Health Booster: KEFIR!


Previous to getting married, my future mother-in-law first started to try to win me over to the kefir user crowd, and I thought, “I am not that crazy of a health-nut! I will never use that stuff…” Low and behold it wasn’t long before I thought I would give it a try. Maybe it was to impress her, I don’t know. Now I am an avid supporter and user of kefir in almost anything.

If you are asking, what in the world is kefir? Read more about it here. If you already know, read on. To the left you will see a picture of a kefir grain.

Here are a few ideas of how I use kefir on a regular basis.

KEFIR SMOOTHIES
First off, morning smoothies! I love loading up my morning smoothie packed with nutrients. It is very reasonable to make, simple, and will give you lots of energy for the day! I try to make a smoothie at least once every other day.

Ingredients I love to throw in:

kefir
coconut milk
applesauce
orange juice, concentrate
an assortment of fruit: bananas, berries, etc
little maple syrup for sweetener
flax seeds
brewer’s yeast
oils – coconut oil or olive oil

Other ideas: protein powder, oat bran, eggs (as long as they are farm fresh)

SOAKING
Another thing I use my kefir for on a regular basis is soaking my grains. Soaking is encouraged because it assists in breaking down the phytates in the grain and allowing your body to be able to digest the nutrients and minerals in the whole grains. It is a very simple process. All’s you have to do is add at least 2 Tbls of kefir to whatever flour is called for in your recipe.

For example, I am preparing rice for dinner. For one cup of brown rice, I add 2 1/4 cup fresh water and 2 Tbls of kefir. The recommended length of time for soaking rice is 7 hours. So it just takes a little thinking ahead! Once it is done soaking, I cook it as normal. Your body will now be able to assimilate the nutrition so much better!

For our regular twice a week breakfast of oatmeal, I soak 1 cup of rolled oats with 1 cup of water and 2 Tbls of kefir (or more!). I let it sit covered overnight. In the morning I put 1 cup of water to boil on the stove. When it is rolling, I add the soaked oats and let it simmer for 15 minutes or so. We then add ground flax seeds, dried cranberries, chopped apples and sometimes a little mashed bananas and there you have an excellent high fiber breakfast.

For quick breads that contain some sort of liquids (water or milk), replace up to half your liquids with kefir and soak the liquid, kefir and flour for 12-24 hours. That is the standard recommended soaking time for the best assimilation. For homemade bread, you soak the flour with the liquids, and kefir for the same amount of time.

An excellent resource with more information on the benefits of soaking, and other resources, check out this site. The benefit of this 2 stage process is described in detail here.

My favorite breakfast recipes are all soaked, including waffles, crepes, and pancakes. These recipes I have found from Sue Gregg cookbooks. I will share these recipes in upcoming posts.

The benefits of soaking definitely out way any thinking ahead preparations.

REPLACE ALL BUTTERMILK WITH KEFIR
For any recipe that calls for buttermilk or yogurt, I replace it with kefir! Works perfectly every time.

Do you have any other kefir ideas to share?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

73 Responses to Health Booster: KEFIR!

  1. Karen May 15, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    I was getting ready to print out your Pumpkin Oatmeal recipe and I clicked and lost it. Could you possibly email it to me. I would appreciate it so much. Thank you and God bless. Karen

  2. Rachael November 28, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Hello Lindsay, I LOVE YOUR SITE…and appreciate your commitment to bless others with your knowledge.

    I have a question. I was wondering if I could get some kefir grains from you. I would pay for the postage. I got some from a CSA friend but have recently moved and it seems that somehow my grains have died. They just are not producing kefir like before.

    Thank you,
    Rachael

    • Lindsay November 30, 2012 at 7:26 am #

      I would recommend you buy directly from Culturesforhealth.com. They are reasonably priced and ready for you to dehydrate and start!

    • Victor December 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Lindsay,

      Thank you for your informative info on Kefir.
      My niece just gave me some in milk (alive) in a jar and I am not sure how to proceed with it. However I looked on line and there is a lot of information.
      I had a question regarding incubating it. I also do sourdough breads and would the starter in my sourdough damage the Kefir culture?
      Any website info that you might suggest for a newbie would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you!

  3. Erika D. June 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    Lindsay! I love similar things that you love. Have you heard of Donna Schwenk and culturedfoodlife.com? I think you’ll love it! She teaches great things about the ‘trilogy’ of kefir, kombucha, and cultured veggies like pickles. Fun recipes, too—root beer kombucha float with kefir ice cream? Come on! Check her out; I think you’ll like her.

