Milk kefir – the understated star of fermented foods – has been around for centuries, providing extraordinary bacterial assistance to the human microbiome.
If you’re into living, probiotic foods and you already have a sourdough starter bubbling away on your kitchen bench or a kombucha ‘mushroom’ gracing a dark shelf, then dairy kefir will really need no introduction.
Known as dairy kefir, milk kefir or simply kefir (pronounced kef-fear), this unlikely fermented food is thought to have appeared many thousands of years ago in Central Asia, when people began domesticating and milking animals.
What is milk kefir?
Kefir, like kombucha, is a type of SCOBY – or Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s a living culture that is happiest when kept at room temperature and feeding on the milk sugars in the fresh milk you provide it every day.
In this way, it’s very similar to keeping a sourdough starter; feeding it daily keeps it alive with plenty of lactic acid bacterial activity.
Homemade vs store-bought
Milk kefir is now readily available, however, as is often the case with the commercialisation of living foods, you are going to make a far superior product at home.
What you buy in the shops is a terminal product, meaning it cannot be kept alive as a starter for your next batch, and will have a questionable mix of microbes.
If you know someone who makes milk kefir they will no doubt love to share it. Try your farmers’ market, or you can buy kefir grains online.
So how do you actually make milk kefir?
In Issue #21 of Pip Magazine, we reveal everything you need to know about this fermented powerhouse elixir, including:
- How to care for, “feed” and make your milk kefir;
- how to consume your highly probiotic drink, and;
- the health benefits you’ll enjoy, especially when it comes to gut health.
- We also bring you a cultured butter recipe using milk kefir from Sharon Flynn, author of ‘Ferment For Good. Ancient Foods For The Modern Gut’ (Hardie Grant 2021).
You can access this article online here as part of our digital subscription offering, or subscribe to the print version of Pip Magazine here.
What about other popular fermented foods?
This recipe will create a beautiful artisan-style bread, and is a step up from basic “no-knead” recipes. It creates a bread with a nice open crumb and crisp crust.
Great for your gut health, homemade yoghurt is free from the preservatives and artificial sweeteners that are in most supermarket brands.
As far as alternative health drinks go, kombucha has hit a popularity peak and is now available in most supermarkets. However, there are plenty of reasons why you’re better off making it at home.