Kefir is a truly amazing drink with tart and refreshing flavor. It tastes a lot like yogurt, but it has more healthy yeast and probiotic bacteria.
This fermented drink is the secret of longevity of people living in Caucasus Mountains of Russia. The name comes from the Turkish word “Keif,” which means “good feeling,” and that is exactly how it affects your life – it helps our overall well-being.
Today, we know about two different types of kefir –milk kefir and water kefir. Although, they both have some amazing health effects, the taste and the structure of the grains is quite different. Creamy milk kefir grains look a lot like cauliflower florets and they are used to ferment milk and other dairy products. Unlike them, water kefir is made from small grains that look a lot like crystals. These grains ferment only sweetened water. The kefir I am going to talk about today is milk kefir.
Cauliflower-like kefir grains are a living culture, which grows every day when treated properly. More than 30 microorganisms that create this unique symbiosis can easily double in size within just a couple of days. This is an endless process, and you will never have to worry about getting some new grains for your kefir.
The history of kefir
This amazing drink has an amazing story as well. The “Grains of the Prophet” is what some people call it. They were jealously guarded for centuries in the Caucasus region. The legend says that these grains came from the prophet Mohammed himself. He gave the grains to the Orthodox people and taught them about the miracles of kefir. These people accepted the gift and regarded it as part of the tribe’s treasure. They continued the tradition of making the kefir drink from generation to generation and were quite possessive with it. They didn’t want to share their sacred grains with the rest of the world. However, they couldn’t stop the spread of the stories about the miraculous drink that kept them alive and healthy for 120-150 years. Even Marco Polo mentioned this magical drink in his chronicles. The stories spread, but the people weren’t very interested in kefir until they learned about its powerful effect in treating tuberculosis and some intestinal diseases.
It began in Russia, where these weird stories were converted into pure science. The first scientific study about this beverage was published at the end of 19th century. Russian doctors were determined to obtain the secret of this miraculous beverage, which seemed to have some amazing effects on health. However, that was not an easy task. The locals didn’t want to share their grains, which made the commercial production impossible. Desperate in their wish to take the grains from the locals, Russian doctors contacted two brothers called Blandov. The Blandovs were the owners of Moscow Diary and had a lot of holdings in the Caucasus region. One of the brothers, Nikolai Blandov, decided to help with this mission. He sent a young and beautiful girl named Irina Sakharova to get the grains from a local prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov. Although fascinated with her beauty, the prince refused to give the sacred grains. Disappointed Irina and her party departed home.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Prince Mirza was in love with beautiful Irina and didn’t want to let her go. Irina was stopped on her way back by locals who took her back to the prince. She was told that she was to marry Prince Mirza according to local traditions. It was a daring rescue mission that prevented this forced marriage. The prince was taken to the Tsar, who ruled that the prince must give ten pounds of kefir grains to Irina in order to recompense the insult. Irina succeeded in her mission after all – kefir was finally discovered and shared with the rest of the world.