Homemade kefir is extremely easy to make, in a mason jar on your kitchen counter overnight. The key ingredient is a starter culture, known as “kefir grains”. They look like popcorn, and expand as you make batches. In a few months you’ll have enough to share with your friends. They have a chewy texture and are loaded with probiotic power, so if you love your kefir, eat some grains for an added boost.
The only other thing you need is a plastic strainer, to separate the grains from your milk, and collect them for a new batch — in the same jar where you made the first. Just add more milk (or almond, soy and coconut milk, if you’re not a fan of dairy), and park it in a spot on your counter that stays as close to 75F (24C) as possible. I cover mine with a paper towel and rubber band, so it can breathe. No yogurt maker required.
Speaking of dairy vs. soy, and lactose intolerance, Kefir cultures are good enough at colonizing the gut, if you start slowly and drink it several days a week, you can actually rebuild your gut flora and heal lactose intolerance, by making home-brewed Kefir a daily habit.
Whole milk will produce a much tastier and richer brew than low-fat, and you can also add whipping cream for an almost dessert-like quality. It tastes a lot like yogurt, but the longer you ferment it (usually between 1 and 2 days is best) the more tart it becomes. Tangy 2-day brews have less lactose, and a higher number of healthy gut-bugs, so keep that in mind if you’re drinking it for GI benefits.
And here’s another tip: to make long ferments yummy, or just to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can always add Stevia, which is an all-natural sweetener made from the leaves of a South American plant. A little tiny bit goes a long way — just a quarter-pinch will do. Unlike sugar, Stevia won’t feed candida in your GI tract, or raise blood glucose levels if you’re diabetic.
Another superfood that could help you find your inner Woodrat is raw, easy-to-make sauerkraut. It’s teeming with trillions of healthy bacteria per serving, much more than any probiotic, and it’s delicious, too. Purists make a good-sized batch (10 or so cabbages-worth) in stone crocks. This one I have at home, made in Poland. All it takes is a heavy-duty food processor or old-school shredder to chop the cabbage very finely, sprinkle some sea salt throughout, pack it into your crock tightly, and three weeks later it’s done.
Here’s a short video by fermentation guru Sandor Katz that shows how easy it is to make this delicious superfood, full of active enzymes.
Hooray for ‘kraut! 🙂