I have taken quite a fancy lately to making my own kefir. It may not be much to look at, but it is a delicious yogurt-like drink that is just about the best way to get those probiotics that give you a happy tummy. Homemade kefir is even better than anything you can buy, because most commercial products are made with a culture powder that is a less complex probiotic brew. Here is how it is done at home:
Buy the best non-homogenized milk available: raw, if you are allowed it (Pennsylvania-yes, New Jersey-no). What you need next are kefir grains which is a living culture in the form of curds that look something like cottage cheese. You can get them from a kefir-making friend. (Yes, it does matter who your friends are!) I got mine from Dorothy Mullen or contact me and I’ll give you some of mine.
All you do is stir a couple of tablespoons of the kefir grains into 1½ cups of the milk, cover with a cloth and leave it to sit overnight. The next morning you will find the cultured milk graciously awaiting you all thick and inviting. Because the milk is not homogenized, there will be a layer of the cultured cream on top. No matter, just pour it all through a strainer (which is placed smartly over a glass) and with a rubber spatula (or a freshly washed finger) you gently roll the grains around until they are stripped of most of the surrounding creaminess. Set the grains aside to start another batch–be sure to do that immediately. You don’t want those grains to dry out. In the glass, you now have your day’s supply of kefir.
I love it plain, or I might use it in a fresh fruit smoothie. Often I use it in recipes where yogurt or buttermilk are called for.
Then again, I can get wild. In my classes I use it to make cheese, Devonshire cream, or even as an ice cream base, More on that another day.