When I traveled through Europe last year I was lucky enough to be able to get Kefir quite easily in countries such as Sweden, Finland, Poland and Hungary, I kind of got hooked on it.
But What Exactly is Kefir?
Kefir translates to ‘good feeling’, it's been used for centuries around the world to aid in a variety of conditions.
Kefir is a fermented beverage which uses kefir ‘grains’ which are highly beneficial organisms of bacteria that promote good digestion, gut health, immunity, and even enhance the brain and mood. Traditionally kefir is made with dairy milk since the sugars in milk (lactose) feed the good bacteria needed for growth. However, since it’s very hard to get high quality raw dairy + a lot of people don't tolerate dairy well or have allergies to it. This is why I recommend consuming coconut kefir instead.
Coconut kefir can be made 2 ways
# 1. Using coconut water, as it has natural sugars that happen to feed kefir grains just as much as lactose does = Coconut Water Kefir
# 2. Using coconut cream or milk, which also has naturally occurring sugars in it = Coconut Yoghurt
How is Coconut Kefir Special?
Coconut as a whole food promotes a healthy immune system, contains anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-septic and anti-candida properties, and has been shown to boost liver and brain health. When the water or milk from coconut is cultured with beneficial bacteria to make coconut kefir, the benefits SKYROCKET. Coconut kefir contains more beneficial bacterial strains and organisms than dairy-based kefir, or any kind of store bought coconut or cows yoghurt. Additionally, store bought yoghurts don’t colonise good bacteria in the digestive system, but coconut kefir does.
There are many benefits of consuming Kefir; it’s been shown to help;
- Cleanse the body
- Enhance digestion of all foods
- Boost immunity
- Promote a better mood
- Balance hormones
- Increase energy
- Eliminate Candida
- Deter sugar cravings
- Fights allergies
- Supports detoxification
- Aids in the healing of certain gut issues (such as Irritable bowel disease, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea etc)
- Fights infection due to its antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties
- Kefir also contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and a variety of beneficial probiotics
How to Get Your Hands on This Magical Elixir
You can buy coconut kefir at any health food store and it can be found in the section with the probiotics and will be refrigerated. However, it can be pricey and some brands also include sugar and other dubious ingredients in the product itself, so make sure your always read the ingredients.
Or, for those of you that are crafty in the kitchen or if you’re like me and love making everything yourself from scratch, you can make your own (no cow needed here!)
•All you need to do is purchase a starter cultures (I recommend Kultured Wellness brand only as I know it is pure and free of dubious excipients + has the most variety of beneficial bacterial strains = loads of gorgeous probiotics). When you're in the checkout cart type in 'JORDANPIE' to make sure you receive 10% off your cultures.
•After you have your culture starters, you can begin making your coconut water kefir and coconut yoghurt. There are two ways you can do this depending on the type you want.
Creamy Coconut Kefir (or Yoghurt) Instructions
Please note that you can either use 100% pure coconut cream or milk in a tinned version (I recommend the AYAM brand) or you can use fresh young organic coconuts.
To make your own creamy coconut kefir, follow these directions below:
Version 1 - Using Fresh Coconut
- 3-4 fresh young coconuts (the meat and the juice)
- 1-2 cups of filtered water
- 1x coconut yoghurt starter pack
1. Check the coconuts for any visible mould, if they are clean and fresh, perfect get ready to start!
2. This step is best done outside as it can get messy. Use a heavy, sharp, large kitchen knife to cut/ hack 4 lines making a square on the top of the coconut. You will need to use your strength and be very careful with aiming the knife only onto the top of the coconut where the lines are. After repeating the cutting and hacking on the cut square, eventually you will be able to pull the top of the coconut away.
3. Once you pull the top off, pour the coconut water over a fine mesh strainer and catch the beautiful coconut liquid in a glass bowl or jar.
4. Now you will see the coconut flesh, just use a small paring knife or a large spoon to cut or scoop the flesh out and pop it into another bowl. You can chop/ cut the coconuts in half using your strength yet being very careful with the knife. Cutting it in half is a little more effort, however it’s much easier to get the coconut flesh out of the coconut.
5. Repeat with the other coconuts and collect the flesh and coconut water.
6. Now get the coconut flesh and wash it under filtered water to remove any unwanted brown coconut fibres.
7. Remove any dark brown pieces using a small knife from the coconut flesh (It should peel away quite easily).
8. Add the flesh to a very good quality blender or use a thermomix.
9. If you want to make cream add 2 cups of filtered water and if you want to make coconut milk use up to 4-5 cups of water (depending on the consistency you prefer). Blitz together on high speed until it’s smooth, creamy and lump free. Scrape down the sides with a spatula in between blending if needed.
10. Now add the coconut yoghurt culture and blend until just combined.
11. Pour into very clean glass jars and close the lid tightly. Place the jars on a shelf in the pantry and allow it to culture for 2 days.
12. If the weather is cool, taste the yoghurt/ kefir and if it has a ‘zing’ or effervescent taste to it, it’s ready and pop it in the fridge. However, if you can’t taste that, then allow it to ferment for another day until ready.
Version 2 - Using Canned Coconut Cream (easiest method)
- 4-5 x 270ml Green AYAM coconut cream cans
- 1x coconut yoghurt starter pack
1. Add all ingredients to a quality blender or thermomix and blitz together until combined, creamy and lump free. Scrape down the sides with a spatula in between blending if needed.
2. Pour into a clean 2- 2.2L glass jar and close the lid tightly.
3. Pour into very clean glass jars and close the lid tightly. Place the jars on a shelf in the pantry and allow it to culture for 2 days. However, if you can’t taste that, then allow it to ferment for another day until ready.
Coconut Water Kefir
- 1.6 L of organic coconut water
- 1x coconut water kefir starter
1. Add all ingredients to a 2.2L clean glass jar and stir all the ingredients together with a spatula.
2. Close the lid tightly. Place the jar on a shelf in the pantry and allow it to culture for 2 days. However, if you can’t taste that, then allow it to ferment for another day until ready.
Please Note: if the weather is chilly the kefir can take a little longer to ferment (3-4 days) and you’re best off wrapping the jars in towels to keep the cultures warm. If you make kefir in summer, always taste them after 1 day as they will ferment very quickly and be sure to leave a bit more room to allow for expansion (I seem to get more of it in summer due to the heat so choose a larger jar when making it).
How to Use Coconut Kefir
You can use coconut water kefir or yoghurt in smoothies, panna cotta, to make fruit yoghurts, ice-cream, ice-blocks, add to chia puddings or raw goodies such as cheesecake. You can also try making dips, cashew cheese, guacamole, dollop the coconut yoghurt onto soups and curries. Or simply drink the coconut water kefir as a refreshing drink or choose to add in fruit and/ or veggie juice, fruit chunks or lemon juice and ice. Don’t add it to hot beverages like tea and coffee since high heat destroys the probiotics.
If you would like 4 really simple and easy recipes using these cultures and to get your kick started on your kefir adventures read my blog 'Improve Your Gut Health Through Fermented Foods'.