SO, DOM, WHAT is KEFIR?
ORDER, PURCHASE KEFIR GRAINS + OTHER
TRADITIONAL KEFIR OF CAUCASUS
KEFIRAN in DETAIL + Health Benefits of
Kefiran + Kefir
HERSTORY & RELATED INFO
WATER KEFIR a NON-DAIRY KEFIR
* Subtitle of main topic
GROWTH CYCLE of MILK KEFIR-GRAINS
EXPANDED USE for KEFIR & KEFIR GRAINS
MOST SIGNIFICANT BIT-- HERBAL KEFIR + MORE
This extensive web page in biblical proportion, is one among many self-published works dedicated to the culture-art of sharing knowledge. If you are interested in how to make kefir, kefir cheese, kefirkraut, or your interest lies in other kefir related topics such as FAQs, please scroll down to the end of this page or any of my other web pages to the Links to My Other Web pages to locate those other topics that interest you.
The wealth of information shared here WITH you, is about my current understanding of the benefits, mysteries and secrets of milk-kefir and water kefir. Much time, pixel space and energy has been dedicated with the intention to help explain, debate and clarify most misconceptions about traditional kefir. Where kefir stands today, we look to history to gain some better understanding of the benefits of the culture-art of kefir as a whole. This has excited me to expand on the practical use of both kefir grains and kefir, to the extent of implementing these culture-products therapeutically with research and or anecdotal evidence to make such claims stand feasible.
The tremendous amount of positive feedback I received over the years in relation to the above, and from all corners of the globe, should provide enough ground for the folks of science to embrace the many possibilities that kefir grains, as the natural starter stands, to inspire further interest or to carry on further research in this area. It appears scientists are in a lag phase compared to what the everyday lay-person is finding in regards to the many benefits that kefir is providing those many individuals worldwide, and from all corners of life.
Here abides information regarding a large collection of unique and interesting kefir-related topics and products; the majority of which were pioneered by yours truly. These achievements are the fruits born from numerous hours of dedication, working with an outstanding self-organizing micro<^>macro-[small within the larger picture/large within the smaller picture]-system -- Kefir Grains; the natural mother-culture of milk-cultures that stands in a unique class on its own.
I see kefir grains as Probiotic-Jewels... and the culture milk-product kefir as a Probiotic-Gem and all being for good reason.
Before the realisation of kefir in my life in late 1978, I had already realized the respect and admiration I felt, for human-cultures of yesteryear regarding the accumulation of knowledge presented to us, in the practical art of natural food-preservation. Much know-how has been passed on to me through my parents including other members of our extended family well familiarized in a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. The evolution of such culture-arts has with little doubt, improved quality of many lives. This is achievable by harnessing the many goodies generously provided in abundance, by what may appear to be the most simplest of life forms--- the single-celled organism. However, fine culture-arts as these also need preservation; otherwise they may be forever lost, forgotten or overlooked. So here we stand, preserving the arts which preserve our food to better preserve and provide good, sound, wise nutrition for health and a better sense of well-being, aiming well into the future.
In the interest of
self-sufficiency or self-help, the extent of this web site is
an invaluable resource for information; an ongoing work in
fact. Those with an interest in natural food science
should find my work here of great value, especially for
inspiration [but let thi not commit plagiarism.
< Here's a cheeky cheerier iridescent-yellow kefir-mustache-grin, just 4-U >
If you enjoy music, you may not want to miss out downloading a free mp3 track from my current CD album Music for-life. The title of this particular reggae-style music track is Let's say Kefir! Listen and dance to the uplifting reggae beat with your kefir culture if a 2-legged partner is not at foot:) how to order kefir grains
To obtain Milk Kefir-Grains, Water Kefir-Grains, Viili starter, Caspian Sea Yogurt [Matsoni] starter, Kombucha starter, Kefikraut [Dom's cultures Vegetables], Dom's ToothSaving Paste or my Music CD, please click this text to be taken further down this page for how to order details.
NOTE There are links to graphic material among this page designed to further explain that particular topic. This material linked in bold blue font opens in a small new window.
Oh before I forget-me-not. "don't mind the bad spelling and grammar... I didn't!" [Spike Milligan, Dreams of a Scorpion 1972]
Kefir is pronounced keh f é-er [as in keh in kettle, and fear]. Click here to hear our daughter Shedea pronouncing Kefir at 20 months of age. Alternate spelling and names; kephir or kefyr, kewra, talai, mudu kekiya [Reference: Wikipedia, the free on line encyclopaedia] among other possible names in different countries. The word kefir is said to be derived from the Turkish word keif, which loosely translates to good feeling or feel good. This is quite likely because drinking kefir is renowned to increase a sense of well-being.
Kefir is a refreshing cultured-milk beverage which originated in the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, believed to date back at least 1,000 years. The tribes-folk of this particular region who possibly developed kefir by shear accident consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities. These people were renowned for longevity, living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.
Kefir has a uniform, slightly creamy consistency, a sour refreshing flavour, with a slight subtle aroma of fresh yeast [or a very subtle beer-like aroma]. Kefir also has a slightest hint of a natural effervescent zesty tang. There is an assortment of some 40 aromatic compounds contributing to the unique flavour and distinctive pleasant aroma of kefir. Rounding this off, kefir contains between 0.08% to 2% alcohol. However, about .08 to .1% alcohol is a realistic figure for 1-day cultured kefir. Whereas kefir stored for a number of days after separating the natural mother-culture, kefir grains [see following], contains up to 2 and possibly 3% alcohol, depending on milk-type and ripening conditions. [Yep-- wow!].
Traditional, authentic kefir can only be prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains. Note that Kefir grains should not be mistaken for cereal grains. The natural mother-culture is referred to as grains solely due to its granular structure and appearance. This is to say that the grain part of the name can be considered a misnomer. Kefir grains, or kefir granules if you wish, are in fact a natural-starter. The biological structure or each grain [which I feel can be referred to as a bio-matrix] is created through symbiosis a dynamic association between a vast mixture of friendly Lactic acid bacteria [LAB], vinegar-producing bacteria and yeast strains.
A batch of kefir grains consist of many individual white to bone-coloured mostly enclosed bodies made up of a soft, gelatinous biological mass somewhat resembling cooked cauliflower rosettes. The complexity of the kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, lipids [fats] and soluble-polysaccharides. Kefiran a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues, is the major polysaccharide of kefir grains and is also found in kefir. The bacteria and yeasts not only create the bio-matrix structure, or the grain, the organisms are also harboured by the very structure that they create; abiding on the surface, and encapsulated within the grain itself <[The abode of the friendly microbe]>
Traditional kefir [real, authentic kefir] is easily prepared at home, just as it has been performed for many centuries by the ancients of the Caucasus Mountains. Fresh, non-pasteurised or pasteurised full-cream, low fat or non-fat milk is put in a clean suitable container with a smaller portion of kefir grains. The content is left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The resulting developed cultured-milk is strained in order to separate, and retrieve the kefir grains from the liquid-kefir. The grains are reused to repeat the simple process for the following batch. This procedure is performed on an indefinite ongoing basis... for kefir grains last forever.
Strained liquid-kefir may either
be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or ripened at room temperature over a period of
days. The ripening process is not only useful for individuals who
wish to reduce lactose in their kefir, it is important to increase
some of the B group of vitamins [For details explaining the simple procedure
of ripening, please follow this
link situated at Dom's kefir making web page]. Ripening
improves overall flavour, while vitamins B1, B6, B9 [folic acid], and CO
Kefir grains increase in overall volume, numbers of, and by weight, as the grains are self-perpetuating when continually cultured in fresh milk to prepare kefir [biomass increase]. Because of this, a point comes where a portion of kefir grains have to be removed from the batch, in order to prevent overcrowding of kefir grains, and to maintain a reasonable constant grain-to-milk ratio. Apart from the advantage in preventing overcrowding of grains to avoid over fermentation, the other advantage is to produce a kefir with a reasonable constant character and consistency on an ongoing basis. Traditionally, excess or spare kefir grains were either eaten [which I highly recommend], dehydrated and stored as a back -up source, shared among family members, or traded among the tribes-folk of Caucasus, in exchange for other basic essentials.
Except for refrigeration, the culture-art of kefir has been practised for many centuries by the tribes-folk of Caucasus. In fact, this is the very reason why kefir came about, for the preservation of milk over extensive periods, without refrigeration, for there were no means of refrigeration back then.
This is why folks of yesteryear cultured a wide range of fresh food produce, to extend the keeping quality of food grown in larger quantity. It is only in recent time that we learned the fuller extent regarding how such culture food-products give the consumer extra health benefit such as protection against disease, other than good nutrition. For this reason, most if not all naturally cultured foods can be classified as functional-food.
As an end note to this section, all kefir grains found anywhere today, originate from that place and are the children of the very first natural mother-culture that mysteriously developed in a particular region of the Caucasus Mountains.
For full details explaining how to prepare Kefir, please see Dom's Kefir-making in-site
The original term used for kefir grains and kefir by the tribes-folk of Caucasus. The Grains of The Prophet Mohamed. The Drink of the Prophet respectfully.  Alternate names for milk kefir-grains today: Tibetan Mushrooms or tara, yogurt plant, yogurt mushroom. Yogurt Fungus or Snow Lotus [China, Asia], Kin-okoor yogoot-tane-oko [Japan]. Tibetanischer Pilz [German]. Galodium [Romania or Polish?]. kefyras [Lithuanian]. Julia in USA named a batch of kefir grains which she procured from me here in Australia, Great Whites of Oz. Other names Herbert [Nhem, South Australia] et al [And Others].
This section is not an order form or a shopping cart to order any products from this site. This section explains our product range and how to order. This service came about due to public demand, and not because this was initially intended as a business. This is a non-profit service and unique compared to commercial sites because we like the personal touch and you get to contact a real person who really knows their products.
For complete order details please send an e-mail to and you shall receive a personal reply from either my wife Sandra or I [Dom] as soon as possible.
If you are in Australia, you can phone us with questions regarding how to order. Cellular mobile number +61 432 935 699 [0432 935 699 if calling from a landline].
Please read this section carefully to get an understanding of available options.
Product Range and Options
kefir grains. Either fresh [live, active
ready-to-use on arrival] or dry [dormant as in "seed".
Needs reactivation. Has a 2 year shelf life].
Delivery of fresh, live, ready-for-use kefir grains within Australia are shipped by Express Post Australia. Goods are delivered by the next business working day, depending if the destination post code meets the guaranteed 24 hour delivery network. Otherwise, goods take up to three days to deliver. In all cases, Express Post deliveries arrive in excellent condition. All other products may be shipped by airmail, depending on the order.
Instruction fliers with easy-to-follow directions explaining how to use the particular culture, recipes, troubleshooting tips is provided to match any particular culture of interest.All cultures are packaged in strong, food-grade machine vacuum packaging, which thus far has handsomely withstood national and international transit conditions.
For Complete order details please see above to email us and get a personal reply as soon as possible.
Two options are offered--OPTION 1 [Fresh, live Cultures Shipped by Express International Courier with USPS, or DHL to extend Shipping Service in other Countries]
Fresh quality milk kefir-grains and fresh sugary kefir-grains, dry viili starter, fresh kombucha with SCOBY starter, my toothpaste and music CD are offered. A ebook of my book on kefir is available. A bonus pack of dehydrated sugary kefir-grains [for backup purpose] is supplied along with fresh sugary kefir-grains, if fresh sugary kefir-grains are ordered. Goods are delivered usually by 3 working days from shipping date. A parcel tracking number is provided by email, so that the parcel can be tracked on line to most countries, for your convenience.
OPTION 2 [Dry Cultures Shipped by Regular Mail]
Dehydrated milk kefir-grains and dehydrated sugary kefir-grains. Note that dehydrated milk kefir-grains and sugary kefir-grains reconstitute to the same quality as the fresh counterpart. Dry milk kefir-grains have a shelf life of no less than 2 years, and the dry sugary kefir grains have a 1 year shelf life. A signed printed copy or an ebook version of my book. Dry viili starter or fresh kombucha starter, including my music CD and Dom's ToothSaving paste as above are on offer. Goods are shipped by regular airmail. Delivery is between 7 to 14 days from shipping date to most countries.
Extensive easy-to-follow instruction fliers with directions and troubleshooting are supplied to match any particular culture of interest. All goods are packaged in strong, food-grade machine vacuum pack.
For complete order details please send an e-mail to
Please, remember to include country of origin with your inquiry to receive appropriate cost-to-supply details. Thank you in advance for your support, and please be patient with a reply if you do not get one right away.
About Our Mother-CulturesMilk kefir-grains. I obtained my milk kefir-grains in late summer of 1978 from a local friend who has her own milking goats [Hi Nhem!]. The circumstances surrounding the fashion if which I was able to procure those milk kefir-grains, which I was on the lookout for about 3 years prior, is an interesting story in its own merit. The culture has been diligently cared for by yours truly over this time. Among the original stock is currently a mixture of now 12 other batches of milk kefir-grains which have been obtained from different sources around the world over the years. These are now mixed together as a single batch, to ensure best quality culture from all batches mixed together as one. This is my personal observation with much research on my part.
My milk kefir-grains are cultured in whole goat's milk, or certified bio-dynamic/organic whole cow's milk [see bellow for details of my milk supplier].
My Essential Kefir Manual
Kefir! A Probiotic Gem
Cultured with Probiotic Jewels; Kefir Grains! The book is
designed to compliment the information found at this web site on
kefir. I guess one could say that I use reverse psychology to help
with sales of my book. Instead of hinting what my book contains so
that the interested buyer has to purchase the book for the
complete details, I, instead, provide an overwhelming amount of
information right here at my site, for free. On the other hand,
the information in my book is ready at hand in a condensed easy
to read format. The book contains unique, practical information
regarding well researched health-benefits of kefir and kefir
grains, and how to implement these to possibly assist with a variety
of health related issues. The book includes FAQs, unique recipes,
and how to care for your precious rare milk kefir-grains and water
kefir-grains, or sugary kefir-grains [SKG]. Some information in my
book is not found among this site, nor any where else for that matter.
Water kefir-grains, or sugary kefir-grains [SKG]. My stock of SKG are just superbly wonderful. I culture SKG with certified organic ingredients. My SKG increase by no less than 100% per each brew. I find that the more SKG increase, the healthier the water kefir they produce. This is because SKG organisms remove almost all the sugar in solution, creating new grains from that sugar. We are left with a very mildly sweet, refreshing water kefir, containing less sugar content than a Granny Smith apple per serving.
Culture collectors and enthusiasts alike who have thus far procured my kefir-cultures from all corners of the globe, have come to praise the quality of my cultures and the extended service that we provide. Heavens, I've been known to service questions from individuals who have procured their cultures elsewhere. This is because as you may well have figured, I have a good understanding of these subjects, they communicate through me, which has become obvious to the outside world ;) Hang on to reality, folks!
Dry viili starter is one that I have personally developed on organic cow's milk powder. The dry starter has a guaranteed shelf life of no less than 2 years in the original packaging. However, my tests show it lasts up to 4 years stored under cool, dry stable conditions.
Viili is a Scandinavian ropy milk [web page on viili hopefully coming soon]. Viili is relatively sweet for a culture-milk, for the culture produces a thick, viscose health-promoting polysaccharide rather than lactic and other organic acids, compared to other culture milk-products. Viili is very easy to make. Simply keep 2 Tbs of viili from the previous batch. Spread that along the bottom and part way up the jar. Add more milk to the jar, cover to keep out dust and insects and let stand for 12 to 24 hours at moderate room temperature. At this point you are left with this amazing viili to enjoy, each and every time. Viili is an extremely robust culture, and 100% natural.
Jun starter with SCOBY is simply kombucha that has been adapted to culture with honey and green tea as opposed to black tea and cane sugar used for kombucha.
Dom's Kefirkraut I may well have been the first person ever to produce for sale, the now common cultured-vegetables without salt way back in 1982. I have not only developed this wonderful culture food-product, but it stands out from the rest simply because I use kefir grains as a natural starter enhancer, which I have perfected to have a most delicious flavour and crispy texture. Get it directly from the Kefirkraut-Master.
All my cultures are a once-off purchase for a lifetime supply of health-promoting delicious sustenance. One has good control over the preparation of all these wonderful culture-foods. There is no rocket science involved in their making. They are ancient, so if ancients could do it, then so should you.
Dom's ToothSaving Paste Due to public demand worldwide for this 100% natural and very effective toothpaste, I now produce the toothpaste for sale. It is handmade from organically produced ingredients. The prototype of the current recipe is explained by clicking the link.
My CD album includes the song, Let's say Kefir! to keep you, your family and friends including your cultures dancing and lively. Youngsters, teenagers and older folks alike are enjoying my music. The kefir song not only explained how individuals around the world pronounce KEFIR, the sang can entice youngsters to enjoy a healthy beverage kefir. This is thanks to our daughter Shedea. Her cute little voice is among the song deliciously offering her mother Sandra and me, kefir at 20 months of age. The CD also includes a track about the ongoing challenge to save the whales, Sayonara whalers. Here are a few tracks from my CD for your listening pleasure or sampling, including song descriptions. Mp3 versions are also available to play on your iPod or mp3 player. My music makes wonderful background music, while driving long distance, while exercising or jogging to help you keep moving forward with the beat.
A Little more About our Mother-Cultures
After some years of research I have developed what I feel to be an optimal, natural nutrient-media for shipping both dehydrated, and fresh kefir-grains worldwide, which the mother-culture [kefir grains] come packaged in. The specific formulated-media provides physical protection to the grains during transport, and ensures that both fresh and dehydrated kefir-grains re-activate with ease. The natural formula used for shipping fresh milk kefir-grains, provides a unique opportunity, for the grains do not arrive encased among a thick mass of coagulated milk, which makes it quite difficult to impossible to observe the actual kefir grains among the thick, white mass of curd. The latter is what most vendors of kefir grains provide, and a novice to kefir will find it difficult to isolate the actual kefir grains from those thick white curds, for these both appear similar to the eye.