  4. Meredith March 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    I recieved some kefir grains from a friend about a week and a half ago. They were given to me in a ziplock bag…I put them in the fridge and forgot about them :( Are they ok to use?

    • Lindsay March 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      Were they sitting in milk? If so, they should be totally fine. Just pour all the contents into your quart size jar and pour over with fresh milk.

    • Buy Kefir Grains April 26, 2011 at 12:15 am #

      From my experience they will be just fine don’t worry, people have told me they forgot about the grains for 2 months and they still work. :)

  5. elsy marisol February 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I have been very curious about how to make your own milk kefir grains, any body has an answer to that? how do they start? can I make my own instead of buying them? I would appreciate any one to answer me this ?

    • Rebekah February 23, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Elsy,
      I got my kefir grains through this database of local kefir people. http://www.rejoiceinlife.com/kefir/kefirlist.php
      I had to pay for mine, they came in goat milk from a goat farmer in my state. It’s easy to transfer grains to a new milk, just takes a couple batches to make the switch. When you buy the grains, they will multiply over time. I’ve posted them on craigslist and got back my initial $30 investment. When I bought them, I split the cost with 2 other friends and we each had a Tbsp to make about 2 cups at a time. Like I said, mine grew great and I was able to sell my extras at $10. The more grains you have (in Tbsp) the more milk you can process at a time.
      Hope that helps!
      –Rebekah (Central Oregon)

  6. karen November 7, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    I do 2 qts. a week with milk and a gal. of water kifer with green tea and ginger.i do this in the refridgerator,it takes a week.it works great.what you have to do is, once a month let it sit out and ferment it 2 days. but it does great in the cool temp.

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    hey appreciate it with regard to this site really helpfull,please visit our site recette dietetique

  8. Becky September 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I would rather make my own yogurt than buy kefir, can I use yogurt to soak my grains?

    • Lindsay September 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

      You can easily make your own kefir and it is far more nutritious than yogurt and easier too. Check out culturesforhealth.com for kefir grains and directions to get you started. But yes, you can use yogurt to soak your grains.

  9. sarah July 23, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    hey. i was wondering if you actually eat the grains or just drink the liquid?

    • Lindsay July 23, 2010 at 10:21 am #

      No, you want to put the kefir grain aside to make another batch. Just drink the liquids.

  10. Hannah June 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Does it always work to replace kefir with water kefir? For instance, could I replace buttermilk with water kefir as you say you do with milk kefir since I can’t have dairy?

    • Lindsay June 11, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

      For the most part, yes. It is more liquidy than milk kefir so you may have to adjust with more flour.

  11. shelly gates May 18, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    does anyone have water kefir grains to share with me who lives close to the Santa Clarita Valley
    661/253-0592

  12. Cindy March 31, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    YAY I am liking KEFIR! Just bought some last week on eBay. I did find several people in my area who would send me some. But they wanted me to send a SASE to them and 5 dollars and so forth and it was just easier for me to buy off eBay and send a Paypal payment..lol. Ebay seller: onecultureatatime is FABLOUS! She has great, fresh, plump grains and also includes a website guide with the purchase, plus she answered ALLL my questions…lol. I started making it Monday and have so far only ‘brewed’ mine for 12-15hrs at a time. Today I am going for a full 24hrs, YAY. The taste is nothing like I anticipated, its yummy! I imagined my self choking it down or gaggin up this ‘spoiled milk’ concoction.. ;) But its good. My batch this morning was a lil more sour so I had an 8oz glass along with a banana. I have made 2 smoothies but have not perfected the perfect smoothie for my tastes so I prefer to just drink it straight rather than waste it. My grains haven’t really grown much but I guess they are still becoming acclimated to my home and milk? I have kept my jar on top of my fridge but will switch to the cabinet when I post this. For a more stable environment, bc my fridge top does get warm off and on and I never realized that. I am getting enough now for each day and like that I am not wasting any!

    QUESTION: Is it OK to just add my new Kefir to my old Kefir day by day? So far this is what I have been doing but wanted to double check with some kefir people to confirm it is OK? I am probably going to drink all I have on Sunday and wash that jar and try to keep that practice and wash the Kefir jar once a week. (not the making jar, just the storage jar. I wash the making jar daily).

    I like this and do feel good after I drink it and am now looking forward to my daily glass! I hope to eventually grow my grains to where I can have a nice 2 glasses of Kefir per day ;) I am a lil sad that I gave my 3yr old some yesterday and she told me “Mommy this milk is no good.” LOL She has been a previous victim of picking up the stray sippie cup w spoiled milk in it, so she was like Oh no this is BAD! After much lecturing she would not drink the ‘bad milk’ so I will incorporate hers in some oatmeal or pancakes..lol.

