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Someone has given me a piece of what looks like tripe, apparently it is Kefir a fungus(?) that you put in milk to make some kind of yoghurty type stuff. I have also been given a piece of paper with some rudimentary instructions on preparation and some wildly improbable health claims, like it can help one live to 110.
Could anyone provide more level headed information, such as; is it safe?

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  1. It is safe, and very tasty. The claims of imparting longevity are probably false; they are based on the factoid that kefir is drunk by people of the Caucasus, some of whom live to advanced ages. Making your own kefir is like making your own yogurt: you will know (loud and clear) if it is "off". Don't drink it if you can't get within 5 feet of it without a towel over your face.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jeremy Osner

      sounds like that Mel Brooks spoof - the 1000 year old man, who lives to be 1000 years old by eating yoghurt if I'm not mistaken...kefir, shmefir

    2. t
      Tatyana Gourov

      Yummy stuff! I found a link:

      Link: http://www.kefir.com/kfr.htm

      1. Hi there, what you got are kefir grains, they look a bit like bits of cauliflowers.
        start out using only a cup of milk in a jar, put your kefir babies into it, and set it on the counter for about 8 hours. then strain through a colander to reserve the grains to use again and again, keep the kefir liquid in the fridge, but the milk with the kefir grains on the counter, in a dark corner. it might not make you live to be a 1000 years old, but I can tell you, it will do wonders for your health. good luck, Peter.

        1. Well, I see we've resurrected yet another ancient thread here..<snerk>...but I too have recently discovered kefir at an Eastern European shop that recently opened here in Naples called Camilla, great place!!! I bought a big tub of 2% kefir and then made some awesome smoothies with it for breakfast (added blueberries, banana, a little honey, ground flax seeds and orange juice) and I really love it...ounce per ounce, it IS cheaper than my beloved Fage 0% yogurt, which I still buy but not as much now. The live cultures in kefir are a bit different from the live cultures in yogurt, I've read. Anyway, it's GOOD!

          1. I drink the "Lifeway" brand here in the Midwest....I stick with the plain, but occasionally splurge for a Blueberry....keep an eye as most of the flavored ones have a high sugar/fat content....It has not stopped my hair from greying.....

            1 Reply
            1. re: paulispumonti

              yes, definitely better to buy the plain with nothing added...what I've read! Whole Foods sells the Lifeway brand also here in SW FL.

            2. I brew my own kefir in milk from my goats, and as the grains multiply, I share and sell them. Here is a short piece I wrote with instructions for what I sell:

              Here is what to do with them:

              When they get to you, pour the contents of the plastic bag into a glass jar that has a lid. Just barely cover them with milk, put the lid on, loosely, and set it on your kitchen counter. 24 hours later, strain it into a bowl through a stainless steel or plastic strainer. Kind of shake it around to get the liquid to come out into the bowl. Put the grains back into the jar, cover with milk again and put the lid back on loosely. No need to wash the jar every time.

              Soon, within 24 hours you should see that the milk has fermented, getting rather thick looking and it will “separate” in the jar into thick white liquid and whey. When you notice some activity, then it will be safe to start drinking the kefir. Personally, I like mine at room temperature with some honey stirred into it. After you strain it out, put the liquid kefir into another loosely covered glass container and let it sit at room temperature until the next day. THEN use it. Of course, you can refrigerate the liquid kefir at this point, if you like, in a tightly covered jar. It will get a little fizzy.

              When the grains seem to be working vigorously, you should be able to start adding MORE milk each time, and as they multiply, you can use more and more. There is a website with oodles of information about kefir. There is no one right way to do everything. Different individuals have different approaches and you can see what works for you and pleases you. Here is the site: http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/Make...

              Like I mentioned, I drink mine with honey. Some people like it straight or in a fruit smoothie. If I need sour milk or buttermilk in a cooking recipe, if the amount is 1 cup, I use 1/2 cup kefir mixed with 1/2 cup fresh milk. It works very well and saves money too.

              Doing all of this takes less time than reading about it. If you have extra liquid kefir, just keep it in the fridge in a glass jar, this time covered tightly and it will keep a LONG time. When I get lots of extra liquid kefir, maybe ½ gallon, I make “keferin” ~ kind of like making yogurt cheese. Strain it for 24 hours through a cloth and then store in fridge. It is a nice substitute for sour cream.

              After your kefir gets going good, if you want it to propagate more quickly, you can gently pull apart the bunches of grains and then put them back in milk. They will grow more rapidly then.

              You may notice that seasonally your liquid kefir will lose its lovely thickness and become thin and “grainy.” Do not be concerned. This is a natural part of the process.

              Kefir, for me, has been an acquired taste. I’ve been brewing it for about a year now and oh, I really love my kefir and feel, as silly as it may sound, that I have a “relationship” with the grains.

              4 Replies
              1. re: loves2spin

                What a nice post. I used to make kefir constantly, and I think you nailed it. I found that kefir had a lot more of a probiotic kick than yogurt.

                Interestingly, it is my dog's absolute favorite human food. Really. Straight and unsweetened.

                1. re: Vetter

                  I agree on the lovely post.

                  I am not a foodie, or even very talented in the kitchen, but I have begun fermenting my own kefir within the last month or so. My partner has stomach issues and I'm hoping the probiotics of the kefir do good things for her.

                  My kids think I'm nuts because I encourage the kefir in their business (yes, I talk to the kefir grains)...but it is a fascinating science. The kefir you brew on your countertop is nothing like the kind you buy in the store....it's way better for you!

                  I got my kefir grains by calling a local goat farm. The owner happily referred me to her daughter who shared a tablespoon of grains with me for the cost of a new jar. My grains have now grown to over three tablespoons. While I'm still a newbie...I'm fully in favor of spreading the kefir love!

                  1. re: kjinco

                    anyone know where i could get kefir grains in SE connecticut? I love the stuff, but it gets expensive to buy! I didnt' even realize i could make my own....

                    1. re: kubasd

                      There are Yahoo groups dedicated to kefir and members will often share grains for the cost of shipping. They almost have to: the grains multiply like crazy. It got to the point that I felt like mine were going to take over and devour me while I slept and given that I didn't like kefir all that much, I gave it up. I now make four mesophilic (room temperature) yogurts that are a LOT easier to handle and that taste better to me. Granted, they lack the bacterial profile of kefir but I guess you can't have everything.
                      I recommend that if you start culturing your own that rather than using cheesecloth or an upended strainer over the jar used for culturing, you fasten a clean hanky or paper towel with a strong rubber band over the top instead. You need to allow the kefir to breath and protect it from external contaminants, including fruit flies, and the latter do a much better job than the former.