I would also like to forward that I have developed a technique for dehydrating fresh kefir-grains under sterile conditions, so that the culture can be prepared safely to be dispatched in a dormant state. This process ensures good integrity of the dry mother-culture stored for 2 years or even longer in the machine vacuum sealed food-grade packaging that all my cultures are provided.
Also of importance is that my milk kefir-grains are cultured with Australian produced milk and only under my care [not out sourced], so I can assure integrity and quality.
Australia is free from Mad Cow's Disease including most other bovine diseases. This is due to our strict customs regulations and the isolation of Australia, which thus far has protected this country from what has plagued most other countries at some point. It is illegal to import milk products into Australia, so I would strongly urge Australian citizens to abide by these laws, and source any dairy milk-based cultures from within Australia. This will ensure that Australia remains with a clean bill of health, and we should not jeopardize this good reputation [think of our dairy farmers, it would devastate them with an introduced disease from overseas. Most of our dairy farmers are under enough due stress through man made means of greed!].
My milk kefir-grains produce abundant amounts of kefiran and unlike most batches available today, the grains shall produce a wonderful kefir in either Goat or Cow's milk, including dry milk powder or UHT [Ultra Heat Treated or Long Life] milk. I state this for it is common for most milk kefir-grains cultured in Cow's milk for extended periods, are renowned to producing a thin, watery kefir when those grains are transferred to Goat's milk.
NOT ALL KEFIR GRAINS ARE ALIKE! There is plenty of research to prove this. I am not saying that my grains are the best in the word, just that I know what I am dong, so I can pretty well guarantee quality.
Funds to provide goods, secure that this site remains as an invaluable resource for information, designed to enrich the sharing of knowledge, inspire creativity and enjoyment for the self-help interested individual, and in a non-commercial environment [Have you noticed no commercial banners or links throughout my site?]. My cultures can be delivered to most if not all locations of our good mother-earth.
Paris Creek Bio-dynamic farm is our supplier of certified organic/bio-dynamic, non-homogenized whole cow's milk, which we use to culture our kefir, when goat's milk is not available.
NOTE When seeking kefir grains, be equipped with some facts firmly secured under your kefir-hat by reading this section below <]:o)
To the impatient folk. If you have made it this far in life without kefir, then waiting a few more days longer should not cause you harm. Please be patient with your order. You have been seeking and have found and shall conquer with patience and compassion firmly by your side. Stand sound with us, for we are more than happy to support you in return, and for a life time.
Far left of picture is a jug of freshly strained kefir, and a glass of fresh kefir, ready to be gulped ... Saluti!
<-a free kefir-burp'n-grin-just-4-u-> excuse me!
Pssst!! Far right in picture is a portion of milk kefir-grains sitting in a tall, cylindrical glass vessel half-filled with fresh water. I refer to this as, fasting kefir grains and this process may certainly have a place in the culture-art of kefir. To elaborate; since the introduction of kefir to the rest of the world [in 1908], today, rinsing kefir grains with water between each milk change has become common practice among individuals who prepare kefir at home. As portions of the mother-culture is shared between individuals, it is common for the recipient to be instructed to rinse the kefir grains with water, before adding the grains to fresh milk to prepare a new batch of kefir.
Under most circumstances, it is not essential to rinse kefir grains with fresh water or with fresh milk in fact. For further information regarding rinsing, please go to my how to make Kefir on a separate web page. Although, fasting kefir grains in water for 12 to 24 hours, is a practical option to wean off individuals who are in the habit of rinsing. Fasting kefir grains may be performed at room temperature, or in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. I personally do not recommend fasting milk kefir-grains for more than one day per fortnight. Milk kefir-grains may also be rested in fresh, clean water stored in the fridge for a number of days, when one needs to take a break from making kefir, and for what ever reason. When you want to start making kefir again, you simply put the grains in fresh milk to recommence the kefir making process at room temperature.
The clear solution strained from fasting healthy milk kefir-grains in fresh water, contains kefiran organic acids [mostly lactic acid], and small percentage of soluble protein and amino acids, lactic acid bacteria [LAB] and acetic acid bacteria, including yeasts. I've named the slippery compound solution Kefiraride, which has many practical uses; some of which are explained at my Kefir FAQ page [see FAQ 18].
Resilience of milk kefir-grains fasted in water A friend once left [or had forgot] his milk kefir-grains resting in contaminated well-water in the fridge for 7 months. By that time, the grains were rendered almost iridescent green with an incredible foul odour [amines]! He returned the damaged grains back to me, to see if I could recover the culture. I embraced this opportunity to experiment.
The grains were hand washed and rinsed with warm, clean fresh water, followed by soaking the grains for 24 hours in good quality kefir produced with a healthy stock of culture. Fresh milk was added and the contents was left at room temperature for a day. The process was repeated three more times to remove the foul odour. At 2 weeks with daily milk refreshment cycles, the grains produced a reasonably good ferment. The kefir kept improving with each new consecutive batch. At 2 months I discovered that a very small percentage of the entire batch began to grow. The propagable 2 grains discovered among the entire batch, were separated from the non-propagable [non growing] portion. Growth of a portion of the culture was determined by observing slime felt with clean fingers, and the slimy grains were separated from the firm, non-slimy portion of culture. The weight of the non-propagable portion was found to be exactly the same as when the experiment commenced. This demonstrates that there was indeed a very small fraction of propagable matrix or grain among the whole batch after 7 months of those grains left solely in dirty well water. The non-propagable portion was continually cultured for a further 2 months, and although the grains continued to produced a reasonably good ferment, there was no further evidence of weight gain [growth], so those grains were discarded, and the experiment was ended. The separated 2 propagable grains continued to increase in weight and numbers and produce good quality kefir.
Conclusion. Even under unhygienic stressful starving conditions, milk kefir-grains provide extremely good protection for the organisms that create the grain. Even in the case where only a very small portion of matrix is left intact [undamaged], that portion of matrix shall propagate and increase if cultured carefully, and with daily milk changes.
NOTES IT IS MOSTLY NON ESSENTIAL TO EITHER RINSE OR FAST MILK KEFIR-GRAINS IN WATER. UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, KEFIR GRAINS CAN BE CULTURED IN FRESH MILK ON A CONTINUAL BASIS. HOWEVER SO, THERE'S AN EXCEPTION TO THE RINSING RULE.
For further details, please follow this link to my how to make kefir page.
Probiotic [Pro= for, Biotic= life] = Life-promoting or For-life as opposed to Antibiotic [Anti= against, Biotic= life]= Against-life. Probiotic refers to live microorganisms [or their byproducts addendum Dom], which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. FAO/WHO report, October 2001
Traditionally in a region of the Caucasus Mountains, kefir was prepared with raw, full-cream goat or cow's milk. Fresh milk with the addition of kefir grains stored in a goatskin leather bag was left for 24 hours to ferment at room temperature. This initiated the fermentation process. Separation of the grains was achieved by forcing the contents to a corner of the leather bag by hand, where most of the grains were retained. The liquid-kefir was separated from most of the grains by pouring the contents into a container. This kefir had a moderate sour taste, creamy in texture and consistency with an alcohol content of around .5% by volume. During cold conditions, the goatskin bag was kept in the sun during sunny cold days, or hung near a fireplace. Apparently, it was a custom to hang the bag near a door way, where by anyone passing by would shake the leather bag. This was possibly performed as a religious ritual, with a beneficial consequence by assisting the culture-process.
Maturation Larger quantity of liquid-kefir was stored in sealed wooden barrels of clay crocks, where secondary fermentation preserved the beverage as the beneficial kefir ripened over some days. Ripened kefir was enjoyed over extensive periods as it matured, for a powerful anti-oxidant produced in kefir through fermentation, preserved the nutritious beverage without the need for refrigeration. As portions of liquid kefir was removed from the barrel or crock for immediate consumption, more freshly strained kefir of the day, was added to replenish the vessel.
To elaborate further. A mixture of freshly strained kefir of the day, sometimes with the addition of fresh milk including the crushed root of another anti-oxidant rich ingredient, Snow Rose [Rhododendron caucasicum] was stored in wooden barrels, or clay crocks. The sealable vessel was plugged airtight. Over some days, this produced a foaming effervescent beverage, with an alcohol content of around 2% and up to 3% v/v. The kefir had exceptional good keeping quality, with a substantial increase in some B group vitamins. Folic acid [Vit. B9] increases by more than 100% at 2-days storage. Research shows that at, cholesterol and milk sugar content reduce at the end of the initial fermentation with the grains, with less reduction of these components during maturation in a sealed container. This provides a more nutritious beverage with a better health-promoting profile compared to the freshly strained liquid-kefir, including the non-fermented fresh milk.
Click on picture for
an enlarged view
Including orange peel provides vitamin C, calcium and bioflavonoides, for the white pith of orange peel is high in these elements. Through fermentation calcium and other minerals are rendered highly biologically available. Cinnamon is also good for Type 2 Diabetes, a digestive aid and as a general tonic. Although many other types of ingredients could be used, such as licorice root, ginger, burdock root, mint, goji berries, pomegranate and the list goes on...
Note The stoneware crock is sealed with a natural protective layer of beeswax to form a barrier, and to make the lip of the crock seal airtight. This prevents leaching of unfavourable elements from the glaze or terra cotta of questionable quality into the ripening kefir. If you would like more information about how to use beeswax to line and protect your ferments, then please go to my beeswax web page.
Today, traditional kefir is cultured in multitudes of households worldwide. Unfortunately though, the ripening process as explained above, which is an ancient practice, is not well addressed nor is it practised to the extent that it should be today. Omitting this important process, and solely consuming freshly strained kefir, is only in part of reaping a wider spectrum of benefits, initiated by the very mysterious natural mother-culture--- kefir grains. We should consider that ready-to-drink kefir stored for at least one day either at room temperature or refrigerated before served, is of great practical importance.
We practice the former, and our family's daily intake of kefir includes mixing an amount of that day's strained kefir, with a larger portion of 2 to 4-day room temperature-ripened kefir. This way I know that we are enjoying the full benefit that kefir can provide.
The first ever and original kefir moustaches on the Internet.
For maturation of kefir, see the follow link to Dom's Kefir making web page explaining Secondary Fermentation
Presently, the complete mechanism involved in the construction of kefir grains, is not well understood at a scientific level, although there appears to be increasing interest in this area. A unique soluble polysaccharide [PS] was first discovered in milk kefir-grains by La Rivière JW et al  and was given the name kefiran [KGF-C].
structure of kefiran is not fully
understood. It is proposed to be a branched hexa- or
hepta-saccharide repeating unit. In itself, the
unit is composed of a regular pentasaccharide, to which one or
two sugar residues are randomly linked. The variety of
linkage-types of the molecule may be the reason why kefiran is
resistant to enzyme attack
diagram of the proposed molecular structure of kefiran
There are other strains of Lactobacilli capable of producing a similar polysaccharide, Lb. sp. KPB-167B being one such organism. This, including other species of Lactobacilli, which produce either kefiran or a similar form of PS [with slight variation between glucose and galactose ratio, different molecular weights including variations in the optical rotation of the molecule] produced at variable rates, or, the amount of, may be mechanism[s] involved in the natural tendency for each grain to propagate as an enclosed multi-lobular body. This is possibly due to the layout of different strains, or type-strains of encapsulated organisms included among yeasts, arranged at specific locations as layers or branched within the matrix. Stress factors due to culture-conditions or the structural makeup of the matrix itself, or how and where the encapsulated organisms are located may incur the same strain of encapsulated organism to produce either variable amounts of kefiran, or a variation of the PS.
performed with mice [against mice really, if we think about it],
revealed kefiran exhibited anti-tumour properties. In these
experiments, orally administered kefiran was found to reduce the
size of certain tumours, by inducing a specific immune response
in mice. Much of this early research was performed in Japan.
research evaluated kefir grains induced a systemic
anti-inflammatory response in kefir-grain fed rats.
More recently, the author observed another discovery. The ingestion of 1/3 cup of milk kefir-grains taken daily over 7 days, benefited 3 cases [one being the author] where the individuals suffered from pain associated with Repetitive Strain Injury [RSI] along the outer right arm and upper right shoulder area. The cause was due to excessive use of a computer keyboard and mouse-clicking over some years. These latter findings further suggest the systemic anti-inflammatory property of kefir-grain kefiran. Quite possibly kefiran activity in conjunction with organisms of the grain, encourage a systemic benefit via multiple components or vehicles, rather than the action of a single component.
study on the effects of kefiran in laboratory rats showed
kefiran can significantly suppress increased blood pressure
and also reduce serum cholesterol levels in SHRSP/Hos rats,
when subjects consumed excessive dietary cholesterol. The
study also explains kefiran supplementation had the ability to
significantly lower blood glucose in KKAy mice. In addition,
the administration of kefiran in constipated SD rats caused an
obvious improvement in the levels of faecal moisture content
and wet weight of faeces.
recent study in China found kefir extracts have a preventive
effect against human breast cancer cells, without effecting
healthy human breast cells. The consumption of kefir modulates
the immune response, implying that kefir contains bio-active
bacteria and compounds that enhance communication in the
body's immune system.
research in Japan found that kefiran-fed rats had a serum
cholesterol lowering effect in 2 rat models 1, loaded with
cholesterol and 2, given orotic acid. Kefiran accelerated
sterol excretion and protected hepatic injuries (glutamate
oxaloacetate transaminase [GOT], glutamic pyruvic
transaminase [GPT]) in both rat models. It was also
discovered that histamine excretion decreased in the caecum
content and faeces, suggesting that kefiran has various
research found that kefir stimulated body cells to produce 14
times more Interferon-beta, a vital glycoprotein excreted by
body cells to combat viral infection, and possibly combat
cancer cells. The active substance in kefir in this case,
which other fermented milk contain, was found to be sphingomyelin.
Over the past 10 years, the author has received multitudes of testimonies by email and through his internet lists from individuals of all corners of the globe, expressing how kefir has markedly help to improve their health and well being. Kefir has helped with many different conditions. Recently, a local individual shared with a friend a suggestion I explained to her, which is also included in my book. After her friend followed through with rectally injected and retained kefir grain implants, she experience a sure cure from the previous medical condition of Celiac [Gluten intolerance]. This positive feedback is quite encouraging to state the least. We are observing long term effect of this recent outcome.
The combination of all the above, suggests that kefiran, and in fact kefir grains and kefir are useful as functional food to prevent or control common occurring diseases of the modern age. This further reinforces what the author has suggested for many years, that the regular ingestion of kefir grains, should be considered of greater, practical importance and especially appreciated by individuals preparing traditional kefir for themselves at home, school or their place of work [and why not make kefir at school or at work?!].
As an end note, kefiran is also useful as a natural gelling agent, for thickening food. The author explains many examples for the possible use of kefir grain kefiran in the preparation of wonderful textured baked goods such as wholemeal sourdough bread, cakes, pretzels and pastry. For ice-cream making, for thickening yogurt and more. This extends to the use of kefir grains or kefiran in the preparation of natural cosmetics, for skin care products such as moisturizers, and skin conditioners or toners etc.
There misleading information regarding to kefir and kefir grains on the internet. One example, the separation of kefir-whey through fermentation of milk with kefir grains to produce traditional kefir. An individual is suggesting that the clear liquid is solely kefiran released from kefir grains in milk. This information is incorrect. The pale yellow or straw coloured clear liquid is simply whey, or kefir-whey in the case with kefir. Although kefir-whey does contain a very small percentage of kefiran, because the PS is water soluble, but by no means is the liquid portion pure kefiran. The process of fermentation of milk, creates an acidic environment, which separates [precipitates] the milk protein [casein or curd] in solution, creating a mixture of a thick, white mass of curds among a pale yellow solution -- kefir-whey, which should not be mistaken for pure kefiran.
[Picture is actual size of kefir grains] Kefir has been accredited with healing powers since the early eighteenth century. Kefir grains were considered a gift from Allah [God] among the Moslem tribes-people of the Caucasus Mountains and the grains were passed down from one generation to to the next. The folks of this particular region considered kefir grains a source of family and tribal wealth, and the process for making kefir was a closely guarded secret to the extend of protecting the art and the natural mother-culture [kefir grains], with their very lives.
In the early 1900s, the All-Russian Physicians' Society contacted two Blandovs brothers, who owned a cheese factory in the northern Caucasus Mountains. The society asked the two brothers for their help to obtain the kefir culture. The brothers decided to take on the challenge, and planned to use one of their employees, a beautiful young woman named Irina Sakharova, to coax a Caucasian prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov into giving her some kefir grains. Irina indeed dazzled the prince with her beauty, but the prince refused to give her any of his precious probiotic-jewels, possibly due to strong religious beliefs.
However, the beauty-dazzled prince wasn't willing to giving up Irina, so he instructed some of his men to kidnap her as she returned home. Against her will, the men brought Irina back to the prince's courtyard, where the prince, hoping to win her love, proposed her hand in marriage, however, Irina understandably refused. The Blandovs brothers eventually rescued Irina from the clutches of the prince. Then, backed by the two brothers, Irina brought her case against the prince to the Czar's court. The prince offered Irina gold and jewels as reparation for the crimes done against her, but she refused his offer. Instead, as a settlement of her suit against Prince Bek-Mirza Barchorov, Irina demanded, and received, probiotic jewels [kefir grains] instead. In late 1908, Irina Sakharova brought the first amounts of kefir to Moscow, where it was used medicinally in lung sanatoriums as part-treatment for tuberculosis with good success.
At the age of 85, in 1973 Irina received a letter from the Minister of the Food Industry of the former USSR, expressing grateful acknowledgement for her primary role in bringing kefir to the Russian people of the former USSR.
