Saturday, December 5, 2009

interview with a kefir freak

pouring fermented kefir into a glass jar for storage in the refrigerator

kefir grains ~ there are different shapes and textures, but apparently the flat and stringy kind, as shown here, is the best

So Lee, tell us about kefir.

~ Where do you want me to start?

How do you pronounce it?

~ I say KEFFer because it sounds better to me. I believe the original pronunciation is kuh-FEAR. It's Russian. It's from the Caucasus Mountains.

What is it?

~ It is a fermented/cultured milk product similar to a drinkable yogurt.

How do you make it?

~ Well, first you acquire the kefir grains from someone. These kefir grains are the same kefir grains that come from the Caucasus Mountains, that have been passed down hand to hand for thousands of years. Second, you add milk in a glass or ceramic container -- never metal -- in fact, you avoid contact with metal at all stages except when straining -- and you ferment for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, then strain into a glass or ceramic container and refrigerate.

You don't refrigerate it while it's fermenting?

~ No, that slows down the process.

Do you drink it straight from the fridge?

~ Yeah, you can. You can enjoy it in any number of ways.

Such as....

~ Mix it with fruit and make a smoothie. Add it to bread recipes. Drink it straight if you're brave (it tastes kind of like buttermilk), mix it with salad dressings. My personal favorite is one tablespoon honey, one tablespoon ground flax seed, and a half pint of kefir.

Why do you do this?

~ I haven't been sick since I started drinking it. My social anxiety, which I've suffered from for years, has virtually disappeared.

So you can eat out at restaurants now?

~ I still don't enjoy it, but I can. Too noisy. I can't focus on my food or my fellow diners.

And you can shop now, without having a panic attack?

~ No. And I say this for purely political reasons.


~ Now you're going to try to make me do the shopping.


Are there known health benefits, aside from your anecdotal evidence?

~ The claims are numerous.

Why do you choose to make your own kefir when you can buy it in some stores, such as Whole Foods?

~ I'm not sure why, but store-bought stuff doesn't have the same effects. It may just be the potency of freshness. Plus, I get a kick out of making my own stuff. I made my own sauerkraut, grew my own mushrooms. Things taste better when they're fresh. The store-bought stuff never helped my stomach.

So, like yogurt, kefir aids digestion?

~ Ten times better.

Where did you find the grains to get started?

~ I paid $20 to have them sent from the
kefir lady. Most people frown on paying for them. It's supposed to be a way to share god's gift of the health-giving kefir grains, and most people in the kefir community prefer to give it away, especially seeing as how kefir grows, like any culture. Finding something to do with the excess kefir actually becomes a challenge, because it's too beneficial to simply throw away. Once exposed to the generous health benefits, one would certainly become eager to share.

Then why did the kefir lady charge for them?

~ She claimed it merely covered the shipping and her material investment. To me, she seemed established, and being new to the kefir community, I felt more comfortable dealing with someone who seemed obviously established and verifiable.

So, conceptually, is it kind of like sharing sour dough in that you grow something, you keep it alive, and then you can share a little with others, who can in turn grow it and keep it alive, and use it to make things?

~ Sure.

Anything else you want to say about kefir?

~ Google it.


Rurality said...

So, do *you* drink it? I tried it once but wasn't that enthused. (I'm picky though.) I wonder if it's an acquired taste?

countrypeapie said...

I only drink it when he makes a smoothie with it -- the smoothies are really pretty good. The kefir has to be young for me to enjoy it, though -- if it has fermented for a full 72 hours, then it's a little pungent for my taste.

We used to get store-bought kefir before Lee started making it, and the kids loved the strawberry version. It really does taste like a yummy fruit smoothie.

Shannon said...

Hmm... it's interesting the way things sometimes come at you from several different directions in a short time, it might make you believe in "signs"(if you didn't already). I have read a lot lately about the health benefits of kefir, and had already decided it was/is something I would like to add to my family's diet. Do you think Lee would mind passing it on to this side of Blount County? We could meet sometime when I'm in your neck of the woods visiting my Mom.

countrypeapie said...

Shannon, Lee would love to share! He has already given some to a couple we know in Birmingham. You can email me at (I'd love to see the inside of your mom's house sometime!)

Shannon said...

I believe I can arrange that! I have a house full of sick kiddos right now, but sometime soon.

Patsy said...

I want in on this.

countrypeapie said...

Patsy, you're in! (Which is good, because I think it's happening at your house.)

Anonymous said...

I just love kefir. I've acquired the taste for this! I almost cant live without it.

I got mine from this Kefir Grains blog and they’ve been really helpful. My healths never been better!

countrypeapie said...

Hi, Anon ~ Thanks for dropping by, and for the kefir link. We've been putting lots of peaches in our kefir smoothies these days. Yum.