Dom Anfiteatro passed away in February 2021, and his extensive research and writing was temporarily lost from the internet; however, with the assistance of his wife Sandra, and daughter Shedea, we have given it to a new home here at My Fermented Life.
Many of the the cultured products he created and nurtured are still available for purchase directly from his wife, Sandra. And by ordering directly from Sandra, you are supporting Dom’s family and legacy. More information about current products is available here.
Dom’s Kefir Grains Page Content
- What is Kefir?
- Fresh Milk Kefir and Kefir Grains
- Traditional Kefir of Caucasus
- Kefiran in Detail
- Kefir Grains: A Gift from God
- Water Kefir Grains
- Composition of Milk Kefir Grains
- Growth Cycle of Milk Kefir Grains
- Expanded Use of Kefir and Kefir Grains
- The Most Significant Bit
Here abides information regarding a large collection of unique and interesting kefir-related topics and products, the majority of which were pioneered by yours truly. These achievements are the fruits born from numerous hours of dedication, working with an outstanding self-organizing system, Kefir Grains; the natural mother-culture of milk-cultures that stands in a unique class on its own.
I see kefir grains as Probiotic-Jewels… and the culture milk-product kefir as a Probiotic-Gem and all being for good reason.
Before the realization of kefir in my life in late 1978, I had already realized the respect and admiration I felt, for human-cultures of yesteryear regarding the accumulation of knowledge presented to us, in the practical art of natural food-preservation. Much know-how has been passed on to me through my parents including other members of our extended family well familiarized in a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. The evolution of such culture-arts has with little doubt, improved quality of many lives. This is achievable by harnessing the many goodies generously provided in abundance, by what may appear to be the most simplest of life forms— the single-celled organism. However, fine culture-arts as these also need preservation; otherwise they may be forever lost, forgotten or overlooked. So here we stand, preserving the arts which preserve our food to better preserve and provide good, sound, wise nutrition for health and a better sense of well-being, aiming well into the future.
WHAT IS KEFIR?
Kefir is pronounced keh f é-er [as in keh in kettle, and fear]. Alternate spelling and names; kephir or kefyr, kewra, talai, mudu kekiya among other possible names in different countries. The word kefir is said to be derived from the Turkish word keif, which loosely translates to good feeling or feel good. This is quite likely because drinking kefir is renowned to increase a sense of well-being.
Kefir is a refreshing cultured-milk beverage which originated in the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, believed to date back at least 1,000 years. The tribes-folk of this particular region who possibly developed kefir by shear accident consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities. These people were renowned for longevity, living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.
Kefir has a uniform, slightly creamy consistency, a sour refreshing flavour, with a slight subtle aroma of fresh yeast [or a very subtle beer-like aroma]. Kefir also has a slightest hint of a natural effervescent zesty tang. There is an assortment of some 40 aromatic compounds contributing to the unique flavour and distinctive pleasant aroma of kefir. Rounding this off, kefir contains between 0.08% to 2% alcohol. However, about .08 to .1% alcohol is a realistic figure for 1-day cultured kefir. Whereas kefir stored for a number of days after separating the natural mother-culture, kefir grains [see following], contains up to 2 and possibly 3% alcohol, depending on milk-type and ripening conditions.
Traditional, authentic kefir can only be prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains. Note that Kefir grains should not be mistaken for cereal grains. The natural mother-culture is referred to as grains solely due to its granular structure and appearance. This is to say that the grain part of the name can be considered a misnomer. Kefir grains, or kefir granules if you wish, are in fact a natural-starter. The biological structure or each grain [which I feel can be referred to as a bio-matrix] is created through symbiosis a dynamic association between a vast mixture of friendly Lactic acid bacteria [LAB], vinegar-producing bacteria and yeast strains.
A batch of kefir grains consist of many individual white to bone-coloured mostly enclosed bodies made up of a soft, gelatinous somewhat resembling cooked cauliflower rosettes. The complexity of the kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, lipids [fats] and soluble-polysaccharides. Kefiran a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues, is the major polysaccharide of kefir grains and is also found in kefir. The bacteria and yeasts not only create the bio-matrix structure, or the grain, the organisms are also harboured by the very structure that they create; abiding on the surface, and encapsulated within the grain itself.
Traditional kefir [real, authentic kefir] is easily prepared at home, just as it has been performed for many centuries by the ancients of the Caucasus Mountains. Fresh, non-pasteurised or pasteurised full-cream, low fat or non-fat milk is put in a clean suitable container with a smaller portion of kefir grains. The content is left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The resulting developed cultured-milk is strained in order to separate, and retrieve the kefir grains from the liquid-kefir. The grains are reused to repeat the simple process for the following batch. This procedure is performed on an indefinite ongoing basis, for kefir grains last forever.
Strained liquid-kefir may either be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or ripened at room temperature over a period of days. The ripening process is not only useful for individuals who wish to reduce lactose in their kefir, it is important to increase some of the B group of vitamins. Ripening improves overall flavour, while vitamins B1, B6, B9 [folic acid], and CO
2 including alcohol increase.
Kefir grains increase in overall volume, numbers of, and by weight, as the grains are self-perpetuating when continually cultured in fresh milk to prepare kefir [biomass increase]. Because of this, a point comes where a portion of kefir grains have to be removed from the batch, in order to prevent overcrowding of kefir grains, and to maintain a reasonable constant grain-to-milk ratio. Apart from the advantage in preventing overcrowding of grains to avoid over fermentation, the other advantage is to produce a kefir with a reasonable constant character and consistency on an ongoing basis. Traditionally, excess or spare kefir grains were either eaten, which I highly recommend, dehydrated and stored as a back-up source, shared among family members, or traded among the tribes-folk of Caucasus, in exchange for other basic essentials.
Except for refrigeration, the culture-art of kefir has been practiced for many centuries by the tribes-folk of Caucasus. In fact, this is the very reason why kefir came about, for the preservation of milk over extensive periods, without refrigeration, for there were no means of refrigeration back then.
This is why folks of yesteryear cultured a wide variety of fresh food produce, to extend the storage time of food grown usually in large quantities. It is only in recent that we have discovered a fuller extent regarding how naturally culture food-products can improve health or well-being and give protection against disease, beyond that of the traditional nutrients that the non-fermented food contains. For this reason, many varieties of naturally cultured foods can be classified as functional-food.
As an end note to this section, all kefir grains found anywhere on earth today, originate from that place in a particular region of the Caucasus Mountains and are the children of the very first natural mother-culture that mysteriously developed there.
For full details explaining how to prepare Kefir, please see Dom’s Kefir-making in-site webpage.
FRESH MILK KEFIR and KEFIR GRAINS
Far left of picture is a jug of freshly strained kefir, and a glass of fresh kefir, ready to be gulped … Saluti!
Pssst!! Far right in picture is a portion of milk kefir-grains sitting in a tall, cylindrical glass vessel half-filled with fresh water. I refer to this as, fasting kefir grains and this process may certainly have a place in the culture-art of kefir. To elaborate; since the introduction of kefir to the rest of the world [in 1908], today, rinsing kefir grains with water between each milk change has become common practice among individuals who prepare kefir at home. As portions of the mother-culture is shared between individuals, it is common for the recipient to be instructed to rinse the kefir grains with water, before adding the grains to fresh milk to prepare a new batch of kefir.
Under most circumstances, it is not essential to rinse kefir grains with fresh water or with fresh milk in fact. For further information regarding rinsing, please go to my how to make Kefir on a separate web page. Although, fasting kefir grains in water for 12 to 24 hours, is a practical option to wean off individuals who are in the habit of rinsing. Fasting kefir grains may be performed at room temperature, or in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. I personally do not recommend fasting milk kefir-grains for more than one day per fortnight. Milk kefir-grains may also be rested in fresh, clean water stored in the fridge for a number of days, when one needs to take a break from making kefir, and for what ever reason. When you want to start making kefir again, you simply put the grains in fresh milk to recommence the kefir making process at room temperature.
The clear solution strained from fasting healthy milk kefir-grains in fresh water, contains kefiran organic acids [mostly lactic acid], and small percentage of soluble protein and amino acids, lactic acid bacteria [LAB] and acetic acid bacteria, including yeasts. I’ve named the slippery compound solution Kefiraride, which has many practical uses.
Resilience of milk kefir-grains fasted in water A friend once left [or had forgot] his milk kefir-grains resting in contaminated well-water in the fridge for 7 months. By that time, the grains were rendered almost iridescent green with an incredible foul odour [amines]! He returned the damaged grains back to me, to see if I could recover the culture. I embraced this opportunity to experiment.
The grains were hand washed and rinsed with warm, clean fresh water, followed by soaking the grains for 24 hours in good quality kefir produced with a healthy stock of culture. Fresh milk was added and the contents was left at room temperature for a day. The process was repeated three more times to remove the foul odour. At 2 weeks with daily milk refreshment cycles, the grains produced a reasonably good ferment. The kefir kept improving with each new consecutive batch. At 2 months I discovered that a very small percentage of the entire batch began to grow. The propagable 2 grains discovered among the entire batch, were separated from the non-propagable [non growing] portion. Growth of a portion of the culture was determined by observing slime felt with clean fingers, and the slimy grains were separated from the firm, non-slimy portion of culture. The weight of the non-propagable portion was found to be exactly the same as when the experiment commenced. This demonstrates that there was indeed a very small fraction of propagable matrix or grain among the whole batch after 7 months of those grains left solely in dirty well water. The non-propagable portion was continually cultured for a further 2 months, and although the grains continued to produced a reasonably good ferment, there was no further evidence of weight gain [growth], so those grains were discarded, and the experiment was ended. The separated 2 propagable grains continued to increase in weight and numbers and produce good quality kefir.
Conclusion. Even under unhygienic stressful starving conditions, milk kefir-grains provide extremely good protection for the organisms that create the grain. Even in the case where only a very small portion of matrix is left intact [undamaged], that portion of matrix shall propagate and increase if cultured carefully, and with daily milk changes.
NOTE: It is mostly non-essential to either risnse or fast milk kefir grains in water. Under most circumstances, Kefir Grains can be cultured in fresh milk on a continual basis.
Traditional Kefir of Caucasus
Traditionally in a region of the Caucasus Mountains, kefir was prepared with raw, full-cream goat or cow’s milk. Fresh milk with the addition of kefir grains stored in a goatskin leather bag was left for 24 hours to ferment at room temperature. This initiated the fermentation process. Separation of the grains was achieved by forcing the contents to a corner of the leather bag by hand, where most of the grains were retained. The liquid-kefir was separated from most of the grains by pouring the contents into a container. This kefir had a moderate sour taste, creamy in texture and consistency with an alcohol content of around .5% by volume. During cold conditions, the goatskin bag was kept in the sun during sunny cold days, or hung near a fireplace. Apparently, it was a custom to hang the bag near a door way, where by anyone passing by would shake the leather bag. This was possibly performed as a religious ritual, with a beneficial consequence by assisting the culture-process.
Maturation Larger quantity of liquid-kefir was stored in sealed wooden barrels of clay crocks, where secondary fermentation preserved the beverage as the beneficial kefir ripened over some days. Ripened kefir was enjoyed over extensive periods as it matured, for a powerful anti-oxidant produced in kefir through fermentation, preserved the nutritious beverage without the need for refrigeration. As portions of liquid kefir was removed from the barrel or crock for immediate consumption, more freshly strained kefir of the day, was added to replenish the vessel.
To elaborate further. A mixture of freshly strained kefir of the day, sometimes with the addition of fresh milk including the crushed root of another anti-oxidant rich ingredient, Snow Rose [Rhododendron caucasicum] was stored in wooden barrels, or clay crocks. The sealable vessel was plugged airtight. Over some days, this produced a foaming effervescent beverage, with an alcohol content of around 2% and up to 3% v/v. The kefir had exceptional good keeping quality, with a substantial increase in some B group vitamins. Folic acid [Vit. B9] increases by more than 100% at 2-days storage. Research shows that at, cholesterol and milk sugar content reduce at the end of the initial fermentation with the grains, with less reduction of these components during maturation in a sealed container. This provides a more nutritious beverage with a better health-promoting profile compared to the freshly strained liquid-kefir, including the non-fermented fresh milk.
Far left strained kefir with added orange peel and cinnamon bark, ripening in a sealable 10 Lt [2.5 gal] beeswax-lined stoneware crock [day 4]. Note the foam on the surface of the brew. Far right the matured kefir poured in a glass. This kefir has a wonderful foamy smooth creamy texture with a delightful mouth-feel and an full body aromatic flavour. Yes, this ripened kefir definitely satisfies the bliss-point-factor in good-deed!