The information above was originally obtained from a Web Page in 1999 [Edited here by the author, in his own words]. But alas, the original site has since disappeared from e-space, hence no reference is provided here. The author wishes to express his gratitude for the writer of the original e-text, which has inspired not only the author, but other webmasters and the like from here, it seems.
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While researching culture-products in general, including kefir in the late 1970s to early 1980s, the author came across an interesting abstract [unable to locate the original source material]. This explained microbiologists' many unsuccessful attempts in the spontaneous production or propagation of kefir grains from non-existing grains. These experiments were performed by culturing pure, mixed starter-cultures, prepared under laboratory conditions from organisms isolated from kefir grains. After failing to propagate kefir grains from such mixed-cultures, the microbiologists came to ask how the Caucasians acquired or propagated the original kefir grains. The Caucasians simply explained something to the effect of...
"The grains were a gift from Allah [God] provided over 1,000 years ago" ... which I thought was an appropriate answer.
Come to think, could kefir grains be "manna"? ... fallen into milk?
Manna: A sweet white substance God spontaneously provided from the Heavens to feed the hungry Israelites, as Moses led his people to the promised land of milk and honey. Manna means, What is it? [Exodus 16 : 31 Holy Bible]. With this, one may conclude that literally, kefir grains are indeed manna; due to the mystery surrounding the existence of kefir grains, and how they propagate. The fact that manna literally refers to mystery of the unknown is quite obvious in this case.
It is said that the tribe-folk of Caucasus referred to kefir grains as The grains of the Prophet Mohammed and kefir was known as, The drink of the Prophet [Beatrice T. Hunter 1973]. If it is at all possible that kefir grains were some how acquired through Prophet Mohammed [p.b.u.h.], then a logical question comes to mind, How or where did Prophet Mohammed [p.b.u.h.] acquire the original Kefir-Grains?
At the time of writing, it is not well understood scientifically, how the bio-matrix, or a grain is created, or in fact, the relationship involved between different types of organisms in the construction process. The mystery still remains with kefir grains at this point, although there is ongoing research to try and understand the mechanisms involved. When the secret behind the intelligent-like, self-organising micro<^>macro system is better understood, this may help to better understand not only this particular bio-system, but could also give a better understanding of certain diseases. This may include diseases such as tumours, carcinomas, including diseases which involve microbial, or viral aetiology [infections e.g.].
This could possibly open doors in other areas e.g., discovering new methods for producing unique chemical compounds, controlling biological waste, and possibly for the control of specific types of pollution. Organic soil enrichment for optimal plant growth and increased yield may also be of some interest. The author prepares an organic fertiliser with kefir fortified with wood ash, sea shells, eggshell, and ground bone meal. This used as a liquid fertiliser gives extensive better yield of fruits and vegetables. Other areas of interest is in the development of more efficient probiotics, by which the probiotic component is better protected within a specifically customized bio-matrix, so higher counts of viable organisms are able to pass through gastric function, and become better established in the gastro intestinal tract in greater numbers-- a super-renditioned kefir grain [The super abode of the friendly microbe].
There may be a possibility that understanding the mechanism behind how microbes create a bio-matrix such as kefir grains, could be implemented in nanotechnology.
Kefir grain as a model for the study of the theory of evolution. It is believed through collected evidence perceived by human senses, and then digested with intellectual enzyme power of thought of heavy duty scholars, to form current-day theory of evolution, by which it is calculated that single celled organisms without a nucleus [prokaryotes] such as most microorganisms, came to exist some 4 billion years ago. It is quite possible that the potential for the making of kefir grains may have been possible not long after these events unfolded [their DNA strands ;-]. Although it is calculated that life forms remained quite simple for about 3 billion years after the first single cell organism came to exist, where possibly no multi-cellular organisms forming during that time. So no cows at that point in evolution, and so, no milk was available to create and feed kefir grains, for it is estimated that cows and other mammals came to exist supposedly 3.75 billion years later.
In relevance to the Evolution by Endosymbiosis theory [A theory that tries to explain evolution of life], regarding how singled celled organisms came to form multi-cellular organisms or eukaryotes, kefir grains may resemble a multi-cellular model before more complex life forms came to exist. In this respect, the study of the populations of microorganisms of kefir grains; how they interact, including the compounds they produce and the synthesis of the matrix, could make a good model for such studies, the author thinks (hence he feels:).
Until then, I'll be content enjoying the benefits and nutrition of a simple glass of traditional kefir. Including harvesting the fruits of ingesting spare kefir grains on a regular basis. Oh, have I mentioned how we not only enjoy a smoothie of kefir blended with fresh fruit, we also enjoy fresh herbs blended with kefir to prepare a super atonic smoothie for breakfast, too?! Cheers!
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Photo of a tiny fraction of a sugary kefir-grain [SKG] magnified 1,500 times, revealing encapsulated lactic acid bacteria [LAB] and yeast cells among a transparent dextran matrix. This sample was prepared with Differential Stain to distinguish the organisms.
Apart from traditional dairy-milk fermentation, with some adjustment, milk kefir-grains may be cultured in alternative media e.g., Soy milk, Seed & Nut milk or coconut milk. The natural mother-culture may also be used to prepare other interesting alternative cultured-products, all of which shared throughout my web pages were pioneered and developed by yours truly [let facts be known].
There is a variety of a refreshing effervescent beverage, often referred to as Kefir d'acqua [link to recipe] or water-kefir, which is commonly prepared with a different variety of kefir grains, referred to as water kefir-grains or sugary kefir-grains [SGK]. See table below for alternate names. SKG are cultured in 3% to 10% sugar/water solution with a slice of fresh lemon, dry fruits such as fig, apricot or raisins to provide flavour and increase nutritional value.
SKG consist of a polysaccharide [linked or chained dextran made up solely of glucose]. Similar to a dynamic or symbiotic relationship between different types of organisms to synthesize kefiran in traditional milk kefir-grains, the dextran of SKG is produced through the same relationship among Lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, embedded in the grain.
Scientists are surprised by the ability of the organisms of SKG to ferment a media, poor in nitrogen and growth-factor source, doing so over many years without modifying the balance between the different microorganisms. Traditional SKG have an opaque texture in comparison to traditional milk kefir-grains of Caucasus. The grains are firm, transparent and fragile; they easily break apart with little applied force. SKG are not gel-like or slimy in consistency to milk kefir-grains nor are they white in colour. The unique property of SKG is produced by Lactobacillus casei, which is believed to condense the polysaccharide into a non-soluble form. Where as the polysaccharide of milk kefir grains, kefiran, is water soluble. Another organism, Lactobacillus brevis including other strains, can reproduce [and some may possibly synthesize polysaccharides] in sugar-solution containing up to 15% alcohol.
Ginger Beer Water Kefir I have discovered the addition of 2 to 4 tablespoons of fresh ginger root juice per 8-cups of sugar solution, produces what one of my list members referred to as a marvellous ginger root beverage similar to ginger beer. SKG grow well with added ginger root. I have come to the hypothesis of the possibility that SKG may well be the original mother-culture for preparing ginger root beer. I came to this conclusion for the fact that today among ginger beer brewers, it is common to prepare what is referred to as a Ginger Beer Plant. This is by mixing sugar, ginger root powder and active brewers or bakers yeast, and feeding the so called ginger beer plant with the addition of more sugar and ginger root powder each day, over 7 days. This mother-culture [Ginger Beer Plant], is added to a large volume of sugar/water and a little lemon juice, and brewed for a number of days. This is followed by bottling and storage to produce a root beer with natural carbonation.
It is suggested that SKG were brought back by English solders on their return from the Crimean War, and the mother-culture was originally referred to as a Ginger Beer Plant. If this was the case, then quite possibly due to the lack of SKG, someone along the line with an understanding in basic fermentation, may have decided to prepare a variety of the plant as a substitute for the real deal [SKG], as explained above [Just as I recognised that milk kefir-grains can be substituted for SKG to produce a variety of water kefir, because I did not have SKG in early part of 1980s--- necessity is the mother of invention].
I discovered that when first including fresh ginger root juice to brew SKG that were not previously brewed with ginger, and those SKG were only just acquired from another source, and which were only growing 5% to 10% by weight per each 2-day brewed batch, initial growth of the grains over the first 2 or so batches with added ginger was quite remarkable. A growth surge of more than 160% increase at 48 hours has been noted. Although the large percentage increase was variable over consecutive batches, increasing between 50% to 100% by weight at 48 hours was common, with added fresh ginger root juice. However, when using the exact same ingredients and the same measured amount of SKG, growth stabilized between 90% to 120% increase per each 2-day brews.
Effects of Sugar-Type on SKG White, refined sugar-cultured water kefir produces clear, opaque SKG without any colour, but with a subtle blue hue about the grains. While the less refined sugar types such as brown, raw, demerara, jaggery, rapadura, muscovado, sucanat and Chinese red sugar produce SKG with a light brown colour. This is likely due to precipitation of colloidal compounds of such sugar-types through fermentation becomes entrapped among the micro-channels and crevices in the matrix [the grains become tainted with the colour of the sugar solution]. However, soaking light brown coloured SKG in water for a few hours, removes most of the colouring on the grains, which tells me that those colouring agents are indeed able to be extracted from SKG much the same way they were entrapped in the grains in the fist place, but in reverse. SKG grow better when cultured with non refined sugar-type, or with the addition of 1 tsp blackstrap molasses added to each 1/2-cup refined sugar preparations. On human nutrition alone, less refined sugar-types are ideal, and recommended over refined sugar. So this is good for the SKG and for the consumer of water kefir. Water-type seems important too, regarding grain growth as does sugar type. Please see Regarding Growth-Rate of SKG below.
Ginseng and Chinese Angelica Root Water Kefir Preparations, and the Psychoactive effect of
I discovered if an amount of either dry Korean Ginseng [Panax quinquefolius], or dry Chinese Angelica root or Dong Quai [Angelica siennas] is added to strained water kefir [SKG have been removed] and brewed for 48 hours in a secondary fermentation, the beverage incurs noticeable psychoactive activity. The altered state of mind occurs very shortly after drinking an amount of the brew, and it lasts for only a short time [short half life]. Other varieties of herbs possibly due to pharmacological activity when brewed in a water kefir preparation, may also produce a similar effect. This could be due to the production of certain compounds, or, it an indication of pharmacological activity increase of specific compounds, or better bio-availability of those compounds due to fermentation.
Where acetyl groups are bound to certain other organic molecules through fermentation, they impart an increased ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which could be the case here. I doubt very much that this is simply due to an increase in alcohol content through the added sugars of such herbs, for the feeling of euphoria is quite unique to that of an alcohol-induced euphoria. However, certain photo-compounds may be responsible for the production of interesting molecules through fermentation. This certainly makes an interesting area for further research. If an interested scientist reading this does research this area, could you please be so kind to forward your findings on to me? I am always willing to supply the culture in return for a paper on such a study, as I have done in the past.
Regarding Growth-Rate of SKG SKG that I have cultured over the years, including many individuals who culture SKG, have observed a fluctuation regarding growth rate of SKG. I have observed growth increase to vary between 7% to 220% increase by weight at 48 hours. However, if the sugar solution with other added ingredients, and more importantly, with the addition of a very small amount of sodium bicarbonate and eggshell, if the solution ingredients are kept constant, including the amount SKG used and the fermentation time is kept to 2 days per each batch, then growth increase can be expected to remain reasonably constant between 90% to 120% per each batch of water kefir. On the other hand, milk kefir-grains increase at a reasonably constant rate when cultured in fresh milk. Many individuals including myself, have found a great potential for SKG to cease propagation, and remain non-propagable, when cultured in water with low mineral content. More so with activated charcoal filtered water. The outcome is mostly observed as a slow deterioration in growth over time, which at a point, becomes irreversible. At this point, SKG acquire a light brown film over the surface of each grain, and the grains lose the typical transparency of good growing [propagable] grains.
Although there are many factors to consider, the important one being the type of sugar and water used, duration of fermentation including sugar/water percentage. SKG do not appear to grow well, and in most cases growth ceases altogether over time, when cultured in a sugar solution prepared with purer forms of water, such as distilled, demineralised or activated carbon filtered water [Brita filtered water e.g.] etc. Leaving SKG in the same sugar-solution for longer than 3 days over many batches and in warmer conditions, has an adverse effect regarding growth-factor of SKG. Lack of essential nutrients and energy source due to over fermentation, is a cause for problems, if starvation happens over an excessive number of proceeding batches.
Adding Fruit Juice SKG do not grow well if a concentration of most acidic fruit juice is included as part ingredient. With the addition of most acidic fruit juice, SKG reach a point where the grains never growing again. Whether this is due to the acids of such fruits, is unknown to me at this point. Fruits such as grape, apple, pineapple etc. have been problematic regarding SKG growth, so I suggest omitting such fruit juices in water kefir preparations. However, if one wishes to brew fruit juice, this is best achieved through secondary fermentation, whereby preparing a traditional water kefir, and then adding the preferred fruit juice to the strained water kefir [after separating the SKG]. Secondary fermentation can be carried out over a number of days at room temperature, or under cold storage, such as refrigeration. The latter will simply slow the process down, so it will take longer to brew. Cold storage fermentation also produces a fruit juice ferment with a different flavour and acidity. Also, secondary fermentation is best performed under airlock. This can produce quite an alcoholic beverage though, so be forewarned and do not drink such concoctions before driving a car or using heavy machinery.
Hard water [water with high mineral content], such spring water seems best. If such water-type is not available, the addition of 1/8 teaspoon of Sodium bicarbonate added per 2 litres [8 cups] of purified water, ensures good grain growth. Water adjusted to pH 7.2 to 7.5 with Sodium bicarbonate [slightly alkaline] gives good results in regards to good grain growth, I find. This may suggest that SKG have evolved in water with high mineral content, similar to water from the Hunza Valley, which is milky due to melting glacial water running through lime stone rich reserves.
SUGAR-REDUCTION of ready-to-drink water kefir How much sugar does water kefir contain? you may ask. Well, there's a good reason why I chose capital letters for sugar-reduction. The question is a concern for many individuals who wish to prepare water kefir. I receive lots of emails about this question, and the topic often comes up on my internet lists. I shall try to clarify here.
Most concern regarding sugar content of water kefir that I've experience, is from folks believing that because a reasonable amount of sugar is used for water kefir, then water kefir must contain a large amount of sugar. Folks on an anti-candida diet fit this category, for sugar is recommended as a no-no for candidiais [yeast infection]. Diabetic also share the same concern. I thought the best way to demonstrate sugar percentage of ready-to-drink water kefir [a beverage fermented for 2 days with SKG], is to show a photo of my evaluation [left].
The thick, not-so-sweet, but quite appealing flavoured thick syrup, was extracted from water kefir by reducing ready-to-drink [strained] water kefir by boiling under vacuum. The water kefir recipe involved 6 cups water, 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 tsp blackstrap molasses, 1/8 tsp each of eggshell and oceanic coral powder, 1/8 tsp sodium bicarbonate, prepared with 1 cup SKG brewed for 2 days. The SKG increased from 1 cup to 2 1/2 cups at day 2, which is common growth-rate with the above recipe cultured with my exceptionally good growing SKG.
We can clearly note the initial amount of sugar and the resulting reduction of more than 80% of the original sugar content. The fact is that the less-than 20% sugar left in the water kefir after a 2 day ferment, is mostly fructose, a mono-saccharide [single sugar]. Fructose is extremely easy to digest, compared to the original sucrose. We also need to consider that the residual syrup in the photo contains some water, so in effect there is even less sugar content compared to what we see in the photo. To explain again, sucrose or regular table sugar, including any sugar-type derived from sugar cane, is made up of a molecule consisting of 2 single sugars-- Glucose and Fructose. This sugar is known as a disaccharide [di means 2, saccharide means sugar= two sugars]. The organisms of SKG break down the disaccharide sucrose into its 2 basic units, glucose and fructose. The grain itself is synthesized from just the glucose alone. Hence the reduction of sugar of water kefir with good growing SKG, for the grains are separated by straining the water kefir-- they are not consumed, taking the glucose that the grains are made of with them. Even if SKG were consumed, they are not easily broken down if at all through gastric digestion, for the glucose that the grains are made up of is a dextran, similar to a polymer or a natural plastic that gastric enzymes are unable to break down. To conclude, we can rest assured that if your SKG are growing well, by at least 50% per each batch, then sugar reduction is just as good, and the resulting water kefir contains a much smaller percentage than what you began with. Water kefir prepared with good growing grains is quite suitable for Diabetics and those on a low carbohydrate diet. [See also FAQ 46 at my Kefir FAQ web page]
Over fermentation, acidity of media, grain growth, an off flavour and slimy water kefir SKG are best cultured for no longer than 2 days in the same solution, with the occasional three-day fermentation being acceptable, especially in cooler conditions. During warmer conditions, it may be best to culture for no longer than 2 days. Three-day brews are best avoided over ongoing batches especially in warmer conditions, otherwise the organisms starve and the grains shall eventually pickle, for use of a better term. Pickling is evident by taste-testing a SKG-- pickled SKG acquire an acidic flavour with a distinctive effervescent tang left on the tongue, with no sign of growth of the culture. Whereas propagable SKG have a slightly sweet, neutral flavour with no sign of effervescence on the tongue when a grain is chewed. Non-propagable grains also lose the typical translucent quality, and early signs of this can be observed by breaking apart a grain and checking for translucence, or a clear, see-through quality, especially on the surface of the grain.
It seems important not to add lemon juice or other acidic fruit-juice as part ingredient, but to use 1/2 lemon left whole, or a slice of lemon. Citric acid does not appear to be used up by organisms of water kefir. As amounts of citric acid is leached into the water kefir from the fresh whole lemon, citric acid concentration increases in solution over time. If citric acid concentration reaches high enough levels, it may cause problems in regards to propagation of the culture. However, if the brew begins to acquire an off flavour, adding 1 Tbs lemon juice per 6 cups sugar-solution, and adding the juice over a few consecutive batches only, may be a recommended remedy for this type of problem. Although the option to store SKG in the fridge in just sugar/water for a few days is also a possible remedy for SKG that produce water kefir with an off-flavour, or a slimy consistency.
