Join the kefir party.

Young and old are waking up to cultured beverages instead of soda pop and sports drinks. True, fermentation is ancient news but modernity has shelved these bountiful pleasures for the sake of “new and improved” products.

Carbonated sugar water took over the world. How do we hate thee? Empty calories, tooth decay, wasted money, and bottles and cans piling up in landfills are a few reasons.

And why do we love the culture club besides the inherent cool factor?

Our microbes flourish with daily infusions of probiotics and the foods that feed them. When our microbes are abundant and healthy just about everything goes better: fewer colds, easier digestion, happier moods, clearer skin,better blood sugar control, fewer allergies…. the list encompasses the entire mammalian system.

So expand your social or nesting beverage repertoire. Want to meet for a coffee, beer or…kefir?

Kefir is one to add fizz to the menu.

First, how to pronounce it?

Key-FEAR or KEH-fur or KEY-fur?

Most people say it the last way, ala Kiefer Sutherland but it doesn’t matter, really.

Why is kefir healthy?

Numerous probiotic yeasts and bacteria grow in kefir, many more types than in the probiotic standby yogurt. These include: Saccharomyces kefir, Torula kefir, Lactobacillus caucasicus, Leuconnostoc spp., lactic streptococci as well as lactose-fermenting yeast.

Production of traditional kefir requires a starter community of kefir grains which are added to liquid. This liquid can be milk of a cow, sheep or goat. Any milk really. Most store-bought kefirs are flavored and dairy-based but other types are showing up at places like Whole Foods.
Nut milks including almond, cashew or coconut will reap a lower fat, dairy-free type.

Make your own at home

First you will need kefir grains, the starter.

My first go failed: I had ordered live grains ordered online. I didn’t have much luck; the milk spoiled before it fermented. Possibly it was too hot. I usually microwave my milks until they boil to kill off competing microbes. Then I cool to about 110 F whereupon I add the starter. Or maybe the grains were inactive.

My second try worked. I used dehydrated grains which I added to the cooled milk (see above).

—I let it set for 24 hours in a turned-off oven.
—Chilled it for a few hours.
—Blended with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of honey. Yum.

Most people preparing kefir online seem to use the live grains.

Recipes are available at the Culturesforhealth website. Breads, soups, dips and desserts are some of the yummy looking ideas included.

Watch this video for enthusiastic kefir-making. There are many more on YouTube.

If you prefer to stay out of the kitchen, there are some great new products in the dairy case.

Here’s a video on making kefir.