Kefir is a wonderful probiotic food, with many health benefits. It is quite sour, however, and while some people love the taste, others are not so enamoured. It's easy to enhance the flavor of kefir, however, by adding ingredients either before or after the fermentation process.
What is Kefir?
Kefir is fermented milk, made with a similar process to yogurt, but with different types of bacteria. This results in a thick and fizzy milk drink or sauce. The bacteria and yeasts in kefir are excellent for aiding in digestion, and process the lactose in the milk making it suitable for those with mild lactose intolerance. Kefir is also a rich source of antioxidants, and in trials has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels. This will reduce your chances of heart disease.
Kefir is usually made from cow's milk, but it can also be made from other liquids, like coconut milk, rice or soy milk, or even water or juice. However, different bacteria and yeast strains may be needed. If you are making your own kefir, you can try different liquids to find one which suits your tastes. Milk kefir is an excellent source of protein and amino acids, as well as B vitamins and calcium.
Sweet Kefir Recipes
Kefir can be sweetened by simply mixing it with honey or sugar. If you have a real sweet tooth, you can also try adding jam or jelly to kefir. You may wish to add fruit juice to kefir, either before or after the fermentation process. Kefir can be mixed with any kind of fruit juice in a 1:1 ratio. Once you've sweetened your kefir, you can try freezing it for an ice-cream substitute.
Kefir makes an excellent base for smoothies: simply add a banana, and some soft fruits, such as berries or kiwi, then blend together. You can also use a tablespoon of malt for added flavor. Or you can use kefir over cereal in the morning as an alternative to milk.
Savory Kefir Recipes
Kefir can be used in any recipe that calls for yogurt. Remember, however, that heating kefir will kill the bacteria, so for the benefits of the microorganisms in kefir, you should only drink or eat it raw. However, kefir has benefits besides the bacteria, and can make a delicious addition to many recipes.
You can add it to meat stock for a creamy soup, or mix it with stock or soup powder to make a vegetable dip. Or, add lemon or lime juice, chili pepper powder and salt to kefir for a delicious salad dressing. Kefir can also be used as a replacement for coconut milk in recipes. You can also add kefir to bread recipes that call for yeast. Simply replace the yeast and half the water in the recipe with an equal amount of fresh kefir.
Cheap to make, and highy nutritious, kefir is a potent digestive aid, as well as a potential weapon against heart disease. It is also very versatile.