Slimy water kefir or slimy SKG In some cases, SKG may become slimy, losing the typical firm texture, producing a murky white, slimy water kefir. This may occur if too much oceanic coral, limestone or eggshell is included as part ingredient [see following paragraph]. Or, if herbs are included in the initial fermentation with SKG. This can also occur if any solid ingredient is contaminated. Herbs are best fermented in a secondary fermentation, that is after straining the water kefir, adding the herbs to the strained solution, and brewing for a given number of days. If the cause is due to adding too much coral, eggshell or limestone, then use less of these. As above, resting SKG in sugar/water stored in the fridge for 3 days, then reverting back to regular room temperature fermentation with regular ingredients, should remedy slimy SKG or slimy water kefir production. Resting SKG in the fridge for 3 days and reverting back to room temperature, may have to be done a few times, though. The cause for slimy SKG may have to do with an imbalance among the yeast and lactic acid bacterial components, where interference causes less condensation of glucose to synthesize a firm grain. Cold storage appears to return the essential balance among the different strains of organisms. Note that in the event SKG become slimy, the grains may increase by a phenomenal amount, if the recipe contains other optimal ingredients [apart from too much eggshell etc. or herbs].
Oceanic Coral, Limestone or Eggshell for a High Calcium Water Kefir, and Kefiraride I usually include a small piece of oceanic coral as seen in photo on left. But more recently, I use coarsely ground oceanic coral, limestone or egg shell or a mixture as part ingredient in my water kefir. Only 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per 6 to 7 cups sugar/water is needed, for too much of any of these ingredients may produce a slimy water kefir [see above]. These raw ingredients are mostly made up of calcium and magnesium carbonate. This gives a very slight pH adjustment as amounts of calcium carbonate is slowly dissolved in solution due the a reaction between the organic acids, such as lactic acid produced during fermentation, and the mineral calcium and magnesium of oceanic coral, limestone or egg shell. Not only do SKG grow more efficiently with the addition of these mineral-rich raw ingredients, the water kefir contains a highly bio-available form of the minerals found in those ingredients. This is beneficial to the consumer. These minerals are important for healthy strong teeth and bones, for the healing process, for good nervous and immune function, and the prevention of Osteoporosis. This makes mineral rich water kefir a suitable alternative for dairy to obtain those essential minerals in the diet. However, to effectively utilize calcium, a sufficient amount of vitamin D must be included in the diet, or through exposing the skin to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
The picture on the right demonstrates just how healthy and large my SKG grow in a ginger root beer prepared with the addition of oceanic coral, sodium bicarbonate, raw sugar, molasses and kefiraride [see following section]. I've had grains grow as large as 3cm across, before they break up into small grains as a normal phase of self-propagation of the culture. However, using such mineral-rich raw ingredients can produce water kefir with a cloudy slimy quality and a musty flavour. To avoid this it is advisable to use the calcium rich ingredients as part ingredient only in small amounts. Another option is to include the calcium rich raw ingredient in the strained water kefir, so that secondary fermentation allows the minerals to be dissolved into solution during storage, to become more bio-available, even under cold stored in the fridge over a number of days. This will avoid the potential for producing slimy SKG.
Another point worth mentioning,
if we take note, the picture on the left above shows a few SKG
floating among the oceanic coral, fig and lemon. This is not
usually the case, for most folk's SKG do not float in solution but
remain at the bottom of the brewing vessel at all times due to the
density of SKG. The reason why those particular SKG are floating,
is solely due to the incredible growth increase of those
particular SKG at the time of taking the photo. They grew that
much and that fast, that the grains encapsulated small amounts of
gas, which forms a tinny bubble of CO
Water Kefir Preparations with Heat-Treated Kefiraride and Milk Kefir-Grain Emulsion
Recent experiments with kefiraride and water kefir have provided some interesting results. Kefiraride is the name that I have given to the kefiran-rich solution obtained by straining milk kefir-grains which have been soaked in fresh water for 24 hours to dissolve kefiran from the grains. With the addition of heat treated kefiraride as part ingredient for preparing water kefir, I have observed up to 220% increase by weight at 48 hours of SKG cultured in the mixed media. I found similar results by implementing milk kefir-grains blended with water, and then heat treating the emulsion, and adding the kefiran-rich solution as part ingredient in a water kefir preparation. The reason for heat treating these 2 solutions is to deactivate organisms native to milk kefir-grains, for I was mostly interested to observe the effects of kefiran on SKG growth, and to avoid the organisms of milk kefir interfering with this study. This may suggest that although kefiraride, and in fact, milk kefir-grains have the ability to hinder the growth of pathogenic organisms as demonstrated in other research, on the other hand, this provides a growth stimulus for friendly organisms of water kefir. Ginger also fits in a similar category, where it is known to halt the growth of unfavourable stains of organisms. Yet, SKG grow more efficiently with the addition of ginger root juice, at least initially, where large growth surges can occur. This may suggest that there is a selective process of what particular strains of organisms such compounds are affective against, or for, either for or against growth, and that self-organising micro-communities of friendly organisms [such as those found in the GI tract] may benefit from such compounds of ginger, kefiraride and milk kefir-grains. These provide such micro-communities either a growth stimuli [a prebiotic] or an energy source, or, both, while hindering pathogenic strains
Transferring Milk Kefir-Grains to a Sugar/Water Media
In early 1980, I discovered that traditional milk kefir-grains may be transferred to a sugar/water media, to produce a variation of Kefir d'acqua or water-kefir, with similar qualities as a brew prepared with traditional SKG. I've also discovered that alternative sugars may be used including maltose and honey e.g., which may either replace or be included with cane-sugar [sucrose]. Dry fruits or fresh fruits or the juice of fresh fruit may also be included. Fresh of dry herbs or herbal teas may be used as part ingredient [see Kefir d'erba medica, a herbal kefir at my kefir making web page for details and recipes]. When transferring milk kefir-grains to a sugar/water-media for the first time, there is an initial lag phase [unbalanced growth] lasting about 4 days. During this phase, little activity is evident as the organisms stop reproducing while they fatten up by storing energy, until the organisms adjust metabolic pathways so as to be able to utilize the new source of energy [different forms of sugar and concentrations of, over lactose found in dairy milk]. However, after about the third or so batch onward, it should take 24 to 48 hours to culture a ready-to-drink form of water kefir beverage prepared with milk kefir-grains.
When traditional milk kefir-grains are transferred to a sugar/water-media, after 1 to 2 weeks of consecutive 24 to 48 hour preparations, the grains may not readily revert back to prepare a suitable milk-kefir right away on transferring the grains back to dairy milk. It is highly likely that the grains become non-propagable [they stop growing] after a few weeks or longer of being brewed in a sugar/water recipe. This is due to a missing bacterial component such as the all important encapsulated Lb. kefiranofaciens. This component is damaged after transferring milk kefir-grains to a sugar/water media, if cultured over extensive periods. This is because the organisms responsible for propagation of milk kefir-grains, lack the essential mono-saccharide Galactose, which the organisms synthesize by breaking down lactose [Lactose is a disaccharide meaning 2 sugars, made up of Glucose and Galactose. Sucrose is also a disaccharide, but is constituted as Glucose and Fructose and does not contain Galactose]. Although, on transferring the grains back to milk, I've observed after about 2 months of culturing daily cycles of raw [personal preference], whole fresh milk, the grains eventually produced a form of milk-kefir with a reasonable good texture and flavour. However so, the culture milk-product lacked viscosity of traditional milk-kefir prepared with propagable milk kefir-grains. This may be due to the fact that the grains remained non-propagable throughout the culture-process, and in essence the bacterial component responsible for viscosity by the production of kefiran, was missing. These specific milk kefir-grains were previously cultured in a media consisting of water/malt/sucrose/dry fig over a 4 month period, prior to transferring the grains back to milk, to perform the experiment.
Transferring Sugary Kefir-Grains to Dairy Milk
On transferring SKG to both raw and pasteurised dairy milk, batches prepared over the first week had a pungent odour with an unappealing bitter flavour, due to excessive activity of yeast and aroma-forming organisms. Introductory batches took 3 to 4 days to culture. No distinctive curd or separation of curds and whey during 24 and 48 hour cultures was noted. Although the culture milk-product stabilized as consecutive batches were prepared over a 2 week period. In effect, a culture-milk beverage with reasonably good flavour and consistency was produced at 2 weeks onwards. During the ten month period of the experiment, deposits of milk-curd formed and adhering to the surface of most of the SKG in each batch. A good portion of curd could be removed from the surface of each grain by rinsing the grains with water. The translucent character typical of SKG remained under the surface-adhered curd, and the grains did not propagate, neither in the traditional sense nor as a white, soft, slimy texture; a typicality of traditional milk kefir-grains. Nor was there evidence of the gel-polysaccharide kefiran produced, which is an essential component of propagable milk kefir-grains, culture in dairy milk. This is most probably due to missing lactic acid bacteria [LAB] component[s] such as the encapsulated Lb. kefiranofaciens, or other kefiran or kefiran-like producing organisms, native to propagable, traditional milk kefir-grains of Caucasus.
Alcohol Content of Water Kefir Prepared with either Sugary Kefir Grains and Milk Kefir-Grains
There is a variation of alcohol content of water-kefir prepared with [5%] sugar-solution, when cultured with either milk kefir-grains or traditional SKG. 48 hour cultures, the SKG prepared water kefir contained about .7% alcohol by volume. On the other hand, a parallel culture prepared with recently transferred milk kefir-grains [stabilized], produced about 1.9% alcohol at 48 hours in 5% sugar solution.
My HYPOTHESIS Due to SKG increase in sugar solution, in this case 122% increase by weight at 48 hour culture-period, a portion of glucose split from sucrose [regular cane sugar] by organisms of SKG, was utilized to construct new grains [which consist solely of glucose]. In comparison, transferred milk kefir-grains did not increase over a 48 hour period. This is because a sugar/water media does not provide the essential elements for growth of milk kefir-grains. In effect, culturing water kefir with milk kefir-grains, or with non-propagable SKG provides a larger portion of glucose available for yeasts to convert into alcohol. Hence, water kefir prepared with propagable SKG, contains less alcohol than water kefir prepared with milk kefir-grains, or with non-propagable SKG [including beer, wine or champagne yeasts].
Self-confessed CONCLUSION The percentage of alcohol in water-kefir prepared with SKG has a direct relationship with the percentage of SKG increase-- greater grain increase gives less amount of alcohol in the final water kefir This may be preferable for preparing an optimally healthier water kefir beverage.
End Notes SKG do not appear to be as robust as milk kefir-grains of Caucasus, in regards to maintaining growth under adverse or stressful culture-conditions, especially in the case of over-fermentation. This may lend the belief of the possibility that water kefir-grains evolved from milk kefir-grains, or that milk kefir-grains is the older mother-culture of the 2 culture varieties, for here say. But there is no evidence to substantiate this as fact.
There has been claims that SKG cultured in dairy milk produced milk kefir-grains encapsulated at the centre of the SKG by culturing milk kefir-grains and SKG together in dairy milk over time. However, my experiments have not been able to reproduce this. My findings thus far has shown that with a mixed-culture [milk kefir-grains and SKG] cultured together in the same raw dairy milk daily, after 7 to 14 batches, some SKG entrapped a small amount of casein in a small, thin crack that appears along the centre of the matrix of the grain. However, when those SKG were cracked opened, they reveal an entrapped white substance, which first may appear to be a milk kefir-grain forming in the centre of the grain. Further investigation revealed that the substance was a small amount of milk curd, which disintegrates with little applied force-- it did not hold together or retain shape as does a milk kefir-grain.
Typical Microbiota Isolated from Various Water-Kefir Grains and Water-Kefir Beverage
Bifidobacteria / Lactobacilli
My YouTube video of observing a small fragment of Sugary Kefir Grain under a microscope 1,000 times magnification.
References for table above [9-10]
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Formalin - fixed kefir grains examined under a microscope, presented a protein/polysaccharide/lipid complex, consisting mainly of insoluble protein and neutral muco-polysaccharides. The percentage composition of freeze dried grains, with a moisture content of 3.5% was found to be--
Amorphous and crystalline iron was observed mostly on the grain surface. 1-5 micrometer crystals were observed also in the interior of the grain. The fashion in which the microflora is distributed over the surface of the grains, confirms the concept that kefir grains should not be rinsed with water between milk-changes.[10a]
Click photo for enlarged view
Photo of a tiny fraction of milk kefir-grain smeared on a glass slide, revealing long chains of released encapsulated curved lactic acid bacteria, with few yeast cells. The sample was differentially stained to reveal the organisms at 400 times magnification [enlarged view] or about 250 times magnification in the photo.
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Electron Micrograph X 2,500 magnification of Kefir grains showing microflora of yeast and bacteria and polysaccharide matrix. Photo courtesy of Dr. Miloš Kaláb with colour edited by Dominic N Anfiteatro to explain yeasts.
Traditional kefir grains of Caucasus is a fascinating natural mother-culture. Each granular body is formed through the effort of a dynamic, or symbiotic relationship shared among the complex microflora [bacteria and yeast], which render an irregular sheath, composed of protein, polysaccharide and lipid complex. The irregular fashioned sheath forms as a multiple irregular body with many lobules to create each kefir grain. I refer to these lobules as baby-grains, formed together as a mother-grain. The irregular lobules have a natural tendency to form as self-enclosed bio-structures or bodies, having a similar growth-signature to each other, with some variation between each baby-grain [see this picture]. The lobules are conjoined at a common midsection, radiating outward to form a mother-grain [a complete grain with all lobules attached]. On appearance, the growth pattern of conjoined baby-grains share self-similarity with the mother-grain, which form as a single body. Some kefir grains share some similarity with the physical structure [morphology] of the brain, pancreas, and other internal body organs [those with an interest in Doctrine of Signature may find this of interest].
After a period of time, and possibly due to external stress or physical trauma, one or more lobular bodies detach from any particular mother-grain. The smaller bodies, or baby-grains, eventually propagate into mother-grains, usually by increasing in overall size, with multiple lobular bodies forming over the entire grain. This growth-cycle simply repeats, to continue the ongoing process in a similar fashion. This is self-propagation. Some kefir grains may not shed any sections for some months, and in some instances for up to a year or longer. Such grains may instead form as one large structure or one massive kefir grain, retaining all lobular bio-structures. This can occur if the physical makeup of such grains is firm due to culture conditions, and if the grains are not subjected to hash physical trauma during the straining process e.g. In such cases, sections of baby-grains may be removed from a large mother-grain, by dissecting the grain by hand [see this animation for details of the operation].
Although in such cases, large kefir grains may eventually shed all attached bodies [or baby-grains] in a relatively short period. This is to say that the majority of attached bodies will spontaneously detach from mother-grains within a 2 month period, as a common example. This process occurs as each individual attached body's umbilical-like cord section attached to the mother-grain, reduces in circumference. Then, eventually, this section of the matrix becomes thin and weak, making conditions favourable for a baby-grain to spontaneously detach from the mother-ship, with ease. And if this process happens to all the attached lobular bodies in a relatively short period, then the specific batch of grains shall be comprised of numerous small kefir grains. In fact, weigh-for-weight, a batch of grains consisting of individual smaller grains may increase weight by 100% more efficiently than a batch made up of one large kefir grain, or overall larger grains. This may be due to a larger surface area that small grains make up [or take up in the media]. Or possibly that smaller grains produce and release larger proportions of kefiran into the milk, which becomes freely available for the microflora to create new matrix.
External surface area of each grain may vary from smooth areas, with areas of diverse irregularity, containing arrays of irregular small rounded protrusions randomly scattered over the exterior surface. The surface texture of certain grains may be smooth, while other grains from the same batch may exhibit a greater proportion of surface area covered with multiple irregular protrusions. Other grains from the same batch may exhibit a mixture of both surface-textures.
Although less common, and mostly due to culture-conditions or the action of tearing an enclosed grain apart, kefir grains may propagate as an irregular flat sheath for some time at least. Also, mother-grains from a batch of enclosed grains, may propagate and then shed a baby-grain with a flat structure. These outcomes are mostly determined by culture-conditions, usually in warmer conditions, and if conditions are favourable, after a period of time, any flat grain[s] usually revert or transform into enclosed bodies, which seems a natural tendency for the fashion in which kefir grains grow in structure, under optimal or low stress conditions. Also, if an enclosed grain is torn apart by physical means, milk is allowed into the opening, which keeps the grain opened at the torn end. This forces the grain to grow flat, as shown in the photo. What ever the case is, such a transformation in growth may take some months to occur, and to complete the growth-transformation cycle, as flat grains grow to enclosed bodies.
I've observed batches of grains cultured in whole, raw goat or cow's milk, mostly propagate with smooth, well rounded lobular bodies [balloon-like], with daily milk changes. While kefir grains cultured in pasteurised milk and under cooler temperatures mostly propagate with many tiny protrusions covering most of the exterior surface of each grain. Seasonal changes [or temperature variation] may also incur a swing between one form of growth-structure to another. The type of medium, temperature and the amount of time that the grains are left in the same milk, including physical influence, such as tearing or cutting, all these factors have an effect on growth structure-activity of kefir grains. It appears however, that the physical structure of kefir grains does not impair the microflora's ability to culture.
