Making Kefir, for Salad Dressing, Lassi, Cheese, Curried Pumpkin Soup

The latest exciting discovery around here is the awesome benefit of keeping a kefir culture going, drinking and doing stuff with it.  On the benefit subject, Bob has had stomach problems for over 20 years, taking Zantac, Prilosec, Tums, antacids, baking soda, etc. etc., daily, and still waking up at night with indigestion.  He has no more of that!  As a side note, he also says it has eliminated his sugar craving. Of course, this solution is of no monetary value to the drug industry.  Sorry you doctors out there, but I do think you should take your heads out of the drug basket, and have a look at other solutions. 

A client of his had mentioned making kefir in front of our grandson, who declared an interest in doing it himself, and was given some of the starter culture (pictured above).  Then, when the boy went off to camp last month, I agreed to babysit his new pet, and Bob started drinking kefir (the client had told him it was good for indigestion/acid reflux).  So, now we have our own culture going and his stomach thing is over.  Sleeping through the night and able to eat without constant indigestion.  An answer to prayer.

Kefir is similar to yogurt, but thinner and a more powerful probiotic culture.  It differs from yogurt in that the culture is not a temporary visitor, but rather sets up residence in your stomach and intestines.  I was developing a lactose and gluten intolerance, however that is now a thing of the past.  My own success story!

What Is A Probiotic?  Some information from a site on kefir:

Probiotics give our intestines the beneficial bacteria they need to do their job right - bacteria that optimize the absorption of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the food we eat. Sure, we all enjoy the pleasures of dining with friends and family, but nutrition is the bottom-line reason we eat in the first place - so it really pays to maximize here. Kefir is a first class probiotic which gives us all the necessary lacto acidophilus cultures (such as Lb. Acidophilus, Lb. Brevis, Lb. Casei) and many vital, minor cultures as well – and in a living, natural form that just happens to be extremely yummy.

Kefir health benefits:

Kefir increases the right bacteria which your digestive system needs, this is beneficial for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS, especially when you have taken lots of antibiotics too. It improves your immune system which helps in preventing recurrent infections in your body. Kefir is also an enhancer for irregularity in your bowel patterns and helps to increase the absorption of nutrients which you eat. Which leads to a stronger immune system.

You can find more info than you will ever need on kefir in general here as well as on the process of culturing your own. You will need some kefir grains, which look like little (acorn to pea sized) blobs of clear jello (see above on the fork).  If you know of someone culturing their own, ask for some starter.  Or, you can order from either linked source.

Basically, you have a couple of clean glass jars, put your "grains" in one and cover with milk.  Top with a double thickness of cling wrap or cheese cloth, and a rubber band.  Let that sit on your counter until the same time next day - 24 hours.  You can leave it a longer time or less, depending on how thick you want it.  It will also get more sour with time.  Then lift out the grains with a stainless fork  (or pour through a sieve), then dump into another jar, and fill the new jar with milk.  Top the cultured, first jar of kefir with a plastic lid and stick in your fridge.  There you go, and just repeat ad infinitum.  It is an extremely simple and easy process, made at room temperature and with milk (goat or cow) right from the carton (or animal).  As a P.S., I am adding a link to Tammy's instructional video, as hers is pretty much the method I use, and because of her 6 year old videographer and occasional commenter.

Aside from drinking it plain, I am making a Kefir salad dressing that is very good,  Lassi drinks, delicious in the summer (traditionally made with yogurt), smoothies, perfect for quiche or pancakes, and it can also be added to cold soups, such as Borscht, Potato Leek, or this Cold (or room temperature to hot) Pumpkin Soup.  Which is another variation on my favorite thing to do with extra cooked pumpkin.

Curried Pumpkin Soup
for 2 Servings

1/4 (medium sized pumpkin) cooked, flesh cut in chunks
2 tablespoons ghee, or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Spring onion, minced
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon turmeric (I used fresh from my garden, minced)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 chili pepper (to your preferred heat)
2 teaspoons salt (approx.)
2 teaspoons crushed, toasted curry leaves for garnish
2 cups chicken or mushroom broth
1 cup plain kefir

Melt the ghee in medium skillet, when hot add the onions, garlic, turmeric and chili pepper.  Fry until the onion is soft and translucent.  Set aside to cool slightly, then blend with the pumpkin, broth, and kefir til smooth.  Add salt to taste.  Garnish with the crushed curry leaves.  I fry them til crispy, then crush in a paper towel.

Let the soup cool in your fridge or serve hot if preferred.  Either way it is delicious, plus very good for you.  Coming next will be an Herbed Kefir Cheese and Potato Salad.  I'm sending this post off to Week-end Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu.  Check out some great recipes and herbal tips at the Round-up on her link.


Joanne said...

As a future doctor, I have to say that I totally agree with you on the drug basket thing. I'm all about natural cures! And I definitely need to try kefir!

Shu Han said...

wow kefir sounds like a great health food to keep on hand, and so versatile for making different recipes! maybe it's time to give it a try (: i love yogurt so i think i'll like kefir, thanks for sharing about this!

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh I am so glad that I have discovered your blog! I have been reading over some of your posts and there is just such a wealth of information! Look so forward to reading more!!

Eat To Live said...

Yay!!! So happy I just found your blog. I am going today to pick up my first kefir grains and I could sure use some help in keeping it going.

I have candida and heard that kefir will help to keep it away. Really looking forward to trying it.

I have just been looking at your blog (the other posts) I love, love, love it. A lot of the things you cook would work for the diet I try to stay on because of the candida.
I am putting you on my blog roll that is located at the bottom of my blog.

Simona said...

This is very interesting, Claudia. I had heard about the benefit of kefir, of course, but your husband's experience is quite impressive. I am very tempted. Have you tried draining it to make it denser, like one does with yogurt to make labneh?

Claudia said...

Simona, it is my plan to attempt a kefir cheese soon. Maybe the same process as labneh?

Simona Carini said...

Sorry for not answering your question, Claudia. I can't believe it was back in August that I wrote my comment. I have been adding come kefir to soups, just like you did and I made labneh-inspired cheese as well. I'll comment on the relevant post.