Kefir: what it is and how to prepare it at home


Whether it derives from the Turkish (keyif, i.e. delight), or from the Armenian (keif, i.e. well-being), the name certainly works in its favor: similar to yogurt, kefir is a valid ally of health thanks to the numerous recognized benefits. and supported by several scientific studies.

“It is a’ancient fermented drinkof which there are testimonies since 2000 BC, when its production represented a method of storing milk»Says the doctor Chiara Cevoli, nutritionist biologist. “All the fermented foods they have better nutritional properties than the starting raw materials: in addition to being enriched with vitamins, mineral salts and amino acids, they are much more digestible because fermentation acts as a sort of pre-digestion, which “breaks” the nutrients into smaller molecules, easily assimilable by the body “.

What is kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk with a consistency similar to yogurt, characterized by a sweet but at the same time acidic taste. The traditional recipe includesuse of fresh whole milk (usually cow, but also sheep or goat), which comes activated by a “starter” culture (granules), which we can be handed down or found on the market.

«These granules have an appearance reminiscent of small cauliflowers and they contain both bacteria and yeastsfor which they operate a double fermentation: lactic, like that of yogurt, and alcoholic, like that of beer. A double process that makes kefir even more digestible yoghurt, rich in precious nutrients and therefore a real elixir of long life ”, assures Dr. Cevoli.

“Attention: it is not possible to use vegetable drinks alternatives to milk, because the granules feed on lactose and therefore could not survive. Also for this reason, better results are obtained with whole cow’s milk than with skimmed milk ».

Where to find the granules

Up Facebook you can find numerous exchange groups (a bit like mother yeast), where those who use the granules share them for free with the people who intend to start this adventure. The best known is Kefir Italia, but there is no shortage of opportunities on the net.

“In addition to obtaining the granules without outlay of money, this path allows you to become part of real communities of enthusiasts with whom you can interact for advice, information and help”.

Alternatively, the granules you can buy them on Amazon or in shops specialized in organic food and sometimes in pharmacies or herbalists. On the market there is also a freeze-dried version in sachet for those who have difficulty finding the “live” granules, but in this case it will be necessary to carefully follow the instructions on the package to reactivate them.

How to make kefir at home

“Moving on to the operational phase, to prepare the kefir you need to pour the granules into a glass jar together with the milk (at room temperature) in a ratio of 1:10, that is, one gram of granules every ten grams of milk », explains Dr. Cevoli. Mix lightly with a wooden or plastic spoon and then cover with a clean cloth and fixed with an elastic: let it rest for 24-48 hours in a quiet place, not too bright and free from drafts or thermal changes.

“After the first 24 hours, observe the result: the kefir is ready when the milk has taken on a grainy consistency and when we notice the presence of serum (a clear and slightly yellowish liquid) between the granules. At that point, we mix and pour everything into a colander, placed on a clean jar, helping us with a spoon to filter the kefir obtained. “We do not use metal kitchen utensils: strainers, jars and spoons must be made of wood or plastic to prevent other materials from inhibiting fermentation.”

How the granules are stored

The granules that remain in the strainer go then placed in the refrigerator, inside a clean jar covered with milk, using them regularly. “Even if some people do, it is not necessary to wash them between uses: in this way, we will not affect its fermentation power ».

If, on the other hand, we cannot use them and we have to keep them “inert” for more than ten days, the best solution is freeze them: just put them in a small jar (always covered with milk) and then put them in the freezer, where they can be kept for up to four months.

How to make kefir without granules

On the Internet there are recipes that propose the preparation of kefir without the use of granules, mixing whole milk (500 ml) with ready-made kefir, bought at the supermarket (200 ml). “It is a different procedure to still take advantage of an initial” starter “, present in kefir, but the traditional granules are the best choice to obtain an excellent quality product”.

Does kefir have any contraindications?

By its composition, kefir can be problematic for those allergic to milk proteins, such as casein, which is not eliminated by fermentation by yeasts and bacteria as is the case with lactose, which is a sugar. “You have to stay away from it too those suffering from severe histamine intolerancesince all fermented foods are histamine-releasing, and those suffering from phenylketonuria, a rare metabolic disease that causes the accumulation of a particular amino acid, phenylalanine, present in most animal and vegetable proteins “.

Yellow light, on the other hand, for those suffering from gastritis or important digestive problems, because theacidity of kefir may not be well tolerated: «Here we can run for cover with a second filtering, in addition to the first which serves to separate the granules. It is necessary to pour the kefir on a cloth and place it on a funnel, which we will place in a jar: little by little, the whey, which represents the most acid part, will come out and only the most palatable part will remain in the cloth, with a consistency similar to yogurt. Greek. It is a slow process, so it is best to put everything in the refrigerator and let the filtering take place within a few hours », concludes the expert.

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