What is Milk Kefir?
Milk Kefir is derived from the turkish word keyif -meaning ‘good feeling’. It is a cultured probiotic dairy drink, with a similar thick consistency to yoghurt. It has a tart taste, and this unique sour taste brings another level of umami to our tastebuds, along with the health benefits that a balanced ecosystem provides.
How is Milk Kefir different from yogurt?
Milk Kefir contains lactic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C and all the nutrients found in milk. It tastes like drinkable Greek yogurt, except that it has lots more probiotics--Yogurt has about 3-5 strains of bacteria, while milk kefir can contain up to 20-60 strains. What’s cool about milk kefir is that after fermentation, it is 99% lactose-free and are suitable for people who are lactose-intolerant. It is also commonly taken to relieve symptoms of allergies and eczema.
What is the history of Milk Kefir?
Traced back to the northern region of the Caucasus Mountains (between Russia and Georgia) and originally called ‘Airan’, The highly valuable milk kefir grains, have been passed down from the Ossettes and other mountain tribes people, and were a symbol of great family wealth.
The traditional method of culturing the kefir was continuous. Using sacks made of animal hide, which would hang at the front door, the grains were combined with cow, goat or sheep’s milk, and left outside in the sun during the day, and brought in at night. Visitors were expected to punch the bag upon entry in order to mix it up the curds and whey. As Kefir was consumed, they would replace it with new milk.
The recipe and grains were closely guarded and contained in this region for centuries, before being discovered by the outside world. Marco Polo (1300’s) even makes mention of this beverage in his travels east. However, the outside world forgot about kefir until the early 1900’s, until it was popularized in the All-Russian Physician Society for its medicinal benefits. As a result, the Moscow dairy started producing it in 1908, and a larger commercial scale production in the 1930’s followed.
Milk kefir grains are made up of a colony of (thousands) of living microorganisms that act in symbiosis, to maintain a balanced microflora of good bacterias and yeasts.
What are the Experimental Health Benefits?
Kefir contains large numbers of probiotics – the microbes that live in our bodies and provide us with important health benefits such as boosting immunity, calming inflammation, assisting in digestion, creating amino acids and vitamins, and aiding in digestion. Kefir can be made from any type of animal milk and also contains partially digested proteins, enzymes (including lactase, which is good for people who are lactose intolerant), vitamins (A, B1, B3, B9/folate, B12, D and vitamin K), minerals and essential amino acids.
Along with the probiotics, it is high in bioavailable vitamins and minerals such as B-12, vitamin K2, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and several others.
Kefir has also been used in the treatment of atherosclerosis, allergies, diseases like eczema that are related to allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, tuberculosis and cancer. However the studies that had been conducted, until recent times, have been inaccessible to most researchers in the west because they were written in Slavic languages, where kefir was popular and the research had been done.
Milk Kefir may help with
|Irritable Bowel Syndrome
|Lowering LDL cholesterol
|Lowering blood sugar
|Nourishes hair and skin
|Candida and other fungal infections
|psoriasis and eczema
Milk kefir comprises of approx. twenty different strains of lactobacilli, approx. thirty types of yeast strands, a dozen or more strands of streptococci and lactococci, enterococci, acetobacter and other strains of bacteria like bacillus sp. However, each bacterial and yeast composition, is unique and can vary from one strain to the next.
*Pls. note that information provided by Craft & Culture is not intended to treat or diagnose physical medical conditions. In the event that any adverse reactions occur, please exercise good judgement and decide if medical attention is required.
Disclaimer: All experimental benefits listed can vary from person to person. Our products are helpful for many but may have no effect on some.
How much should i be taking?
Start your day with a bottle of Milk Kefir on an empty stomach. If you are new to it, start with a small quantity to get your body used to it.
What type of milk do you use?
We use full cream cow’s milk. Lactose is a natural sugar, contained in dairy milk, and is required for the milk kefir bacteria to feed off.
We do not use raw milk as it contains it’s own living colony of bacterial microorganisms, as they have not been killed through the process of pasteurization. This could introduce new strains, or alter the balance of bacteria already established in our milk kefir. (
Commercial Kefir v’s Home-made kefir
Commercial brands commonly found on the shelf generally taste a lot milder (like yoghurt- but not as sweet), whilst naturally fermented Milk Kefir has more of a tart/yeasty taste and smell.
Commercially bought Milk Kefir, tend to be pasteurized, have long shelf lives with probiotic powders added to it. In order for them to safely package and standardize their product commercial providers remove a variety of bacteria and yeast strains, to limit the build up of carbon, which could lead to their bottles exploding. This commercial practice not only affects the natural yeasty smell of kefir, but also the taste, consistency and health benefits.
Craft & Culture’s Milk Kefir is raw and unpasterized
Milk Kefir can initially be described as an acquired taste like many other fermented food and drink products. As such the Milk Kefir we sell as ready to consume. As it is a raw product, the longer it is fermented, the more sour the taste.
As products are raw, Best By Dates are entirely dependent on how raw Kefirs are stored post delivery. Please see guide below:
- Up to 4 days in 8-10 degC fridge
- Up to 1 week in a 5-7 degC fridge
- Up to 2 weeks at 2-4 degC fridge
- ** Do not store brews in wine chillers as the average temperature is around 10-15 degC.
Over Fermented Milk kefir
If your Milk Kefir separates into curds and whey, you will know you have over-fermented it. This generally occurs for a number of reasons:
- Warmer temperatures, will speed up fermentation times
- It was left to ferment for too long
Don’t worry if this does occur, you can save your kefir by simply stirring the curds and whey back together, which is still consumable but may be a little tart. You can then get creative and include it in your day-to day meals to disguise the taste, or simply flavour it.
What bacteria strains make up the Milk Kefir?
Microbial profiles of Milk Kefir from various origins differ significantly. This means that your home brewed Milk Kefir may or may not contain any, or all of the strains mentioned below.
Every batch of Milk Kefir is unique, and is made up of a living colony of bacteria based on its surrounding environment. Fermentation is not something that can be standardized. However, rest assured that the acidic environment found in Milk Kefir, provide a natural environment to protect against any harmful pathogens.
We have put together a list of strains that you may find in Milk Kefir. This is list is not exhaustive, and cannot be relied upon exclusively, and does not constitute itself as medical advice in any way.
- Lactobacillus Lactis
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
- Streptococcus Diacetylactis
- Lactobacillus Plantarum
- Lactobacillus Casei
- Saccharomyces Florentinus
- Leuconostoc Cremoris
- Bifidobacterium Longum
- Bifidobacterium Breve
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium Lactis
- Lactobacillus Reuteri