Kefir is a powerful probiotic from Eastern Europe, made from fermented milk. The best kefir is made from goat’s milk, as scientists have confirmed than goats milk is more beneficial to human health than cow’s milk.
Until fairly recently, kefir was the closely guarded secret of the inhabitants of the Black Caucasus Mountains, who live to an extremely advanced and healthy old age.
Kefir is made by mixing milk with kefir “grains” until a thick, creamy drinking substance is achieved.
Kefir grains are not really grains at all, but living clusters of yeasts and bacteria that look a bit like small soft pieces of white coral. These grains consist of casein and gelatinous colonies of microorganisms that are grown together symbiotically, producing a uniquely powerful and beneficial, fizzy substance.
The kefir grains ferment the milk, incorporating their own friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The kefir grains are then removed with a strainer before the consumption of the drinking kefir, and the grains are added to a new batch of milk to begin the process all over again.
Kefir grains cannot be manufactured – they can only grow from other kefir grains. Properly looked after, kefir grains will live indefinitely, reproducing and continually doubling in size as they grow. And where the very first kefir grain came from, no one knows! It is a mystery, lost in the 1900 year-old history of kefir.
The dominant microflora in kefir are Saccharomyces kefir, Torula kefir, Lactobacillus caucasus, Leuconostoc species and lactic streptococci, along with beneficial yeasts. It is the vast diversity and symbiotic nature of these helpful microorganisms which make kefir special and set it apart from other cultured milk products, which usually contain only one or two strains of bacteria.