Kefir: benefits and how to prepare milk kefir and the vegan water-based variant

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Elia Tabuenca García
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Kefir is a fermented milk similar to yogurt, a refreshing and healthy drink, rich in lactic or probiotic enzymes and with a fresh, slightly acidic but pleasant taste. And do you know that water kefir also exists? So let's find out all the health benefits of this food and how to prepare it both in its milk and water version.



Discovered and immediately appreciated by man already thousands of years ago, originally from the Caucasus, and still widely used in Russia, Kefir is prepared in the traditional way using fresh milk (sheep, goat or cow) and enzymes or granules of Kefir formed from a polysaccharide called kefiran which hosts colonies of bacteria and yeasts.



Over time, however, Kefir has also been prepared with other liquids with sugar content such as soy milk or rice milk and even only with sugared water.

Index

Milk kefir

Benefits

This drink is considered a miraculous food for our body, because it contains, in addition to lactic ferments (which guarantee the correct functioning of the intestine, helping us to prevent allergies and to absorb the vitamins essential for our health), minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, but also amino acids such as tryptophan which has therapeutic effects on the nervous system (very useful for people with hyperactivity disorders or sleep disorders).

Kefir is also rich in vitamins of group B and Vitamin K which regulate the kidney system and act as antioxidants. Being low in lactose, Kefir can also be ingested by those who are intolerant of it.

Consuming Kefir regularly, therefore, guarantees us a good functioning of the intestine and digestive system, helps us to strengthen the immune defenses as it stimulates the production of antibodies, to rebalance the intestinal flora and to eliminate bad cholesterol in the blood, and for ending up keeping us calm and always young.

Considered an elixir of long life, it is particularly suitable for those in need of energy or for those recovering from antibiotic treatment, the elderly, and especially pregnant women thanks to its folic acid content, which is essential for the development of the fetus.

So to recap Milk kefir offers the following health benefits:

  • It helps intestinal functions thanks to the content of lactic ferments
  • It is rich in minerals and vitamins
  • Contains amino acids such as tryptophan
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps keep bad cholesterol at bay
  • Dona energy
  • It can also be taken during pregnancy

How to make milk kefir




Ingredients

  • 50g of milk Kefir granules (about two tablespoons);
  • ½ liter of milk to taste at room temperature;

Preparation

  1. Put the Kefir granules in a glass container with a lid;
  2. Pour in the milk (the container must not be excessively full);
  3. Close the container;
  4. Place the container in a place at room temperature (in summer it is better to place the container in the refrigerator);
  5. Wait 48 hours until the milk has curdled (stir occasionally during the 48 hours). Kefir must not curdle excessively but remain liquid enough to prevent it from becoming too acidic;
  6. Filter the Kefir in order to separate the granules from the fermented milk;

Your beneficial Kefir will be ready when it has a thick consistency and the granules have increased in volume.

How to keep it

The self-produced kefir is kept in the fridge for about 1 week, as time passes the fermentation continues and the taste becomes more and more acid. Those that you buy ready have the expiration date printed on the package and you must refer to it precisely.

As for the granules, these can be immediately put back to ferment with the milk by starting the process from the beginning. But, in case of departures or if you cannot always manage them, it is also possible freeze them. However, it is necessary to wait at least 12 hours before being able to reuse them and the granules will tend to resume their activity in the best possible way only after a few uses.

Where to buy it and where to find the starter granules

Milk Kefir can be purchased ready-made in natural food stores, but we recommend that you prepare it yourself at home in order to have a product that is always fresh and with less added sugars. To do this, you need to get the granules useful for fermentation. These are available to buy in health food stores, herbalists or pharmacies.



Buy dairy kefir starter and granules online

The ideal, however, would be to receive them as a gift from those who already prepare kefir at home. In this regard, for example, there is a facebook group where it is possible not only to learn more about this very healthy food but also receive Kefir granules for free from other people.

Read also: KEFIR: THE FACEBOOK GROUP TO GET TO KNOW IT (AND RECEIVE THE GRANULES FOR FREE)

Daily dose

But what is the recommended dose of milk kefir to drink? If you have never consumed kefir, it is good to start with small doses to see the effect this new food has on your body.