    I can’t wait when I have enough grains to share with my diabetic aunt!! Thanks so much for a wonderful informative site!

  13. Hannah February 23, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    I just received two Kefir… chunks/pieces from a friend and was very excited. The pieces that I have are not very ‘grain’ like, but more in the shape of balls… My friend said that her family had been using milk powder, mixed with water, for the milk and I am doing that as well. Do you have any experience with that? I added about a cup of milk last night, and this morning it had already separated into the whey. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    Hannah

  14. Jessica January 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    I came across this post looking for ideas on using water kefir grains. I loe the idea of soaking grains and am adding more whole grains into our families diets. Right now I have a wonderful pancake recipe that I keep in the fridge. It is all the dry ingredients already mixed up and I just add buttermilk, eggs and a little oil (canola was the original recipe but probably others could work). I imagine since the mix already has salt, sugar, baking powder/soda I probably can’t soak the batter overnight- or could I?? I guess I’ll think about modifying it and leaving something out of it and then soaking that. I’m definitely going to try this soaking method on our oatmeal though. Thanks!

    • Lindsay February 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

      You cannot soak mixes that already have the leavening ingredients in them unfortunately. They inhibit the soaking process.

  15. Miss Rachel September 26, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    I was wondering, did you buy your kefir grains, or did you get them from someone? I have been wanting to make kefir but don’t have anyone near me that has any.

  16. Krista June 30, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    I am a little confused about soaking the grains. Say I want to make a quick bread with whole wheat flour and soak it in Kefir. Would I soak just the kefir with the flour? And should I let it sit in the refrigerator or on the counter?

    • Lindsay July 1, 2009 at 6:16 am #

      To find out more detailed information as to soaking, check out this post. Basically, you soak the flour with the kefir and leave it out on the counter/room temperature to soak. You can also add any other liquid ingredients to the soaking mixture as well (honey and oil) to keep it moist.

  17. Amy June 7, 2009 at 5:50 pm #

    Where exactly do you buy kefir grains from? I bought some kefir starter at the store but I’d really like to do grains. I’ve made requests on http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefir-list.php a website I believe you have posted somewhere, but haven’t heard anything back. Can someone direct me to another method of getting kefir grains please? :)

  18. Kiki May 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm #

    Is it better to use fat free milk or whole
    Thanks Kiki

    • Lindsay May 6, 2009 at 4:48 am #

      I recommend whole raw milk for making kefir (read more at realmilk.com), but if you do not have access to it, I would try regular whole milk.

  19. Kiki May 3, 2009 at 1:26 am #

    I have been using kefir for sometime now.As we all know,it grows like crazy.What do we do? I put it in water and freese it.Is it true we can eat it? please reply,thanks Kiki

    • Lindsay May 3, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

      Yes, it is perfectly safe to consume the kefir grains if you are producing a ton. Just throw then in your smoothie!

  20. penelope April 23, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    it’s funny how everyone has their own story of how they got hooked into Kefir. And it’s astounding to know that once you’ve tried making it once it gets easier and easier. And there are just tons of recipes out there to make, from kefir smoothies to kefir pastries to even kefir soup. : )

  21. Allegra Hochstetler April 1, 2009 at 6:26 am #

    I have one question: When soaking rice, do you drain the soaking liquid before you cook, or do you cook the rice in the soaking liquid?
    Thanks

    • Lindsay April 1, 2009 at 6:49 am #

      I simply cook it in the soaking liquids! This provides the accurate amount of water to make properly cooked rice, as some of the liquids are absorbed into the rice during the soaking process.

  22. Claudette February 7, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    For those who keep their home very cold like I do, here are a few tips for keeping your projects warm (making kefir, yogurt or even proofing bread in one instance). Those heavy-duty stainless steel thermos bottles will keep things warm for a long time. I preheat my thermos with boiling water for a short time. Then I pour the water out and add my kefir or yogurt mix. Wrap it in a towel or blanket and it will stay warm enough to do the job. Another alternative is using a cooler. I set mason jars with boiling water in it to preheat it, then add whatever I’m making. This is great for proofing bread dough. If it’s a much longer process you’re working on, it’s easy to refresh the jars of water. You can control how hot the water is that you put in them. Return to the cooler.

