What is Kefir?

Kefir is a cultured, creamy product with amazing health attributes.

Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins.

For the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

How is Kefir Made?

Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. Although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a “clean” quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria.

Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.” This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains. These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Some of the grains have been known to grow in large flat sheets that can be big enough to cover your hand!. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.

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  • Lobke Verburg

    I have been making Kefir for the past year – or so… but I have never ‘strained’ the kefir? I add the grains, let the milk ‘sit’ for about 36 hours (or until the Kefir starts to settle – where you can see a water liquid, and ‘clumps’ in the liquid), and then pop it into the fridge for another 12 hours. And then I drink it just like that – without straining? I innoculate a new batch with about 100ml of kefir – and I can do this for about 6 new batches until I add new Kefir grains…. is the method I am using correct?

    • Lorrie Meija

      If you strain the kefir, you will always have a steady supply of grains. There will be no need to find “new” grains. The grains you have will multiply. Use a bamboo or plastic strainer for best results.
      After straining the kefir, add the grains to fresh milk, cover the container with a piece of cotton muslin and rubber band, and leave out at room temp. You can refrigerate what you strained.

    • http://lalipopsanddaisies.etsy.com Yadira Del Real

      Strain it. This way you just add your grains to the new batch you will never have to buy more grains again.

  • Lala

    Hi,
    I have just started drinking milk kefir (2weeks) and am having a lot of bloating and have put on weight (2-3kgs in 2wks)
    Is this a side effect/detox symptom? If so how long do these side effects tend to last and if your body re adjusts with weight?
    Any feedback is greatly appreciated :)

    • http://www.camelmilkassociation.com Clare Kuepfer

      Hi Lala,
      From the experience I have had with others with the same thing you are experiencing, I would say, yes it is a side effect of the detoxing, yet I would suggest you cut back slightly on the amount you are taking, but keep up with it. Drink LOTS of good clean water! This may up your weight temporarily but will help greatly with feeling good while your body detoxes, and should have no lasting impressions on your weight. God Bless, Clare

  • rosangela

    pode ser feito com leite semidesnatado

  • Andree Tait

    Hi, I am in search of MILK KEFIR GRAINS, it is for a cancer patient and was reccomended by the Doctor,
    I have the water kefir grains, but he stipulated MILK Kefir.
    I am IN Johannesburg/Centurion area
    0825589196

    • Clare Kuepfer

      Dear Andree,
      If you need only the milk kefir grains you should check out kefirlady.com. She was very helpful with us. May I also put in that you should use raw milk. (we ourselves sell raw goat milk, and Raw goat milk kefir, and a limited supply of camel milk, but if you can make it yourself it will definately be cheaper for you. Our site is camelmilkassociation.com) As far as Raw milk verses pasturized we found that, You can buy what is labeled as Kefir in health food stores, but that is not real Kefir. You can also buy Kefir starter cultures to inoculate your milk, but that is not real Kefir either. These products are expensive, do not last, and have only 7 probiotic bacteria in them. True Kefir has 36 documented probiotic bacteria for digestive tract health. Let me know if I can help even if you are not interested in purchasing from us. My dad passed away from cancer almost ten years ago now. May God bless you all and restore your friend to health. (note; our Raw Goat milk kefir is due to be available online in the next couple of days)

    • Joyce

      Here is the International Kefir Grains list. There may be someone near you. PLEASE besure to use Organic Milk so there is NO hormones or anti-biotics to feed the cancer cells, they love it.
      http://www.torontoadvisors.com/

    • Melissa B.

      I get my water kefir grains from “Cultures for Health” (at http://www.culturesforhealth.com?a_aid=4e7f92953556f) They have grains of all kind, including milk kefir grains, yogurt starters, sourdough starters, etc. There are great health benefits to all of these things! Good luck!

