Valley Bounty: Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk beverage roughly in the same ballpark as yogurt. It’s made by fermenting milk with kefir grains, living cultures of yeast and bacteria suspended in a mixture of protein, fat, and sugar, which form little grain-like globules. Kefir grains are mesophilic, meaning they ferment at room temperature, unlike many commercial yogurt cultures, which need to be heated.

To make your own kefir, all you need are kefir grains, which you can find online or in some health food stores, and milk. One traditional preparation involved pouring the ingredients into an animal hide bag and hanging it by the doorway, with the expectation that people entering and exiting would jostle the bag enough to keep the grains and milk mixed. Assuming you don’t have a spare animal hide bag lying around, or don’t want to impose on your guests, we can also opt to combine them in a thoroughly-cleaned and loosely-covered jar, stirring occasionally. It should take 24 to 48 hours on the counter to thicken to the consistency of thin yogurt — at that point, just strain out the grains (which can be reused) and enjoy! Try adding it to a smoothie, or using in place of milk or buttermilk in baking for added tang.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)