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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Milk Kefir

The Husband has digestive problems. It could be stress or lack of rest or just plain old age but his digestion needs some help. He obtained some relief with yoghurt and yet more relief with fruit smoothies. Then, a friend introduced me to kefir. There is milk kefir and water kefir. This post is about milk kefir.

Several varieties of probiotic bacteria are found in kefir products such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.The significance of probiotic content to nutrition or health remains unproven. Lactobacilli in kefir may exist in concentrations varying from approximately 1 million-1 billion colony-forming units per milliliter and are the bacteria responsible for the synthesis of the polysaccharide kefiran. In addition to bacteria, kefir often contains strains of yeast that can metabolize lactose, such as Kluyveromyces marxianus and Kluyveromyces lactis, as well as strains of yeast that do not metabolize lactose, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Torulaspora delbrueckii, and Kazachstania unispora; however, the nutritional significance of these strains is unknown.

Source: HERE.

Compared to the yoghurt that I make using commercial yoghurt as a starter culture (which contains usually ONE type of probiotic bacteria), kefir contains many different types of probiotic bacteria. It is supposed to...
- help leaky gut heal
- relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
- relieve allergies
- cure a candidiasis infection (this one, I have personally experienced... it really works very well)
- constipation
- diarrheoa
- prevents intestinal bloating and gas (yes... this one, The Husband has experienced)

However, I would like to sound a word of warning. Some people experience MORE flatulence and stomach cramps from taking kefir. So, if you wish to try kefir, you may want to proceed with caution because there is something called a Healing Crisis. 

IMPORTANT: Please read about the Healing Crisis HERE.

I proceeded very carefully indeed. We took 2 tablespoons a day ONLY for a while and slowly increased the volume to 6 tablespoons a day. We stabilised our intake at 200ml a day.

Supposedly, the friendly bacteria re-colonises the gut (and kills off the bad bacteria and yeasts that cause intestinal discomfort and allergies). If you take too much at a go, the bad bacteria in your intestines will fight back by producing toxins to try and kill the good bacteria. Unfortunately for you, it all happens in your gut. You will absorb those toxins into your bloodstream and experience a host of Die Off symptoms (headaches, boils, flu symptoms). If this happens, reduce your dosage or skip a day. Do not give up.

Grandma, The Husband and I did not give up. I experienced boils on my belly, my neck and on my face. Not pimples... boils. They were deep in the skin and HUGELY full of pus. We are now in MUCH better shape than before we took kefir.

Use a plastic sieve to strain the kefir grains out of the kefir.

The container MUST be of glass. Do NOT use plastic. The container must be properly sterilised. In fact, all the implements must be properly sterilised. Place 1 heaped teaspoon of kefir grains at the bottom of the container.

Pasteurised milk or raw milk. No UHT milk.

1 cup of milk (as measured in a measuring cup). Don't put more than the required amount of milk. If there is too much milk, the grains do not have enough time to eat the milk. Other organisms (that may be harmful) will join the party to eat the excess milk. Then, your whole batch will go bad. So, make sure you have 1 heaped teaspoon of kefir grains to no more than 1 cup of milk.

Cover with a dry towel and leave out on the kitchen counter for 10 to 12 hours (in the tropics), depending on how fermented you want it to be. It will slowly develop into a kefir culture.

Pour the kefir culture through a sieve and remove the kefir grains. Repeat the whole process with a new batch of milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you can leave the strained kefir culture out for a few hours in order to ensure that all the lactose has been metabolised by the kefir.

Update 1
At the proportion of 1 teaspoon to 200ml (1 cup) of milk in tropical temperatures of Singapore, the time required to culture is 10 hours. At all times, the grains must be immersed in milk or they will starve and die. You can follow the 2 schedules below:

Schedule 1: Culture Overnight
Place on countertop at 8pm. Culture overnight till 6am the next morning. Strain to rescue the grains. Drink your kefir. Sterilise everything again. Add new milk to the grains. Pop the whole jar into the fridge. Take out at 8pm and culture overnight again.

Schedule 2: Culture In The Day
Place on countertop at 8am. Culture through the day till 6pm in the evening. Strain to rescue the grains. Drink your kefir. Sterilise everything again. Add new milk to the grains. Pop the whole jar into the fridge overnight. Take out at 8am the next day and culture through the day again.


Tweety said...

You managed to make kefir at home!! Wow!!! I had this kefir drink at a Persian restaurant - Shabestan at Robertson Quay and immediately fell in love with it. Have been wanting to make it at home ever since. Where did u get the starter from?
- chuchu

Petunia Lee said...

I got my grains from a friend.