      • aliaa

        please i need kefir grains for my search, how can i get it????

        thanks

    • http://lalipopsanddaisies.etsy.com Yadira Del Real

      I just got mines on Etsy .com search for milk grains. I paid 20$ and it took about 3 days for delivery. They were sent in a small plastic container. When I opened them they smelled bad but I rinsed them with cold water and that got rid of the smell. When I received them they were so small but now two and a half months after they had tripled in size and are more plump. My whole family has learned to love kefir. I usually make them a smoothie every morning (kefir, bananas and strawberries, or blueberries or my favorite peaches a tiny bit of sugar) I have a new batch of kefir every single day. We actually don’t even buy yogurts any more since kefir is much healthier. Just remember to use a plastic strainer since metal strainers aren’t good for them so I hear and I always use glass jars. I hope this helps. If you have any questions contact me at lalipopsanddaisies@gmail.com

      • http://lalipopsanddaisies.etsy.com Yadira Del Real

        P.S. I always use organic whole milk with my grains.

      • http://lalipopsanddaisies.etsy.com Yadira Del Real

        This batch has fermented for 24 hours. I know that it is done by all of the air pockets that have formed against the jar. When I started making it I would get to impatient and I would try to strain it earlier than the 24 hours and it would just be to runny. Once I let it sit for 48 hours and it was still good but the flavor was much stronger and my kids did not like it. You must also realize that if the whole jar has air pockets that means that the grains are running out of food since they are eating the lactose in the milk. If you leave them there and not change the milk they could starve and die. I do not know how long they will survive so don’t risk it. I treat mines like baby’s so I feed them every day. Know that there are exceptions for when you want to travel but I have not tried it yet.

        • http://lalipopsanddaisies.etsy.com Yadira Del Real

          1) Has fermented for 24 hours. Here you can see the air bubbles that have formed that is how I know it is ready.

          2) Kefir is ready. The grains have been removed and placed back in the jar to start a new batch.

          3) My breakfast a banana and blueberry smoothie. (Yum)

          4) The only things I need. Glass/plastic container no metals.I like the glass jar because it is easy to see through and see the air bubbles this way I know it is done. Cover the jar with a coffee filter and a rubber band or towel something that wont let nothing in but will still let it breath. Plastic strainer and spoon spatula nothing metal ( I recommend buying a plastic strainer with smaller holes this way the small grains wont get through. I need to replace mine)

  • Joy

    I have been making kefir for almost a year now from raw milk I buy from a local dairy and love it. I make a smoothie of a cup of kefir, handful of frozen berries, frozen plums and a banana. That is my breakfast every morning. Sometimes changing up the frozen fruit that I have froze myself from fruit that i have bought or grown. My grains will not grow and I wonder why. Has anyone else had that problem?

    • Helen O Pope

      The grains will not grow if you put them in the refridgerator. It is too cold. At least this is the experience I have had. They should be left in a warmer place. I generally just leave the milk with grains in it on the counter. The grains as they begin are very small. You may be eating them before you recognize that they are there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003405422424 Avdo

        Great video. Thanks. Quick qstieuon..would it be ok to use solely Muskavado sugar instead of the white sugar and palm sugar?

    • Joyce

      Joy, if you have the Caucasus grains (large cottage cheese like grains) they should double in 20 days if they are still viable and you make kefir every day. It is not necessary to make it every day, but this will give you a guide.
      If you have the Tibet grains (they are so small they are contined in a small bag) they take quite a long time to multiply, but after 6 months to a year, if you make kefir often, they should multiply enough to divide them.
      You should never use medal spoon or strainer, this will kill the grains. Do not put your lid on the jar tight while culturing, If you are doing everything right they should multiply.
      Type in, What is Kefir, this is a very informative site.
      Here is the International Kefir Grains list incase you need more – http://www.torontoadvisors.com/

    • Karen

      Do you put them near spices? For some reason, kefir grains do not do well in the spice cupboard or near spices that give off a gas.

  • Lilyanna

    I need help! What do I do if a first kefir batch was left on the kitchen counter for ten days (not ten hours!) ????? I would greatly appreciate some advice! Thank you!

