Kefir And Gogurt Are Not The Same Animal

I first met Kefir at Trader Joe’s Grocery store. I’ve always loved yogurt, and when Kefir was introduced to me as “drinkable” yogurt, I thought it was a neat food novelty item and I started buying it for the family and we soon became hooked on this tasty and healthful drink. Two things must be said before I go on, I’m cheap and I’m curious. This combination of often frowned upon personality traits leads me down a lot of paths to explore my inner Lucille Ball. At 4 bucks per quart, and 5 of us drinking, let’s see, 4 quarts per week, that’s . . . carry the 2, and add . . . that’s $80 per month I could easily spend on just Kefir. Well, let me tell you something Friends, that ain’t gonna happen!

You know I’ve started my raw milk journey and by doing so I’ve met the underground, Real Foodies of Middle Tennessee. Oh yeah, we meet in a parking lot, we  trade raw milk recipes, seeds and Kefir grains. My mom worries that the food police will get me, I’ll be locked away in a tower and she’ll have to raise my kids. I understand her fear. One of my Real food cohorts, we’ll call him Jimbo to protect his identity, regails me every week with stories of fresh cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, butter and Kefir. So he let me in on the process and even told me he’d “give me some grains the next time they split.”  Of course, I pretended to know what he was talking about and went home to brush up on the “grains” he promised to bring the next week. I was still under the impression that Kefir was just a drinkable yogurt, but the truth is, it’s ‘like’ a drinkable yogurt and in reality, it is it’s very own thing. Here’s a history (and the legend) that goes along with this amazing food.

Though still a yogurt like product, it is amazing how broad spectrum the nutrients are in these grains. The grains are a culture of yeast and bacteria living in perfect harmony. When added to milk, they culture lives off of the milk and the end product is a “sour” milk (really fermented) that is now infused and teaming with these good yeast and good bacteria. Your new concoction is full of B Vitamins, Folic Acid, K, biotin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, enzymes and proteins. This is one of those foods that is surrounded my myth and legend BECAUSE of it’s healing and healthful properties. It almost makes it worth spending the money at Trader Joe’s, naaaah, my stuff is better anyway. Why? Because it is completely unprocessed, unsweetened and has no additives, not even preservatives. Mine is broad spectrum and REAL, and as it turns out, even with the cost of getting my raw milk, mine is cheaper! Less than half price to be exact.

The process of fermenting the milk, also thickens it quite a bit, so I don’t have to leave the fat in to get a creamy product. Now that I’ve made several batches, I’m letting my milk do double duty. I’m pulling the cream off the top to make butter and buttermilk, and using the rest to make Kefir. So, I pay $3.50 per 1/2 gallon of milk. I get 1/2 Cup butter and nearly 2 quarts of Kefir, and 1/2 Cup real Buttermilk and over a cup of liquid whey. Adding to this a generous 50 cents of raw honey to sweeten my batch my total cost for 1/4 pound of grass fed butter, and 1/2 gallon of amazing Kefir, 1/2 Cup Real buttermilk, and 1 Cup of liquid whey is $4. The same products; grass fed, unpasteurized butter ($1.25 per 1/4 pound), buttermilk(lets say $1), unprocessed liquid whey ($2) and Kefir ($4 per quart, and the nutritional value is much less than my own) would cost me roughly $12.25. Waaaaay! So $4 vs. $12.25 for an inferior product. My inner Lucy is just loving this.

One of the the things I have discovered on this adventure, is that everyone has their own take, or tweak, on how to make this. There are so many variations that I’m not going to say this is the right way to do it, this is just one way to make Kefir. For a great referrence site, with tons of how to info visit Dom. Here is my process:

To make 1/2 Gallon of Kefir, you will need:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon of milk. You may use cow, goat or yak if that’s what you have. And though you can do this with processed milk, I believe the end product is best with raw milk. But work with what you’ve got!
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of Kefir grains
    • OPTIONAL: 1/4 Cup of raw honey

Tools:

  • 1/2 Gallon glass jar with lid (glass is completely inert and will not interfere or react with the fermentation process. Glass does not allow bacteria and bleach residue to build up either.
  • strainer  (you may use a stainless steel strainer)
  • measuring spoon
  • bowl for straining
    • OPTIONAL:
    • stick blender or blender
    • turkey baster

