Introduction: Milk Kefir
Milk kefir, much like traditional yogurt, is a healthy dairy product made from culturing milk. It's a fantastic source of probiotics, and is high in calcium, B vitamins, and protein. What really sets kefir apart from ordinary yogurt is the unique blend of beneficial bacteria and its incredibly high bacteria count, unmatched by any yogurt.
A Quick History
You may have noticed that kefir has been gaining popularity only just recently, but the truth is, people have been consuming milk kefir for millennia. It is believed to have originated in the Caucasus Mountains 2000 years ago, a mountain region ranging from Asia to Southeastern Europe. As for how the grains actually came into existence—no one really knows for sure. It most likely developed by accident from naturally existing bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms, forming the symbiotic culture that we know today as kefir grains.
How to Pronounce Kefir
We'll say it right off the bat — there is no right or wrong way to pronounce kefir. With that out of the way, there are essentially two main camps where people fall:
Here at Sour Culture, our team members call it ke-feer, but honestly, it's completely interchangeable and no one is going to look at you funny if you say it one way or the other.
The name itself comes from the word "Kief", Turkish for describing the state of feeling good. Quite fitting, isn't it?
How Kefir Grains Work
When kefir grains are added to milk, they immediately start consuming the sugars, also known as lactose, that are naturally present in milk. Over the course of 24 hours, the kefir grains will have consumed most, if not all, of the lactose. As a result, the milk will have cultured into a thick consistency, and will be full of valuable enzymes, and easily digestible proteins and vitamins. At this stage, the kefir grains are strained and placed back into a jar of fresh milk, repeating the process. If they are left to culture longer than 24 hours, they can really start to starve and the flavour of the kefir will begin to change, often becoming more sour.
You may be wondering: how long do kefir grains last? Well, kefir grains are actually heirloom which means they can be re-used indefinitely, providing you an endless supply of fresh kefir. Not only do they last 'forever', they also multiply and grow quite rapidly. In fact, your kefir grains can double in volume in as little as a couple weeks!
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