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I have just discovered this brilliant Sheila Dillon Food programme about Fermenting vegetables and Kefir, a ‘yogurt’ I make and add to my mixed cereal most mornings.
To listen again to Sheila Click here
For more on the Weston A Price Foundation and this years conference where you can learn how to ferment click here or to buy Kefir in the BigBarn MarketPlace click here.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink, or home made yoghurt, and I think helped stop me getting a cold when all around have coughed, sniffed and sneezed throughout the last two winters. The word kefir is said to have originated from the Turkish word “Keif” which means “good feeling”.
Kefir dates back many centuries to the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains who carried milk stored in leather pouches where it would ferment into fizzy sour yoghurt.
Elie Metchnikoff, a Nobel-prize winning biologist at the Pasteur Institute, first suggested that lactobacilli might counteract the putrefactive effects of gastrointestinal metabolism in 1908. He attributed the long and healthy life of the people of the Caucasus Mountains to their consumption of soured milk.
In modern times there’s a great deal of interest and
research into probiotics and the health giving properties of fermented milks like kefir.
The Kefir Culture
There are two types of kefir: water kefir – small transparent grains that ferment sweetened water; and milk kefir – white or cream coloured grains that look rather like cauliflower florets that ferment milk.
Kefir is a living culture, a complex symbiosis of more than 30 microflora that form grains or cauliflower-like structures (sometimes called plants) in the milk. As the culture ferments the milk, these structures grow, creating new grains in the process. Real kefir from live culture is an endlessly self-propagating process.
They give kefir excellent keeping qualities by keeping putrifying bacteria that might otherwise colonise the milk at bay. They’ve been shown to inhibit both salmonella and E. Coli in laboratory tests. Kefir and Health Kefir has many reputed health benefits. It has antibiotic and antifungal properties. It’s been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including metabolic disorders,
atherosclerosis, and allergies, tuberculosis, cancer, poor digestion, candidiasis, osteoporosis, hypertension, HIV and heart disease.
You might find it odd that a drink containing yeasts would be good for treating candidiasis but it has been helpful to many people, both by restoring a better balance to the gut flora and because some elements of the microflora will kill off Candida Albicans. Not all yeasts are harmful.
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Particularly calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, B2 and B12, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin D. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also has an abundance of calcium and magnesium, also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.
The abundance of enzymes brings more health benefits, especially to lactose intolerant people, many of whom can tolerate kefir without difficulty, as long as the kefir is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the enzymes).
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which
dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual
SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites. Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest
the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a
particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.
WOW, my Kefir is always growing and now shared with many friends. We need healthy guts. Fermentation is now at the top of my TO DO list!