You can start with a spoon or two to gradually get to one or two cups a day (but there are those who drink more). It can be consumed at breakfast but also during meals as it promotes digestion.

Controindicazioni

Although this drink is particularly healthy, if there is a particularly unbalanced intestine at the base, they can present themselves some side effects. In particular, these are nausea, stomach pain, cramps, meteorism and headaches, all consequences of a detoxification carried out by kefir. This is why it is recommended to start by taking a few tablespoons of the drink and gradually increasing the quantity. It is better for milk allergy sufferers to choose the kefir variant that is prepared from water.

Milk kefir and diabetes

Milk kefir does not include added sugars in its preparation and can therefore also be consumed by diabetics, unless otherwise indicated by your doctor.

Water kefir

Water Kefir is suitable for all those who have excluded milk and its derivatives from their diet and for those who follow a vegan diet 

Benefits

The benefits of water kefir are substantially the same as that prepared from milk as the great advantages it offers are due to the fermentation process that occurs in both cases. As it does not contain animal derivatives and lactose, it is also suitable for vegans or milk allergy sufferers.

Water kefir therefore:

  • Helps the intestinal flora
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • It is rich in minerals and vitamins
  • It keeps bad cholesterol at bay
  • Dona energy
  • It can be taken during pregnancy
  • Vegans, allergic and intolerant to milk can take it

How to prepare water kefir

Unlike milk kefir, water kefir has a sparkling, thirst-quenching and slightly alcoholic flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 liter of water
  • 4-6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2-tablespoons of granules of Kefir
  • 1/2 lemon;
  • 1 dried fig or 2 tablespoons of sultanas or various fruit of your choice;
  • 1 tablespoon of seeds of your choice of cumin, anise or fennel or a little mint;

Preparation

  1. Put the granules in the container and pour the water;
  2. Add the sugar and mix very well;
  3. Squeeze half a lemon and add the grated peel;
  4. Add the fruit, seeds and / or mint leaves;
  5. Close the container making sure and let it ferment at room temperature for 48 hours;
  6. Filter the Kefir solution into another container and once your miraculous Kefir has been left to cool a little, it will be ready with water.

For the preparation of water kefir, you have the possibility to vary the ingredients, perhaps you could add herbal teas or different types of sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup. Instead of water you could use fruit juice or grape juice instead of lemon.

How to keep it

Keep your water kefir in the fridge e eaten within 4 to 5 days (if it remains over, however, do not throw it away, you can use it at room temperature for example to water the plants). Kefir can also be frozen as well as its granules.

Daily dose

Since it is a lighter drink than a milk-based one, to make the most of its properties it is generally recommended to drink about 1 liter of water kefir per day. Many people drink it instead of water to aid digestion during meals.

Water kefir and diabetes

Water kefir can also be consumed by diabetics unless otherwise instructed by the doctor. However, it is good to use some precautions. The sugar used for the preparation of this drink is used by the bacteria and yeasts of the kefir and is eventually transformed with the advantage of not going to raise the blood sugar. However, diabetes sufferers may be advised to make a second fermentation with pure fruit juice to add to the already filtered drink or to make a first longer fermentation in order to reduce the sugar load. In case of diabetes, however, it is always better to consult your specialist before taking kefir.

Contraindications of water kefir

The possible contraindications and side effects of water kefir are basically the same as for milk kefir: nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches but appear above all in case of strong intestinal dysbiosis and are due to the fermentation of the product which makes it particularly active in the intestine. Also in this case it is recommended to start in small doses to see the effect the new drink has on your body before increasing the daily amount.

Where to buy it and where to find the granules

Water kefir and starter granules to make it at home can be found in health food stores, online, herbalist's shops or pharmacies. Generally, however, in the case of ready-made kefir it is advisable to carefully read the label and the amount of sucrose present.

Buy the starter with kefir granules online

The ideal also with regard to water kefir would be to receive as a gift from those who always prepare kefir at home. The granules are the same as in milk kefir but have undergone a different process that allows them to produce a drink based on water rather than milk.

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