  23. Jerian pahs January 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Can you make Kefir from pastuerized milk? I am getting ready to move to Cananda and raw milk from what I can gather is illegal there but I want to be able to continue my new quest for healthier eating. Thanks

    • Lindsay January 22, 2009 at 8:18 am #

      Yes you can use pasteurized milk. You actually can find raw milk in parts of Canada, you just have to be part of a cow share, from what I understand. Talk with Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home. She does it and she lives in BC!

  24. Renee Hogan December 8, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    I have really enjoyed learning and reading your blog. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Michelle Miles November 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm #

    Do you continuously culture your kefir? Would it be too much to ask for more info about how you make YOUR kefir? There is so much different info out there about making it. Thank you so much for any info you have the time or interest in sharing!!!

    • Lindsay November 21, 2008 at 8:16 am #

      No, I only make a quart once a week. After it has cultured, I remove the grains and store them in the fridge with a bit of milk. This preserves them till I make another batch a few days later. You can read more about how I make it in my secondary post on kefir here.

  26. Lynnette November 11, 2008 at 1:35 pm #

    I am a little confused.

    “For homemade bread, you soak 2/3 of the flour with the liquids, and kefir for the same amount of time.” from article above.

    Don’t you soak all of the flour for homemade bread?

    • Lindsay November 11, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

      Yes you are correct. This post just needed to be updated. Thanks for pointing that out!

  27. Nicole November 8, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    I make most of my soaked dough and batter out of kefir, and I drain the whey off kefir to make cream cheese, which is a great filling for homemade ravioli!

    • Rebecca December 10, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

      Ooooh, that sounds wonderful! Do you have a recipe you could share?

      • Nicole December 11, 2008 at 10:16 am #

        Well, it is more like a set of instructions than a real recipe, but:

        I drain kefir in cheesecloth overnight for 1-2 days, until it is quite dry and crumbly. I save they whey and refrigerate it. I mix the cream cheese up with salt, garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme to make the ravioli filling, and use soaked dough for the shells. This can be soaked in kefir, whey, buttermilk, yogurt, or water with any of these added. I roll this out, make little piles of filling on it, cover it with another rolled piece of dough, and cut with a pizza cutter. Then I seal the edges with my fingers. It’s very easy, but takes some time… of which I don’t have much lately!

  28. Janette October 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Hi. I am new to kefir and have been reading up on it on the internet. Do you use the real grains to make your kefir or do you use the packets you can buy at the health store? It sounds like the packets only last up to 7 times and then you have to use another packet whereas the real grains last indefinitely. Do you know if the packets and the real grains taste the same?

    • Lindsay October 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

      Janette, I personally have never used the packets as the grains are re-usable indefinitely for the most part. I do not know if there is any difference in taste. You can find free kefir grains all over the internet, so it is worth just getting the grains if you can.

  29. Kim August 12, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    Hi Lindsay, I scanned the comments to see if my question had been asked but did not see it. Do you purchase your kefir? I have bought it many times at Whole Foods and typically I buy the strawberry flavored one. Would this work in the soaking process or must it be an unflavored kefir? Thanks for your help!
    Blessings,
    Kim

    • Adriana May 14, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Kim, I think you could prep it as a plain batch, and add the flavor when ready to serve (after you strain it). Though I have heard you can kefir juices, so maybe when you have enough for two separate batches you can experiment with the fruit/milk from inception vs fruit at end and test the juice option as well. Let us know how it goes :)

  30. Theresa August 4, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    Do you ever use steel cut oats instead of rolled oats?

    • Lindsay August 4, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

      No, I honestly do not like the texture of steel cut oats, but I do know they are not as processed as rolled outs, thus making them somewhat more whole in form.

  31. Dawn August 2, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    This seems like an informative site on Kefir. I was reading it and wishing for a “Cliff’s Notes” version as it is so detailed. He says not to rinse grains, and also says that Kefir has properties that help prevent its contamination and shows its potential use as a preservative.

    http://users.chariot.net.au/%7Edna/Makekefir.html

  32. M.I.A in Minnesota August 1, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    Thanks for your smoothie recipe! I make a lot of smoothies in the summer time. I was going to ask you if you knew of a nice way to add nutrition that doesn’t alter the taste too much. But you answered my question already. Thanks!

  33. laurie May 23, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    Every time I try to click on soaked oatmeal link I get the link to Kefir, just thought you might want to know. I tried it many times to make sure I wasn’t doing something crazy.

    Great site! I think I’ll have to share this with my friends who are striving to do the same thing, and check back here often myself.

