On my quest to eating a traditional diet, I discovered kefir - a fermented drink that resembles milk and yogurt. It is made from kefir grains, which is really a mother culture of lactic bacteria and yeast. It's amazing for digestion and filled with probiotics. The benefits of kefir are multifarious. It has been said to help in numerous ways, from eliminating acne in adolescents, to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, to enhancing immune function. It's also touted as a gastrointestinal "friend", and since Mark *shouldn't* being doing much dairy, kefir seemed like a fantastic alternative. They sell it for about $4 per pint or so at Whole Foods (WF), but the price is exorbitant and commercially made kefir is really just a sugary drink with vitamins added back into it. That didn't seem really fitting with the whole traditional, back to basics thang, so, I scratched the kefir idea for awhile.
Fast forward 8 months, and I'm interested in kefir again, with a renewed sense of determination. I can brew this myself. (I did try, once, and it smelled like a dead mouse, so I threw away the mother culture and dismissed the idea that I was capable of success.) I ordered some grains from someone in the Kefir-making yahoo group, and she sent them almost immediately, and for free! I began brewing my kefir with 1 T of grains and 1-1.5 c of raw milk. The first few batches were almost intolerably tangy, and thin, but I made smoothies out of them and knocked it down. However, now my kefir is thicker and more mild. I still blend the fruit in, but it's not at all a chore to drink anymore.
The kefir making process is really easy. You take a glass pint jar, or anything else that may work, and mix together 1 T of grains, and 1 c of milk. Leave the jar for about 24 hours, until you see a separation of the curds and whey, and the kefir has a yeasty, almost beery smell. Then, with a small hole-d strainer, strain out the grains, and the result is a ready to drink kefir! You can also leave the kefir loosely covered at room temp for another day or so, and the folic acid content goes through the roof. (When/if I get pregnant, I will be consuming this bioavailable source of FA instead of the less effective capsules.) Save the grains, put them back into the jar, and pour in some more milk, and you'll have another jar of kefir ready the next day. Watch out though, as the grains multiply! You always want just one T, so either stir the extras into your drink, eat them, or chuck them!
This was a very basic tutorial, but Dom's Kefir site is the bible of Kefir making. It must be checked out to fully appreciate the benefits of kefir. My grains are great and multiply daily, so please let me know if you would like to share!