or put in a muslin cheese cloth to further drip out the whey to make kefir cheese.
Putting your strained kefir in the fridge will further thinken it up. As for the whey, this will store in the fridge for weeks. You can add it to vegetables and fruits to kick start lacto fermentation. You can also soak grains with an added tablespoon of whey which will make them more digestible. I like to drink it straight up. After all these years, I have a taste for its sharp refreshing flavour. I’ve also heard it keeps your ligaments flexible and your skin youthful which spurs me on!