  34. Lindsay Edmonds November 14, 2007 at 11:18 pm #

    I honestly don’t drink mine straight…but I have found it to become more soar the longer it sits. Mine usually sits for 24-36 hours max. If I put it in a cupboard away from sunlight it seems to go faster and may be less soar (maybe warmer too, which would quicken the process). I have heard of others bringing the jars into their bedroom at night where it was warmer to culture. Might help solve your problem. I posted an updated at the end of the post about some info I found on contamination. I don’t think it is something to worry about as long as you are washing your grains, storing them properly, and using glass jars to culture in.

    • Danielle July 15, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

      Just a FYI…. I frequent this Kefir/Kombucha forum on yahoo/groups and she http://www.kefirlady.com said to never wash your grains. It washes all the good curds that cling to the grains that eventually form keiferan, a highly concentrated probiotic bacteria. It looks and feels like egg white. specially do not rinse in chlorinated water. And she also said not to use anti-bacterial soap because the residue sticks to the glass and continues to kill germs after it’s rinsed. which will kill your grains…. checkout this group…

      ttp://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Good_Kefir_Grains/

      • Sharon January 1, 2009 at 9:14 am #

        The only times I rinse my grains is when I have cultured them for more than 24 hrs. They grow more of a ….”slime”…perhaps it’s kefiran to protect themselves from the more acidic conditions.

        And when I rinse I use only whey.

        If you want to culture longer to break down more of the lactose you can do a second ferment without the grains.

    • eryn November 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

      So, I’ve been looking into Kefir, and I assume you only make milk Kefir?

  35. Kimi Harris November 14, 2007 at 5:44 pm #

    I have always assumed that it would be better for you to make it yourself as well. Donna, in her book, The Body Ecology actually recommends that you make a new batch every day or two. Who knows how old it is in the store!
    I just wish I could make mine taste better at home. Would you drink yours straight? Mine was always to strong to drink all by itself. But I am wondering if using the powder instead of the grain would help? When you use the powder it only takes 24 hours to finish, while with the grain, it can take, in our cold house, up to three days! Maybe that is why it tastes so sour. I don’t know. I will have to try it and see.
    I will find the quote from her book about the grains getting contaminated. : ) I was hoping that you heard more about it, because she didn’t give a lot of info.

  36. Lindsay Edmonds November 14, 2007 at 5:18 pm #

    Kimi,

    I always thought it would be more nutritious to make your own, especially if you use raw milk to culture it. I would find it difficult to believe it is better quality purchased at the store, but I may be wrong. I would be interested to know about grains becoming contaminated, because I have never heard that before either. I have read that is important to wash them between uses though. Send more info…

    Thanks for your comment!

    Lindsay

    • Sharon January 1, 2009 at 9:11 am #

      I have read that kefir resists other bacteria in the culture. Especially one experiment where scientists innoculated a kefir culture with e. coli.

      After several days of changing out the milk daily, there were no strains of e. coli to be found.

      Kefir grains becoming contaminated sounds more like a fear tactic spawned by those who sell kefir and the commercial powdered starters.

      ….sharon

      • Melody January 22, 2010 at 7:59 am #

        I agree with you 100%. I am also familiar with the e.coli experiment, and I think that kefir is about the safest and most beneficial thing you could ever have in your kitchen. Don’t rinse them off iether, as this disturbs the balance of the friendly bacteria in your culture. My guess is, the only time it could ‘possibly’ become contaminated, is if it is rinsed off!

        To learn more about why NOT to rinse your grains, check out a great website called thekefirsource.com. This guy from Germany knows his stuff. He’ll also let you know how silly it is to think that powdered kefir is an equivilant to the real LIVING grains.

        Good Health to all of you, and remember that for some reason, government research always seems to have a glitch. Check things out for yourself!

        Kefir Lover, Melody

        • Adriana May 14, 2011 at 10:57 am #

          Melody, could you verify the web you shared, cannot find it? thanks.

  37. Kimi Harris November 14, 2007 at 12:18 pm #

    I am considering starting to make it again, but I may try the powder packets instead of the grain because she said in her new book that the grains can be come contaminated and start growing other bacteria-but that you wouldn’t be able to tell! But it’s obviously more expensive that way……..

  38. Kimi Harris November 14, 2007 at 12:16 pm #

    Lindsay, I have been drinking a lot of Kefir this week! It’s funny that you posted about it. : ) I have actually just been buying my kefir. I have the newest edition of the Body Ecology Diet (I followed one of your links and noticed that you liked to her old site). She has some interesting things to say about Kefir that made me want to start drinking it again! She “approved” the helios nutrition brand which I have been getting. I have found that it tastes better then when I make it at home. I actually like drinking it straight (which I would never do with my homemade kind). What does yours taste like?

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