Including orange peel provides vitamin C, calcium and bioflavonoides, for the white pith of orange peel is high in these elements. Through fermentation calcium and other minerals are rendered highly biologically available. Cinnamon is also good for Type 2 Diabetes, a digestive aid and as a general tonic. Although many other types of ingredients could be used, such as licorice root, ginger, burdock root, mint, goji berries, pomegranate and the list goes on…
Note The stoneware crock is sealed with a natural protective layer of beeswax to form a barrier, and to make the lip of the crock seal airtight. This prevents leaching of unfavourable elements from the glaze or terra cotta of questionable quality into the ripening kefir.
Today, traditional kefir is cultured in multitudes of households worldwide. Unfortunately though, the ripening process as explained above, which is an ancient practice, is not well addressed nor is it practiced to the extent that it should be today. Omitting this important process, and solely consuming freshly strained kefir, is only in part of reaping a wider spectrum of benefits, initiated by the very mysterious natural mother-culture— kefir grains. We should consider that ready-to-drink kefir stored for at least one day either at room temperature or refrigerated before served, is of great practical importance.
We practice the former, and our family’s daily intake of kefir includes mixing an amount of that day’s strained kefir, with a larger portion of 2 to 4-day room temperature-ripened kefir. This way I know that we are enjoying the full benefit that kefir can provide.
Kefiran in Detail
Presently, the complete mechanism involved in the construction of kefir grains, is not well understood at a scientific level, although there appears to be increasing interest in this area. A unique soluble polysaccharide [PS] was first discovered in milk kefir-grains by La Rivière JW et al  and was given the name kefiran [KGF-C].
[1a] Cultured in milk, the PS is produced at the centre of the grain, where anaerobic [no freely available oxygen] conditions are favourable for kefiran synthesis in the presence of ethanol alcohol.
 Kefiran is synthesized by encapsulated homo-fermentative lactobacilli species Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum subsp. nov and Lb. kefiri , previously classified as Lb. brevis and possibly other strains produce kefiran or similar PS. By weight, freeze-dry kefir grains consist of some 45% kefiran. The PS is composed of two mono-saccharides or single sugars; D-glucose and D-galactose in almost equal proportion. Kefiran’s adhesive property is possibly what holds the matrix together, adhering protein, amino acids, fats, and the microflora complex as a biological mass.
The molecular structure of kefiran is not fully understood. It is proposed to be a branched hexa- or hepta-saccharide repeating unit. In itself, the unit is composed of a regular pentasaccharide, to which one or two sugar residues are randomly linked. The variety of linkage-types of the molecule may be the reason why kefiran is resistant to enzyme attack
[2a] [Kefiran is reasonably inert to digestive enzymes]. This property might be important in the ecological stability of the kefir grain, including the therapeutic activity of kefiran, due to the PS remaining reasonably chemically stable through the process of fermentation including gastric digestion.
There are other strains of Lactobacilli capable of producing a similar polysaccharide, Lb. sp. KPB-167B being one such organism. This, including other species of Lactobacilli, which produce either kefiran or a similar form of PS [with slight variation between glucose and galactose ratio, different molecular weights including variations in the optical rotation of the molecule] produced at variable rates, or, the amount of, may be mechanism[s] involved in the natural tendency for each grain to propagate as an enclosed multi-lobular body. This is possibly due to the layout of different strains, or type-strains of encapsulated organisms included among yeasts, arranged at specific locations as layers or branched within the matrix. Stress factors due to culture-conditions or the structural makeup of the matrix itself, or how and where the encapsulated organisms are located may incur the same strain of encapsulated organism to produce either variable amounts of kefiran, or a variation of the PS.
Multi-therapeutic activity of Kefiran, Milk Kefir-Grains and Kefir
Experiments performed with mice [against mice really, if we think about it], revealed kefiran exhibited anti-tumour properties. In these experiments, orally administered kefiran was found to reduce the size of certain tumours, by inducing a specific immune response in mice. Much of this early research was performed in Japan.
Recent research evaluated kefir grains induced a systemic anti-inflammatory response in kefir-grain fed rats.
 The anti-inflammatory effect was later investigated and correlated scientifically [Prof. Schneedorf JM. et. al. 2003].
More recently, the author observed another discovery. The ingestion of 1/3 cup of milk kefir-grains taken daily over 7 days, benefited 3 cases [one being the author] where the individuals suffered from pain associated with Repetitive Strain Injury [RSI] along the outer right arm and upper right shoulder area. The cause was due to excessive use of a computer keyboard and mouse-clicking over some years. These latter findings further suggest the systemic anti-inflammatory property of kefir-grain kefiran. Quite possibly kefiran activity in conjunction with organisms of the grain, encourage a systemic benefit via multiple components or vehicles, rather than the action of a single component.
A study on the effects of kefiran in laboratory rats showed kefiran can significantly suppress increased blood pressure and also reduce serum cholesterol levels in SHRSP/Hos rats, when subjects consumed excessive dietary cholesterol. The study also explains kefiran supplementation had the ability to significantly lower blood glucose in KKAy mice. In addition, the administration of kefiran in constipated SD rats caused an obvious improvement in the levels of faecal moisture content and wet weight of faeces.
 The latter is obviously useful for correcting constipation.
A recent study in China found kefir extracts have a preventive effect against human breast cancer cells, without effecting healthy human breast cells. The consumption of kefir modulates the immune response, implying that kefir contains bio-active bacteria and compounds that enhance communication in the body’s immune system.
Similar research in Japan found that kefiran-fed rats had a serum cholesterol lowering effect in 2 rat models 1, loaded with cholesterol and 2, given orotic acid. Kefiran accelerated sterol excretion and protected hepatic injuries (glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase [GOT], glutamic pyruvic transaminase [GPT]) in both rat models. It was also discovered that histamine excretion decreased in the caecum content and faeces, suggesting that kefiran has various preventative functions,
 the mechanisms of which are not yet well understood.
Other research found that kefir stimulated body cells to produce 14 times more Interferon-beta, a vital glycoprotein excreted by body cells to combat viral infection, and possibly combat cancer cells. The active substance in kefir in this case, which other fermented milk contain, was found to be sphingomyelin.
[8b] However, interferon-beta stimulation by SpM in other culture milk-products including yogurt only increased body cell to secrete 2 to 3 times more than normal activity.
Over the past 10 years, the author has received multitudes of testimonies by email and through his internet lists from individuals of all corners of the globe, expressing how kefir has markedly help to improve their health and well being. Kefir has helped with many different conditions. Recently, a local individual shared with a friend a suggestion I explained to her, which is also included in my book. After her friend followed through with rectally injected and retained kefir grain implants, she experience a sure cure from the previous medical condition of Celiac [Gluten intolerance]. This positive feedback is quite encouraging to state the least. We are observing long term effect of this recent outcome.
The combination of all the above, suggests that kefiran, and in fact kefir grains and kefir are useful as functional food to prevent or control common occurring diseases of the modern age. This further reinforces what the author has suggested for many years, that the regular ingestion of kefir grains, should be considered of greater, practical importance and especially appreciated by individuals preparing traditional kefir for themselves at home, school or their place of work.
As an end note, kefiran is also useful as a natural gelling agent, for thickening food. The author explains many examples for the possible use of kefir grain kefiran in the preparation of wonderful textured baked goods such as wholemeal sourdough bread, cakes, pretzels and pastry. For ice-cream making, for thickening yogurt and more. This extends to the use of kefir grains or kefiran in the preparation of natural cosmetics, for skin care products such as moisturizers, and skin conditioners or toners etc.
Misleading information on the internet about Kefiran misrepresented as Kefir-Whey or visa versa
There misleading information regarding to kefir and kefir grains on the internet. One example, the separation of kefir-whey through fermentation of milk with kefir grains to produce traditional kefir. An individual is suggesting that the clear liquid is solely kefiran released from kefir grains in milk. This information is incorrect. The pale yellow or straw coloured clear liquid is simply whey, or kefir-whey in the case with kefir. Although kefir-whey does contain a very small percentage of kefiran, because the PS is water soluble, but by no means is the liquid portion pure kefiran. The process of fermentation of milk, creates an acidic environment, which separates [precipitates] the milk protein [casein or curd] in solution, creating a mixture of a thick, white mass of curds among a pale yellow solution, kefir-whey, which should not be mistaken for pure kefiran.
Kefir Grains: A Gift from God
While researching culture-products in general, including kefir in the late 1970s to early 1980s, the author came across an interesting abstract [unable to locate the original source material]. This explained microbiologists’ many unsuccessful attempts in the spontaneous production or propagation of kefir grains from non-existing grains. These experiments were performed by culturing pure, mixed starter-cultures, prepared under laboratory conditions from organisms isolated from kefir grains. After failing to propagate kefir grains from such mixed-cultures, the microbiologists came to ask how the Caucasians acquired or propagated the original kefir grains. The Caucasians simply explained something to the effect of…
“The grains were a gift from Allah [God] provided over 1,000 years ago” … which I thought was an appropriate answer.
Come to think, could kefir grains be “manna”? … fallen into milk?
Manna: A sweet white substance God spontaneously provided from the Heavens to feed the hungry Israelites, as Moses led his people to the promised land of milk and honey. Manna means, What is it? [Exodus 16 : 31 Holy Bible]. With this, one may conclude that literally, kefir grains are indeed manna; due to the mystery surrounding the existence of kefir grains, and how they propagate. The fact that manna literally refers to mystery of the unknown is quite obvious in this case.
It is said that the tribe-folk of Caucasus referred to kefir grains as The grains of the Prophet Mohammed and kefir was known as, The drink of the Prophet [Beatrice T. Hunter 1973]. If it is at all possible that kefir grains were some how acquired through Prophet Mohammed [p.b.u.h.], then a logical question comes to mind, How or where did Prophet Mohammed [p.b.u.h.] acquire the original Kefir-Grains?
At the time of writing, it is not well understood scientifically, how the bio-matrix, or a grain is created, or in fact, the relationship involved between different types of organisms in the construction process. The mystery still remains with kefir grains at this point, although there is ongoing research to try and understand the mechanisms involved. When the secret behind the intelligent-like, self-organising system is better understood, this may help to better understand not only this particular bio-system, but could also give a better understanding of certain diseases. This may include diseases such as tumours, carcinomas, including diseases which involve microbial, or viral aetiology [infections e.g.].
This could possibly open doors in other areas e.g., discovering new methods for producing unique chemical compounds, controlling biological waste, and possibly for the control of specific types of pollution. Organic soil enrichment for optimal plant growth and increased yield may also be of some interest. The author prepares an organic fertiliser with kefir fortified with wood ash, sea shells, eggshell, and ground bone meal. This used as a liquid fertiliser gives extensive better yield of fruits and vegetables. Other areas of interest is in the development of more efficient probiotics, by which the probiotic component is better protected within a specifically customized bio-matrix, so higher counts of viable organisms are able to pass through gastric function, and become better established in the gastro intestinal tract in greater numbers– a super-renditioned kefir grain.
There may be a possibility that understanding the mechanism behind how microbes create a bio-matrix such as kefir grains, could be implemented in nanotechnology.
Kefir grain as a model for the study of the theory of evolution. It is believed through collected evidence perceived by human senses, and then digested with intellectual enzyme power of thought of heavy duty scholars, to form current-day theory of evolution, by which it is calculated that single celled organisms without a nucleus [prokaryotes] such as most microorganisms, came to exist some 4 billion years ago. It is quite possible that the potential for the making of kefir grains may have been possible not long after these events unfolded [their DNA strands ;-]. Although it is calculated that life forms remained quite simple for about 3 billion years after the first single cell organism came to exist, where possibly no multi-cellular organisms forming during that time. So no cows at that point in evolution, and so, no milk was available to create and feed kefir grains, for it is estimated that cows and other mammals came to exist supposedly 3.75 billion years later.
In relevance to the Evolution by Endosymbiosis theory [A theory that tries to explain evolution of life], regarding how singled celled organisms came to form multi-cellular organisms or eukaryotes, kefir grains may resemble a multi-cellular model before more complex life forms came to exist. In this respect, the study of the populations of microorganisms of kefir grains; how they interact, including the compounds they produce and the synthesis of the matrix, could make a good model for such studies, the author thinks (hence he feels:).
Until then, I’ll be content enjoying the benefits and nutrition of a simple glass of traditional kefir. Including harvesting the fruits of ingesting spare kefir grains on a regular basis. Oh, have I mentioned how we not only enjoy a smoothie of kefir blended with fresh fruit, we also enjoy fresh herbs blended with kefir to prepare a super atonic smoothie for breakfast.
WATER KEFIR-GRAINS and NON-DAIRY KEFIR
Photo of a tiny fraction of a sugary kefir-grain [SKG] magnified 1,500 times, revealing encapsulated lactic acid bacteria [LAB] and yeast cells among a transparent dextran matrix. This sample was prepared with Differential Stain to distinguish the organisms.
