Monday, April 11, 2011

Kefir Brews

Separating kefir grains from kefir
Full of probiotics (good bacteria) and good for you! Kefir is often tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant. Other benefits of kefir include regulating digestion, regulating blood sugar and boosting immunity. Kefir is similar to liquid yogurt. I use kefir in my morning smoothies and in making bread. If the batch is particularly tart, I add a little maple syrup in my smoothies to sweeten it up. Kefir is available in the dairy section at many whole food markets, Trader Joes and I've even seen kefir at Kwik Trip. However, it's usually overpriced and often over-sugared. Or worse yet, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. I'd rather regulate the sugar content myself.
I bought my kefir grains (both dairy kefir and water kefir - more on that later) from a "friend of friend" at Savvy Teas also has a wonderful selection of teas and strainers that work perfect in kefir making.

Kefir Recipe
 **Make sure that jar and equipment is clean. Store in glass NOT plastic or metal. Do not use metal utensils in your kefir.
  • Needed: kefir grains, glass jar and milk
  • I use a 1/2 gal. ball jar however any size will work.
  • Fill jar with kefir grains, top with milk, filling jar 3/4 full.
  • Cover with a thin cloth - I use a coffee filter, secured with a rubber band.
  • Place jar in a dark place for 12-48 hours. Normally 24 hrs. but adjust to preference and room temperature. The warmer it is the fast it "brews". If you like your kefir more thick and tart, brew longer.
  • Strain grains and start a new batch or store. Grains can be stored by freezing (something I haven't tried) or top grains with milk and place in the frig. Strain and add fresh milk every week or two.
Kefir Bread

3 cups kefir
3 cups whole wheat flour
~Mix in a bowl. Cover with a towel and leave on the counter overnight/24 hours. I usually mix this after lunch and make it the next day after breakfast.

After the kefir/flour mixture has "fermented". Add:
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 T. honey
2 T. melted coconut oil (short cut: I melt the oil, pour into my bread pans, after sides and bottoms are well-greased I pour the excess oil into the bread mixture)
3 cups flour (spelt works well in this recipe but sometimes I just use whole wheat)

Mix well. This bread dough is very sticky...don't expect to roll into loafs, it just doesn't work. I pour the batter-like substance into two bread loaf pans.
Set on counter, cover and let rise for 15-45 minutes (Don't be surprised, this bread doesn't rise much.)
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Water Kefir is also a good-for-you-probiotic. It's a great substitute for soda as the fermenting process creates carbonation. The sugar is used to "feed" the grains.

Water Kefir
**Important to use very clean jar and equipment
  • Most recipes call for filtered water (do not use distilled water as it's missing important minerals) however I boil my tap water. It helps dissolve the sugar. BUT remember to let water cool before adding kefir grains. The grains can be killed by water that is too hot!
  • Add 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 gal. ball jar (or adjust accordingly, depending on the size of your jar)
  •  Fill with water until 3/4 full. Stir to dissolve sugar. Let cool. (Add additional fruits if desired)
  • Once cool, add kefir grains.
  • Cover with a lid. Store at room temperature for 24-42 hours. Strain and bottle.

  • Optional: fruit can also be added at the beginning of brewing process. I've used lemon slices, ginger, blueberries and raisins. The extra sugar from the fruit will add in the brewing process but I've made water kefir without the fruit and had no problem.

  • Do not use honey. Honey will damage the grains.

  • Do not fill brewing container or bottles full or your container may burst due to the carbonation.

  • Like my dairy kefir grains, I store my grains in the frig. when I'm not brewing. I change the sugar water every few weeks to ensure that my grains are being "fed".

  • Molasses can be added during brewing process to "plump up" the grains. I don't care for the taste of molasses kefir so I usually only use molasses during my storing stage.

  • Featured on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade

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