What In the World is Kefir?
By Brenda Lynn
Kefir originated in the Caucasus Mountains more than 2,000 years ago before refrigerators, and was considered a gift from God. It was one of the ways people could keep milk before it quickly went bad. As a matter of fact, no one has been able to find an expiration date for kefir. Traditionally, Kefir was made by mixing kefir grains with fresh raw cow’s or goat’s milk which was then left in goatskin leather bags to ferment. It was customary to leave the bag outside the door and let anyone entering kick or shake the bag. This assisted the culture process. Kefir has been passed down for many generations.
It's like a curds and whey liquid yogurt with a bit of fizz. It's been described as "champagne liquid yogurt." The culturing process is similar to yogurt, however it’s made with grains which are removed after the culturing process. It has a lot more beneficial bacteria than yogurt, plus good yeasts. The yeasts naturally make kefir lightly carbonated. It’s usually made with cow’s milk, however, it can be made with any milk (goat’s almond, rice, hemp, coconut, etc.) as long as it is pure milk and there is NOTHING added. You can also make kefir water and coconut water kefir. Cow’s milk kefir creates the most complete beneficial bacteria and yeast. The taste of kefir is a lot lighter and more sour than yogurt. However, I’ve found that kefir sweetens much easier than yogurt. A little honey or fruit goes a long way.
Kefir is my absolute favorite source of probiotics, friendly bacteria, and friendly yeast strains.
Not all things labeled “kefir” are actually kefir…
Studios for Wholeness makes only REAL kefir with “grains.” Kefir grains are made up of good bacteria and yeast. According to Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin, kefir grains are the combinations of yeast and bacteria living on a substrate made up of a variety of dairy components. These live kefir grains look a bit like little tiny cauliflower but can also come in many different shapes. Despite the name, kefir grains are not actually a grain like wheat or rice. They have a rubbery gelatin like texture. They cannot be made or manufactured. No other milk culture forms milk kefir grains. This is because lactose is what the kefir grains eat. Water kefir grains eat sugar and minerals.
The bacteria in kefir are very strong… so strong that antibiotics won’t kill some of them. There are a whopping 36 – 56 different types of friendly bacteria in kefir (properly made from grains). Yogurt has 7 strains. The bacteria in kefir are right turning, which means colonies of them reside in the digestive tract and totally dominate and grow in the body through the gut, eliminating pathogens, any bad bacteria, and parasites. The bacteria in Yogurt is left turning, which means it’s a food to bacteria and lasts only 24 hours, then it is eliminated. Because of the high bacterial count, kefir is only 1% sugar compared to yogurt at 4% sugar. With each kefir smoothie, I imagine that the troops are going in!
I have had countless conversations with people wanting Studios for Wholeness to process more kefir, package it up, and get it out to grocery stores like other big commercial “kefir” companies do. However, the difficulty is in packaging. The yeast and bacteria in kefir continue to grow even after the grains are removed and it isn’t even processing anymore (even in the refrigerator). This causes the milk jugs we put it in to blow up from the gasses and carbonation caused by the wonderful yeast. (For me, the more distorted the carton, the better the kefir!) Real kefir stored in milk jugs needs to be “burped” by opening the top and letting the gasses escape. If we’re storing it in glass jars, the lids have to be loose to allow the gasses to escape. Since grocery store products need to be sealed to meet regulations, it not possible to package kefir and keep it integral. Grocery stores would have exploding kefir jugs!
So, I wondered how the big commercial "kefir" companies managed this problem… and into my research I went. What I found is, their kefir is made with an unsustainable powder that doesn’t contain all the bacteria and absolutely no yeast. They also put flavors, additives, and processed sugars in their “kefir.” I wouldn’t call that kefir at all. As a matter-of-fact, those additives and sugars can destroy the good bacteria in a short (shelf life) amount of time. It may start out a somewhat helpful probiotic product only lacking more than half what real kefir does, but by the time it is in your grocer’s refrigerator, it becomes just another trendy drink which cannot sustain the goodness it started with. Not much different than what’s happened with commercial yogurt.