Some observations suggest surface area of the grain consisting of vast irregularity or roughness, contain higher yeast activity. While smoother areas are mainly where bacteria predominate. Yeasts and bacteria cells, particularly yeasts, seem to form large surface concentration [micro-colonies] along the protrusions over the surface; streptococci seem to intertwine with other bacteria, without forming colonies. Research suggests internal structure of the grains show a predominance of Lactobacilli with few yeasts; cells are not bound to one another but encapsulated within a muco-polysaccharide believed to be produced by the encapsulated microorganisms. Other research suggests stained sections of grains studied under a microscope, showed that yeasts were mainly located on the edge of the internal cavities, and occasionally along the peripheral channels of the matrix, while the exterior was mainly occupied by bacteria.
Short and long rod-shaped bacteria and yeast, formed separate colonies both on the outside and inside of the grain. Internally, filaments of encapsulated cells, extending outwardly from a population of long rod-shaped bacteria. One microorganism in particular, Lb. kefiranofaciens is found to be responsible for the formation of the soluble polysaccharide, Kefiran. This research suggests that the encapsulated bacteria may be responsible for the propagation of kefir grains. The reason for this conclusion seems to be because propagation of the grains will not occur [non-propagable grains] in the absence of Lb. kefiranofaciens, which produces kefiran in the centre of the grain, under anaerobic conditions and in the presents of ethanol alcohol.
Suggestions exist, surmising that non-propagable kefir grains retain kefir-producing capacity which is disputable [please see this picture of non-propagable kefir grains]. To explain and as an example, I've observed that a Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. [a natural mother-culture or pellicle used for preparing the Kombucha beverage] could be used to culture a similar culture-milk beverage, as do non-propagable kefir grains [please see this experiment at 42 months]. Would it be fair to suggest that the unique culture-beverage, cultured with the KKH [explained in the experiment linked above] is able to produce an authentic kefir? Even though, initially, kefir grains plus a Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. were cultured together [as a mixed-culture] for 30 months, to produce a cultured-milk product? At the time or writing, the KKH produces a product with similar character and properties to that of an authentic kefir on a sensory level. However the case may be, the Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. could have been substituted for pieces of leather hide in the experiment explained above, and with some certainty, one could predict that the end result [the culture-beverage] would be quite similar as explained in the experiment above. There was no evidence of the production of kefiran, which is the essential component of propagable kefir grains and of kefir, produced by the microflora, which colonized the KKH [or which may colonize the pseudo-leather parts of my shoes, for that matter].
The nature of wild organisms have the ability to colonize structures or materials with a porous nature, such as non-propagable kefir grains, Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y, terra cotta pots, wooden barrels, and yes, including leather hide. If kefiran is not produced due to a damaged or missing component such as Lb. kefiranofaciens, e.g. [as with non-propagable kefir grains], then, the specific kefiran produced by this particular encapsulated organism is absent in the final culture-milk product. With this, it is reasonable to suggest that cultured-milk beverages produced with non-propagable kefir grains, shouldn't be classified as true authentic kefir. However, such culture-products are in parallel with commercially-prepared pseudo-kefir, cultured with laboratory prepared pure, mixed starter-cultures. And to add, even a custom prepared mother-culture, as with KKH, or in fact, non-propagable kefir grains for that matter, these have advantages over laboratory prepared or commercially available starter-cultures, being that the former have the capacity to produce a culture-milk product on an ongoing basis, and without loss of viability of the organisms involved in fermentation. Be it that the microbial composition in this case may vary over time, nevertheless, ongoing symbiosis is maintained among the microbial components. On the other hand, laboratory prepared starters lack viability and have poor symbiosis. Such starters only have the capacity to continuously culture seven or so generations, or batches. After this point, the culture fails to produce a suitable product, and one must resort to a new fresh starter [see below for details regarding Bacteriophage infection].
Kefir grains have been described by Russian dairy technologists as a natural-starter and depending on the source and more importantly, culture conditions, the microbial composition of kefir grains can certainly vary. This, as I understand, is not well accepted, or understood by Western counterparts, in concluding something to the effect of, these little critters have a mind of their own, which we want to understand and control, but, which we are unable to, as a generalized attitude. I guess though, that minds shall be minds... in the wild-wild-west [Don't give up though folks, but persevere for the Holy Grain with chins up while downing your delish kefir]. Similar attitude or outlook has recently influenced dairy-food technicians working in countries such as, for example, Russia and Poland. Formerly, actual kefir grains were implemented in the culture-process for the production of commercial kefir in these counties. Due to modern-day intervention, today commercial kefir is prepared with pure, mixed starter-cultures, replacing kefir grains altogether to mass produce the culture milk-product. As such, culture-milk-products are sold under the name Kefir. What have we let become of us?
Since commercial yogurt of today is not what yogurt was of yesterday in the traditional sense, and neither are the majority of commercially produced culture-products for that matter, who's to stop kefir from going down the same path of corruption? My view points based on past/current/possible future observations/predictions? I confess the obvious that my passion for the unique, mysterious kefir-grain, remains with the same sincerity and great intrigue as when I first set my eyes and hands on the mother-culture in late 1978. My kefir grains have yet to fail me, but to the contrary, have continued to provide much enjoyment and good health. With regular intake of both kefir grains and kefir that the grains produce, my respect for the natural mother-culture continues to increase along with my ever increasing kefir culture. There is every good reason for this meaningful practical synbiotic relationship to continue.
For many reasons today, the development and employment of artificially prepared pure, mixed starter-cultures for producing what I refer to as, Kefir-like or Pseudo-kefir have come to light in recent years [on a commercial scale]. One reason is that commercial starters are relatively inexpensive to produce-- they are cost effective. Commercial starters are prepared with only a few selected strains of organisms, usually containing only one yeast strain to produce a culture milk with a specific character and quality to suit the palette of the particular country or human-culture that the kefir is intended for sale. E.g. one may note commercial kefir sold in Russia may have a different character or flavour [and acidity] to kefir sold in USA. However, the starter as a whole lacks the essential symbiotic capability compared to the microorganism communities of kefir grains. A work around this problem is the employment of a dual fermentation in the commercial production. The first stage involves lactic acid fermentation followed by a secondary stage of yeast fermentation to try and acquire a kefir with a traditional quality. Yet, commercial kefir, including modern day kefir starters, are often classified as authentic kefir, or authentic kefir starters. The former is not true if traditional kefir grains are not implemented in the actual culture-process in the traditional manner, for producing commercial kefir. This is to state that kefir grains are not in constant direct contact with fresh milk during the culture-process [when producing commercial kefir].
Without culturing milk with actual kefir grains in the traditional manner, instead, resorting to artificial starter-cultures, and in the case of implementing a dual fermentation process, beneficial properties which only self-organizing communities of surface-bound and encapsulated organisms of kefir grains produce, contain and release into the media, may not be found in a commercial counterpart. In particular, missing are the variations of kefiran, and quite possibly kefiran, a health-promoting polysaccharide, produced by encapsulated organisms in the grain under anaerobic conditions [no freely available oxygen], in the presence of alcohol. Research shows kefiran reduced the size of tumours when kefiran was ingested by tumour bearing mice.[3-6] Other scientific findings [initiated by yours truly], evaluated the systemic anti-inflammatory property of ingesting kefiran or kefir grains. Kefiran has shown to normalize high blood pressure, blood cholesterol including blood glucose levels in animal trials. There is abundant anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is also true for humans. And, kefir grains are mostly composed of kefiran including variations of the polysaccharide, which no doubt give benefit to health in their own right, and quite likely not reproducible with commercial starters, simply due to lack of strains or numbers of organisms and probably more importantly lack of proper symbiosis among the different strains of organisms in the latter.
This is quite likely why research with thirteen healthy male subjects with mildly high cholesterol levels in 2002 were given a commercial brand of kefir in USA, but the commercial kefir failed to alter plasma serum cholesterol concentrations in those men during the trial.[17a] However, Medical Practitioners have come forward, one in particular came to visit us with enthusiasm to obtain kefir grains for his personal use, after he observed at first hand that one of his patients introduced traditional kefir in their diet, and within some weeks of commencing to make their own traditional kefir at home and consuming the product each day, had markedly reduced both LDL plasma serum cholesterol levels [bad cholesterol], including correcting high blood pressure, without orthodox medication. The difference may lie in that with home made kefir, not only does it contain billions of friendly organisms per millilitre, the organisms are alive and actively reproducing right up to the point until the kefir is consumed along with ample amounts of kefiran and variations of the polysaccharide. Also, commercial kefir does not contain anywhere near the different types of organisms including yeasts as does kefir prepared with kefir grains. Certain strains of organisms of kefir grains can not be cultured once they are separated from the microflora. Hence, these organisms are not found in artificial kefir-starters, or in commercial kefir. We simply do not yet know how to culture these organisms. What their requirements are, and how they interact with the rest of the microflora remains a mystery to scientists and dairy technologists.
Potential protective agents which inhibit pathogens or weed organisms, may also be missing in artificial starters and their culture-product [commercial kefir]. However, protective agents of kefir grains effectively inhibit pathogens or weed organisms in fresh milk. Such agents are no doubt missing or somewhat lacking in commercial starters and the culture-product produced with those starters. This can easily be demonstrated by continuous batch-culturing, or recycling an amount of previous kefir in fresh milk. Here, the commercial kefir starter loses the power to culture future generations of kefir, due to loss of balance or symbiosis among the different communities of organisms, while bacteriophage virus infection also plays a role in destroying essential organisms, directly effecting the loss of viability of the commercial culture. However, we can not dispute the fact that traditional kefir grains have stood up to the test of time. The same mother-culture has been in existence and employed as a natural starter on an ongoing basis over many centuries, and without any change to its character and potency. Kefir grains are classified as a safe and reliable natural starter for the home fermenter, providing the consumer specific protective benefits, which can not be reproduced to the same degree with laboratory-prepared artificial starter-prepared kefir.
Kefir grains can not be spontaneously produced with commercial starters, neither can the grains be produced from a ready-to-drink kefir, used as a starter-culture in fresh milk. Symbiosis among the communities of organisms is poor or lost once the grains are omitted or removed from the culture-process.
Since we can not yet spontaneously create kefir grains from non-existing kefir grains [from pure, mixed starter-cultures or artificial commercial kefir starters], then not enough is understood regarding disadvantages, by attempting to culture a form of kefir, without the use of actual kefir grains as a starter-culture. Since we have little understanding of self-organizing communities such as those found in kefir grains, and how they interact [symbiosis], we are unable to duplicate what organisms of kefir grains are naturally capable of, in an artificial starter.
This is not to state that commercial kefir or modern day kefir-starters do not have any value. They simply are not the genuine, robust article as is the traditional mother culture.
Quite possibly, if we look to the micro-communities of kefir grains a little closer, we may better learn to understand the importance of working together as people for the benefit of the planet as a whole.
For more information regarding commercial starter-cultures Vs kefir-grains please go to From Us, to The Kefir-Novice below.
Till current date, there is lack of any reported cases where consuming homemade traditional kefir has caused a health problem due to pathogenic organisms, but to the contrary. Although there are concerns shared among dairy technologists regarding certain species of organisms sometimes isolated from specific batches of kefir grains, obtained from different regions or countries. Although, there was no evidence to suggest that there was a health issue, due to consuming kefir made from such grains. This mainly concerns commercial kefir-producers, who have looked into the use of kefir grains for the production of traditional kefir for sale in the marketplace. Restrictions set in place by specific governing bodies, which enforce regulations via Codes of Practice restrict numbers of coliform or other objectionable organisms and compounds in food-products intended for sale. But this does not indicate that even in such cases with kefir grains found to have coliform counts, that such grains cause health problems to those who prepare kefir with those grains.
Due to specific standards set in place by governing bodies, the outcome is that certain grains are classified as being contaminated. This so-called contamination could actually be favourable as a protective agent for the consumer. When culturing kefir with kefir grains, the contaminating microorganisms are halted, inhibited or controlled usually to extremely low numbers, in comparison to numbers of organisms among the microflora, as a whole. These microbes were not found to overpopulate the media or the grains themselves. In fact, in some earlier papers, methods to minimize, prevent and control problems problems during commercial production of kefir with traditional kefir grains, are explained. E.g., coliform counts fall or halted as the kefir became more acidic [Babina, NA. et al. 1975]. This is in regards to commercial dairy-plants implementing kefir grains intended as a mother-culture to prepare starter-cultures, in order to inoculate large volumes of milk. In the past, it was common to use 1% to 5% kefir grains to prepare the initial starter, or mother-culture, of which 2% to 5% was added to freshly pasteurised milk as an inoculant. This is unlike prepared kefir at home, where as much as 30% kefir grains by volume is common in the preparation of traditional kefir. Regarding the former, the probability for contamination is quite high, compared to preparing kefir at home. It is quite obvious when considering less percentage of starter, including implementing multiple steps and a number of different handling procedures at the workplace, all of which increases the risk of contamination.
Recent research revealed kefir grains cultured in a media contaminated with Escherichia coli [coliform bacteria] inhibited the growth of this organism. In fact, it was observed that certain batches of kefir grains completely halted the growth of Escherichia coli for at least 25 hours. Earlier research, and one paper in particular, explains that in the former USSR, pasteurised milk, kefir and tvorog samples from Moscow dairies were purposely infected with 18-24 hour cultures of 8 strains of faecal coliform bacteria, Shigella sonnei. Although the organism was found in all three products after a dilution with peptone water, after which 0.5ml was plated on Ploskireva medium and the same volume into Endo medium and incubated at 37°C for 18-24 hours. Pasteurised milk and tvorog samples contained quantities of the organism greater then 10,000 colony forming units per ml [cfu/ml], but only in kefir in quantities of less than 1,000 cfu/ml. The conclusion was that growth of secondary microflora [Shigella sonnei] in milk and tvorog being in excessive quantities.
In the commercial dairy and food industry, coliform counts determine possible contamination; due to improper handling, processing and storage of food, milk and equipment etc. Such organisms are also part of a healthy intestinal microflora, similar to Candida albicans. As is the latter case regarding C. albicans are kept in check in a healthy host, coliform counts seem to be kept in check also, if or when ever found in certain batches of kefir grains. These microbes and yeasts are and shall always be part of our environment, both external and internal. The secret is to maintain a healthy balance, by keeping these organisms in check, either by the immune system or by other bio-control systems in the host. A protection of sorts includes friendly microbes and yeasts, which incur protection for the host against overpopulation or infection from organisms native to the host or otherwise. When consuming traditional kefir, specific protective properties may be propagated in the gastrointestinal tract, to become part of, or enhance the present microflora therein. Ingesting kefir grains on a regular basis may also be an effective protective agent for the host, either due to the natural protective chemical compounds of the grains, or, by the grains inducing a beneficial immune response in the host, which may keep certain pathogens under control.[18,19] In turn, maintaining a healthy balance in the specific bio-system for the host. More recent research seems to clarify this as true.
Westerners have a tendency to keep their surrounding environment and food-stuff as clean as possible [too clean for their own good, in fact]. Recent research suggests that people living in countries with less hygienic environment and practices than their Western counterpart, these folks have less incidences of certain infections [e.g., Gastritis or Gastroenteritis] including less susceptibility to allergies. This is possibly due to the population in these countries being subjected to amounts of pathogenic microbes [and viruses] on a relatively constant basis, especially early on in life. In relative speaking terms, the immune system gets a good workout from the word go [use it from a young age, or lose it later on in life]. Ingesting smaller numbers of coliform bacteria along with greater counts or a proportion of vast strains of friendly lactobacilli and yeasts [as in the case with so called contaminated kefir grains, e.g.] especially early on in life, this may reduce the risk of contracting certain infections, including the prevention of allergenic response, especially in the gut, later in life.
To conclude, there is a common term when westerners travel to Indonesia, and that is to take care not to contract Bali Belly, an infection of the Gastrointestinal track that causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea and sometimes bleeding of the bowel, due to drinking their fresh water or fresh uncooked foods washed with contaminated water. However, Indonesians do not have an equivalent term for them, or, when they visit other countries. In other words an Indonesian does not have to worry about Aussie Runs if they visit Australia e.g.,. This is not simply because our environment is cleaner than Indonesia, for Indonesians do not contract the disease that visiting Westerners do in their country and at a drop of a hat. Indonesians simply have a more robust immune system and are immune to the infectious agent, due to being exposed to the agents probably from birth. However, times are changing, for even these folks are now becoming more westernised each day, and with it, western disease is on the increase among the Indonesian population in this example.
A vast variety among different species of organisms have been isolated and identified in kefir grains. Such species are among four genus groups; Lactobacilli, Streptococci-Lactococci, Acetobacter and Yeasts. The bacterium and yeast component share a symbiotic relationship, which means, they survive and reproduce by sharing their byproducts as an energy and growth-stimulating source [u 4 I + I 4 u ... a balanced, proactive relationship]. Bacteriocin may also be present in kefir if specific strains of lactic acid bacteria exist in the grains or, are introduced in the milk from external means.
Batches of kefir grains obtained from different sources commonly vary in micro floral composition, except for the essential components specific to the synthesis of the grain, which must be found in all propagable kefir grains. In fact, the micro floral rhythm of the same batch of grains is influenced by season [temperature and humidity] including culture-conditions [volume of milk added to the grains, including duration of fermentation]. This can be summed up to adaptation to environment and culture-conditions. Such a localized-adaptation encourages a benefit for the consumer sharing that specific environment with the culture's microflora. Of some interest is the culture-process under stress conditions, which influences the synthesis of specific compounds by organisms, including the effect of the synthesis of the grain when cultured under specific conditions. This would make an interesting area for research to gain some understanding at a scientific level of the relationship between different species of organisms, and synthesized compounds under specific culture-conditions. Although intuition in communal observation and digestion through logic tells the author that he may be on a correct path by stating health benefits of home brewing. Especially if we observe the basic principle of the Macrobiotic Diet or regime, which states that to increase both the length and quality of life, it is essential to consume organically grown local produce-- whole foods that are in season, with extension on dehydration, and the fermentation of fresh food-produce as a natural means for preservation.