Reserve 1/2 Cup milk to store your grains. To start, put your milk in your 1/2 gallon glass jar, leave a couple inches of room at the top to allow the gases to escape. Add 2-4 Tablespoons of Kefir grains to your milk, put the lid on the jar loosely and let this sit out at room temp for 8-24 hours. Eight hours produces a milder, less cultured milk, 48 hours produces a very tart, separated liquid that is thoroughly cultured. At eight hours, the milk will look thicker, taste tangy and have small pockets of a clear liquid floating in it, this is the whey and has a unique slew of it’s own health benefits. If you choose a longer time frame, you will see the curds and whey separate in the jar. This is what I use the turkey baster for. I siphon out most of the whey (saving it for baking) and leave just the thick curds and grains in the jar.  Now set up a bowl with a stainer over it, one you don’t have to hold. Tighten the lid on the Kefir and give it some agitation, don’t go crazy shaking, you want to keep the grains intact, but you want the curds to separate from the grains a bit. Poor the Kefir mixture into the strainer and shake and bump the strainer with your palm to let the thick Kefir pass through. You will see the grains (they look like lumpy tapioca to me) collecting in the strainer. Return the grains to your small storage jar and feed them with your reserved milk.

What you have in the bowl is Kefir. I return it to the 1/2 gallon jar, add 1/4 Cup of honey and blend with a stick blender. This gives me a wonderfully smooth finish, and is more reminiscent of the Kefir I use to buy at Trader Joe’s (this means my kids will drink it too). Alone, it just tastes like a tart “plain” yogurt.  You can also add fruit, preserves or extracts to flavor your  Kefir, be creative, you have permission. If you’ve ever had Gogurt, or if your kids are addicted to the gloopy, sugary substance, you will be relieved to try Kefir. It’s actually got food value, and no added sugar, so you control how sweet and which sweeteners are used. Go ahead, try it, I triple dog dare you!

 

 

 

14 comment on “Kefir And Gogurt Are Not The Same Animal”

  1. Comment author madme,

    I use a basic bule recipe. I would just google it and you’ll see that most of them require 2-3 cups of liquid, that is where I use the whey. It’s just delicious.

  2. Tammie,

    I would love to have your reipe for the bread you put your whey in. My husband has been making his own starters for about a month now and making bread, bagels and pretzels. I would like to surprise him with your bread. I just started learning about Kefir and its healing effects. I’m going to Trader Joes tomorrow to see if the have some grain. Thank you

  3. Comment author madme,

    I got them from one of the folks that gets raw milk from the same farmer that I use. Kefir grains are typically passed from person to person as they grow. But there are resources listed in the post that will mail grains to those that don’t have personal access to them.

  4. Ashley "Frenchie",

    Ah Kefir- how I love thee! I absolutely adore kefir smoothies. Just a teensie bit of agave and lots of fresh fruit that I have frozen. Delish. It’s a meal for me and I feel really good. I detest sweetened yogurts found at grocery stores, too sweet and you can’t taste the things that are good for you. I like my yogurt and tea like I like my kefir- Plane Jane. Yummm! 🙂

  5. Anna (Cozy Corner Crochets) Murphy,

    Hi, I have been entertaining myself the past 45 mins by trying to digest (pun intended) Dom’s web site. Oh,my goodness. He must have several degrees: microbiology, chemistry, etc. The information goes right over my head. The thing that made the most sense to me was the commercial use of non-real starter was not as beneficial as the real deal.

    Back in the 70s I used to make my own yogurt. Today I cannot stand the likes of YoPlait, etc. The Greek yogurts that have become popular are the taste and consistency of the yogurt I used to make. I need to get me some fresh yogurt starter again.

  6. Comment author madme,

    Oh Rachel! You were the first one to use my “Dial a Doula” services, maybe we should just stick with that plan? Miss you too and I’m so glad you are making your own Kefir! The only reason I pull the whey out is that I like really thick Kefir, also, they whey is incredible in bread. It’s a natural preservative so it makes my bread last longer and it gives it a chewier texture, something like sour dough and that slightly sour dough pungent flavor and smell that I love. Thanks for stopping by, I really miss you Sister.

  7. Rachel,

    Nice Charissa! I started making my own Kefir about 2 1/2 weeks ago and I’m loving it! I make mine a little different and I keep the whey and kefir together at the end. I mix it with some super food, bananas and a little bit of apple juice. It makes an AMAZING smoothie to keep me going in the morning which I SO need right now being only 2 weeks away from my due date. BTW, can you come back to San Diego to doula for me….you’re on call now right?!? 🙂 Missing you!

  8. Comment author madme,

    To be honest, I have only ever purchased the brand that Trader Joe’s carries. But many grocery stores have expansive “probiotic” sections now with an overwhelming variety of yogurt products. I’m sure you can find something to try out. Enjoy!

  9. Comment author madme,

    No! It tastes like the very popular tart yogurts. Just imagine “plain” yogurt, but thinner so you could drink it. You can add your own flavors and sweeteners.

  10. Susan Denney Williams,

    But doesn’t it taste like thick, sour milk? I don’t think I could drink it…..

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