Apart from traditional dairy-milk fermentation, with some adjustment, milk kefir-grains may be cultured in alternative media e.g., Soy milk, Seed & Nut milk or coconut milk. The natural mother-culture may also be used to prepare other interesting alternative cultured-products, all of which shared throughout my web pages were pioneered and developed by yours truly [let facts be known].
There is a variety of a refreshing effervescent beverage, often referred to as Kefir d’acqua [link to recipe] or water-kefir, which is commonly prepared with a different variety of kefir grains, referred to as water kefir-grains or sugary kefir-grains [SGK]. See table below for alternate names. SKG are cultured in 3% to 10% sugar/water solution with a slice of fresh lemon, dry fruits such as fig, apricot or raisins to provide flavour and increase nutritional value.
SKG consist of a polysaccharide [linked or chained dextran made up solely of glucose. Similar to a dynamic or symbiotic relationship between different types of organisms to synthesize kefiran in traditional milk kefir-grains, the dextran of SKG is produced through the same relationship among Lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, embedded in the grain. Scientists are surprised by the ability of the organisms of SKG to ferment a media, poor in nitrogen and growth-factor source, doing so over many years without modifying the balance between the different microorganisms. Traditional SKG have an opaque texture in comparison to traditional milk kefir-grains of Caucasus. The grains are firm, transparent and fragile; they easily break apart with little applied force. SKG are not gel-like or slimy in consistency to milk kefir-grains nor are they white in colour. The unique property of SKG is produced by Lactobacillus casei, which is believed to condense the polysaccharide into a non-soluble form. Where as the polysaccharide of milk kefir grains, kefiran, is water soluble.
Another organism, Lactobacillus brevis including other strains, can reproduce [and some may possibly synthesize polysaccharides] in sugar-solution containing up to 15% alcohol.
Ginger Beer Water Kefir: I have discovered the addition of 2 to 4 tablespoons of fresh ginger root juice per 8-cups of sugar solution, produces what one of my list members referred to as a marvellous ginger root beverage similar to ginger beer. SKG grow well with added ginger root. I have come to the hypothesis of the possibility that SKG may well be the original mother-culture for preparing ginger root beer. I came to this conclusion for the fact that today among ginger beer brewers, it is common to prepare what is referred to as a Ginger Beer Plant. This is by mixing sugar, ginger root powder and active brewers or bakers yeast, and feeding the so called ginger beer plant with the addition of more sugar and ginger root powder each day, over 7 days. This mother-culture [Ginger Beer Plant], is added to a large volume of sugar/water and a little lemon juice, and brewed for a number of days. This is followed by bottling and storage to produce a root beer with natural carbonation.
It is suggested that SKG were brought back by English solders on their return from the Crimean War, and the mother-culture was originally referred to as a Ginger Beer Plant. If this was the case, then quite possibly due to the lack of SKG, someone along the line with an understanding in basic fermentation, may have decided to prepare a variety of the plant as a substitute for the real deal [SKG], as explained above [Just as I recognised that milk kefir-grains can be substituted for SKG to produce a variety of water kefir, because I did not have SKG in early part of 1980s— necessity is the mother of invention].
I discovered that when first including fresh ginger root juice to brew SKG that were not previously brewed with ginger, and those SKG were only just acquired from another source, and which were only growing 5% to 10% by weight per each 2-day brewed batch, initial growth of the grains over the first 2 or so batches with added ginger was quite remarkable. A growth surge of more than 160% increase at 48 hours has been noted. Although the large percentage increase was variable over consecutive batches, increasing between 50% to 100% by weight at 48 hours was common, with added fresh ginger root juice. However, when using the exact same ingredients and the same measured amount of SKG, growth stabilized between 90% to 120% increase per each 2-day brews.
Effects of Sugar-Type on SKG White, refined sugar-cultured water kefir produces clear, opaque SKG without any colour, but with a subtle blue hue about the grains. While the less refined sugar types such as brown, raw, demerara, jaggery, rapadura, muscovado, sucanat and Chinese red sugar produce SKG with a light brown colour. This is likely due to precipitation of colloidal compounds of such sugar-types through fermentation becomes entrapped among the micro-channels and crevices in the matrix [the grains become tainted with the colour of the sugar solution]. However, soaking light brown coloured SKG in water for a few hours, removes most of the colouring on the grains, which tells me that those colouring agents are indeed able to be extracted from SKG much the same way they were entrapped in the grains in the fist place, but in reverse. SKG grow better when cultured with non refined sugar-type, or with the addition of 1 tsp blackstrap molasses added to each 1/2-cup refined sugar preparations. On human nutrition alone, less refined sugar-types are ideal, and recommended over refined sugar. So this is good for the SKG and for the consumer of water kefir. Water-type seems important too, regarding grain growth as does sugar type. Please see Regarding Growth-Rate of SKG below.
Ginseng and Chinese Angelica Root Water Kefir Preparations, and the Psychoactive effect of
I discovered if an amount of either dry Korean Ginseng [Panax quinquefolius], or dry Chinese Angelica root or Dong Quai [Angelica siennas] is added to strained water kefir [SKG have been removed] and brewed for 48 hours in a secondary fermentation, the beverage incurs noticeable psychoactive activity. The altered state of mind occurs very shortly after drinking an amount of the brew, and it lasts for only a short time [short half life]. Other varieties of herbs possibly due to pharmacological activity when brewed in a water kefir preparation, may also produce a similar effect. This could be due to the production of certain compounds, or, it an indication of pharmacological activity increase of specific compounds, or better bio-availability of those compounds due to fermentation.
Where acetyl groups are bound to certain other organic molecules through fermentation, they impart an increased ability to cross the blood-brain barrier which could be the case here. I doubt very much that this is simply due to an increase in alcohol content through the added sugars of such herbs, for the feeling of euphoria is quite unique to that of an alcohol-induced euphoria. However, certain photo-compounds may be responsible for the production of interesting molecules through fermentation. This certainly makes an interesting area for further research. If an interested scientist reading this does research this area, could you please be so kind to forward your findings on to me? I am always willing to supply the culture in return for a paper on such a study, as I have done in the past.
Regarding Growth-Rate of SKG SKG that I have cultured over the years, including many individuals who culture SKG, have observed a fluctuation regarding growth rate of SKG. I have observed growth increase to vary between 7% to 220% increase by weight at 14 to 48 hours fermentation. However, if the sugar solution with other added ingredients, and more importantly, with the addition of a very small amount of sodium bicarbonate and eggshell, if the solution ingredients are kept constant per each batch, including the amount of SKG used and the fermentation time is kept only until the grains increase by 100% which should be 24 hours in warmer temperatures such as 22 to 25C or for only 2 days in colder conditions per each batch, then growth increase can be expected to remain reasonably constant between 90% to 120% per each batch of water kefir. On the other hand, milk kefir-grains increase at a reasonably constant rate when cultured in fresh milk. Many individuals including myself, have found a great potential for SKG to cease propagation, and remain non-propagable, when cultured in water with no mineral content without the addition of a little sodium bicarbonate and ground eggshell. More so with activated charcoal filtered water or reverse osmosis filtered water. The outcome is mostly observed as a slow deterioration in growth over time, which at a point, becomes irreversible. At this point, SKG acquire a light brown murky film covering the surface of each grain, and the grains lose the typical transparency of good growing [propagable] grains.
Although there are many factors to consider, the important factors being the type of sugar, molasses and water used, duration of fermentation including sugar/water percentage. SKG do not appear to grow well, and in most cases growth may cease altogether over future batches, when cultured in a sugar solution prepared with purer forms of water, such as distilled, demineralised or activated carbon filtered water [Brita filtered water e.g.] etc. Leaving SKG in the same sugar-solution for longer than a period after the grains have doubled in volume over a number of batches and especially in warmer conditions, has an adverse effect regarding growth-factor of the grains. Lack of essential nutrients and energy source due to over fermentation, is a major cause for problems, because of starvation, if it occurs over an excessive number of proceeding batches. This can be over 3 to 5 or so batches.
Adding Fruit Juice SKG do not grow well if a concentration of most acidic fruit juice is included as part ingredient. With the addition of most acidic fruit juice, SKG reach a point where the grains never growing again. Whether this is due to the acids of such fruits, is unknown to me at this point. Fruits such as grape, apple, pineapple etc. have been problematic regarding SKG growth, so I suggest omitting such fruit juices in water kefir preparations. However, if one wishes to brew fruit juice, this is best achieved through secondary fermentation, whereby preparing a traditional water kefir, and then adding the preferred fruit juice to the strained water kefir [after separating the SKG]. Secondary fermentation can be carried out over a number of days at room temperature, or under cold storage, such as refrigeration. The latter will simply slow the process down, so it will take longer to brew. Cold storage fermentation also produces a fruit juice ferment with a different flavour and acidity. Also, secondary fermentation is best performed under airlock. This can produce quite an alcoholic beverage though, so be forewarned and do not drink such concoctions before driving a car or using heavy machinery.
Hard water [water with high mineral content], such spring water seems best. If such water-type is not available, the addition of 1/8 teaspoon of Sodium bicarbonate added per 2 litres [8 cups] of purified water, ensures good grain growth. Water adjusted to pH 7.2 to 7.5 with Sodium bicarbonate [slightly alkaline] gives good results in regards to good grain growth, I find. This may suggest that SKG evolved in water with high mineral content, similar to water from the Hunza Valley, which is milky due to melting glacial water running through lime stone rich reserves.
SUGAR-REDUCTION of ready-to-drink water kefir How much sugar does water kefir contain? you may ask. Well, there’s a good reason why I chose capital letters for sugar-reduction above. The question is a common concern for many individuals who wish to prepare water kefir. I receive lots of emails about this question, and the topic often comes up on my Internet lists. I shall try to clarify to the best of my ability here.
Most concern regarding sugar content of water kefir that I’ve experienced, is from folks believing that because a reasonable amount of sugar is used for preparing water kefir, then water kefir must contain a large amount of sugar. Folks on an anti-candida diet fit this category, for sugar is not recommended for individuals with candidiais [yeast infection]. Diabetics also share the same concern. I thought the best way to demonstrate sugar percentage of ready-to-drink water kefir [a beverage fermented for 2 days with SKG], is to show a photo of my evaluation [left].
The thick, not-so-sweet, but quite appealing flavoured brown syrup in the jar on the right, was extracted from water kefir by reducing ready-to-drink [strained] water kefir by boiling under vacuum. The water kefir recipe involved 6 cups water, 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 tsp organic blackstrap molasses, 1/8 tsp each of finally ground eggshell and oceanic coral powder, 1/4 tsp sodium bicarbonate, prepared with 1 cup SKG brewed for 2 days at an average temperature of 19C. The SKG increased from 1 cup to 2 1/2 cups at day 2, which is the common growth-rate with the above recipe cultured with my exceptionally good growing SKG.
We can clearly note the initial amount of sugar and the resulting reduction of more than 80% of the original sugar content. The fact is that the less-than 20% sugar left in the water kefir after 2 days fermentation, is mostly fructose, a mono-saccharide [single sugar]. The syrup also contains organic acids, and uncompressed grain material among other elements. We need to consider that the residual syrup shown in the jar on the right in the photo still contains about 50% water, so in effect there is even less sugar content compared to what we see in the jar on the right judging by its volume alone. To explain again, sucrose or regular table sugar, including any sugar-type derived from sugar cane, is made up of a molecule consisting of 2 single sugar molecules– Glucose and Fructose. This makes sucrose a disaccharide [di means 2, saccharide means sugar = two sugars or dual sugar]. The organisms of SKG break down the disaccharide sucrose into its 2 basic units, glucose and fructose. The grain itself is synthesized from just the glucose by specific microorganisms. Hence there is a greater reduction of sugar of water kefir where there is a greater growth of SKG, for the grains are separated by straining the water kefir– removing the portion of glucose that the grains are made of. Even if SKG were consumed, they are not easily digested possibly not at all digestible through digestion, for the glucose that the grains are made up of is a dextran, that possibly gastric digestive enzymes are unable to break down. More research is needed to confirm this. To conclude, we can rest assured that if your SKG are growing well, by at least 50% by volume per batch, then sugar reduction is high, and the resulting water kefir contains a very smaller percentage of the original sugar that you began with. Water kefir prepared with good growing grains that is fermented until the grains double in volume should be suitable for Diabetics and those on a low carbohydrate diet, including children over 6 months old [See also FAQ 46 at my Kefir FAQ web page]
Over fermentation, acidity of media, grain growth, an off flavour and slimy water kefir SKG are cultured until the grains double in volume and should not be left to brew longer once they have doubled in volume. It’s best to brew for no longer than 2 days , with the occasional three-day fermentation being acceptable, but only in cold conditions where temperatures are between 14 to 18C. During warmer conditions, it may be best to culture for no longer than 1 day. Three-days fermentation must be avoided over ongoing batches and in warmer conditions, otherwise the organisms starve and the grains shall eventually pickle, for use of a better term. Pickling is evident by taste-testing a SKG– pickled SKG acquire an acidic flavour with a distinctive effervescent tang or fizz felt on the tongue, with no sign of growth of the culture. Whereas propagable SKG have a slightly sweet, neutral flavour with no sign of effervescence on the tongue when a grain is chewed. Non-propagable grains also lose the typical translucent quality, and early signs of this can be observed by breaking apart a grain and checking for translucence, or a clear, see-through quality, especially the surface of the grain should not have any discolouration compared to the centre portion.