The people of Caucasus who consumed large quantities of kefir were renowned for longevity and healthy constitution. These folks possibly had little choice but to follow the basic Macrobiotic principles, and they did not suffer from the many common maladies that plague the populous of the civilized world today. It comes with little doubt that the fresh milk gathered from their milking animals contained coliform counts due to poor milking conditions. The people of this region are classified as centenarians where life expectancy was over 100 years young. These people also ingested actual kefir grains due to the crude method of straining, where it is quite possible that an amount of kefir grains were always found in the ready-to-drink kefir, or kefir that was ripened. Since these folks also enjoying ripened kefir--- sometimes matured with the addition of the sweet root of the Snow Rose [Rhododendron caucasicum]--- all these together are important key-factors in regards to the longevity that the people of this particular region enjoyed. Today though, these key-pointers are not well addressed but are mostly unknown or overlooked.
< To behold, or not to behold a cheeky wrinkled-grin is mostly in our hands >
Divided into Four Genus Groups [with revised nomenclature]
BIFIDOBACTERIA / LACTOBACILLI
STREPTOCOCCI / LACTOCOCCI
Dekkera anomala t/ Brettanomyces anomalus a
t Teleomorph. Sexual
reproductive stage. Yeast form pseudo-mycelium as in Flowers of Kefir.
Units Count of Microbes in Gram Stained Kefir Grains
Bacilli [single cells, pair, chains]
The Means Range
Bacilli 66, 62-69%
Evolution Sequence among Genus Groups during Kefir Culture Cycle
Lactococci > Lactobacilli > Leuconostoc > Yeast > Acetobacter
Microbial Composition of Kefir at End of Fermentation [colony forming units/ml] **
Lactococci : 1,000,000,000
END NOTES Candida albicans has never been isolated from kefir grains [as of the time of writing]. Conditions make it quite difficult for this particular opportunistic yeast to flourish among the microflora of kefir grains and in kefir. Certain yeasts fond in kefir grains include Candida as part of the nomenclature [name]. These yeasts are not pathogenic yeasts as such, but are classified as Generally Regarded As Safe [GRAS]. Some yeast strains of kefir may have the potential to keep C. albicans in check in the host, for research has shown that certain yeast strains of kefir can colonize the gut, giving C. albicans competition for nutrients or strong inhibition by some form of chemical action, and or the Lactic acid bacteria [LAB] of kefir. Kefiran may also play an important role in this, for research has shown kefiran markedly antagonized the growth of C. albicans, including other strains of unfavourable fungi and bacteria.
To order kefir grains, please follow this link which takes you further up this page for details
This section presents a general idea of many years of my personal work to expand on the use for both kefir grains and kefir, in preparing many unique, wholesome nutritious culture food-products. Here a collection of functional food at their best, and possibly ahead of their time abide. Each product mentioned below is reasonably simple and easy to follow. Following the link for each product takes you to the appropriated web page with its recipe or idea. Enjoy the journey that these newly found probiotic-wonderlands may venture with you.
For your reference, all names except for kefir d'aqua or water kefir provided for each product below, were conceived or adapted by yours truly.
Kefir Cottage Cheese Similar to traditional cottage-style fresh cheese. A fresh sweet curd prepared with fresh milk coagulated with kefir. Like all cheeses developed by yours truly, this cheeses is no exception being 100% rennet free.
Kefir-SourCream A rich creamy fresh sour cream with a taste and texture similar to Italian Mascarpone, or Smetana, a favourite sour cream of Russia.
Kefir Butter Butter is easy with the addition of kefir and or kefir grains in two ways. Kefir grains and kefir can be blended and then folded into fresh cream followed by churning, washing and pressing the butter into a block. Or, a small amount of kefir is folded into fresh cream and left to stand for 12 to 24 hours, before churning the sour cream and processing as above. These two processes produce butter reasonably quick, due to a reaction between the gel-polysaccharide of kefir grains [kefiran] and milk fat. An amalgamation of sorts occurs when kefiran and cream is churned, so that the butter usually comes with less effort. We can expect an increased butter yield, and the fresh butter enjoys an extended shelf life, due to kefiran and the antioxidant rich kefir. I also believe that the cholesterol of butter, which can increase the bad blood cholesterol in the body due to particular types of milk fat, is sort of bound by kefiran, in which renders the butter healthier, possibly another functional-food in fact.
Kefir-Leban The natural process of draining ready-to-drink kefir through cloth for a day, produces a fresh sour-curd cheese. Kefir-Leban is similar to Labneh of the Middle East or Pannier of India, or German Quark including Tvorog of Russia [or Lower Sorbian twarog, from Old Church Slavonic tvarog]. Another 100% rennet free fresh, delicious and nutritious healthy sour curd cheese.
Kefir-Straightjacket A kefir-curd dip or spread prepared from draining kefir [per Kefir-Leban above] with added ingredients to create a taste sensation that many people have gone crazy #@|@# asking for more [does that make any sense?]. The selected ingredients also help to keep the microbes in this fresh live cheese alive, even during storage! A probiotic fresh cheese-dip, come spread, come pizza topping... come on down and make these recipes for yourself and your family, by yesterday-- OR ELSE!
Kefir Pizza and Bread and other Baked Goodies A wholemeal pizza prepared with the addition of kefir as a sourdough starter or leavening agent [for rising dough], topped with generous dollops of Kefir-Straightjacket dip and other ingredients... get into that kitchen and rattle those pizza pans! By the way, the recipe for the pizza base can be used for kefir sourdough bread making. Kefir added to flour prepares wonderful pancakes. Scones and other baked goods are all possible, including pretzels among others delights than only the art of baking manna from heaven is designed to offer true wholesomeness. Adding a small amount of milk kefir-grains blended with a good cold pressed oil or linseed [flaxseed] meal to form a smooth emulsion included in a bread recipe, produces bread with an extra crispy crust, and a nice moist loaf! We don't stop here--- the possibilities are far reaching. Cakes, biscuits or any baked goods can greatly benefit the recipe with added kefir and or kefir grains prepared as an emulsion by blending in a food processor or by pounding in a mortar with a pestle.
Kefirkraut Zzzzzz wake up all!!! Naturally pickled cabbage /or other vegetables similar to traditional sauerkraut but without the addition of any salt or very low salt content if desired, as opposed to traditional sauerkraut which contains between 2% to 3% salt. Kefirkraut has converted many who dislike sauerkraut to kefirkraut devotees.
Kefirlat or Kefirlac A fermented cereal grain beverage prepared with sugary kefir grain-prepared water kefir and sprouted cereal grains. This is an extension of Rejuvelac principally similar to Kvass of Russia.
Water Kefir or Kefir d'acqua [the latter meaning kefir of water, Latin]. A refreshing, bubbly sugar/water beverage prepared with traditional translucent sugary kefir-grains [SKG] a cousin to milk kefir-grains. A version of water kefir can also be prepared with milk kefir-grains in place of traditional SKG. Water kefir is a vegan version of kefir, so vegans and true vegetarians too can enjoy making and drinking kefir as part of their lifestyle and diet. Traditional sugar-water recipe more commonly used is explained including my own rendition of the recipe. There is an in depth explanation of water kefir on this page here, and the common water kefir recipes including ginger beer water kefir recipe are found at my kefir-making web page here.
With much experimentation and hard work, the results of yours truly discovered methods to improve growth rate of SKG, which as a result produces water kefir with less sugar, making it a healthier cultured beverage. This is by including a few simple ingredients added to sugar and water. These include sodium bicarbonate [pure baking powder], ground eggshell, oceanic coral or natural limestone. Molasses is added if the sugar is refined to any degree other than natural, fresh or dry sugar cane juice. During fermentation, the rich calcium and magnesium rich eggshell, oceanic coral or limestone is released in the water kefir, rendering the two elements into a bio-available form in the final beverage. I've had folks email me and also post to my internet lists at Yahoo! Groups expressing some concern about the use of sodium in the form of sodium bicarbonate for preparing water kefir. However, your's truly wishes to insure that the calcium and magnesium released from eggshell, oceanic coral or limestone into the water kefir, counteracts the effects of sodium on the body. Well balanced food to restore or maintain balance in body and mind is another one of my mottos, which is applicable here.
Kefir d' erba medica [meaning Kefir made with medicinal herbs, Latin]. Probiotic herbal teas prepared with sugary kefir-grains or milk kefir-grains. Recipes and ideas are explained at my kefir making web page, by clicking the heading link. This is an extension of water-kefir and milk-kefir.
Kefir d'uva [meaning Kefir made with grape juice, Latin]. Another extension on water kefir cultured with grape juice instead of the more common ingredients, such as sugar, lemon, dry fig and water.
Kefir d'pollin [meaning Kefir made with bee pollen, Latin]. Either water-kefir or milk-kefir cultured with the addition of bee pollen. This recipe may help unlock nutrients, which through normal digestion are mostly unavailable from bee pollen. This limitation is due to the indigestible cell-wall of each pollen cell so the nutrients are unavailable through gastric digestion. Including bee pollen for preparing milk-kefir, the proteolytic enzyme-rich medium may help to at least partially break down the cell wall of bee pollen cells, so gastric digestion which follows may be able to further breakdown the cell wall, aiding in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Although my understanding of bee pollen is that the cell-wall is made up of cellulose, which in this case, there would be little to quite marginally small enzymatic attack on the cellulose by kefir organisms, it is quite a delicious rendition to kefir nevertheless.
Kefir Recipes A few recipes to try, including The Butterfly [fruit juice + kefir beverage], the Water Butterfly [water-kefir + milk-kefir beverage], and the Kefir Charme [kefir-smoothie], a great way of introducing kefir to children or to fussier taste buds... shneeky-he-he-heee!. Not omitting the Kefir Liver Blush, a herbal-based kefir beverage to increase/correct immune function, assist or correct liver function, and control inflammation of the bowel and more.
Kefir-Grain Gelato-Style Ice-Cream If someone told you that you could eat ice-cream and actually heal yourself from many gastro intestinal problems such as IBD and Ulcerative Colitis, you would probably think that there is no way this can be true. Well, you're wrong, for there is a way of eating your ice-cream and healing yourself too, and here it is. This ice-cream is functional-food at its best! A recipe exists, and is one of a few which abide among a collection at my Kefir FAQ web page.
Kefir Preserving Brine [KPB] I discovered that brine prepared with kefir can be used as a natural preservative to prolong the shelf life of certain perishable foods [stored refrigerated]. Fresh cheeses such as Bocconcini. Tofu, cooked or raw legumes, meat and fish enjoy a longer shelf life due to controlled fermentation of those foods with kefir in the form of KPB. The antioxidant rich kefir including other properties of kefir are the culprits in this case, ALL GOOD, THOUGH!!!!
Probiotic Herbal Kefir-Grain Condiment A probiotic savory condiment prepared with dehydrated milk kefir-grains or sugary kefir-grains with added herb-spices and sea salt ground to delicious powder. Preparation is simple.
Probiotic Sweetener including Kefir-Grain Lolloz A probiotic sweetener similar to the above, and sweet candy or carob/dark chocolate coated sweet streets. Ideas for the preparation are explained at this web page.
Application of kefir grains for treating infected wounds and warts I've discovered that kefir grains are effective in treating certain infections such as Ulcers when applied topically to the affected area, especially in conjunction with specific herbs. I've observed this in both man and beast alike. I've also removed warts by applying a kefir grain topically to warts, both planter and the common wart caused by the Human Papilloma Virus [HPV], which is linked to cervical cancer
Implementing kefir grains with medicinal herbs to correct Irritable Bowel Disease including liver dysfunction or hepatic disease with anti-inflammatory property as a beneficial side effect: A link to a photo explaining common herbs for preparing a health-promoting beverage with kefir grains and kefir. This is once again functional-food at its best!
To order kefir grains, please follow this link which takes you further up this page
On December 4, 1999, the initiation of a non-commercial world community at Yahoo! groups, known to as Kefir_making [K_m] was baptized with the ceremonial breaking of a kefir champagne bottle on the bow. On October 13, 2002, a new community list was initiated at Yahoo! groups as Real_Kefir_Making [R_K_M]. At either of these 2 lists, members are given an opportunity to share kefir related information. There is a vast collection of information regarding kefir and other culture-products among the archives of either group. This includes photos, abstracts and links including recipes. Please note that the list K_m, is generally open topic-wise. On the other kefir-hand R_K_M is strictly on topic to kefir as the main subject of discussion. K_m is quite active, whereas R_K_M is less active regarding the volume of daily posts.
Please note: Free subscription is essential in order to post messages to both lists or to view files and bookmarks etc. To subscribe, simply click the appropriate link below to join either list, or join both lists if you wish:
The good sister-ships K_m and R_K_M thrive well on goodwill. We hope to e-see you there ;o)
What WE are. What commercial artificial starters truly are not.
NOVICE SPECIAL NOTICE. Because dom ingests Us kefir grains, WE have decided to revolt, by taking mutiny of dom's faculties as OUR main-course of action. So, bearing with this in mind, WE kefir grains hereby declare that dom is now under OUR control. From here on WE communicate through dom by navigating the slimy typing. So, you fortunate few, please sit back, relax and enjoy what WE share here.
WE kefir grains wish to educate newcomers to kefir, without excluding those so thought to be "in the know". With your undivided attention, WE shall focus on common issues, which are the cause of confusion among the many among the masses. Before WE move on though, please, splash your screen with an imaginary amount of fresh milk, for WE kefir grains are thirsty and hungry. That was very kind of you... thank you for exercising your imagination.
Firstly and fore-mostly Kefir should not be mistaken for Yogurt [How was that for an opener, brown cow?!]. These 2 culture milk-products are unique and very different. The reason why kefir is often referred to as a yogurt, or drinking yogurt, is because of the familiarity most westerns have with yogurt in comparison to kefir. This is especially true in those countries where kefir is lesser known than yogurt. However, analysis of the composition of kefir indicates that it contains bio-active ingredients that give it unique health benefits, which means that kefir is an important probiotic source and the more promising as a functional-food  even more so than yogurt in many respects.
Kefir is a culture-milk beverage similar to buttermilk in consistency. It is not a thick, spoonable curd like commercial yogurt
Traditional Kefir can only be produced with Us kefir grains. WE are the only self-perpetuating [self-growing] natural-mother of milk-cultures known to people. WE are mostly quite difficult to procure due to OUR rarity. We being in a distinctive class, which is mostly uncommon to the everyday person. One may be lead to believe that commercial kefir including commercial kefir-starters available today, are the same as the traditional counterpart. However, this is mostly not the case at all. Today, commercial kefir is prepared with artificially produced commercial starters and not with Us kefir grains implemented in the long standing, traditional manner. This is partly due to laws enforced through codes of practice by regulatory bodies, which stipulate specific standards making it literally illegal or extremely challenging to use natural starters to produce a traditional culture food-product for sale. Since We are a natural starter, this brings a challenge that can not be easily met by commercial interest, if it can be met at all. Also, there are certain strains of organisms e.g., Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum that will not culture on their own, that is once these organisms are separated from the rest of OUR micro floral family. So, any commercial kefir starter or commercial kefir, can not and shall not contain those organisms. This leaves the commercial counterpart, lacking somewhat.
It takes a reasonably large amount of work, time and milk to culture Us kefir grains to supply the masses. This is also true for producing commercial kefir using Us kefir grains in the traditional fashion.
Cheap cost with much less time and energy involved to artificially produce and employ a commercial starter makes it cost effective for companies to supply or implement an artificially produced kefir starter, rather than work with Us kefir grains. This is true for the commercial kefir starter-vendor, and companies producing commercial kefir for sale.
Employing artificial kefir starters for the production of commercial kefir are used for producing a commercial kefir with consistent character, regarding taste, consistency and texture etc. In this case, a kefir that best suites the pallet of a particular population it is intended to be sold to.
WE kefir grains are an ancient natural mother-culture, and because of this, OUR microflora varies from batch to batch. The same batch can also be found to vary in microflora, due to environment and culture conditions. WE, including the actual kefir WE produce with fresh milk in the traditional manner, contain a vast number of different strains of lactic acid bacteria [LAB] including BifidobacteriaStreptococci/Lactococci, Acetobacter [acetic acid or vinegar producing bacteria] and yeasts. Specific strains of OUR yeasts can breakdown lactose, which is rare to find in a common culture milk-product in the western world. The vast species of organisms among these four genus groups is what make up OUR unique, complex, self-organizing microflora, which shares perfect symbiosis among the different strains of organisms. However, yogurt, commercial kefir including artificially prepared kefir-starters do not contain anywhere near these numbers of different strains of organisms. These culture-products also lack proper, everlasting symbiosis among the different species of organisms.
The animation on the left demonstrates best quality creamy, ready-to-drink traditional kefir prepared by Us kefir grains and with dom's help.[No dom, don't wake up! You're in a deeeep sleeeep. Relax, freee your mind. Goood].
And this picture demonstrates the small curd size of kefir sitting in a glass cup.
WE kefir grains have the ability to culture traditional kefir either from raw, non-pasteurisedfresh milk including pasteurised fresh milk. And WE culture kefir at room temperature. For just the cost of fresh milk, this provides the unique opportunity to prepare real authentic, traditional kefir as a simple, inexpensive and flexible process.