    • areyouforreal

      seriously?? you need help to know wht to do? PITCH IT. THROW IT AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • gerry

      Just rinse the kefir grains thoroughly with cold water through a plastic sieve until the water runs clear. Let the grains drip out most of the water and then reuse it to make new kefir by pouring new milk on it. I did it and it worked fine.

      • Joyce

        When you rise the grains make sure the water is not chlorinated, it will kill the grains. The site “What is Kefir” gives you important kefir precautions. Use bottled water if you are in question.
        For any that did not know, kefir helps diabetics because it lowers the candida overload that is causing the diabetes.
        And remember sugars, except Stevia, feeds candida.

        • Scout

          Candia causing diabetes???

          Ummm. I have been a Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetic for over 25 years. And all this time I thought a faulty pancreas caused my diabetes. Please be careful when you make sweeping statements like this.

          • Nina

            Its the insulin cells that has damaged your pancreas
            I never heard of candida overload an i am diabetic type 1 for 30years

        • Rachelle Deschenes

          OK Type 1′s maybe she meant Type 2′s who’s numbers are increasing at an alarmingly rapid rate and it is affecting younger and younger people, obviously it is caused by something and i’m not sold on lifestyle and overeating carbohydrate foods, i’m just saying maybe it’s something more. I am type 2 and will give it a try. Thanks Joyce

          • ian taylor

            Have you seen the video – “Simply Raw – Reversing diabetes in 30 days” takes 8 people with Diabetes and puts them cold turkey on a Raw Vegan diet for 30 days…. very interesting results.

  • Madeleine

    This is my first visit to this site. The comments are very helpful. I started keifer and found it constipating so I stopped. Then restarted and it occurred again. Then again. I resorted to cooking with it. The pancakes are like non other! Salad dressings are superb. I am going to take your suggestions on the flaxseeds. Any other helpful hints?

  • barbara

    Kefir needs to be taken first thing in the morning after a 12 hour period of culturing, it then has a sweetish flavour and acts as a mild laxative. If taken after 24 hours it becomes quite sour and may cause constipation. If one googles ‘What is Kefir’ and ‘What is Kefir good for’, one has all the information one can get on Kefir. I’ve been on Kefir for just three weeks and my IBS has vanished, my fatty enlarged liver has improved as I can eat anything without getting a bloated distended feeling and I have stopped medication for my liver problem. Besides I feel more energetic, sleep well and enjoy a general feeling of good health.

  • Ginger

    I just received packets of kefir starter from the Body Ecology Company by Donna Gates. It lists candida keyfr as an ingredient and I read online that this kind of yeast can cause disease. I am working on a systemic yeast infection. Has anyone heard of this?

    • Joyce

      Ginger you would be better to use the real grains so the helpful bacteria stays in the gut.
      Here is a web site that offers grains from all over the world. Kefir is so easy to make and the grains last a life time if you take time to learn how and what to do, I highly recommend the site “What is Kefir”.
      Do not over process the kefir or it will be constipating to you, no more that 20 to 24 hours, just as it starts to set. Real kefir takes care of a candida overload, besure to take it on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning and last thing at night or a half hour before meals.The kefir site gives you great information.

      http://www.torontoadvisors.com/

    • http://lalipopsanddaisies.etsy.com Yadira Del Real

      The ones that are dried will only give a certain amount batches. The fresh grains can live for ever with the proper care.

  • Leanne Heckman

    You can also make kefir with water.

  • mona friolet

    Hi everyone..i have crohn’s disease for the past 4 years ..have tried many different natural remedies that doesn’t seems to work .Someone has advise me to try using Kefir to reduce the pain and the diarrhea.will it help me…in need for help as i don’t want to take the doctor’s strong medications .

    • Susan Yanish

      To Mona Friolet,
      I am reading “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan Rubin. He was dying of Crohn’s Disease, but since 1996 he is in amazing recovery. The doctor’s who left him to die are amazed. I recommend his book to you. He is in Florida, is a practicing doctor, and is really helping so many people. All the best to you.

