While I liked the kombucha ok that Kelly made (and we posted about not too long ago) it just wasn’t “my cup of tea”.

I had been reading about kefir, a fermented milk product along the lines of yogurt, and decided that was what I wanted to try.  I did a little searching and found I could buy kefir grains on ebay (of all places).

Kefir fermenting in the kitchen

Kefir is created by putting kefir grains in milk.  The kefir grains have bacterial and yeast components that culture the milk.  When it is done, you strain the kefir to remove the grains, and they can be used again (and again, and again…)  They will even grow and divide, so you can either make more and more kefir, or you can share grains with your friends.  You have a very healthy, digestible, probiotic drink that is slightly effervescent and very tasty.  Sky even likes it plain (but I need it sweetened a bit to really enjoy it.)

After buying my grains on ebay, I found that Nick’s Naturals (the seller) is the same people as Savvy Teas and Herbs.  They sell kefir grains and so much more.  They also make their own vanilla extract and have many really cool things.  When you buy grains from them, they send you very detailed instructions on how to use them, and take care of them.  You can buy directly from the website above and avoid giving ebay your money.  Not to mention you get lots more choices in the store.

I have since purchased teas and herbs from them, along with some other stuff (like arrowroot powder and vanilla extract) and even some water kefir grains.  These are similar to milk kefir grains but make a probiotic soda type drink.  My hope is to break Kent of his soda addiction.  I’ll share more on this as I get into the project.  Right now the water kefir grains are still in the bag they came in, waiting patiently to be rehydrated.

Kefir grains floating in the fermenting milk

In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying my milk kefir.  I like it flavored with honey and a bit of the vanilla extract I mentioned earlier.  You just put the grains in milk, cover with a cloth, stir occasionally, and let it culture for 18-24 hours at room temperature, depending on the temperature and your individual culture.  I just strain my grains out, rinse out the glass bowl, put the grains back in, and add more milk.

I either drink the kefir immediately or put it in a quart jar in the fridge for later.  I have found that honey stirs in better at room temperature.  And I really like honey in my kefir.  I will, by the way, be adding local honey to the store as soon as I get around to it.  In case you were wondering what the kefir is sitting on in the picture above, here it is.  Kent got this old refrigerator at a garage sale one day.  It actually works, but mostly it just takes up space and looks cool.

Isn't this a cool old refrigerator?

I keep the finished kefir in the regular refrigerator in a canning jar.

A jar of kefir, whey, and stock

Here it is, along with my jar of whey above, some butternut squash I cooked today and will make soup with tomorrow, and the chicken stock which will also go into the soup.  I’m really getting quite pleased with my refrigerator.  I am gathering quite a collection of “real food” basics in there: grassfed butter, raw milk, whey, kefir, stock, fermented pickles, fermented beets, pastured pork and beef…

Sometimes I feel like I’m not making much headway on improving our eating, but looking in there tonight, I know that I am.  Or at least I’m doing better at filling the fridge, I just have to make sure we all eat the stuff, too!

Happy, healthy eating ~ Ramy