Kefir

What is it?
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is not only chock full of probiotics and beneficial yeasts, but the fermentation allows for a longer shelf life.  Kefir can be traced back to the Caucasus region of Russian some few thousand years ago as a way to preserve milk and enhance its nutritional value.  Kefir is made by adding kefir grains (these are actually not grains at all, but are a delicate balance of yeast and bacteria) to milk and allowing it to carefully ferment for about 24 hours.  The result is a naturally-carbonated, slightly tart, refreshing beverage!

Health Benefits
The transformation of milk into kefir takes raw milk from its already nutritional state to a superfood probiotic drink that has several key medicinal benefits.  Rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, kefir also provides significant amounts of lactic acid bacteria and beneficial yeast. In fact, the cocktail of beneficial microbiota within kefir makes it one of the most powerful probiotic foods on the planet!

Making Kefir at Home with Kefir Grains
Start with fresh live kefir grains in large jar.  Add raw milk to that is at approximately 80* F. The ratio is about 15% grains to milk depending on the desired strength of your final kefir drink.  Cover with a lid and keep at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours.  Kefir is done when the milk at the bottom of the jar is jelled.  To check for this, tip the jar on its side, you should see that the milk is thicker and has cultured to the point that it is gelatinous.  When you see large (20% or more) pockets  of whey separating from the kefir, it has cultured a little too long.  No worries, this will just make a stronger kefir drink.  

To prepare for drinking, you need to pour the kefir and grains through a sieve.  The kefir grains will remain in the sieve and the kefir will fall through the sieve.  Simply add fresh 75 to 85 degree milk to the grains and make another batch.  You can keep the grains on hold indefinitely by covering them with milk, placing them in the refrigerator and replacing the milk every two to three weeks.