It seems important not to add lemon juice or any other acidic fruit-juice as part ingredient, but to use 1/2 lemon left whole, or a slice of lemon. Citric acid does not appear to be used as an energy source by most of the organisms of water kefir. As amounts of citric acid is leached into the water kefir from the fresh whole lemon, citric acid concentration increases in the solution during fermentation over time. If citric acid concentration reaches high enough levels, it may cause problems by damaging the growth-factor of the grains- they will not grow. However, if the brew begins to acquire an off or cheesy flavour, including 1 Tbs of freshly squeezed lemon juice per 6.5 cups sugar-solution, over just 2 consecutive batches only, may be a recommended remedy for this type of problem. Although the option to store SKG in the fridge in just sugar/water for 2 to 3 days is also a possible remedy for SKG that produce water kefir with an off-flavour or cheesy smell, or if the grains have a slimy consistency or produce a slimy water kefir [see following paragraph].
Slimy water kefir or slimy SKG In some cases, SKG may become slimy, losing the typical firm texture, producing a very murky, slimy water kefir. Using young coconut water as the ingredient usually cause or produces slimy kefir grains. Also, over fermentation whereby the organisms starve due to lack of sugar can cause slimy kefir grains. This may also occur if too much oceanic coral, limestone or eggshell is included as part ingredient, due to excessive calcium and magnesium [see following paragraph]. Or, if certain herbs are included in the initial fermentation with the SKG. This can also occur if any ingredient is contaminated. Herbs are best fermented in a secondary fermentation, that is, after straining the water kefir, adding the herbs or herbal tea to the strained water kefir, and brewing for a given number of days at room temperature. If the cause is due to adding too much coral, eggshell or limestone, then use less of these. As per above, resting SKG in sugar/water in the fridge for 3 days, then reverting back to regular room temperature fermentation using Dom’s water kefir recipe, should remedy slimy SKG or slimy water kefir production. Resting SKG in the fridge for 3 days and reverting back to room temperature, may have to be done a few times, though. The cause for slimy SKG may have to do with an imbalance among the yeast and lactic acid bacterial components, where interference causes insufficient condensation or compression of glucose to synthesize a firm grain, which consists of dextran. Cold storage appears to return the essential balance among the different strains of organisms. Note that in the event SKG become slimy, the grains may increase by a phenomenal amount, especially in a young coconut water recipe. This is due to the fact that the matrix is not condensed sufficiently, forming larger less dense grains.
Oceanic Coral, Limestone or Eggshell for a High Calcium Water Kefir, and Kefiraride I usually include a small piece of oceanic coral as seen in photo on left. But more recently, I use finely ground oceanic coral, limestone or egg shell or a mixture as part ingredient in my water kefir. Only 1/8 to 1/4 tsp per 6 to 7 cups sugar/water is needed, for too much of any of these ingredients may produce a slimy water kefir [see above]. These raw ingredients are mostly made up of calcium and magnesium carbonate including other micro-elements. This gives a very slight pH adjustment as amounts of calcium carbonate is slowly dissolved in solution due the a reaction between the organic acids, such as lactic acid produced during fermentation, and the mineral calcium and magnesium of oceanic coral, limestone or egg shell. Not only do SKG grow more efficiently with the addition of a small mount of these mineral-rich raw ingredients, the water kefir contains a highly bio-available form of the minerals calcium and magnesium including other minerals found in those raw ingredients. This can be beneficial to the consumer. These minerals are important for healthy strong teeth and bones, for the healing process, for good nervous and immune function, and for the prevention of Osteoporosis. This makes mineral rich water kefir a suitable alternative for dairy to obtain those essential minerals in the diet. However, to effectively utilize calcium, a sufficient amount of vitamin D must be included in the diet, or through exposing the skin to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
The picture on the right demonstrates just how healthy and large my SKG grow in a ginger root beer prepared with the addition of oceanic coral, sodium bicarbonate, raw sugar, molasses and kefiraride [see following section]. I’ve had grains grow as large as 3cm across, before they break up into small grains as a normal phase of self-propagation of the culture. However, using such mineral-rich raw ingredients can produce water kefir with a cloudy slimy quality and a musty flavour. To avoid this it is advisable to use the calcium rich ingredients as part ingredient only in small amounts. Another option is to include the calcium rich raw ingredient in the strained water kefir, so that secondary fermentation allows the minerals to be dissolved into solution during storage, to become more bio-available, even under cold stored in the fridge over a number of days. This avoids the potential for damaging the SKG’s growth factor, producing slimy SKG that dissolve.
Another point worth mentioning, if we take note, the picture on the left above shows a few SKG floating among the oceanic coral, fig and lemon. This is not usually the case, for most folk’s SKG do not float in solution but remain at the bottom of the brewing vessel at all times due to the density of the SKG. The reason why those particular SKG are floating, is solely due to the incredible growth increase of those particular SKG at the time of taking the photo. They grew that much and that rapidly, that the grains encapsulated small amounts of gas, which forms a tinny bubble of CO
2 entrapped in small cracks at the centre of those particular grains. This, in turn floats those grains that grow extremely well. As the bubble escapes, those grains sink back to the bottom of the container ending up with the rest of the grains. This effect of hovering in solution, is apparently why SKG are also referred to as California Bees as the grains slowly pop up and down in solution during the fermentation cycle.
Water Kefir Preparations with Heat-Treated Kefiraride and Milk Kefir-Grain Emulsion
Recent experiments using kefiraride to brew water kefir have provided some interesting results. Kefiraride is the name that I have given to the kefiran-rich solution obtained by straining milk kefir-grains, after soaking in fresh water for 24 hours to dissolve kefiran from the milk grains. With the addition of heat treated kefiraride as part ingredient for preparing water kefir, I have observed up to 220% increase by weight at 48 hours of SKG cultured in the mixed media at 19C. I found similar results by implementing milk kefir-grains blended with water, and then heat treating the emulsion, and adding the solution as part ingredient in a water kefir preparation. The reason for heat treating these 2 solutions is to deactivate organisms native to milk kefir-grains, for I was mostly interested to observe the effects of kefiran on SKG growth, and to avoid the organisms of milk kefir interfering with this experiment. This may suggest that although kefiraride, and in fact, milk kefir-grains have the ability to hinder the growth of pathogenic organisms as demonstrated in other research, on the other hand, this provides a growth stimulus or pre-biotic for friendly organisms of water kefir. Ginger also fits in a similar category, where it has shown to halt the growth of unfavourable stains of organisms. Yet, SKG can grow efficiently with the addition of ginger root juice, at least initially, where large growth surges can occur if the specific batch of SKG had never been brewed with the addition of ginger root juice. This may suggest that there is a selective process of what particular strains of organisms such compounds are affective against, or for, either for or against growth of the grains, and that self-organising micro-communities of friendly organisms [such as those found in the GI tract] may benefit from such compounds of ginger, kefiraride and milk kefir-grains. These provide such micro-communities either a growth stimuli [a prebiotic] or an energy source, or, both, while hindering pathogenic strains.
Transferring Milk Kefir-Grains to a Sugar/Water Media kefir
In early 1980, I discovered that traditional milk kefir-grains may be transferred to a sugar/water media, to produce a variation of Kefir d’acqua or water-kefir, with similar qualities as a brew prepared with traditional SKG. I’ve also discovered that alternative sugars may be used including maltose and honey e.g., which may either replace or be included with cane-sugar [sucrose]. Dry fruits or fresh fruits or the juice of fresh fruit may also be included. Fresh of dry herbs or herbal teas may be used as part ingredient [see Kefir d’erba medica, a herbal kefir at my kefir making web page for details and recipes]. When transferring milk kefir-grains to a sugar/water-media for the first time, there is an initial lag phase [unbalanced growth] lasting about 4 days. During this phase, little activity is evident as the organisms stop reproducing while they fatten up by storing energy, until the organisms adjust metabolic pathways so as to be able to utilize the new source of energy [different forms of sugar and concentrations of, over lactose found in dairy milk]. However, after about the third or so batch onward, it should take 24 to 48 hours to culture a ready-to-drink form of water kefir beverage prepared with milk kefir-grains.
When traditional milk kefir-grains are transferred to a sugar/water-media, after 1 to 2 weeks of consecutive 24 to 48 hour preparations, the grains may not readily revert back to prepare a suitable milk-kefir right away on transferring the grains back to dairy milk. It is highly likely that the grains become non-propagable [they stop growing] after a few weeks or longer of being brewed in a sugar/water recipe. This is due to a missing bacterial component such as the all important encapsulated Lb. kefiranofaciens. This component is damaged after transferring milk kefir-grains to a sugar/water media, if cultured over extensive periods. This is because the organisms responsible for propagation of milk kefir-grains, lack the essential mono-saccharide Galactose, which the organisms synthesize by breaking down lactose [Lactose is a disaccharide meaning 2 sugars, made up of Glucose and Galactose. Sucrose is also a disaccharide, but is constituted as Glucose and Fructose and does not contain Galactose]. Although, on transferring the grains back to milk, I’ve observed after about 2 months of culturing daily cycles of raw [personal preference], whole fresh milk, the grains eventually produced a form of milk-kefir with a reasonable good texture and flavour. However so, the culture milk-product lacked viscosity of traditional milk-kefir prepared with propagable milk kefir-grains. This may be due to the fact that the grains remained non-propagable throughout the culture-process, and in essence the bacterial component responsible for viscosity by the production of kefiran, was missing. These specific milk kefir-grains were previously cultured in a media consisting of water/malt/sucrose/dry fig over a 4 month period, prior to transferring the grains back to milk, to perform the experiment.
Transferring Sugary Kefir-Grains to Dairy Milk
On transferring SKG to both raw and pasteurised dairy milk, batches prepared over the first week had a pungent odour with an unappealing bitter flavour, due to excessive activity of yeast and aroma-forming organisms. Introductory batches took 3 to 4 days to culture. No distinctive curd or separation of curds and whey during 24 and 48 hour cultures was noted. Although the culture milk-product stabilized as consecutive batches were prepared over a 2 week period. In effect, a culture-milk beverage with reasonably good flavour and consistency was produced at 2 weeks onwards. During the ten month period of the experiment, deposits of milk-curd formed and adhering to the surface of most of the SKG in each batch. A good portion of curd could be removed from the surface of each grain by rinsing the grains with water. The translucent character typical of SKG remained under the surface-adhered curd, and the grains did not propagate, neither in the traditional sense nor as a white, soft, slimy texture; a typicality of traditional milk kefir-grains. Nor was there evidence of the gel-polysaccharide kefiran produced, which is an essential component of propagable milk kefir-grains, culture in dairy milk. This is most probably due to missing lactic acid bacteria [LAB] component[s] such as the encapsulated Lb. kefiranofaciens, or other kefiran or kefiran-like producing organisms, native to propagable, traditional milk kefir-grains of Caucasus.
Alcohol Content of Water Kefir Prepared with either Sugary Kefir Grains and Milk Kefir-Grains
There is a variation of alcohol content of water-kefir prepared with [5%] sugar-solution, when cultured with either milk kefir-grains or traditional SKG. 48 hour cultures, the SKG prepared water kefir contained about .7% alcohol by volume. On the other hand, a parallel culture prepared with recently transferred milk kefir-grains [stabilized], produced about 1.9% alcohol at 48 hours in 5% sugar solution.
My HYPOTHESIS Due to SKG increase in sugar solution, in this case 122% increase by weight at 48 hour culture-period, a portion of glucose split from sucrose [regular cane sugar] by organisms of SKG, was utilized to construct new grains [which consist solely of glucose]. In comparison, transferred milk kefir-grains did not increase over a 48 hour period. This is because a sugar/water media does not provide the essential elements for growth of milk kefir-grains. In effect, culturing water kefir with milk kefir-grains, or with non-propagable SKG provides a larger portion of glucose available for yeasts to convert into alcohol. Hence, water kefir prepared with propagable SKG, contains less alcohol than water kefir prepared with milk kefir-grains, or with non-propagable SKG [including beer, wine or champagne yeasts].
Self-confessed CONCLUSION The percentage of alcohol in water-kefir prepared with SKG has a direct relationship with the percentage of SKG growth increase– greater grain growth equals less amount of alcohol produced in the final water kefir. This may be preferable for preparing an optimally healthier water kefir beverage, especially when considering giving water kefir to young children.
