TRADITIONAL KEFIR of CAUCASUS

Probiotic [Pro= for, Biotic= life] = Life-promoting or For-life as opposed to Antibiotic [Anti= against, Biotic= life]= Against-life. Probiotic refers to live microorganisms [or their byproducts addendum Dom], which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. FAO/WHO report, October 2001

Dom’s About Kefir Grains and Kefir

Dom and Sandra are wonderful human beings posted all this amazing information on their website. I want to give full credit to both of them for all this amazing information regarding this wonderful healing Life-Promoting fermented food specifically Milk Kefir Grains.

For more info please visit their website here is their website links for your perusal users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

Once again I want to thank you both for this wonderful info and give credit where its due!

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–

Fat 4.4%.
Ash 12.1%.
Muco-polysaccharides 45.7%.
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.

Encapsulated curved chains of organisms of milk kefir grainsAmorphous 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]

Click photo for enlarged view

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 in the photo.

TRADITIONAL KEFIR of CAUCASUS

goatskin bagTraditionally 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.

Click on picture for an enlarged view
kefirmaturing in crock and in cupFar 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 bioflavonoids, 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 unfavorable elements from the glaze or terra cotta of questionable quality into the ripening kefir. If you would like more information about how to use beeswax to line and protect your ferments, then please go to my beeswax web page.

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.