Traditional kefir is a very unique superfood which is highly sustainable. When we process kefir regularly, the grains double in size and amount within 14 days, which also means double the kefir every 14 days. Grain management has certainly become part of our life at Studios for Wholeness. I love them… every single billion of them! Do not be fooled by the mass produced stuff at the grocery store.
Studios for Wholeness will only fill our customer’s vessel to order when it comes to plain kefir. We serve fresh kefir smoothies with other superfoods to drink right away with fresh ingredients, so there is no degradation and every ingredient remains integral. No mass producing. No investors that demand efficiency and fast quantity over quality, EVER. Organic whole milk and grains ONLY, the way traditional kefir is supposed to be: an authentic superfood.
What EXACTLY are all these amazing things in kefir?
The health benefits of kefir are amazing!
vitamin B1 (thiamine),
vitamin B2 (riboflavin),
vitamin B3 (niacin),
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine),
vitamin B9 (folic acid),
vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin),
vitamin D, and
Essential amino acids:
Friendly bacteria found in both kefir grains and kefir:
Lb. brevis [Possibly now Lb. kefiri]
Lb. casei subsp. casei
Lb. casei subsp. rhamnosus
Lb. paracasei subsp. paracasei
Lb. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
Lb. delbrueckii subsp. lactis
Lb. helveticus subsp. lactis
Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum
Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefiranofaciens
St. paracitrovorus ^
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
Lc. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis
Lc. lactis subsp. cremoris
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
Leuc. dextranicum ^
Dekkera anomala t/ Brettanomyces anomalus a
Kluyveromyces marxianus t/ Candida kefyr a#
Pichia fermentans t/ C. firmetaria a
Yarrowia lipolytica t/ C. lipolytica a
Debaryomyces hansenii t/ C. famata a#
Deb. [Schwanniomyces] occidentalis
Issatchenkia orientalis t/ C. krusei a
Galactomyces geotrichum t/ Geotrichum candidum a
Kluyveromyces lactis var. lactis #
Saccharomyces cerevisiae #
Sacc. subsp. torulopsis holmii
Sacc. turicensis sp. nov
Torulaspora delbrueckii t
t Teleomorph. Sexual reproductive stage. Yeast form pseudo-mycelium as in Flowers of Kefir.
a Anamorph. Asexual reproductive stage. Reproduce by budding or forming spores or cell
# Can utilize lactose or lactate.
^ Aroma forming.
subsp. Sub specie type.
sp. Specie type.
sp. nov. New strain or new specie strain type.
biovar. Biological variation strain type.
var. Variety type.
Units Count of Microbes in Gram Stained Kefir Grains
Bacilli [single cells, pair, chains]
Streptococci [pair, chains]
Yeast [single cells]
The Means Range
Bacilli 66, 62-69%
Streptococci 16, 11- 12%
Yeast 18, 16- 20% 
Evolution Sequence among Genus Groups during Kefir Culture Cycle
Lactococci > Lactobacilli > Leuconostoc > Yeast > Acetobacter
Microbial Composition of Kefir at End of Fermentation [colony forming units/ml] **
Lactococci : 1,000,000,000
Leuconostocs : 100,000,000
Lactobacilli : 5,000,000
Yeast : 1,000,000
Acetobacter : 100,000
Drink up! Cheers! To your heath!
!!Now serving "NUT" (coconut milk) and "VIDA" (water) kefir!!
The FDA has not approved the contents of this page to cure any medical condition. This information is presented for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before beginning any remedy.
Studios for Wholeness, llc
Of SW Florida
Delicious Green Goddess kefir smoothie loaded with goodness!
All Organic and raw. Yummy!
Cultured to absolute perfection!
Grains and Milk. Nothing more, nothing Less.