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Funny looking word, I know.  I think it’s properly pronounced as “kuh-FEER”, but some people say “KEE-fur”, like Keifer Sutherland, I guess.

However you pronounce it, the stuff is strange.  Fermented milk.

Since the invention of refrigerators and cooking, we don’t tend to ferment a lot of our food.  I come from a Ukrainian heritage, so the only fermented food I was ever familiar with was sauerkraut, and I didn’t like it.

A friend of mine had some extra “grains” (not really grains at all, but a bacterial culture that resembles small pieces of cauliflower), so I decided to give it a shot.  I’ve been making and eating my own yogurt for months, and I’m pretty sure it’s what kept me healthy all winter when everyone else was down with the plague this year.  Kefir is supposed to a powerhouse of probiotics and good stuff for your gut.  So why not try it?

It’s very easy to make.  You put the grains in a jar, and add a couple cups of milk.  It releases gas as it ferments, so cover it with a tea towel or a coffee filter – something that will keep fruit flies and other nasty things out, but let the gas escape.  Leave it on the counter for 24 – 48 hours.  The longer you leave it, the thicker and more sour tasting it becomes. Then strain it through a plastic strainer, reserving the grains, and start the whole process over again.

It’s not pleasant, at least, not to me.  You are drinking sour, carbonated milk, which tastes about as good as it sounds.  But, if I stick it in the Magic Bullet with two frozen bananas, it actually makes a fantastic smoothie.  So I get a shot of probiotic-filled kefir, and two servings of fruit.  Win-win situation, I think.

Making KefirAnyone else tried this stuff?  Do you have any good recipes to share?  I hear it makes great pancakes, too.