End Notes SKG do not appear to be as robust as milk kefir-grains of Caucasus, in regards to maintaining growth under adverse or stressful culture-conditions, especially in the case of over-fermentation. This may lend the belief of the possibility that water kefir-grains evolved from milk kefir-grains, or that milk kefir-grains are the older mother-culture of the 2 culture varieties, for here say. But there is no evidence to substantiate this as fact.
There has been claims that SKG cultured in dairy milk produced milk kefir-grains encapsulated at the centre of the SKG by culturing milk kefir-grains and SKG together in dairy milk over time. However, my experiments have not been able to reproduce this. My findings thus far has shown that with a mixed-culture [milk kefir-grains and SKG] cultured together in the same raw dairy milk daily, after 7 to 14 batches, some SKG entrapped a small amount of casein in a small, thin crack that appears along the centre of the matrix of the grain. However, when those SKG were dissected, they reveal an entrapped white substance, which first may appear to be a milk kefir-grain forming in the centre of the grain. Further investigation revealed that the substance was a small amount of milk curd, which disintegrates with little applied force– it did not hold together or retain shape as does a milk kefir-grain.
Typical Micro-organisms Isolated from Various Sugary Water-Kefir Grains and Water-Kefir Beverage
Bifidobacteria / Lactobacilli
Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum *
Lb. casei subsp. casei
Lb. paracasei subsp. paracasei
Lb. casei subsp. ramos
Lb. casei subsp. tolerant
Lb. coraciiform subsp. torquens
Lb. pseudo plantarum
* Recent discovery due to improved DNA analysis techniques, found that water kefir grains including milk kefir grains contain [a rare] Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum [including some 4 other more common strains of Bifidobacterium] which is only found encapsulated in the grain’s matrix. These micro-organisms are not found in the water kefir [or milk kefir] that SKG [or milk kefir grains] produce through fermentation, they are classified as non-cultivable. The best way to reap the probiotic benefits of these specific strains of encapsulated Bifidobacterium is to eat your excess kefir grains. Since my SKG when used with my water kefir recipe ensures exceptional grain growth [see YouTube Video below], one can have an abundant amount of spare water kefir grains to eat. They can be used to make what I refer to as Silken Kefir, which is a very powerful and delicious probiotic food, with a smooth, creamy, silky mouth-feel and which can be eaten with a spoon. I shall soon upload a YouTube video of the recipe. Early research has shown feeding milk kefir grains reduced the size of certain types of tumours including lung cancer in many animal trials.
My YouTube video of a fragment of Sugary Kefir Grain seen under a microscope magnified 1,000 times.
My YouTube video of a time lapse movie showing the growth rate of my Sugary Kefir Grains
COMPOSITION of MILK KEFIR-GRAINS
Formalin – fixed kefir grains examined under a microscope, presented a protein/polysaccharide/lipid complex, consisting mainly of insoluble protein and neutral muco-polysaccharides. The percentage composition of freeze dried grains, with a moisture content of 3.5% was found to be–
Total protein 34.3%; consisting of insoluble protein 27.0%, soluble protein 1.6% and free amino acids 5.6%.
A small percentage of unknown substances.
Amorphous and crystalline iron was observed mostly on the grain surface. 1-5 micrometer crystals were observed also in the interior of the grain. The fashion in which the microflora is distributed over the surface of the grains, confirms the concept that kefir grains should not be rinsed with water between milk-changes.[10a]
Photo of a tiny fraction of milk kefir-grain smeared on a glass slide, revealing long chains of released encapsulated curved lactic acid bacteria, with few yeast cells. The sample was differentially stained to reveal the organisms at 400 times magnification [enlarged view] or about 250 times magnification as seen in the photo.
GROWTH-CYCLE of MILK KEFIR-GRAINS
Electron Micrograph X 2,500 magnification of Kefir grains showing microflora of yeast and bacteria and polysaccharide matrix. Photo courtesy of Dr. Miloš Kaláb with colour edited by Dominic N Anfiteatro to explain yeasts.
Traditional kefir grains of Caucasus is a fascinating natural mother-culture. Each granular body is formed through the effort of a dynamic, or symbiotic relationship shared among the complex microflora [bacteria and yeast], which render an irregular sheath, composed of protein, polysaccharide and lipid complex. The irregular fashioned sheath forms as a multiple irregular body with many lobules to create each kefir grain. I refer to these lobules as baby-grains, formed together as a mother-grain. The irregular lobules have a natural tendency to form as self-enclosed bio-structures or bodies, having a similar growth-signature to each other, with some variation between each baby-grain. The lobules are conjoined at a common midsection, radiating outward to form a mother-grain [a complete grain with all lobules attached]. On appearance, the growth pattern of conjoined baby-grains share self-similarity with the mother-grain, which form as a single body. Some kefir grains share some similarity with the physical structure [morphology] of the brain, pancreas, and other internal body organs .
After a period of time, and possibly due to external stress or physical trauma, one or more lobular bodies detach from any particular mother-grain. The smaller bodies, or baby-grains, eventually propagate into mother-grains, usually by increasing in overall size, with multiple lobular bodies forming over the entire grain. This growth-cycle simply repeats, to continue the ongoing process in a similar fashion. This is self-propagation. Some kefir grains may not shed any sections for some months, and in some instances for up to a year or longer. Such grains may instead form as one large structure or one massive kefir grain, retaining all lobular bio-structures. This can occur if the physical makeup of such grains is firm due to culture conditions, and if the grains are not subjected to hash physical trauma during the straining process e.g. In such cases, sections of baby-grains may be removed from a large mother-grain, by dissecting the grain by hand.
Although in such cases, large kefir grains may eventually shed all attached bodies [or baby-grains] in a relatively short period. This is to say that the majority of attached bodies will spontaneously detach from mother-grains within a 2 month period, as a common example. This process occurs as each individual attached body’s umbilical-like cord section attached to the mother-grain, reduces in circumference. Then, eventually, this section of the matrix becomes thin and weak, making conditions favourable for a baby-grain to spontaneously detach from the mother-ship, with ease. And if this process happens to all the attached lobular bodies in a relatively short period, then the specific batch of grains shall be comprised of numerous small kefir grains. In fact, weigh-for-weight, a batch of grains consisting of individual smaller grains may increase weight by 100% more efficiently than a batch made up of one large kefir grain, or overall larger grains. This may be due to a larger surface area that small grains make up [or take up in the media]. Or possibly that smaller grains produce and release larger proportions of kefiran into the milk, which becomes freely available for the microflora to create new matrix.
External surface area of each grain may vary from smooth areas, with areas of diverse irregularity, containing arrays of irregular small rounded protrusions randomly scattered over the exterior surface. The surface texture of certain grains may be smooth, while other grains from the same batch may exhibit a greater proportion of surface area covered with multiple irregular protrusions. Other grains from the same batch may exhibit a mixture of both surface-textures.
Although less common, and mostly due to culture-conditions or the action of tearing apart an enclosed grain, kefir grains may propagate as a flat sheath. Also, some mother-grains from a batch of enclosed grains, may propagate and then shed a baby-grain with a smooth flat structure. These outcomes are mostly determined by culture-conditions, usually in warmer conditions, and if conditions are favourable, after a period of time, those flat grains usually revert or transform into enclosed bodies, which is a natural tendency for the fashion in which kefir grains grow in regards to their structure, under optimal or low stress conditions. Also, if an enclosed grain is torn apart by physical means or cut opened, milk is allowed into the opening, which keeps the grain opened. This forces the grain to grow flat, as shown in my You Tube video above. What ever the case may be, such a transformation in growth may take some months to occur, and to complete the growth-transformation cycle, as flat grains grow numerous enclosed bodies over the entire surface of the structure, which eventually detach and become free standing kefir grains, once again, so to speak.
I’ve observed batches of grains cultured in whole, raw goat’s milk, mostly propagate with smoother, well rounded lobular bodies [balloon-like], with daily milk changes. While kefir grains cultured in pasteurised cow’s milk and under cooler temperatures mostly propagate with many tiny protrusions covering most of the exterior surface of each grain. Seasonal changes, or temperature variation, may also incur a swing between one form of growth-structure to another. The type of medium, temperature and the amount of time that the grains are left in the same milk, including physical influence, such as tearing or cutting, or squashing down on the grains while they are sitting in a strainer with a spoon e.g., all these factors have an influence on growth structure-activity. It appears however, that the physical structure of kefir grains does not impair the microflora’s ability to ferment and culture fresh milk into kefir.
Some observations suggest surface area of the grain consisting of vast irregularity or roughness, contain higher yeast activity. While smoother areas are mainly where bacteria predominate. Yeasts and bacteria cells, particularly yeasts, seem to form large surface concentration [micro-colonies] along the protrusions over the surface; streptococci seem to intertwine with other bacteria, without forming colonies. Research suggests internal structure of the grains show a predominance of Lactobacilli with few yeasts; cells are not bound to one another but encapsulated within a muco-polysaccharide believed to be produced by the encapsulated microorganisms. Other research suggests lab-stained sections of grains studied under a microscope, showed that yeasts were mainly located on the edge of the internal cavities, and occasionally along the peripheral channels of the matrix, while the exterior was mainly occupied by bacteria.
Short and long rod-shaped bacteria and yeast, formed separate colonies both on the outside and inside of the grain. Internally, filaments of encapsulated cells, extending outwardly from a population of long rod-shaped bacteria. One microorganism in particular, Lb. kefiranofaciens is found to be responsible for the formation of the soluble polysaccharide, Kefiran. This research suggests that the encapsulated bacteria may be responsible for the propagation of kefir grains. The reason for this conclusion seems to be because propagation of the grains will not occur [non-propagable grains] in the absence of Lb. kefiranofaciens, which produces kefiran in the centre of the grain, under anaerobic conditions and in the presents of ethanol alcohol.
NON-PROPAGABLE KEFIR GRAINS POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE AUTHENTIC KEFIR
Suggestions exist, surmising that non-propagable kefir grains retain kefir-producing capacity which is disputable. To explain and as an example, I’ve observed that a Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. [a natural mother-culture or pellicle used for preparing the Kombucha beverage] could be used to culture a similar culture-milk beverage, as do non-propagable kefir grains. Would it be fair to suggest that the unique culture-beverage, cultured with the KKH [explained in the experiment linked above] is able to produce an authentic kefir? Even though, initially, kefir grains plus a Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. were cultured together [as a mixed-culture] for 30 months, to produce a cultured-milk product? At the time or writing, the KKH produces a product with similar character and properties to that of an authentic kefir on a sensory level. However the case may be, the Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. could have been substituted for pieces of leather hide in the experiment explained above, and with some certainty, one could predict that the end result [the culture-beverage] would be quite similar as explained in the experiment above. There was no evidence of the production of kefiran, which is the essential component of propagable kefir grains and of kefir, produced by the microflora, which colonized the KKH [or which may colonize the pseudo-leather parts of my shoes, for that matter].
The nature of wild organisms have the ability to colonize structures or materials with a porous nature, such as non-propagable kefir grains, Kombucha S.C.O.B.Y, terra cotta pots, wooden barrels, and yes, including leather hide. If kefiran is not produced due to a damaged or missing component such as Lb. kefiranofaciens, e.g. [as with non-propagable kefir grains], then, the specific kefiran produced by this particular encapsulated organism is absent in the final culture-milk product. With this, it is reasonable to suggest that cultured-milk beverages produced with non-propagable kefir grains, shouldn’t be classified as true authentic kefir. However, such culture-products are in parallel with commercially-prepared pseudo-kefir, cultured with laboratory prepared pure, mixed starter-cultures. And to add, even a custom prepared mother-culture, as with KKH, or in fact, non-propagable kefir grains for that matter, these have advantages over laboratory prepared or commercially available starter-cultures, being that the former have the capacity to produce a culture-milk product on an ongoing basis, and without loss of viability of the organisms involved in fermentation. Be it that the microbial composition in this case may vary over time, nevertheless, ongoing symbiosis is maintained among the microbial components. On the other hand, laboratory prepared starters lack viability and have poor symbiosis. Such starters only have the capacity to continuously culture seven or so generations, or batches. After this point, the culture fails to produce a suitable product, and one must resort to a new fresh starter [see below for details regarding Bacteriophage infection].
Kefir grains have been described by Russian dairy technologists as a natural-starter and depending on the source and more importantly, culture conditions, the microbial composition of kefir grains can certainly vary. This, as I understand, is not well accepted, or understood by Western counterparts, in concluding something to the effect of, these little critters have a mind of their own, which we want to understand and control, but, which we are unable to, as a generalized attitude. I guess though, that minds shall be minds… in the wild-wild-west [Don’t give up though folks, but persevere for the Holy Grain with chins up while downing your delish kefir]. Similar attitude or outlook has recently influenced dairy-food technicians working in countries such as, for example, Russia and Poland. Formerly, actual kefir grains were implemented in the culture-process for the production of commercial kefir in these counties. Due to modern-day intervention, today commercial kefir is prepared with pure, mixed starter-cultures, replacing kefir grains altogether to mass produce the culture milk-product. As such, culture-milk-products are sold under the name Kefir. What have we let become of us?
