Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Raw Milk Kefir Smoothie and Homemade Kefir

I love kefir! I love it's sour taste(it's the lactic acid). I love that it is another high quality protein source and I love that I have dairy back in my diet again. For this quick smoothie you will need;
1 cup homemade raw milk kefir (or, homemade kefir with pasteurized milk)
1 cup pineapple juice
a few fresh clean spinach leaves
a few chunks of raw pineapple
1/2 tsp. bee pollen (optional)
Blend till very smoothie. Of course add any other healthy ingredient that suits you.

There is a big difference between raw milk and it's products and commercially pasteurized diary products. Raw milk for one, is a natural product that humanity has been living on for thousands of years. Human babies develop on human milk and if that wasn't possible in the past, people used animal milk until the child was weaned. Then the child ate/drank cultured milk products like the adults....curds and whey and variations. Adults did not drink fresh milk unless there was no time to let it separate or "culture" which is what raw milks do without refrigeration. What the ancients didn't know and we know today is that raw milk contains bacteria....good ones; lactobacillus.

These natural, friendly bacteria begin to consume the lactose or milk sugar as soon as they get warm and have enough time. When milk is kept cold, the bacteria are kept dormant. Warm them up and they go to work on the lactose. These bacteria are our friends.

Our standardized, super hygienic, germ-phobic culture has really demonized all microbes, the good ones along with the bad ones until recently. Today there is a lot of talk about the need for pro-biotic. Pop science has finally admitted that humans need good bacteria in the gut to truly be healthy. The commercial and health food industries have responded with lots of supplements and cultured products which you can purchase but there's nothing better than culturing your own.

Raw milk when placed in a clean jar and set on the kitchen counter at room temperature for a few days will not rot and stink like pasteurized milk will do. It "sours" and separates and tastes amazingly good (it's the lactic acid). The milk solids can be formed and squeezed and dried and made into cheese and the whey can be used as a beverage used in "smoothies" or used to preserve vegetables or soak grains to make breakfast cereal or muffins.

Kefir grains are colonies of specific bacteria that digest lactose and build little sacks of polyglicerides that grow bigger with regular use. Their metabolic action on milk sugar is quicker and different from the natural lactobacillus all ready in the milk. Kefir has a bubbly or effervescent taste to it that is delightful. Kefir grains must be obtained from someone that has them as they are not spontaneous to the milk itself. Kefir grains grow with use. Mature grains look like little clumps of cauliflower. I make kefir once a week so my grains grow slowly. If I made kefir every day, they would get bigger faster.

To Make HOMEMADE KEFIR you will need;
Raw milk (or pasteurized if you cannot find raw)
clean quart glass jars
a stainless steel fine mesh strainer bowl to fit strainer
1 TBS. kefir grains (or the freeze dried ones you can get in HFS)

Almost fill a clean quart glass jar with raw milk and stir in the kefir grains. Put a lid on the jar and place in a very warm place. Temperature should never be above 115 degrees else the high temp will kill them. It works for me at about 75 to 80 degrees in my corner cupboard which is located over the kitchen heat vent. Stir the milk and grains a few times in the 12-18 hours fermentation time. The warmer the place, the faster they consume lactose and reproduce. When kefir is ready, it will be thick. Stir it up and position the strainer over a bowl the right size and pour the kefir into it and gently shake it to strain it. When all the kefir has worked it's way through the stainer, scoop up the clumps at the bottom of the strainer and put those into another clean glass container and fill with raw milk and then refrigerate until you warm them up for the next batch.

It used to be said not to let kefir grains touch metal, but that was "back in the day" before stainless steel. Other kitchen metals at the time, brass, copper and aluminum are "reactive" metals and they did react chemically with the acid of the kefir and kill the microbes and produces strong metallic flavor. But stainless does not do that. So your stainless strainer will be fine but if your grains are very small, make sure the mesh is fine to catch them.

Because our society for the last 100 years has attempted to eradicate all microbes from our food, soil and environment, plus our dependency on antibiotics and vaccines, we have I believe, weakened our species to a very serious degree and now the bad microbes have come back as super-bugs and are lethal very difficult to get rid of. I believe that if we use more friendly bacteria in our food we could become stronger and better resistant to the super-bugs that are becoming more and more threatening. It's time to rediscover the natural protecting and healthful properties of the friendly side of the microbe kingdom.
This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday at Mind,Body and Sole.