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What Is Kefir?

What Is Kefir?

Kefir is a drink made of fermented cow, goat, or sheep milk that has been inoculated with kefir “grains,” which are cauliflower-shaped clumps of lactobacillales (lactic acid bacteria) and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. Like yogurt, kefir has many health benefits; in fact, the word kefir comes from the Turkish word keyif, which means “feeling good.” Kefir was originally consumed by the nomadic shepherding tribes of the northern Caucasus Mountains in Eurasia, so you’ll find a lot of it in countries like Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey, and Poland.

“Kefir replenishes beneficial intestinal bacteria,” writes nutritionist Linda Page, “which balances stomach pH.” According to Page, kefir is protein-rich and full of biotin, B (especially B-12) vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and the amino acid tryptophan, which helps soothe nerves. Kefir is also loaded with probiotics — the good-for-you type of bacteria. Probiotics' benefits range from increasing intestinal flora, which helps with digestion, to synthesizing B vitamins, reducing harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, and even lessening the effects of some food allergies.

In fact, according to Page, kefir might be even healthier than yogurt, as it contains twice the amount of “friendly” bacteria. Nowadays, kefir comes in many flavors, with different brands pushing flavors like blueberry, pomegranate, and coconut chia. The healthiest is probably the plain variety, as it has no added sugars that might cancel out kefir’s other health benefits. You can even use kefir for a healthy spin on guacamole, and if you're trying to save money, make kefir at home.


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo


A complete guide to kefir

Kefir is a white to cream-coloured milk drink with a slightly fizzy, viscous consistency a distinct sour smell and a tart, creamy taste similar to liquid yogurt or buttermilk. It&rsquos made from grains that are formed by both bacteria and yeast existing together in their own ecosystem known as scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

Most commercial kefirs are made from cows&rsquo milk, but goat, ewe, sheep or buffalo milk can be substituted. Whole, pasteurised milk is the most common, but traditionally raw milk was used.

marmi1/Shutterstock

Kefir is most commonly consumed as a refreshing drink (plain or flavoured) and is also available in the forms of yogurt and soft cheese.

British-Polish food writer Ren Behan, author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, says: &ldquoI&rsquom a big fan of kefir. My grandmother used to drink it (it was one of her favourite drinks) and so it makes me giggle that it&rsquos become a trend food. It forms a large part of the dairy offering in Polish cuisine, particularly as we enjoy sharp and sour tastes.&rdquo