Since commercial yogurt of today is not what yogurt was of yesterday in the traditional sense, and neither are the majority of commercially produced culture-products for that matter, who’s to stop kefir from going down the same path of corruption? My view points based on past/current/possible future observations/predictions? I confess the obvious that my passion for the unique, mysterious kefir-grain, remains with the same sincerity and great intrigue as when I first set my eyes and hands on the mother-culture in late 1978. My kefir grains have yet to fail me, but to the contrary, have continued to provide much enjoyment and good health. With regular intake of both kefir grains and kefir that the grains produce, my respect for the natural mother-culture continues to increase along with my ever increasing kefir culture. There is every good reason for this meaningful practical synbiotic relationship to continue.
COMMERCIAL STARTER-CULTURES [in Powder form]
For many reasons today, the development and employment of artificially prepared pure, mixed starter-cultures for producing what I refer to as, Kefir-like or Pseudo-kefir have come to light in recent years [on a commercial scale]. One reason is that commercial starters are relatively inexpensive to produce– they are cost effective. Commercial starters are prepared with only a few selected strains of organisms, usually containing only one yeast strain to produce a culture milk with a specific character and quality to suit the palette of the particular country or human-culture that the kefir is intended for sale. E.g. one may note commercial kefir sold in Russia may have a different character or flavour [and acidity] to kefir sold in USA. However, the starter as a whole lacks the essential symbiotic capability compared to the microorganism communities of kefir grains. A work around this problem is the employment of a dual fermentation in the commercial production. The first stage involves lactic acid fermentation followed by a secondary stage of yeast fermentation to try and acquire a kefir with a traditional quality. Yet, commercial kefir, including modern day kefir starters, are often classified as authentic kefir, or authentic kefir starters. The former is not true if traditional kefir grains are not implemented in the actual culture-process in the traditional manner, for producing commercial kefir. This is to state that kefir grains are not in constant direct contact with fresh milk during the culture-process [when producing commercial kefir].
Without culturing milk with actual kefir grains in the traditional manner, instead, resorting to artificial starter-cultures, and in the case of implementing a dual fermentation process, beneficial properties which only self-organizing communities of surface-bound and encapsulated organisms of kefir grains produce, contain and release into the media, may not be found in a commercial counterpart. In particular, missing are the variations of kefiran, and quite possibly kefiran, a health-promoting polysaccharide, produced by encapsulated organisms in the grain under anaerobic conditions [no freely available oxygen], in the presence of alcohol. Research shows kefiran reduced the size of tumours when kefiran was ingested by tumour bearing mice.[3-6] Other scientific findings [initiated by yours truly], evaluated the systemic anti-inflammatory property of ingesting kefiran or kefir grains. Kefiran has shown to normalize high blood pressure, blood cholesterol including blood glucose levels in animal trials. There is abundant anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is also true for humans. And, kefir grains are mostly composed of kefiran including variations of the polysaccharide, which no doubt give benefit to health in their own right, and quite likely not reproducible with commercial starters, simply due to lack of strains or numbers of organisms and probably more importantly lack of proper symbiosis among the different strains of organisms in the latter.
This is quite likely why research with thirteen healthy male subjects with mildly high cholesterol levels in 2002 were given a commercial brand of kefir in USA, but the commercial kefir failed to alter plasma serum cholesterol concentrations in those men during the trial.[17a] However, Medical Practitioners have come forward, one in particular came to visit us with enthusiasm to obtain kefir grains for his personal use, after he observed at first hand that one of his patients introduced traditional kefir in their diet, and within some weeks of commencing to make their own traditional kefir at home and consuming the product each day, had markedly reduced both LDL plasma serum cholesterol levels [bad cholesterol], including correcting high blood pressure, without orthodox medication. The difference may lie in that with home made kefir, not only does it contain billions of friendly organisms per millilitre, the organisms are alive and actively reproducing right up to the point until the kefir is consumed along with ample amounts of kefiran and variations of the polysaccharide. Also, commercial kefir does not contain anywhere near the different types of organisms including yeasts as does kefir prepared with kefir grains. Certain strains of organisms of kefir grains can not be cultured once they are separated from the microflora. Hence, these organisms are not found in artificial kefir-starters, or in commercial kefir. We simply do not yet know how to culture these organisms. What their requirements are, and how they interact with the rest of the microflora remains a mystery to scientists and dairy technologists.
Potential protective agents which inhibit pathogens or weed organisms, may also be missing in artificial starters and their culture-product [commercial kefir]. However, protective agents of kefir grains effectively inhibit pathogens or weed organisms in fresh milk. Such agents are no doubt missing or somewhat lacking in commercial starters and the culture-product produced with those starters. This can easily be demonstrated by continuous batch-culturing, or recycling an amount of previous kefir in fresh milk. Here, the commercial kefir starter loses the power to culture future generations of kefir, due to loss of balance or symbiosis among the different communities of organisms, while bacteriophage virus infection also plays a role in destroying essential organisms, directly effecting the loss of viability of the commercial culture. However, we can not dispute the fact that traditional kefir grains have stood up to the test of time. The same mother-culture has been in existence and employed as a natural starter on an ongoing basis over many centuries, and without any change to its character and potency. Kefir grains are classified as a safe and reliable natural starter for the home fermenter, providing the consumer specific protective benefits, which can not be reproduced to the same degree with laboratory-prepared artificial starter-prepared kefir.
Kefir grains can not be spontaneously produced with commercial starters, neither can the grains be produced from a ready-to-drink kefir, used as a starter-culture in fresh milk. Symbiosis among the communities of organisms is poor or lost once the grains are omitted or removed from the culture-process.
Since we can not yet spontaneously create kefir grains from non-existing kefir grains [from pure, mixed starter-cultures or artificial commercial kefir starters], then not enough is understood regarding disadvantages, by attempting to culture a form of kefir, without the use of actual kefir grains as a starter-culture. Since we have little understanding of self-organizing communities such as those found in kefir grains, and how they interact [symbiosis], we are unable to duplicate what organisms of kefir grains are naturally capable of, in an artificial starter.
This is not to state that commercial kefir or modern day kefir-starters do not have any value. They simply are not the genuine, robust article as is the traditional mother culture.
Quite possibly, if we look to the micro-communities of kefir grains a little closer, we may better learn to understand the importance of working together as people for the benefit of the planet as a whole.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE CONTAMINATED IS NOT THE QUESTION!
Till current date, there is lack of any reported cases where consuming homemade traditional kefir has caused a health problem due to pathogenic organisms, but to the contrary. Although there are concerns shared among dairy technologists regarding certain species of organisms sometimes isolated from specific batches of kefir grains, obtained from different regions or countries. Although, there was no evidence to suggest that there was a health issue, due to consuming kefir made from such grains. This mainly concerns commercial kefir-producers, who have looked into the use of kefir grains for the production of traditional kefir for sale in the marketplace. Restrictions set in place by specific governing bodies, which enforce regulations via Codes of Practice restrict numbers of coliform or other objectionable organisms and compounds in food-products intended for sale. But this does not indicate that even in such cases with kefir grains found to have coliform counts, that such grains cause health problems to those who prepare kefir with those grains.
Due to specific standards set in place by governing bodies, the outcome is that certain grains are classified as being contaminated. This so-called contamination could actually be favourable as a protective agent for the consumer. When culturing kefir with kefir grains, the contaminating microorganisms are halted, inhibited or controlled usually to extremely low numbers, in comparison to numbers of organisms among the microflora, as a whole. These microbes were not found to overpopulate the media or the grains themselves. In fact, in some earlier papers, methods to minimize, prevent and control problems during commercial production of kefir with traditional kefir grains, are explained. E.g., coliform counts decrease or halted as the kefir became more acidic [Babina, NA. et al. 1975]. This is in regards to commercial dairy-plants implementing kefir grains intended as a mother-culture to prepare starter-cultures, in order to inoculate large volumes of milk to produce commercial kefir. In the past, it was common practice to inoculate fresh milk with 1% to 5% kefir grains to prepare the initial starter-liquor, or mother-culture. 2% to 5% of this starter-liquor was used to inoculate larger volumes of freshly pasteurised milk, which was incubated in large stainless steel containers for 24 hours. The last stage involved maturing the commercial kefir at lower temperatures for another 24 hours, before it was sold at the marketplace.
This is completely different to preparing kefir at home in the traditional manner, where as much as 30% kefir grains by volume is used to inoculate and ferment fresh milk. On the other hand the commercial process increases the risk of contamination, compared to preparing kefir at home. It is quite obvious when we consider the use of less percentage of starter-culture, implementing numerous steps and a number of different handling procedures at the workplace, all of which increases the possibility of contamination with unfavourable organisms.
Recent research revealed kefir grains cultured in a media intentionally contaminated with Escherichia coli [coliform bacteria] inhibited the growth of this organism. In fact, it was observed that certain batches of kefir grains completely halted the growth of Escherichia coli for at least 25 hours. Earlier research, and one scientific paper in particular, explains that in the former USSR, pasteurised milk, kefir and tvorog samples from Moscow dairies were purposely infected with 18-24 hour cultures of 8 strains of fecal coliform bacteria, Shigella sonnei. Although the organism was found in all three products after a dilution with peptone water, after which 0.5ml was plated on Ploskireva medium and the same volume into Endo medium and incubated at 37°C for 18-24 hours. Pasteurised milk and tvorog samples contained quantities of the organism greater then 10,000 colony forming units per ml [cfu/ml], but only in kefir the counts were found to be less than 1,000 cfu/ml. The conclusion was that growth of secondary microflora [Shigella sonnei] in milk and tvorog being in excessive quantities.
In the commercial dairy and food industry, coliform counts determine possible contamination; due to poor handling procedures, processing and storage of food, milk and equipment etc. Such organisms are also part of a healthy intestinal microflora, similar to the yeast Candida albicans. As in the latter case where C. albicans are kept in check in a healthy host, coliform counts seem to be kept in check also when found in some batches of kefir grains. These microbes and yeasts are and shall always be part of our environment, both external on our skin and internally in the gut. The secret is to maintain a healthy balance, by keeping these organisms in check, either by the auto-immune system or by specific bio-control systems in the host. A protection of sorts includes friendly microbes and yeasts, which incur protection for the host against overpopulation and infection from organisms native to the host or otherwise. Consuming traditional kefir, specific protective properties present in kefir may be propagated, transfered or translated in the gastrointestinal tract, to become part of, or enhance the existing microflora. Also of great importance is the ingestion of kefir grains on a regular basis plays an important role as a protective agent or preventative against disease for the host. Either by the natural protective chemical compounds present in kefir grains, and the encapsulated strains of the Bifidobacterium of which several strains recently discovered are only present in the grains, induce a beneficial immune response in the host, of which may keep pathogens under control.[18,19] In turn, maintaining a healthy balance in the specific bio-system for the host. Recent research seems to clarify this as true.
Westerners have a tendency to keep their surrounding environment and food-stuff as clean as possible [and too clean for their own good, in fact]. Recent research suggests that people living in countries with less hygienic environment and practices than their Western counterpart, these folks have less incidences of certain infections e.g., Gastritis or Gastroenteritis including less susceptibility to allergies. This is possibly due to the population in these countries being subjected to amounts of pathogenic microbes [and viruses] on a relatively constant basis, especially earlier on in life. In relative speaking terms, the immune system gets a good workout from the word go [use it from a young age, or lose it later on in life]. Ingesting smaller numbers of coliform bacteria along with greater counts or a proportion of vast strains of friendly lactobacilli and yeasts [as in the case with so called contaminated kefir grains, e.g.] especially early on in life, this may reduce the risk of contracting certain infections, including the prevention of allergenic response, especially in the gut, later on in life.
To conclude, there is a common term when westerners travel to Indonesia, and that is to take care not to contract Bali Belly , an infection of the Gastrointestinal track that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and sometimes bleeding of the bowel, due to drinking fresh water or eating uncooked food washed with non-sterilized water. However, Indonesians do not have an equivalent term for when they visit other countries. In other words, an Indonesian does not have to worry about Aussie Runs when they visit Australia. This is not simply because the environment in Australia is cleaner than in Indonesia, for Indonesians do not suffer from Bali Belly that visiting Westerners do when traveling to their country. Indonesians simply have a more robust immune system and are immune to the infectious agents, due to being exposed to such agents from birth. However, times are changing, for even these folks are now becoming more westernized as time goes on, and with it, western disease is on the rise among the Indonesian population in this example.