    • Donna Wickett

      Hi Mona:

      I have a few customers with crohns and ibs who are using our Vital and Confianza from It Works and they seem to be helping them . When you have crohns, colitis or ibs, you are not able to absorb the good nutrients that you need daily and flare ups are usually caused by stress. If you are wanting more info please email me.

    • Vivian Cover

      Hi Mona, I’m sorry to hear of you suffering with crohn’s. Many have received lasting relief from a special alkaline water. See testimonials at: http://www.DownloadMyEbook.com/vcover. Contact me for help.

    • Amy Hisaoka

      I have Crohn’s and the thing that helped me is I started drinking raw goat milk. Kefir will help even faster. I make my own raw goat milk kefir. It helped me so much, I got my own milk goats! I’m now off of ALL medication!

  • doc zhivago

    hi gentelman;
    thanks , ineed only ‘ kombucha mushroom’
    iam liveing in tehran / iran
    pleaze tell me what can i do
    thanks again good luck doc

  • David

    Im just getting into Kombucha Tea, which is also a probiotic, what are ppls thoughts on Kefir vs Kombucha?

  • Neri

    Hi kefir carers, I leave my kefir for up to a week or more and get a great cottage type cheese which acan be flavoured with anything olive salt is especially good. I have used all sorts of milk even UTH when I ran out. My daughter has even frozen the grains when away and the sprang back into action. It all worked!
    I am now thinking of trying to make a coconut kefir mix as I have just tried coconut yoghur t from the store at a riduculous price.
    Also tried camambert but mixed the rind fron a real camembert into the hanging muslin, in progress at present. Not sure what that will make, after belatedly reading the right process.
    I recently taught and gave work collegues kefir to use. I call it ‘ the creature’ and care for it as any living thing, and have fun responding to the question ‘ Where did you get this” dip,cheese,or what ever I have made! Enjoy Neri

  • Mel

    I have been drinking Kefir for about two and half weeks now. I am feeling really bloated and constipated and I have put on a couple of kilos! Is this normal?? I have heard that drinking kefir helps people that suffer from constipation? Am I doing something wrong? I want to keep drinking it as I know that it is good for you, but if I keep feeling like this I might have to stop!!

    • Linda

      Along with the kefir milk, I add 3 T. of ground flax seeds to my oatmeal and I am never constipated. Might be worth a try plus ground flax seeds are very healthful. I have been taking both daily for over 5 years.

      • Brian A. Morin

        That’s a good suggestion Linda. I would start slow Mel, this will give your system time to catch up. – bri <3

      • marina greeff

        Linda I want to buy kefir for a new diet but I don’t have any idee what it looks like or what to look for where in the croceries store can you help me please?

        • Tersia Hibbard

          Hi Marina,
          Are you in South Africa? If yes, there are people who can give you the kefir ‘grains’. Have a look at some of the websites, and YouTube videos. That will give you a good idea of how the process works.
          I found some ‘grains’ from an elderly couple in Pretoria some years ago, but I have unfortunately not had the opportunity to make kefir for almost four years. My ‘grains’ have been frozen, so I don’t think they will be worth much now. Life has been very busy recently.
          I will start the kefir process early in 2012 again, so can let you know if I have success tracking down someone with a fresh supply of kefir grains.
          Best wishes,
          Tersia

          • Andree Tait

            Hi Tersia
            If your Kefir came to life, i am desperately looking for some MILK KEFIR grains for a cancer patient.
            0825589196

        • marietjie

          Hi Marina – where in South Africa are you? I have kefir grains – you need a tiny bit to start with as they grow – well RAPIDLY!!

          • Shelagh

            Hi Marietjie I saw your kind offer and would love to buy some kefir grains from you. I live in Sandton, Gauteng and have tried a few places but they only sell the ready made kefir.
            Best regards
            Shelagh

          • Andree Tait

            Hi Marietjie
            I am in Johannesburg/Centurion.
            I need MILK KEFIR grains desperately for my brother-in-law.
            He has oesophagus cancer and Dr recommended Milk Kefir
            If you got some i will be very grateful
            0825589196

    • Brian A. Morin

      Kefir is good for you yes, but if you have been going along in life, with little frenziedly flora in your gut all these years, what happens is, the kefir wants to replace the missing flora, and at the same time it has a cleansing effect. If you slow down your consumption a bit, till your system can catch up, you will probably have some major cleansing (elimination of toxins in the form of waste material).

