Smooth and creamy maple-sweetened kefir
We have been busy making and enjoying lots of kefir at our house! :) I first started making dairy kefir about 4 years ago. The boys were younger (ages 3 and 1) and I ended up consuming most of the kefir I was making myself. Before Ruth was born, I decided to take a break from making kefir. After moving from Ohio to Seattle 2 years ago, I kept intending to get more kefir grains. I finally did so this summer, and we have had a grand time making and drinking our kefir!
I bought my kefir grains from Brandy, a long-time reader here. I have been really super impressed with the quality of her kefir grains! From the very start, they have produced thick, creamy, YUMMY kefir! This kefir is better than any I have had before (though the grains do look like my previous ones). (NOTE: Sadly, Brandy is no longer selling kefir grains. I now recommend Cultures for Health as a source for purchasing real kefir grains!)
Ruth (2) had been asking for a glass of milk for snacks or at meals, and would love to drink several cups of milk each day. I didn't want her to drink that much plain milk, but I'm much more comfortable with her drinking a generous glass of kefir instead. Milk is an affordable food (usually $2/gallon at Costco), and with my own kefir grains I can serve fresh kefir for about $0.12 cents a cup!
Kefir grains, ready for fresh milk
The children all love kefir. For an extra-delicious treat, I stir in some maple syrup. The resulting kefir tastes similar to Trader Joe's Maple Cream Line yogurt (which costs about $3.70 for 32 ounces).
Milk kefir is easy to make, taking just a couple minutes' time, and no special warming, stirring, etc. When I ordered my kefir grains, Brandy sent about enough to make a cup of kefir each day. The grains have quickly multiplied and I'm now making 2-quart batches! :)
We use our kefir for smoothies or drinking (instead of milk). I sometimes blend a banana with some kefir for a morning drink, and the kids like kefir with strawberry jam stirred into it. :) Brandy suggests making a "smoothie base" where you blend some fruit and store in the fridge to mix with kefir for a quick smoothie throughout the week. Really, fruit-flavored kefir tastes like a drinkable yogurt, and my kids love getting to use straws (we buy straws at Costco for about a penny each). :)
So anyway, aside from this being a simple "I love kefir!" kind of post, this is one of the ways I've been combining frugality, health, and simplicity in the kitchen. Having affordable but nutritious snacks and breakfasts is crucial for a modest food budget (something I'm constantly striving for but still don't feel I've accomplished!), and homemade kefir has been a step in that direction. :)
I get many requests for kefir grains, and had been directing you to a friend who sold live milk kefir grains. Unfortunately, she is no longer selling kefir grains. I decided to try to find another reputable source for kefir grains (NOT "starter") and just signed up as an affiliate with Cultures for Health.
Cultures for Health sells dried milk kefir grains, which they culture and dehydrate themselves. The grains are shipped in organic milk powder and will rehydrate within 5-7 days and then will continue to grow and make kefir.
While I think the ideal source of kefir grains is live, fresh grains (preferably given as a gift from a friend!), Cultures for Health is a good company and I feel confident directing you to them. I wish kefir grains weren't so expensive to get started -- but remember, once you have them they will grow, and you can bless your friends and family by giving away your extras. :)