MICROFLORA OF KEFIR GRAINS
A vast variety among different species of organisms have been isolated and identified in kefir grains and kefir. These species are among four genus groups; Lactobacilli, Streptococci-Lactococci, Acetobacter and Yeasts. The bacterium and yeast component share a symbiotic relationship, which means, they survive and reproduce by sharing their byproducts as an energy and growth-stimulating source [u 4 i + i 4 u … a balanced, proactive relationship]. Bacteriocin may also be present in kefir if specific strains of lactic acid bacteria exist in the grains or, are introduced in the milk from external means.
Batches of kefir grains obtained from different sources commonly vary in micro floral composition, except for the essential components specific to the synthesis of the grain, which must be found in all propagable kefir grains. In fact, the micro floral rhythm of the same batch of grains is influenced by seasonal changes [temperature and humidity] including culture-conditions [volume of milk added to the grains, including duration of fermentation]. This can be summed up to adaptation to environment and culture-conditions. Such a localized-adaptation encourages a benefit for the consumer sharing that specific environment with the culture’s microflora. Of some interest is the culture-process under stress conditions, which influences the synthesis of specific compounds by organisms, including the effect of the synthesis of the grain when cultured under specific conditions. This would make an interesting area for further research to gain understanding at a scientific level of the relationship between different species of organisms, and synthesized compounds under specific culture-conditions. Although intuition in communal observation and digestion through logic tells the author that he may be on a correct path by stating health benefits of home brewing. Especially if we observe the basic principle of the Macrobiotic Diet or regime, which states that to increase both the length and quality of life, it is essential to consume organically grown locally produced– whole foods that are in season, with the exception of dehydration, and the fermentation of fresh food-produce as a natural means for preservation.
The people of Caucasus who consumed large quantities of kefir were renowned for longevity and a healthy constitution. These folks would have had little choice but to follow the basic Macrobiotic principles, and they did not suffer from the many common maladies that plague the populous of the civilized world today. It comes with little doubt that the fresh milk gathered from their milking animals contained coliform counts due to the method of milking that they used. The people of this particular region were classified as centenarians where life expectancy was 100 years young. These people also ingested actual kefir grains due to the crude method used for straining kefir, where it is quite possible that an amount of kefir grains were always found in the ready-to-drink kefir, and kefir that was ripened in wooden barrels of clay crocks. Since these folks also enjoying ripened kefir— sometimes matured with the addition of the sweet root of the Snow Rose [Rhododendron caucasicum]— all these together are important key-factors in regards to the longevity that the people of this particular region enjoyed. Today however, these key-pointers are not well addressed but are mostly unknown or overlooked.
Microorganisms Found in Different Batches of Milk Kefir-Grains and Kefir
Divided into Four Genus Groups [with revised nomenclature where possible]
BIFIDOBACTERIA / LACTOBACILLI
Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum *
Lb. brevis [Possibly now Lb. kefiri]
Lb. casei subsp. casei
Lb. casei subsp. rhamnosus
Lb. paracasei subsp. paracasei
Lb. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
Lb. delbrueckii subsp. lactis
Lb. helveticus subsp. lactis
Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum
Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefiranofaciens
STREPTOCOCCI / LACTOCOCCI
St. paracitrovorus ^
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
Lc. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis
Lc. lactis subsp. cremoris
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
Leuc. dextranicum ^
Dekkera anomala t/ Brettanomyces anomalus a
Kluyveromyces marxianus t/ Candida kefyr a#
Pichia fermentans t/ C. firmetaria a
Yarrowia lipolytica t/ C. lipolytica a
Debaryomyces hansenii t/ C. famata a#
Deb. [Schwanniomyces] occidentalis
Issatchenkia orientalis t/ C.krusei a
Galactomyces geotrichum t/ Geotrichum candidum a
Kluyveromyces lactis var. lactis #
Saccharomyces cerevisiae #
Sacc. subsp. torulopsis holmii
Sacc. turicensis sp. nov
Torulaspora delbrueckii t
Bacillus subtilus sp.
t Teleomorph. Sexual reproductive stage. Yeast form pseudo-mycelium as in Flowers of Kefir.
a Anamorph. Asexual reproductive stage. Reproduce by budding or forming spores or cell splitting [fission].
# Can utilize lactose or lactate.
^ Aroma forming.
subsp. Sub specie type.
sp. Specie type.
sp. nov. New strain or new specie strain type.
biovar. Biological variation strain type.
var. Variety type.
* Recent discovery due to improved DNA analysis techniques, found that milk kefir grains including Sugary Kefir Grains contain [a rare] Bifidobacterium psychraerophilum [including some 4 more common strains of Bifidobacterium] which is only found encapsulated in the grain’s matrix. This micro-organism is not found in the milk kefir that kefir grains produce through fermentation, it is classified as non-cultivable. The best way to reap the probiotic benefits of this specific strain of Bifidobacterium is to eat your spare kefir grains. They can be used to make what I refer to as Silken Kefir, which is a very powerful delicious probiotic food, with a smooth, creamy, silky mouth-feel and which can be eaten with a spoon.
Evolution Sequence among Genus Groups during Kefir Culture Cycle
Lactococci > Lactobacilli > Leuconostoc > Yeast > Acetobacter
Microbial Composition of Kefir at End of Fermentation [colony forming units/ml] **
Lactococci : 1,000,000,000
Leuconostocs : 100,000,000
Lactobacilli : 5,000,000
Yeast : 1,000,000
Acetobacter : 100,000
END NOTES Candida albicans has never been isolated from kefir grains [as of the time of writing]. Conditions make it quite difficult for this particular opportunistic yeast to flourish among the microflora of kefir grains and in kefir. Certain yeasts fond in kefir grains include Candida as part of the nomenclature [name]. These yeasts are not pathogenic yeasts as such, but are classified as Generally Regarded As Safe [GRAS]. Some yeast strains of kefir may have the potential to keep C. albicans in check in the host, for research has shown that certain yeast strains of kefir can colonize the gut, giving C. albicans competition for nutrients or strong inhibition by some form of chemical action, and or the Lactic acid bacteria [LAB] of kefir. Kefiran may also play an important role in this, for research has shown kefiran markedly antagonized the growth of C. albicans, including other strains of unfavourable fungi and bacteria.
EXPANDED USE for KEFIR & KEFIR GRAINS
This section presents a general idea of many years of my personal work to expand on the use for both kefir grains and kefir, in preparing many unique, wholesome nutritious culture food-products. Here a collection of functional food at their best, and possibly ahead of their time abide. Each product mentioned below is reasonably simple and easy to follow. Following the link for each product takes you to the appropriated web page with its recipe or idea. Enjoy the journey that these newly found probiotic-wonderlands may venture with you.
For your reference, all names except for kefir d’aqua or water kefir provided for each product below, were conceived or adapted by yours truly.
Kefir Cottage Cheese Similar to traditional cottage-style fresh cheese. A fresh sweet curd prepared with fresh milk coagulated with kefir. Like all cheeses developed by yours truly, this cheeses is no exception being 100% rennet free.
Kefir-SourCream A rich creamy fresh sour cream with a taste and texture similar to Italian Mascarpone, or Smetana, a favourite sour cream of Russia.
Kefir Butter Butter is easy with the addition of kefir and or kefir grains in two ways. Kefir grains and kefir can be blended and then folded into fresh cream followed by churning, washing and pressing the butter into a block. Or, a small amount of kefir is folded into fresh cream and left to stand for 12 to 24 hours, before churning the sour cream and processing as above. These two processes produce butter reasonably quick, due to a reaction between the gel-polysaccharide of kefir grains [kefiran] and milk fat. An amalgamation of sorts occurs when kefiran and cream is churned, so that the butter usually comes with less effort. We can expect an increased butter yield, and the fresh butter enjoys an extended shelf life, due to kefiran and the antioxidant rich kefir. I also believe that the cholesterol of butter, which can increase the bad blood cholesterol in the body due to particular types of milk fat, is sort of bound by kefiran, in which renders the butter healthier, possibly another functional-food in fact.
Kefir-Leban The natural process of draining ready-to-drink kefir through cloth for a day, produces a fresh sour-curd cheese. Kefir-Leban is similar to Labneh of the Middle East or Pannier of India, or German Quark including Tvorog of Russia [or Lower Sorbian twarog, from Old Church Slavonic tvarog]. Another 100% rennet free fresh, delicious and nutritious healthy sour curd cheese.
Kefir-Straightjacket A kefir-curd dip or spread prepared from draining kefir [per Kefir-Leban above] with added ingredients to create a taste sensation that many people have gone crazy #@|@# asking for more [does that make any sense?]. The selected ingredients also help to keep the microbes in this fresh live cheese alive, even during storage! A probiotic fresh cheese-dip, come spread, come pizza topping… come on down and make these recipes for yourself and your family, by yesterday– OR ELSE!
Kefirkraut Zzzzzz wake up all!!! Naturally pickled cabbage /or other vegetables similar to traditional sauerkraut but without the addition of any salt or very low salt content if desired, as opposed to traditional sauerkraut which contains between 2% to 3% salt. Kefirkraut has converted many who dislike sauerkraut to kefirkraut devotees.
Kefirlat or Kefirlac A fermented cereal grain beverage prepared with sugary kefir grain-prepared water kefir and sprouted cereal grains. This is an extension of Rejuvelac principally similar to Kvass of Russia.
Water Kefir or Kefir d’acqua [the latter meaning kefir of water, Latin]. A refreshing, bubbly sugar/water beverage prepared with traditional translucent sugary kefir-grains [SKG] a cousin to milk kefir-grains. A version of water kefir can also be prepared with milk kefir-grains in place of traditional SKG. Water kefir is a vegan version of kefir, so vegans and true vegetarians too can enjoy making and drinking kefir as part of their lifestyle and diet. Traditional sugar-water recipe more commonly used is explained including my own rendition of the recipe. There is an in depth explanation of water kefir on this page here, and the common water kefir recipes including ginger beer water kefir recipe are found at my kefir-making web page here.
With much experimentation and hard work, the results of yours truly discovered methods to improve growth rate of SKG, which as a result produces water kefir with less sugar, making it a healthier cultured beverage. This is by including a few simple ingredients added to sugar and water. These include sodium bicarbonate [pure baking powder], ground eggshell, oceanic coral or natural limestone. Molasses is added if the sugar is refined to any degree other than natural, fresh or dry sugar cane juice. During fermentation, the rich calcium and magnesium rich eggshell, oceanic coral or limestone is released in the water kefir, rendering the two elements into a bio-available form in the final beverage. I’ve had folks email me and also post to my Internet lists at Yahoo! Groups expressing some concern about the use of sodium in the form of sodium bicarbonate for preparing water kefir. However, your’s truly wishes to insure that the calcium and magnesium released from eggshell, oceanic coral or limestone into the water kefir, counteracts the effects of sodium on the body. Well balanced food to restore or maintain balance in body and mind is another one of my motto’s, which is applicable here.
Kefir d’ erba medica [meaning Kefir made with medicinal herbs, Latin]. Probiotic herbal teas prepared with sugary kefir-grains or milk kefir-grains. Recipes and ideas are explained at my kefir making web page, by clicking the heading link. This is an extension of water-kefir and milk-kefir.
Kefir d’uva [meaning Kefir made with grape juice, Latin]. Another extension on water kefir cultured with grape juice instead of the more common ingredients, such as sugar, lemon, dry fig and water.
Kefir d’pollin [meaning Kefir made with bee pollen, Latin]. Either water-kefir or milk-kefir cultured with the addition of bee pollen. This recipe may help unlock nutrients, which through normal digestion are mostly unavailable from bee pollen. This limitation is due to the indigestible cell-wall of each pollen cell so the nutrients are unavailable through gastric digestion. Including bee pollen for preparing milk-kefir, the proteolytic enzyme-rich medium may help to at least partially break down the cell wall of bee pollen cells, so gastric digestion which follows may be able to further breakdown the cell wall, aiding in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Although my understanding of bee pollen is that the cell-wall is made up of cellulose, which in this case, there would be little to quite marginally small enzymatic attack on the cellulose by kefir organisms, it is quite a delicious rendition to kefir nevertheless.
Kefir Recipes A few recipes to try, including The Butterfly [fruit juice + kefir beverage], the Water Butterfly [water-kefir + milk-kefir beverage], and the Kefir Charmer [kefir-smoothie], a great way of introducing kefir to children or to fussier taste buds… shneeky-he-he-heee!. Not omitting the Kefir Liver Blush, a herbal-based kefir beverage to increase/correct immune function, assist or correct liver function, and control inflammation of the bowel and more.
Kefir-Grain Gelato-Style Ice-Cream If someone told you that you could eat ice-cream and actually heal yourself from many gastro intestinal problems such as IBD and Ulcerative Colitis, you would probably think that there is no way this can be true. Well, you’re wrong, for there is a way of eating your ice-cream and healing yourself too, and here it is. This ice-cream is functional-food at its best! A recipe exists, and is one of a few which abide among a collection at my Kefir FAQ web page.
