The Source Is Everything
We always say, “The source is everything.” This means that unless the source of a product is premier quality, the benefits of taking the product may be very poor. And this definitely applies to kefir and yogurt. All kefir and yogurts are not created equal. In fact, the quality of yogurt (even organic) in the U.S. is typically very poor because the final product has been pasteurized which kills the beneficial bacteria, thus negating its health promoting benefits.
Bio-available Minerals for Strong Teeth and Bones
We have long observed that societies that eat cultured milk products, including even those from the poor classes, commonly have few or NO dental cavities. On trips to third-world countries, you may have noticed the beautiful, exceptionally white, strong teeth of many poor people. We believe one reason for the excellent dental health of many foreign countries is their daily consumption of fermented milk products such as kefir. Kefir contains a complex culture of many healthy, hearty bacterial strains, passed down from family to family for centuries.
A Kefir A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Unlike Americans, many traditional cultures eat homemade kefir or yogurt every morning, made the night before from fresh, whole, nontoxic cow’s milk. Culturing fresh milk into kefir makes the inherent nutritional factors in the milk, such as vitamins and minerals, extremely bio-available so your body can easily absorb and digest them. In addition, kefir provides super healthy, valuable bacteria strains to promote healthy bowel function and digestion, and to help ward off pathogenic disease organisms. A healthy colon is the cornerstone of a healthy body.
Culturing your own milk with premier quality kefir bacteria provides a wonderful, healthy, easy-to-digest food, for little tots up to great-grandpa. It’s extremely easy to make and tastes delicious. Enjoy eating a bowl of homemade kefir every morning. You can eat it as is or use it as a creamy base for kefir-based salad dressings, sauces, part of your morning health shake or experiment with making kefir ice cream.
How to Make Kefir
The best milk to use is organic whole milk (that comes with the cream on top) from cows never injected with synthetic hormones. In the evening, pour the whole milk into a saucepan (for example, use 1 or 2 quarts of milk per person). If desired, skim the cream off first. Gently heat the milk until it comes to a boil, stirring the milk every few minutes so it does not stick to the pan and burn. Then turn off the heat and let the milk cool until it is still fairly warm but not too hot to hold your finger in the milk. Heating the milk to a boil kills any undesirable bacteria which may compete against and inhibit the growth of the healthy kefir bacteria.
Next, stir in 2 tablespoons or more of kefir culture into the warm milk. Immediately pour the milk with the added culture into a large glass bowl, cover, then wrap the entire bowl, with 2 large towels to keep it warm. Place one towel under the bowl and cover over the top. Place the second towel on top and wrap the bowl from the top down. Keep it out of drafty, cool places. By morning (about 6 to 8 hours later), you’ll have delicious kefir. The milk has been converted into kefir when it has become thickened. This hearty kefir strain can culture very fast (within a few hours if kept fairly warm).
If the milk does not thicken into kefir or the kefir turns out too watery; you may have to trouble-shoot to find out why:
- the milk may have gotten too cool during the night (you may need more towels to cover it or a warmer place),
- the milk may have cooled down too much before you added the culture,
- you may have not put enough starter kefir in the milk (we usually use 1 to 2 tablespoons of the culture per quart of milk),
- your starter may have been too old and no longer active (the kefir culture is usually good for 7 to 10 days, sometimes longer),
- you may have accidentally heated the milk together with the culture to a boil, which kills the culture, or
- everything may be fine except that you may need to let the milk culture longer to be a firmer yogurt (12 to 24 hours).
Once the kefir is made, if desired, you can spoon the kefir into a strainer perched over a pan for 10 to 15 minutes to drain off the watery liquid (called whey). But don’t throw this enzyme-rich whey away. Use it to water your garden. Draining off the watery whey makes the kefir thicker, but it is not required. Some people prefer a thinner kefir. But don’t eat all the kefir: save a couple of tablespoons to start your kefir for the next batch. We make a big batch of kefir twice a week, saving the kefir in a glass container in the refrigerator. We then have a nice bowl of kefir every morning. The kefir will last usually for 7 to 10 days. To save the culture for longer periods of time, put a small amount of the kefir in a glass jar and freeze it.
Finding the Best Milk
Fresh, whole milk from organically fed cows is the best milk. Good quality milk has a fresh, sweet, full-bodied taste. It is available only from healthy cows that are allowed to free-graze on fresh grass in clean, fresh air. Only organic, non-genetically engineered feeds should be given. The cows should be treated with kindness and respect. If possible, the fresh milk should come to you from the farmer in nontoxic containers, with no middlemen to process it or add synthetic hormones or vitamins.
The richest milk comes from Jersey and Guernsey cows. These breeds are world renowned for the quality of their milk, which contains higher concentrations of proteins, solids, and butterfat than other breeds. Commercial milk (sold in supermarkets) comes mostly from Holsteins which produce larger quantities of more watery milk.
Store-Bought Milk: Hazardous To Your Health
Commercial milk is usually pasteurized (flash-heated at high temperatures), homogenized (processed so the cream won’t rise to the top), adulterated with synthetic vitamins, and usually contains antibiotic residues, growth hormones or other chemicals. The genetically engineered growth hormone, rBST, is now given to over 70% of commercial cows. Consuming milk from rBST cows has been shown to disrupt normal digestion and cause cancer in laboratory animals. According to Robert Cohen, rBST has not been thoroughly tested and presents a grave risk to humans.1 This risk includes cheese made from rBST milk.
Commercial milk is usually “standardized,” a process used by the major producers where milk is separated into its constituent solids and fat, partially dehydrated, then mixed back together to form a product that conforms to the minimum legal limits for milk. In contrast, the best source of milk comes directly from organic cows, without any intermediate processing of any nature.
Certain dairies attempt to provide organic milk, but if cows are kept in polluted, smoggy areas near big cities such as Los Angeles, drinking poor quality water, and eating commercial feeds, the quality of the milk is bound to suffer. We recommend milk only from “happy” cows raised without toxic chemicals in a clean, nontoxic environment (outside smoggy cities).
Commercial Yogurt: Dead and Toxic
Since commercial milk (with its antibiotic residues, synthetic hormones and other chemicals) is used to make commercial yogurt, its toxic contaminants end up in the yogurt.
Secondly, most commercial yogurt manufacturers pasteurize their product after the culturing process, which kills all the friendly bacteria, if any have even been used in the first place. Pasteurization allows the product to have a longer shelf life — but the yogurt has little therapeutic value since all the beneficial healthy bacteria are dead!2
You may be as surprised as we were to find that many commercial yogurt producers use pima, an organism which produces slime, to make their yogurt. But why would anyone want to use a slime culture, which has no known health benefits, to make yogurt? The answer is because it’s cheap.
In commercial yogurt production, there is a normal separation process of the yogurt called “watering off.” To avoid this watery separation, the yogurt producers usually add milk solids (from commercial milk) or bean gums to “thicken” their yogurt. But it’s far cheaper to use the slime-producer, pima, to make the yogurt look creamy.2 In the U.S., this unnatural mixture is allowed to be sold as “yogurt.” No thanks!
1 Cohen, Robert, Milk, The Deadly Poison, Argus Pub: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1998.
2 Chaitow, L. and Trenev, N. Probiotics: How to use friendly bacteria, Thorsons, London, 1990.