WE are capable of preparing kefir with any milk-type of YOUR CHOICE. This includes full cream, fat reduced or non-fat commercial dairy milk. Although WE prepare the best kefir from fresh raw milk obtained right after milking, WE shall also prepare a healthy kefir with any commercial fresh milk, including long life milk [UHT] and reconstituted dry milk powder. This provides the advantage of choosing a Certified Bio-Dynamic or Organic milk with or without any amount of fat content. To some extent, WE can also culture non dairy milk, such as coconut milk, coconut water, soy milk, rice milk, and seed and nut milk etc. WE shall prepare a traditional kefir in any dairy milk type within 24 hours, day in, day out, year hence and year fifth [the number of change]. And it's always nice to have options--- isn't it, dom?! heheheheeheee. [NO dom, don't wake up-- Just relax, reeelaaaxssss, you are in a deeep sleeeeep. GOoood]
Where were WE? Oh yeah! On the other hand, artificial kefir starters [including commercial yogurt starters], lack the capacity to culture ongoing batches of kefir with a small amount of previous kefir added to fresh milk. This can not be done on an continuous basis. Such starters can ONLY prepare kefir [or yogurt] with freshly pasteurised [sterilized through heating] milk. In the case with yogurt, the freshly pasteurised or sterile milk with the added commercial starter MUST be incubated for 8 to 12 hours at a temperature range of 37°C to 42°C [97°F to 111°F]. Bearing in mind that an incubator to maintain these temperatures is required. Electric incubators cost money to purchase, and to run. This is because the very few selected organisms for preparing artificial commercial starters, simply lack the ability to culture at room temperature. To reproduce, those few strains of organisms have a specific optimal temperature when cultured as single strains or with only a few different strains or organisms. But there's more to this, which WE shall explain later.
However, WE kefir grains have the capacity to thrive and propagate AND the ability to culture traditional kefir at a reasonably wide temperature range, anywhere between 8°C to about 30°C [39°F to 86°F]. This comes natural for Us, for OUR microflora has developed a high order of self-organization because WE have evolved in raw milk, cultured at ambient temperature over many centuries. In effect, WE have the muscles needed to get the job done--- and done right at that--- a simple cool fact.
Authentic traditional kefir CAN NOT be prepared with artificial commercial kefir starters often sold as a kefir-starter or kefir starter-culture sold in packets in powder form. Such commercial starters are prepared from only a few strategically selected strains of organisms taken from Us kefir grains. However, once those organisms are removed from OUR microflora to prepare the artificial starter, they can no longer create and maintain the all-important, essential symbiosis among those different strains of lactic acid bacteria, and usually only one strain of yeast. Commercial starters are prepared under laboratory conditions, therefore they can not be classified as a Natural Starter, for they truly are artificially prepared. As stated above in the opening paragraph, there are certain strains of organisms [Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum] that will not culture on their own, that is once they have been separated from OUR microflora. So these strains are missing in any commercial kefir starter-product. As such, these are not Us kefir grains, but instead, an inferior starter. Similar to yogurt starters, commercial kefir starters simply lack the ability to culture unpasteurised raw milk. In simple terms, this is because the native microflora present in raw milk, competes aggressively with the organisms of the commercial starter-- the fate of which the commercial starter loses the battle for nutrients in the first round, and by a knockout punch-- Ding! wake-up call. [NO, not you dom! Go back to deeep sleeeep... deeeep sleeep... that's right].
NO GRAIN= NO GRAINS= NO GAIN It is impossible to spontaneously grow Us kefir grains, from non-existing kefir grains. Kefir grains can not be spontaneously grown from any form of commercial kefir OR from any artificial kefir starter. This is also true with the very kefir that WE kefir grains produce. Once Us kefir grains have been separated by straining Us from the liquid kefir, like those commercial starters, those organisms found in the kefir the we produced, can NOT produce kefir grains in fresh milk fermented with the addition of that kefir. In all such cases, the end culture milk will contain thick, white curds due to the separation of milk into curds and whey. Many folks have mistaken those white curds for kefir grains in the above case, believing that kefir grains were produced, while this isn't the case at all. It is literally impossible to do.
We kefir grains can ONLY be PRODUCED and CULTIVATED from EXISTING, GROWING KEFIR GRAINS. It is a simple fact that you need to initially obtain Us kefir grains, in order to propagate more grains, while WE prepare a traditional kefir WITH YOU. In effect, the strong association [symbiosis] between OUR microflora extends to include YOU, where ALL organisms involved, mutually benefit from the strong essential relationship.
Please take a short break to splash your screen with more imaginary fresh milk, for all of this manoeuvring of dom's faculties has made Us quite thirsty. While you're there, please take this opportunity to enjoy a glass of OUR real kefir ... Cheers!
With any type of non-genetically modified commercial lactic acid starter available today, such as commercial kefir-starters, yogurt-starters, including cheese lactic acid starters, a point comes where the organisms of such artificial starters SHALL FAIL to culture future generations [batches] of the culture milk-product.
The challenge that powder commercial kefir-starters face The few selected strains of organisms chosen to prepare artificial kefir starters, are unable to create and maintain the all essential symbiosis among the lactic acid bacteria, vinegar producing bacteria and yeast components of such starters, over generations. Humans have little understanding of symbiosis, so dairy technicians are unable to artificially reproduce a starter, that can successfully create and maintain symbiosis like We do. However, OUR microflora is very capable of maintaining symbiosis among the different strains of organisms, doing so on a continual basis. This is why WE have not changed over the past centuries right up to this point in time. In fact, WE can be regarded as a perfect example of symbiosis among the scientific community that study biology, microbiology and mycology [the study of fungi and yeast] etc.
In effect, phage virus infection including lack of proper symbiosis of artificial starters have a positive edge, leaning towards the financial gain of artificial starter vendors. Looking over dom's memory glands however, WE sadly note that he has come across companies selling kefir starter-powders, which have taken unusual measures to protect their potential sales and profit margin interest. As an example, WE note the implementation of fear tactricks mixed with partial truths in order to make Us kefir grains appear poor, while on the other kefir-hand the commercial starter-powder appear supreme. There are suggestions that the yeast component among OUR microflora has the potential to aggressively overtake the LAB. However, scientific research has never found this to be the case, and there has been numerous studies on the microflora of kefir grains and of kefir to substantiate this. Some of these studies involved over 550 batches of Us kefir grains obtained from various households and kefir-producing facilities in the former USSR [when traditional kefir was prepared with Us, some years ago, and which is mostly no longer the case].
But let Us say that if this did ever occur, it is due to the mishandling of Us, and not simply a spontaneous outcome, as suggested. Such companies should also disclose the fact that this can and does indeed occur to a commercial starter, but in this case to the final detriment of the artificial commercial starter.
On the other kefir-grain-hand, in the event that if this ever occurred to OUR microflora, WE are quite capable of reestablishing OUR microfloral components in order to correct the imbalance. This is simply by you, OUR caretaker, adjusting culture-conditions, such as giving Us larger milk-volume, and making certain that WE are strained and fed daily with fresh milk. Dom has proven in many instances that OUR microflora is self-organizing and superior, if given the chance by you culturing Us according to the simple instructions dom explains throughout his web pages and in his book dedicated to Us. But this is not possible with any commercial starter available today. Once those starters are subjected to the wild [in a jar of milk sitting on your kitchen counter top], the unorganised microbial components are lost for good, and in only a short matter of time, compared to how long WE've been in existence! Yes, WE have stood up to the test of time, and with a smile, along with the folks who prepare kefir with Us:-)
It is shameful, and not for Us mind your good soul, but for who ever this may concern, that there are companies inclined to implement strategic tactricks such as those explained above. Of all the torment that folks endure today, there is no torment that equals the intellectual and spiritual torment that demons of ignorance and greed inflict on people. WE hope that members of such companies including the general public are saved from such torment, so that they may grow in spirit, to propagate and forward truths, be it in their own time, and only if one is so willing to ask for deliverance from demons of greed and ignorance that have taken possession of one's faculties:-) Contamination of bodies, hearts which is detrimental to the soul is of no laughing matter to the compassionate or otherwise. Meanwhile, WE have all the patience in the world for that moment to come, as WE propagate forward, outwardly and in all directions with gratitude to those who sincerely care for Us in accordance to observing the simplest of instructions with a little attention dedicated to Us, in turn, to benefit both YOU, and Us.
However so this may be, one can not dispute the fact that once the individual obtains Us kefir grains, WE do not go asking that individual to go running to a vendor to purchase more of Us, as is the case with commercial kefir-starter vendors. If simple care is observed while culturing a traditional kefir with Us, WE have the ability to outlive YOU, including the potential to outlive your children and their children's' children, just as we have done up to this point in time, while WE remain as WE have always been. We have at least 1,000 years in existence under OUR slimy belt, and WE're still going as strong as ever to this day.
And yet, not only do WE make the preparation of traditional kefir simple, affordable and reasonably flexible, WE also have the ability to forward these gifts on to yours, and OUR future generations, so that they may all enjoy similar benefit. WE shall also mention that not only do WE have the capability of producing a refreshing health-promoting nutritious beverage kefir, if WE kefir grains are ingested, WE have the potential to better improve digestive function, liver function, reduce or remove inflammation, reduce the risk of contracting cancer, correct blood glucose and blood pressure, with an increase in general sense of well being as a marker being a beneficial side-effect. Ask dom, he has much experience in this area [that is after WE return dom's faculties back to him, needless to state:].
If you are having difficulty keeping up with Us, please take another break to drink some more kefir to revitalize your brain power banks, for WE have much more to share with you :)
To current date, the limited diversity among the species of organisms strategically selected to prepare artificial commercial starters, is a limiting-factory in its own right. With Us kefir grains however, any particular strain, or type-strain of organism[s] among OUR microflora, has the potential to overcome many limiting factors and challenges. Including being endorsed with a natural protection against phage infecting agents [immunity]. In the event that any one particular strain of organism among OUR species may fail, there is a good chance that another strain, or type strain, has probability to prevail; carrying with it, the essential survival mechanism in future generations [progeny]. This can basically be put down to the vastness in the different types of organisms and the complexity among OUR self-organizing microflora. To further add, because Us kefir grains understand proactive, workable relationships among different species [perfect example of symbiosis], WE have the ability to work with, or adopt local, wild friendly organisms, found in the fresh milk or your local environment. If such adopted organisms become part of OUR extensive family... all sharing the accommodation of the abode of the friendly microbe i.e. WE kefir grains, it may bring advantage to OUR microflora, if the adopted organism[s] comes readily equipped with resistance to infective agents, such as phage virus infection.
This is one of the reasons why WE kefir grains have successfully propagated over many centuries, in the hands of people, and without any change to Us!
If an individual's health and well-being, be it only in part, is a reflection of what the individual eats and drinks... then it is reasonable to prefer, and to demand a natural, traditional culture food-product.
Codes of Practice [COP] To produce commercial culture-products, such as commercial kefir including kefir-starters intended for sale, there are COP that commercial producers and retailers have to abide by, by Law. In certain countries or states of, such COP stipulate specific restrictions regarding what is, and what is not allowed in a food-product or starter-culture intended for sale. As an example, WE quote the Californian Food And Agricultural Code, Section 38871:
"Market milk or market milk combined with nonfat milk from market milk, with or without added market milk solids, flavouring, or seasoning, which is certified raw milk or has been pasteurised and afterwards fermented by Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus caucasicus may be sold as kefir, reduced-fat kefir, low fat or light (lite) kefir, or nonfat, skim, or fat-free kefir, or such names as may be characteristic for the product and approved by the secretary. [There is some interest here, how this COP suggests that companies can in fact, but mostly do not give their artificially prepared culture milk-product a unique name for the saleable product, as long as it describes the product well to distinguish it. Addendom Us kefir grains] The product may contain harmless edible stabilizers not to exceed six-tenths of 1 percent. It shall contain no more than 10 coliform bacteria per gram and shall be free of molds, yeasts, and other fungi,and other objectionable bacteria that may impair the quality of the product."
The COP above clearly declares that a commercial culture food-product labelled as Kefir or similar intended for sale, must be free of yeasts and fungi. Yet, yeast is an essential component of traditional kefir. Note also that the COP states that only three strains of LAB are essential to classify the commercial product a kefir! WE mean to say, compare that number of LAB with the many different strains of LAB, yeasts including acetic acid [vinegar] bacteria found in a traditional kefir [see above, typical microflora of milk kefir grains].
Because yeast activity of kefir continually produces CO2 through fermentation of lactose, this forwards a challenge to commercial kefir producers. The container to store commercial kefir needs to be designed to release pressure caused by the production of CO2 during fermentation and throughout storage at the point of sale and storage and home. Otherwise the carton shall bulge and distort during storage, to the point of exploding. The problem this incurs is that producers of commercial kefir will have to pay royalties to patent holding companies currently holding patents on specially designed cartons to release pressure of commercial kefir during storage. In fact, there is just such a line of storage container for commercial kefir developed in the former USSR, when Us kefir grains used to be implemented in the production of kefir on a commercial scale some years ago in that country. So in effect, eliminating yeast altogether as part microbial component in the production of commercial kefir, as stipulated in the Californian Food and Agriculture Code, section 38871 above, avoids this potential problem. But this comes at a great cost of adulteration, or the migration of a traditional kefir from an authentic state.
There is another workaround to
this challenge, and that is to pasteurise the culture
milk-product before sale, so that all organisms
are destroyed and can no longer produce CO
Sub-Abstract : 578 samples of kefir grains were examined bacteriologically by microscopy in the Moscow, Irkutsk, Tula, Stavropol' and Kuibyshev dairy factories.... On direct observation through microscopy, lactic acid, streptococci and yeast cells should always be detected.
Sub-Abstract : ... When kefir was made from kefir grains with yeast; lactic acid bacteria ratios 1:5.6, 1:15 [traditional culture] and 1:46, increasing or decreasing the proportion of yeast in the grains resulted in flavour defects.
COP such as the FAA Code Section 38871 above, with little doubt, strategically overlook such simple facts provided by much former research. Instead, such COP place a stranglehold on the possibility of employing Us kefir grains for the production of traditional kefir intended for sale. However so this may be, this suits Us just fine.
To further add. There is a Codex Standard for Fermented Milks to consider, specifically CODEX STAN 243-2003, which states the following--
Endorsement and/or revision of maximum level for food additives and processing aids in Codex standards
[The Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products responsible for establishing international codes and standards for milk and milk products].
FAO/WHO CODEX STANDARD FOR FERMENTED MILKS [CODEX STAN 243-2003] "Kefir-- Starter culture prepared from kefir grains, Lactobacillus kefiri, species of the genera Leuconostoc, Lactococcus and Acetobacter growing in a strong specific relationship. [This is scientifically incorrect for the strong specific relationship (symbiosis) specifically requires YEASTS in Us kefir grains for symbiosis among all components to exist. Addendum Us kefir grains].
"Kefir grains constitute both lactose fermenting yeasts (Kluyveromyces marxianus) and non-lactose-fermenting yeasts (Saccharomyces unisporus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces exiguus). Other microorganisms than those constituting the specific starter culture(s) specified above may be added." [As with the Californian Food And Agricultural Code, Section 38871, it appears this is also stating yeasts can not be included in a commercial kefir, but other microorganisms may be added. Yes it explains constituents of Us kefir grains including yeasts.
Alas, WE feel that most if not all natural, traditional culture-products of yesteryear, are extremely challenging to understand, let alone mass-produce for the marketplace. Not without adulterating the product for product-name $ake. This seems to be the case with traditional-authentic-kefir. Laws may be readjusted to try and meet public interest, and what is true today will be a different matter tomorrow, which can be a good thing. However WE kefir grains, a Gift from God to the common everyday individual, is if one so wishes to per-receive Us probiotic-jewels as a gift from God as such... WE leave you with this choice.
Before WE hand over dom's faculties back to him, WE would like to leave to whom this may concern with the following fair challenge. WE kefir grains feel that if individuals or company holders have the creativity and the capability to pioneer or develop a unique culture milk-starter, or culture-milk product intended for sale, a respectful and open option [as in FAACode, Section 38871 above suggests] is to give the unique culture-product an equally unique name for it to be sold by; rather than simply steel or borrow an existing name. Especially those names which have already been taken to represent what WE are [KEFIR GRAINS the natural KEFIR STARTER], and what WE produce [KEFIR]. This should be quite simple to understand and accomplish.
How in heavens can anyone justify naming commercial kefir or commercial kefir starter as such, when in fact some strains of organisms that are part of OUR microflora can not be cultured independently, that is once they are removed from OUR microflora, from US kefir grains? You are only able to produce an INCOMPLETE commercial product. WE challenge your imagination, your creativity, your honesty, your intelligence including your ignorance! This should at least prevent the current misconception regarding what commercial kefir including commercial kefir-starters are, compared to the traditional and authentic counterpart. Do WE need to mention the Trademark incidences regarding the name Champagne of France and Parmigiano-reggiano the traditional cheese of Parma, Italy? as a side note, or as an example? It is advantageous to regard this guidance, as a precautionary measure, at the least.
WE hereby inform that as of the end of this here notice, WE shall have handed over all of dom's faculties back to dom. It was a pleasure having you and thank you for having Us and sharing Us with the world, dom.
Be-well wishes from WE of the never-never Great White Kefir-Grains of Oz [Thank you for the Great Whites of Oz title, Julia from USA].
[Chew n'gulp] Hhmm... great tasting kefir grains. Hey!.. hang on a tick with a pair of tweezers! I don't recall typing the section above?! And what's with all of this imaginary milk trickling down my monitor screen!
It has been about 10 years since I began to incorporate the word real, in conjunction with Kefir on the Internet, to help explain the fine art of culturing traditional kefir. I've use the word real, with the intention to bring clarity to the masses, regarding the difference between using actual kefir grains versus the use of implementing man-made [commercially prepared] starter-cultures for culturing milk to produce real, traditional kefir or versions of kefir. There is no intention here, to suggest that non-kefir-grain cultures are lacking in health promoting potential. There is much anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Be it so, there is a reasonable amount of anecdotal evidence for the beneficial therapeutic value for actual kefir grains, and which commercial starters can not provide
Over recent time, the word real has become quite a loose fitting term, used by certain commercial enterprises, to exploit their [particularly] non kefir-grain produced culture-milk product available at the marketplace. However, because traditional kefir does not enjoy any real protection under any Food and Drug Administration, or similar governing body, then, any company can use the term real, really loosely, and cleverly too. If one had no real sound knowledge of what real kefir making is all about, then certain commercial enterprises could take consumers for a real ride. Unless kefir-culture-vendors declare that their commercial culture actually contains KEFIR GRAINS, then one could be correct in concluding that certain companies are in fact selling man-made, commercially prepared, pure mixed starter-cultures... and not actual kefir grains as a starter-culture. We can rest assured knowing that there is no commercial kefir available today, that is prepared in the traditional manner, with actual kefir grains in direct contact with fresh milk during the production process. Laws that are in place in most if not all countries have made it so.
