Have you been noticing kefir in the dairy aisle? Are you wondering exactly what it is and why it seems to be getting more popular? Read on to find out the answers to five common questions about kefir.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a cultured milk product, originally from the Caucasian Mountains. It is made by fermenting milk with yeast and a variety of bacteria. Kefir has many health benefits due to its high nutrient content (such as protein, vitamin D and calcium) as well as its probiotic properties.
What is the difference between kefir and yogurt?
Yogurt and kefir are both nutritious fermented milk products, but there are three main differences:
- Yogurt is cultured by adding bacteria to milk. Kefir is cultured by adding bacteria AND yeast to milk.
- Yogurt needs to be cultured at warm temperatures whereas kefir is cultured at room temperature.
- Kefir is typically thinner than yogurt, and can be consumed as a beverage, although both make great additions to a smoothie!
Can people with lactose intolerance drink kefir?
Both yogurt and kefir are usually well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance because both contain live cultures that help to break down the milk sugar (lactose).
Where can I get kefir?
Kefir is available in the dairy section of the grocery store. You can also make your own. Kefir starter kits or kefir grains are available in many specialty food stores and all it takes is BC milk, the starter or grains, a container, and space on your counter! We also have a recipe, so you can make your own kefir at home.
How can I use kefir?
It can be drunk on its own as a beverage, added to smoothies, poured over cereal or used in many ways that call for yogurt or milk. For a simple smoothie idea, blend together 3/4 cup of frozen fruit with 1 cup of kefir and enjoy!
To find out more about the different dairy products you can find in BC, check out the Dairy Dictionary: http://bcdairy.ca/milk/articles/dairy-dictionary/.
by Nicole Spencer, MEd, RD