*Please note this post was originally published in February 2008

Ok this is my third entry about kefir but I am getting a number of people wanting more info on the subject.  I’m also including a recipe I use to make kefir bread. (apologies to my friends on MSE as I’ve posted the picture on there too so they will be seeing it yet again lol)

Kefir is a living clump of bacteria and yeast (among other things) that live together happily in one white clump, commonly known as a kefir grain or grains.  It is thought that the grains were a gift from Mohammed to the people of the Caucasus mountains and they must not share them with others or the grains would lose their ‘magical healing powers’

Here is a list of bacterias/yeasts found in Kefir.  I have used the list from Doms (the kefir god) website.

LACTOBACILLUS
L. casei – Homo-fermentative [responsible for 90% of lactate synthesis]
L. paracasei – Homo-fermentative
L. acidophilis – Homo-fermentative
L. hilgardi -Hetero-fermentative [responsible for 50% of lactate synthesis]
L. delbruechkii subsp. bulgaricus – Homo-fermentative
L. kefiranofaciens – Produce Kefiran, internaly within the matrix
L. kefyri – Synthesizes kefiran superficially [possibly controlls microflora]
L. desidiosus – Heterofermentative [ferments L-arabinose and gluconate]
L. brevis [Synthesizes polysaccharide]
L. cellobiosus
L. casei subsp. rhamnosus
L. casei subsp. alactosus
L. helveticus subsp. lactis
L. delbruekii subsp. lactis
L. lactis
L. fructivorans
L. parakefir
L. paracasei subsp. paracasei
L. plantarum

LACTOCOCCUS
Lc. lactis subsp. lactis [primarilly utilize lactose]
Lc. lactis subsp. biacetylactis
Lc. lactis subsp. creomoris

LEUCONOSTOC
Leuc. citrovorum
Leuc. cremoris
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. dextrancicum
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp cremoris
Leuc. lactis

STREPTOCOCCUS
Strep. salivarius subsp. thermophilus [primarilly utilize lactose]
Strep. lactis
Strep. lactis subsp. diacetylactis [Synthesizes diacetyl]

ACETOBACTER
Acetobacter aceti [synthesize acetic acid from ethonol in the pressence of oxygen]
Acetobacter racens

YEASTS

KLUYVEROMYCES
Kluyv. lactis
Kluyv. marxianus subsp. marxianus
Kluyv. bulgaricus
Kluyv. fragilis

CANDIDA
Candida kefir
Candida pseudotropicalis

As you can see, there’s quite a lot more in there than your usual probiotic! I have heard people with ‘yeast’ type problems such as thrush being worried about trying kefir.  From what I’ve read it can benefit these people because the yeasts in kefir will help bring back a good and healthy mix of yeasts in the body and balance out the system.

People who are intolerant of milk may also find it possible to drink kefir as the bacteria in the grains eat the lactose that is in the milk and turn it into a readily accepted and easily digested nourishing food for the gut.

Take a look at Doms page for everything you ever need to know about kefir……  http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html#welcome

Kefir bread recipe:
250g Freshly milled wheat
(or the same amount of wholemeal flour if you don’t mill your own)
300g Strong white bread flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 small tsp salt
20ml butter or olive oil
200ml kefir milk
120ml water (I use potato water)