Kefir Preserving Brine [KPB] I discovered that brine prepared with kefir can be used as a natural preservative to prolong the shelf life of certain perishable foods [stored refrigerated]. Fresh cheeses such as Bocconcini. Tofu, cooked or raw legumes, meat and fish enjoy a longer shelf life due to controlled fermentation of those foods with kefir in the form of KPB. The antioxidant rich kefir including other properties of kefir are the culprits in this case, ALL GOOD, THOUGH!!!!
Probiotic Herbal Kefir-Grain Condiment A probiotic savory condiment prepared with dehydrated milk kefir-grains or sugary kefir-grains with added herb-spices and sea salt ground to delicious powder. Preparation is simple.
Probiotic Sweetener including Kefir-Grain Lolloz A probiotic sweetener similar to the above, and sweet candy or carob/dark chocolate coated sweet streets. Ideas for the preparation are explained at this web page.
Application of kefir grains for treating infected wounds and warts I’ve discovered that kefir grains are effective in treating certain infections such as Ulcers when applied topically to the affected area, especially in conjunction with specific herbs. I’ve observed this in both man and beast alike. I’ve also removed warts by applying a kefir grain topically to warts, both planter and the common wart caused by the Human Papilloma Virus [HPV], which is linked to cervical cancer
The Most Significant Bit left for Last
But not the Least Significant Bit
Ingesting kefir grains on a regular basis, as performed by the original masters of kefir, in my opinion, is a must-do if one wishes to gain optimum benefits of the kefir-ritual as a whole. Most research performed to date, which shows much promise, has been performed with actual kefir grains or the polysaccharide Kefiran, which kefir grains produce, consist of and release in the media [extensive research has not been carried out with actual real-kefir]. One cannot ingest kefir grains if one doesn’t have kefir grains to begin with, and in order to propagate more grains!
Taking this to another level Initial interest in kefir came about when the famous Russian scientist, Professor Mechnikov learned of the long-life-span that the Caucasian tribes-folk enjoyed. It was believed that kefir was an important link to why these people enjoyed such a long-life-span with little to no disease. Although, if one neglects the fact that the tribe-folk did in fact ingest kefir grains and ripened kefir on a regular basis [as a kefir-ritual in a wholesome state], then AN important ingredient may be missing in the long-life-soup!
Out of all culture-products known and prepared to date, kefir grains and traditional-kefir stand in a unique class of their own. No other culture-product propagate bio-wonders such as kefir grains. Kefir grains are unique in many ways. Such probiotic-jewels are part and parcel of the culture-process. And with the culture-product produced with kefir grains [kefir] a natural culture-system in completeness is attained, if maintained with our help, of course. By the use of simple intuition in communion with logic, for me, suggests that these THREE-CULTURE-PRODUCTS can not be separated from each other, and expect to RE-ATTAIN FULL POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF THE ART AS A WHOLE… Wholesomeness is the keyword here.
Taking this to reach zenith To add to, let’s do this the best WE can; We need to consider looking into another important but overlooked matter. I am referring to the ripening of liquid-kefir. Unique advantages may be gained by ripening strained kefir for several days, before consuming the culture-milk product. Mild ambient temperatures, ranging between 12°C to 22°C [53°F to 71°F] is a good temperature range for ripening kefir. At day 1 to day 2 of ripening, Folacin should increase by some 117% to possibly 125% compared to the amount of folic acid found in the original fresh milk. There are other B group vitamins that increase during ripening, while a few B vitamins are found in slightly less amount, or remain at the same level found in fresh milk. Other benefits of ripening include the reduction of lactose, which is desirable for the low carbohydrate diet, be it for reasons other than Diabetes. Another point to consider is the reduction of milk fat and cholesterol content of milk through the process of ripening.
Other properties of ripening, which involves the sequence or the evolution of the microflora, as the maturing kefir encourages certain strains of organisms to proliferate, or triggered into propagation, due to conditions and byproducts produced by specific strains of organisms, over time. With this, one may find a unique beneficial value of matured kefir, due to a distinctive compound and microbial signature [nutritionally inclusive] to that of freshly strained kefir.
Practice makes permanent perfection or imperfections permanent when practiced accordingly The people of Caucasus often ripened, or brewed larger volumes of liquid kefir for some days before consuming the beverage. The fresh root of the Snow Rose [Rhododendron caucasicum], a non-toxic rhododendron specie native to the area, is said to have been added to liquid-kefir and brewed [to ripen]. The sweet root of Snow Rose contains antioxidants, which prevents the oxidation of milk fat during the ripening process. The root of Snow Rose also contains numerous beneficial properties that are leached into the kefir during ripening. This may further extend on the antioxidants produced naturally through the process of kefir fermentation, such as citric acid, the content of which increases during the process of ripening, and which may further prevent the oxidation of milk fat. There is also another powerful antioxidant found only in kefir, which exists as charged molecules. This antioxidant is thought among the scientific community who have studied the molecules, to be among the more promising antioxidant, especially in the prevention of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as dementia, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer etc. It has been found that the antioxidant of kefir, is easily absorbed into the blood and reaches the brain quite effectively.
We may extend on this practice, for specific herbs may be added with liquid-kefir, and brewed together to mature. Such procedures can be taken advantage of, in order to tailor-brew a specific kefir, intended for specific conditions. As an example, to relieve flatulence and to fortify gastric function, Caraway, Fennel and Anise seed and Cinnamon bark, can be ground to a course powder, and added to fresh kefir, and then ripened at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, or longer fermented under airlock. This form of kefir may be highly recommended for the prevention of, or the control of Diabetes especially Diabetes mellitus, due to the beneficial property of Cinnamon bark for Diabetics. Another example is to ripen kefir for say 3 days either in the fridge, or at room temperature, with the addition of freshly bruised or pounded fresh Turmeric root, Ginger root, Corn silk, dry Olive and Buchu leafs. This may assist in the prevention of, or as part treatment for cancer, to relieve prostate problems in men, Interstitial Cystitis in women including bladder infection and gastric dysfunction in both sexes. The addition of fresh, dry Goji Berries or the natural juice added to liquid kefir, and brewed for 1 to 2 days at room temperature or in the fridge, can be of great benefit. There is beginning to be more understanding of how brewing specific herbs, the process of which increases the effect of the therapeutic property of those herbs, while reducing to the point of eliminating many nutrient-locking or nutrient-binding agents found among the vegetative kingdom, such as phytates and oxalates.
< Brewing herbs with kefir can improve Bio-Availability of Phyto-Active compounds of Herbs >
Concoctions such as the above, can be prepared to amplify the anti-candidiasis property of kefir. The therapeutic benefits of such kefir-herbal concoctions, may be amplified even further with the addition of Vitamin C and fresh kefir grains, blended together in a food processor to prepare a smoothie; a smooth, creamy beverage with desirable consistency and flavour. As an example, 1/4-cup fresh milk kefir-grains and 500mg Vitamin C blended with 1-cup strained herbal-kefir, prepared just before consumption. I have discovered that such concoctions have a desirable effect for gastric problems, including irritable bowel disease, liver problems due to hepatic infection such as Hepatitis C Infection. This is through personal experience, and I believe that long term use of such concoctions is the main factor for a spontaneous cure of Hepatitis C in my case, including Ulcerative Colitis [UC] in 1999. Even though current orthodox medics believe that one goes into remission from UC, my particular case raised some interest among my Dr and his peers, for a recent colonoscopy found no evidence of the disease. This can only assume a complete cure, even though my current Dr who is a specialist in gastroenterology, suggests that I may never have had UC in the first place [And of course he would come to this conclusion, for a cure from UC goes against his medical training]. However, 2 independent diagnosis 10 years prior by 2 of his medical peers both of whom are extensively experienced gastroenterologists, and who both found that I did indeed have Ulcerative Colitis of the sigmoid colon, can not be easily dismissed.
Enhancing a distinctive feeling of well-being usually results shortly after consuming such concoctions. For me, this clearly demonstrates an enhancement of improved immune function, in correlation with an increase in serotonin and possibly other yet-to-be-discovered feel-good factors.
Dehydrated kefir grains can be enjoyed by youngsters and adults alike As a probiotic snack enjoyed with meals or in between meals, dry kefir-grains can be sprinkled with powdered Fennel, Caraway and Dill seed mixed with a small amount of finely ground unrefined sea salt to enhance flavour while improving gastric function when consumed. Fresh herb seeds can be included with dry herb parts of Rosemary, Thyme and Basil leaf are as an example of the many possibilities. The ingredients are best ground in a mortar and pestle with sea salt, and then mixed together with dry kefir-grains to give the grains a light dust coating of the savoury spices. Such treats having a flavour of savory cheese snacks are enjoyed in our abode of the friendly microbe [our home], especially by our 18 month old daughter Shedea-Nardu [as I type]. By the way, sea salt can be substituted with non-sodium salts such as the Bragg or Dr Bronner’s brands that are available.
Probiotic Kefir Grain Herbal Condiment One may also prepare what I’ve named, Probiotic herbal condiment. An example of the recipe can be explained as one tablespoon each of Caraway, Dill, Anise and Fennel seeds and half tablespoon of raw unrefined sea salt, or non-sodium salts such as the Bragg or Dr Bronner’s brands, with 2 tablespoons of dehydrated kefir-grains. The ingredients are mixed together and then ground to powder either with a mortar and pestle, a coffee grinder or flour mill. A small amount of probiotic powder sprinkled over food as a savory condiment, can reduce salt intake while enhancing flavour of the food with added probiotic value. In fact, a small amount of condiment mixed with freshly strained or ripened kefir makes a wonderful refreshing beverage, again, while introducing therapeutic properties and increase the probiotic value of kefir, due to the addition of digestive carminative herb spices and dehydrated kefir-grains respectively.
Probiotic Kefir Grain Sweetener [Kefir-grain Lolloz and sweet streets] Another option that children and adults alike may enjoy, is the preparation of a sweetener prepared with dehydrated kefir grains. A simple recipe is mixing 2 tablespoons of dehydrated kefir-grains fashioned as powder in a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or flour mill, mixed with one-cup of dry malt powder or maltose, and one teaspoon each of Cinnamon bark and Anise seed powders as optional ingredients. An amount of any commercial probiotic supplement can be poured out from the capsule and added as an ingredient to further boost probiotic value of the sweetener. Such a tantalizing sweet dressing can be sprinkled over warm, whole grain cereal breakfast, or sprinkled over fresh fruit salad or ice-cream etc. One teaspoon may be mixed with a cup of fresh kefir to prepare a beverage is another example. This is a great way to get probiotics into fussier youngsters and adults alike [without them being aware of the good deed you are doing for them … Shneaky Heaha haa ha ha haarr].
I also prepare what our daughter Shedea has come to call, Lolloz. The probiotic sweet streets are prepared with an amount of dry kefir-grains fashioned to powder, mixed with a good quality liquid rice malt rendered into candy by hand. These are prepared either plain or carob or dark chocolate coated. Kefir-grain Lolloz are very much enjoyed by most kids as a healthy treat [best taken in moderation]. Kefir-grain Lolloz make a healthy substitute for commercial junk sweets targeted at our young, innocent children, by the majority if not all short sighted large commercial interests worldwide. Short sighted in the fact that the most older virus e.g. is thought to be the herpes virus, because the virus does not kill the host. So it and it’s progeny enjoy a long life along with its host that the virus has infected. However, it is said that the AIDS virus e.g., is a younger virus for it kills the host, killing the virus! So how mature are such companies that sell junk food which shorten life span of those whom purchase their products? It appears not as mature as tinny virus particles!
To realize a wider spectrum of the many benefits of kefir, is to maintain and to extend on the traditional culture-art. Ingesting excess or spare kefir grains, consuming ripened kefir prepared with added herbs and enjoying freshly strained kefir; this is wholesomeness at its best, and should be considered worthy of more focus regarding its practical implication
SOME RESEARCH TO CHEW YOUR INTELLECTUAL CUD ON It was found that lactic acid products were ineffective in fungus and proteus dysbacteriosis during antibiotic therapy. Whereas a mixture of Lb. acidophilus + Kefir grains [Aciprole] was used to successfully manage antibiotic dysbacteriosis as an adverse reaction of antibiotic therapy. The fact that the therapy under the antibiotic plus mixed probiotic regime with antibacterial therapy, prevented the development of the clinical signs of dysbacteriosis is of practical importance.
Bearing this in mind, is it quite possible that this is what certain pseudo-kefir producing companies wish to withhold from consumers or potential customers? Or is it that such companies are not aware of such facts?
A PERFECT MARRIAGE… is to continue to persevere and without a full stop