The key to look out for is, Kefir Grains HAVE to be the actual starter-culture... and not just a few selected organisms isolated from kefir grains, incorporated in the process of preparing any pure, mixed starter-culture. Anything else other than the phrase real kefir or real kefir grains etc. may imply that the microbes used to prepare the commercially prepared starter-cultures, may have originated from kefir grains. But, such organisms, unless these are within, and left intact with propagable kefir grains themselves, will not culture a traditional kefir, but instead shall produce a version of kefir. It may well have been yours truly, who may have put the word real in conjunction with kefir on the Internet, to help explain traditional kefir-making. However, certain companies seem to be using this phrase to sell their version of kefir-making kits and caboodle's too. So, caveat emptor [consumer beware] of these facts and or fallacies.
My current understanding is that, as an industry-standard, commercially produced versions of kefir, the quality of the product on a sensory level is determined by comparing the product with the quality of traditional-kefir prepared with traditional kefir grains.
This goes without saying; for what else would an artist use as a model to paint a portrait of an apple? [Thanks for the pointer, Basirah]
As a result of my research and personal experience, and the now thousands of individuals whom were introduced to kefir via yours truly and whom I am in frequent correspondence with, kefir grains produce a superior culture-milk product, with unsurpassed quality. However, everything has its place in the marketplace; even misleading *miss-no-mass aimed at mass-distraction.
*Inseedentlee, I do know how to spell misnomers, nor does anyone have to know whether I'm joking or being serious-- this includes me [who did I just quote, using my interpretation of the original quote?].
Ingesting kefir grains on a regular basis, as performed by the original masters of kefir, in my opinion, is a must-do if one wishes to gain optimum benefits of the kefir-ritual as a whole. Most research performed to date, which shows much promise, has been performed with actual kefir grains or the polysaccharide Kefiran, which kefir grains produce, consist of and release in the media [extensive research has not been carried out with actual real-kefir]. One cannot ingest kefir grains if one doesn't have kefir grains to begin with, and in order to propagate more grains!
Taking this to another level Initial interest in kefir came about when the famous Russian scientist, Professor Mechnikov learned of the long-life-span that the Caucasian tribes-folk enjoyed. It was believed that kefir was an important link to why these people enjoyed such a long-life-span with little to no disease. Although, if one neglects the fact that the tribe-folk did in fact ingest kefir grains and ripened kefir on a regular basis [as a kefir-ritual in a wholesome state], then AN important ingredient may be missing in the long-life-soup!
Out of all culture-products known and prepared to date, kefir grains and traditional-kefir stand in a unique class of their own. No other culture-product propagate bio-wonders such as kefir grains. Kefir grains are unique in many ways. Such probiotic-jewels are part and parcel of the culture-process. And with the culture-product produced with kefir grains [kefir] a natural culture-system in completeness is attained, if maintained with our help, of course. By the use of simple intuition in communion with logic, for me, suggests that these THREE-CULTURE-PRODUCTS can not be separated from each other, and expect to RE-ATTAIN FULL POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF THE ART AS A WHOLE... Wholesomeness is the keyword here.
Taking this to reach zenith To add to, let's do this the best WE can; We need to consider looking into another important but overlooked matter. I am referring to the ripening of liquid-kefir. Unique advantages may be gained by ripening strained kefir for several days, before consuming the culture-milk product. Mild ambient temperatures, ranging between 12°C to 22°C [53°F to 71°F] is a good temperature range for ripening kefir. At day 1 to day 2 of ripening, Folacin should increase by some 117% to possibly 125% compared to the amount of folic acid found in the original fresh milk. There are other B group vitamins that increase during ripening, while a few B vitamins are found in slightly less amount, or remain at the same level found in fresh milk. Other benefits of ripening include the reduction of lactose, which is desirable for the low carbohydrate diet, be it for reasons other than Diabetes. Another point to consider is the reduction of milk fat and cholesterol content of milk through the process of ripening.
Other properties of ripening, which involves the sequence or the evolution of the microflora, as the maturing kefir encourages certain strains of organisms to proliferate, or triggered into propagation, due to conditions and byproducts produced by specific strains of organisms, over time. With this, one may find a unique beneficial value of matured kefir, due to a distinctive compound and microbial signature [nutritionally inclusive] to that of freshly strained kefir.
Practice makes permanent perfection or imperfections permanent when practiced accordingly The people of Caucasus often ripened, or brewed larger volumes of liquid kefir for some days before consuming the beverage. The fresh root of the Snow Rose [Rhododendron caucasicum], a non-toxic rhododendron specie native to the area, is said to have been added to liquid-kefir and brewed [to ripen]. The sweet root of Snow Rose contains antioxidants, which prevents the oxidation of milk fat during the ripening process. The root of Snow Rose also contains numerous beneficial properties that are leached into the kefir during ripening. This may further extend on the antioxidants produced naturally through the process of kefir fermentation, such as citric acid, the content of which increases during the process of ripening, and which may further prevent the oxidation of milk fat. There is also another powerful antioxidant found only in kefir, which exists as charged molecules. This antioxidant is thought among the scientific community who have studied the molecules, to be among the more promising antioxidant, especially in the prevention of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as dementia, Huntington's disease and Alzheimer etc. It has been found that the antioxidant of kefir, is easily absorbed into the blood and reaches the brain quite effectively.
We may extend on this practice, for specific herbs may be added with liquid-kefir, and brewed together to mature. Such procedures can be taken advantage of, in order to tailor-brew a specific kefir, intended for specific conditions. As an example, to relieve flatulence and to fortify gastric function, Caraway, Fennel and Anise seed and Cinnamon bark, can be ground to a course powder, and added to fresh kefir, and then ripened at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, or longer fermented under airlock. This form of kefir may be highly recommended for the prevention of, or the control of Diabetes especially Diabetes mellitus, due to the beneficial property of Cinnamon bark for Diabetics. Another example is to ripen kefir for say 3 days either in the fridge, or at room temperature, with the addition of freshly bruised or pounded fresh Turmeric root, Ginger root, Corn silk, dry Olive and Buchu leafs. This may assist in the prevention of, or as part treatment for cancer, to relieve prostate problems in men, Interstitial Cystitis in women including bladder infection and gastric dysfunction in both sexes. The addition of fresh, dry Goji Berries or the natural juice added to liquid kefir, and brewed for 1 to 2 days at room temperature or in the fridge, can be of great benefit. There is beginning to be more understanding of how brewing specific herbs, the process of which increases the effect of the therapeutic property of those herbs, while reducing to the point of eliminating many nutrient-locking or nutrient-binding agents found among the vegetative kingdom, such as phytates and oxalates.
< Brewing herbs with kefir can improve Bio-Availability of Phyto-Active compounds of Herbs >
Concoctions such as the above, can be prepared to amplify the anti-candidiasis property of kefir. The therapeutic benefits of such kefir-herbal concoctions, may be amplified even further with the addition of Vitamin C and fresh kefir grains, blended together in a food processor to prepare a smoothie; a smooth, creamy beverage with desirable consistency and flavour. As an example, 1/4-cup fresh milk kefir-grains and 500mg Vitamin C blended with 1-cup strained herbal-kefir, prepared just before consumption. I have discovered that such concoctions have a desirable effect for gastric problems, including irritable bowel disease, liver problems due to hepatic infection such as Hepatitis C Infection. This is through personal experience, and I believe that long term use of such concoctions is the main factor for a spontaneous cure of Hepatitis C in my case, including Ulcerative Colitis [UC] in 1999. Even though current orthodox medics believe that one goes into remission from UC, my particular case raised some interest among my Dr and his peers, for a recent colonoscopy found no evidence of the disease. This can only assume a complete cure, even though my current Dr who is a specialist in gastroenterology, suggests that I may never have had UC in the first place [And of course he would come to this conclusion, for a cure from UC goes against his medical training]. However, 2 independent diagnosis 10 years prior by 2 of his medical peers both of whom are extensively experienced gastroenterologists, and who both found that I did indeed have Ulcerative Colitis of the sigmoid colon, can not be easily dismissed.
Enhancing a distinctive feeling of well-being usually results shortly after consuming such concoctions. For me, this clearly demonstrates an enhancement of improved immune function, in correlation with an increase in serotonin and possibly other yet-to-be-discovered feel-good factors.
Dehydrated kefir grains can be enjoyed by youngsters and adults alike As a probiotic snack enjoyed with meals or in between meals, dry kefir-grains can be sprinkled with powdered Fennel, Caraway and Dill seed mixed with a small amount of finely ground unrefined sea salt to enhance flavour while improving gastric function when consumed. Fresh herb seeds can be included with dry herb parts of Rosemary, Thyme and Basil leaf are as an example of the many possibilities. The ingredients are best ground in a mortar and pestle with sea salt, and then mixed together with dry kefir-grains to give the grains a light dust coating of the savoury spices. Such treats having a flavour of savory cheese snacks are enjoyed in our abode of the friendly microbe [our home], especially by our 18 month old daughter Shedea-Nardu [as I type]. By the way, sea salt can be substituted with non-sodium salts such as the Bragg or Dr Bronner's brands that are available.
Probiotic Kefir Grain Herbal Condiment One may also prepare what I've named, Probiotic herbal condiment. An example of the recipe can be explained as one tablespoon each of Caraway, Dill, Anise and Fennel seeds and half tablespoon of raw unrefined sea salt, or non-sodium salts such as the Bragg or Dr Bronner's brands, with 2 tablespoons of dehydrated kefir-grains. The ingredients are mixed together and then ground to powder either with a mortar and pestle, a coffee grinder or flour mill. A small amount of probiotic powder sprinkled over food as a savory condiment, can reduce salt intake while enhancing flavour of the food with added probiotic value. In fact, a small amount of condiment mixed with freshly strained or ripened kefir makes a wonderful refreshing beverage, again, while introducing therapeutic properties and increase the probiotic value of kefir, due to the addition of digestive carminative herb spices and dehydrated kefir-grains respectively.
Probiotic Kefir Grain Sweetener [Kefir-grain Lolloz and sweet streets] Another option that children and adults alike may enjoy, is the preparation of a sweetener prepared with dehydrated kefir grains. A simple recipe is mixing 2 tablespoons of dehydrated kefir-grains fashioned as powder in a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or flour mill, mixed with one-cup of dry malt powder or maltose, and one teaspoon each of Cinnamon bark and Anise seed powders as optional ingredients. An amount of any commercial probiotic supplement can be poured out from the capsule and added as an ingredient to further boost probiotic value of the sweetener. Such a tantalizing sweet dressing can be sprinkled over warm, whole grain cereal breakfast, or sprinkled over fresh fruit salad or ice-cream etc. One teaspoon may be mixed with a cup of fresh kefir to prepare a beverage is another example. This is a great way to get probiotics into fussier youngsters and adults alike [without them being aware of the good deed you are doing for them ... Shneaky Heaha haa ha ha haarr].
I also prepare what our daughter Shedea has come to call, Lolloz. The probiotic sweet streets are prepared with an amount of dry kefir-grains fashioned to powder, mixed with a good quality liquid rice malt rendered into candy by hand. These are prepared either plain or carob or dark chocolate coated. Kefir-grain Lolloz are very much enjoyed by most kids as a healthy treat [best taken in moderation]. Kefir-grain Lolloz make a healthy substitute for commercial junk sweets targeted at our young, innocent children, by the majority if not all short sighted large commercial interests worldwide. Short sighted in the fact that the most older virus e.g. is thought to be the herpes virus, because the virus does not kill the host. So it and it's progeny enjoy a long life along with its host that the virus has infected. However, it is said that the AIDS virus e.g., is a younger virus for it kills the host, killing the virus! So how mature are such companies that sell junk food which shorten life span of those whom purchase their products? It appears not as mature as tinny virus particles!
To realize a wider spectrum of the many benefits of kefir, is to maintain and to extend on the traditional culture-art. Ingesting excess or spare kefir grains, consuming ripened kefir prepared with added herbs and enjoying freshly strained kefir; this is wholesomeness at its best, and should be considered worthy of more focus regarding its practical implication
SOME RESEARCH TO CHEW YOUR INTELLECTUAL CUD ON It was found that lactic acid products were ineffective in fungus and proteus dysbacteriosis during antibiotic therapy. Whereas a mixture of Lb. acidophilus + Kefir grains [Aciprole] was used to successfully manage antibiotic dysbacteriosis as an adverse reaction of antibiotic therapy. The fact that the therapy under the antibiotic plus mixed probiotic regime with antibacterial therapy, prevented the development of the clinical signs of dysbacteriosis is of practical importance.
Bearing this in mind, is it quite possible that this is what certain pseudo-kefir producing companies wish to withhold from consumers or potential customers? Or is it that such companies are not aware of such facts?
A PERFECT MARRIAGE... is to persevere and continue without a full stop
May WE bathe in the fountain of Life, Love, Health, Joy and showered with Prosperity of KEFIR GRAINS
Symbiosis = u 4 I + I 4 u : Maintaining a balanced, proactive strong relationship. A universal life-force of attraction--- LOVE
It is not how deep or how hard we fall in life, but the ability for one to help others, including one's own self, to get back up once again, which abides in the very core of our being. To nurture this quality is to constantly practice it in vivo. How an individual implements this art effectively, to ensure a positive outcome for all parties concerned, is an art of Love and Wisdom in its own right... a daily life-challenge.
Truth and honesty to yourself, mirrors on to others just as lies or deceit do. So why waste time and energy on the latter? Especially when little to no effort involves in being honest! [ I've heard a similar saying somewhere before, I'm sure]
Respect, can be found where respect is least thought to abide;Respect brings one home
I often receive emails from self-help interested individuals, asking where specific topics are situated at my site. If I explain where the information is exactly, that defeats the purpose. [An adaptation of the late George Dennis Carlin]
We are being continually bathed in Love and showered in Life... it's just that we quite often wear raincoats or umbrellas, even while indoors or while taking a shower of Love in Life outdoors
I have come to understand that the definition of the refined culture-art of kefir, does not solely rely on the practice of a single process, but, exists as a sequential series of many evolving processes; each of which, in part, contribute to maintain wholesomeness
Le lait et les produits laitiers dans la nutrition humaine - Laits fermentés Culture-milk products including Kefir. French.
Wofgang's kefir site An Austrian site on kefir. Includes a database of individuals with kefir grains to share.
David and Maria Fremlin's kefir recipes Two wonder-parents' efforts, expanding kefir in raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign of Great Britain. Some neat recipes here, including Mediterranean kefir buns, Quick kefir sourdough bread and a mouthful of other kefir-wonders.
The Healing Crow Fermentation is Fun. [I completely agree].
Involvement in psychotherapy and complementary practice KEFIR - the wonder food (and the bee in my bonnet) [how cute].
Rejoice In Life.com Bringing people together to learn about traditional methods.
Microflora of kefir grains Dr. Miloslav Kaláb excellent Micrograph of kefir grains, includes 3D image or anaglyph.
Bio-Dynamic Farm Paris Creek This bio-dynamic farm situated in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, supply the cow's milk that I mostly use for culturing kefir.
Bath Milk Mahaffey Farm: the home of Cleopatra’s Bath
Milk. A raw milk source in Queensland, Australia, supply raw
milk Australia wide.
Trevor & Shirley Mahaffey Another web page about raw milk and Cleopatra's Bath Milk and other lines of raw milk products.
Real Milk Australia Australian campaign for natural raw milk.
Real Milk in the USA USA campaign for raw milk, includes sources for raw milk in USA and other countries.
Living food and reversing your aging Secrets for a Long, Youthful Life. By David Niven Miller.
120 and Healthy! It's common in the Republic of Georgia A "Many Hands feature article" by Nina Anderson. An interesting article on health, longevity and Snow rose [Rhododendron caucasicum], with information provided by Professor Dr. Zakir Ramazanov, Ph.D.
sensa-skin.com An Australian commercial web site by Jane to review and order a range of skin care products. Product development inspired by my kefir herbal probiotic preparations explained at my how to make kefir web page [See "Links to all my web pages" below]
Nourishing Australia A non-profit organisation dedicated to informing, educating and inspiring people about nourishing our soils, plants, animals, people, communities and ultimately, our planet.
Mountains and Flowers of Northern Caucasus The homeland of Kefir grains and of Kefir. Note the 2 pictures of Rhododendron caucasicum [Snow rose]. The root of this low shrub is believed to occasionally be taken with, or brewed with kefir by the tribes-folk or Northern Caucasus. The sweet root of Snow Rose apparently contains powerful antioxidants.
Caucasus By Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia. Etymology, geography, history, demographics, mythology, and energy and mineral resources affairs of the Caucasus.
| About Milk Kefir + Water Kefir | Making Milk Kefir & Water Kefir + Recipes with Kefir + Ash Lye Detergent | Kefir Cheese Making + Pizza + Bread made with Kefir |
| Kefirkraut + Culture Vegetables with Kefir Grains | Kefir Preserving Brine | Nutritional + Chemical Composition of Milk Kefir | Kefir FAQs |
| Seed, Nut + Soy Milk Recipes + Kefir, Yogurt + Viili made from these + Rejuvelac | Nutritional Value of Different Fresh Milk-Types | Culture-Foods of Asia |
| Kombucha + Vinegar Making | Cooking Tip for Healthier Food + Herbal Tea | Beeswaxed Utensils for Safer Brewing |
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Includes Positive Affirmations + Search Tool for This Site
Edited November 12, 2016
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