      You might also want to drink as much fresh clean water, per day, as you can.

      good luck
      - bri <3

    • Sue

      Hi Mel,

      I have been drinking 250ml of Kefir every morning (1st thing) for about 2 weeks now and I am feeling the same effects you are – bloated and constipated and i have also gained weight. What did you do?

      • Gloria

        I’ve been using kefir for a year now and am so pleased. A friend gave me a starter. Before using it, I have been hospitalized for abdominal blockages and divericulitis. This is the first year in four I have not had a major abdominal issue. I have IBS and have in the past had a lot of trouble with bloating and constipation. Since I started the kefir, bloating and constipation have become less of a problem for me. I don’t drink it by itself. I use it instead of milk with cereal. I also use it in recipes instead of buttermilk to make pancakes and muffins. One advantage in making pancakes or muffins is my husband gets some kefir without knowing it! : )
        Gloria

      • lisa

        Hi Mel.
        I have the same problem sometimes. But I drink two cups water right away it work very well after that. Some times I found the sour level in kefir that may cost conspitation. I had stomach bloating too, I just take kefir any way, Somehow it ‘s gone after few weeks.

    • Jeanne

      I was like that at first,too. It took about a month and now I am very regular. I guess my body got used to it . Make sure you drink alot of water as your main fluid intake.

      • Jeanne

        oops…met to respond to Sue…

  • Virginia Chase

    I’ve just begun drinking kefir, and i enjoy it very much. I bought the blueberry flavor and it’s great. Is there any danger in gaining weight from it if consumed even moderately? And does it still have the value if buying from the grocery store? Thanks for your comment, Virginia

    • Brian A. Morin

      If you are using a commercial kefir, you would have to look at the nutritional values to be able to determine how pure your kefir is. If there is added sugar, flavouring, and who knows what, this will have to be taken into consideration. Otherwise you can easily get plain kefir, and add blueberry jelly or jam, to flavour it. Just choose a good, healthy jam. I would use natural juice sweetened jam.

      good luck and have fun
      - bri <3

  • Adriana

    Hola… quiero saber si el Kefir y los bacilos búlgaros son lo mismo o cual es la diferencia, también en Bogotà donde los puedo conseguir.
    Gracias

    • Brian A. Morin

      Kefir Bulgarous is the kefir mushroom, yes! – bri <3

      ¡El kéfir Bulgarous es la seta del kéfir, sí! – bri <3

  • Martinigirl

    LAURA.
    Have you tested for Candida/Yeast infection? Your symptoms sound like that may be a possibility.
    If that is the case and you jump on it now you will for certain start to feel better and i’ve been assured Kefir will help. That is why I am on this site trying to research the product.

  • Lydia

    Hello, I am 69 years old , just start to use Kefir, I do in the morning, and in the afternoon my body is very congested (diarrhoea) I would like to know it is normal ,because I suffer about Diversticulit for long time,
    waiting for you answer,
    Lydia

    • kenny

      Lydia, Hi I to have suffered from Diverticulitis, but for the last 18 years i have been free from that disease, for me the answer was live enzyme,s mainly from raw juice,and kefir, and enzyme supplements, like systemic enzymes have been a blessing for me, it may take up to 90 days but you will feel like a new person, full of energy,and life. God Bless.

      • Kelz

        Kenny, what do you mean by “raw juices”? Just curious. I am trying a new diet & all this is new to me?

  • Lydia

    I am 69 years old , just I have start with Kefir , I take one glass with honey in the morning, and in the afternoon I feel my body very congested ( diarrhoea), I would like to know it is normal . I Start with Kefir because I am suffer of Diberticulate for long time,.
    I will appreciate so much you answer,
    Thanks, Lydia