For those of you that don’t have diary products in your diet here is an alternative why of making kefir using non dairy milks. There will still be all the benefits that fermentation brings but without the diary foods.
Benefits of the probiotics in kefir
Boosts the immune system (Produces it’s own antibiotics)
Eliminates “bad” bacteria
Re balances intestinal flora and stomach acid
Promotes blood circulation and normalises blood pressure levels
Helps fight cancer
Heals IBS and other intestinal issues
Strong anti-inflammatory properties
Reduces anxiety and depression
Before making non dairy kefir, it is probably helpful to understand the differences between dairy milk and non dairy (ie soy, coconut milk and nut milks) and how that impacts on the kefir grains, bearing in mind the grains are living organisms.
Dairy milk is packed with protein, fat (if it is not skimmed), and sugars called lactose. Cultures like the ones found in kefir grains feed on the sugar in the milk in order to proliferate the bacteria and produce organic acids and yeasts. It is those sugars that fuels the fermentation.
Once you have obtained your kefir grains (Happy Kombucha is a good place to purchase them - link below) they will need to be feed to settle them down and so that they will be healthy. It is suggested that the grains sit in organic whole cow’s milk for 24 hour. Then put the milk through a sieve to retrieve the grain and repeat this sequence twice more with fresh milk. This will ensure the grains are well fed before starting to brew your non dairy drink.
Now you can start fermenting you desired drink. If possible use organic unsweetened milks like coconut, almond, or soy. Each will have its own distinct texture and flavour.
Use 1 teaspoon of kefir grains to ¼ pint (250ml) of liquid. The grains can be rinsed with filter water if desired to remove any traces of milk. Place in a jar and cover with your choice of alternative milk and leave in a warm place out of direct sunlight for 24 hours. The time will depend on the warmth of your room, but 24 hours is the ideal time it takes to ferment. If the room is cool it will take longer, if it is quite warm then it will ferment faster.
The drink will become slightly effervescent when fermented. You may fine it separates more quickly into curds and whey, but don’t panic – just give it a gentle shake to blend it. Non diary kefir is usually not as thick as kefir made with cow’s milk but still a refreshing drink packed with probiotics. If you want a thicker kefir (more like cream) try using coconut cream.
To keep the grains alive and healthy they will need to sit in cow’s milk for 24 hours either every other brew or perhaps after 2 brews. This is to keep them fed on the lactose from the cow’s milk. Without feeding your grains with milk they will perish and die. If you want to take a break from brew leave the grains in cows milk in the fridge and change the milk every few days.
As a drink on its own
Flavoured with fruit and made into a shake
On deserts (sweetened with a little honey)
Use in almost any recipe calling for yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk.
Link to Happy Kombucha
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