What are Milk Kefir Grains? - A Bountiful Love

What are Milk Kefir Grains?

 Kefir grains are always compared to cauliflower florets because of its flowery appearance but it is soft to touch, clumped together, and slightly translucent. It is a natural antibiotic as it contains strains of beneficial yeast and beneficial bacteria in a symbiotic relationship. I make my kefir milk using the kefir grains. Kefir milk similar to yogurt, it is usually more tart but refreshing! It is good for our gut, natural medicine for the digestive system, and immune system. It rebalances and stimulates our gut flora.

  Kefir grains have a complex microbiological composition in a pattern of polysaccharides and proteins. It consists of a mixture of lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc), yeasts (Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc), and acetic acid bacteria (Acetobacter) (Singh, P.,2017). Singh, also mentioned that kefir grains cannot be made from scratch and can only grow from pre-existing grains (2017). These grains that grow from pre-existing grains are produced through the process of fermentation and continuous feeding of milk. 

So where did it came from?

   The history of kefir grains is very interesting to me because of the several stories or we can call it the mystery behind it. Scholarly articles suggest that kefir grains are originally from Russia specifically the northern area of the Caucasus Mountains, in North Ossetia. Ossettian's uses leather bags to ferment their milk with kefir grains. Some stories suggest that the kefir grains came from the Prophet Mohammed. It is said that the Prophet gifted the grains to the orthodox Christians in the region and taught them how to make the kefir milk. Kefir grains are also known as the "Grains of the Prophet, are considered as wealth. Aide from its health-promoting benefits, the people from the Caucasus region believed that it is forbidden to share the process of making the kefir milk as they were told that its power will be diminished once the secret to making kefir is shared.

 Luckily for us, the process of making Kefir was shared during the early 1900. But was it willingly shared or tricked into sharing?

  Dr. Ilya Ilyich Metchnikoff, a Russian immunologist grew an interest in learning about the longevity of the people in the Caucasus regions. Metchnikoff thought that the soured milk, milk kefir, was one of the keys to their exceptional; longevity and health. After the publication of Metchnikoff’s book (The Prolongation of Life ) in 1907, the All Russian Physicians’ Society became resolute to use milk kefir as a medicinal treatment for their patients.

  The All Russian Physicians’ Society asked the Blandov brothers to obtain kefir grains from the tribes in the Caucasus mountains. Rightfully so, the tribes refused to sell any kefir grains to the brothers. They came up with a  way, more like a scheme to obtain the kefir grains. The scheme was to send Irina Sakhariva, a beautiful woman to the Caucasus Prince Bek-Mirza Barchorov to allure him. Irina was able to win the prince's attention but he refused to give her any kefir grains. 

  Without the grains, Irina departed from the Prince. However, the tribesmen were sent to capture her and to force her to marry the Prince. The Blandov brothers rescued Irina the forced marriage happens. When Irina presented her grievance before the Czar, Prince Barcharov was then ordered to compensate Irina. She refused the gold and jewels offered to her. However, the only compensation that she can receive is the kefir grains.   Prince Barcharov was then ordered by the Czar to pay her 10 pounds of kefir grains!

Irina Sakhariva and Prince Bek-Mirza Barchorov.

   In 1908, the kefir grains were brought to Moscow dairy which was making small batches of kefir milk. These small quantities were consumed by numerous small towns for their medicinal qualities. The large production of Kefir milk started around 1938.

If we can not make it and no lab can produce it, how can we acquire it?

Kefir grains can not be made but we can multiply the grains and pass the culture on! According to Culture for Health, the specific polysaccharides, bacteria, and yeasts that make up milk kefir grains have been handed down from generation to generation. You can acquire kefir grains through friends that ferment their milk, you can purchase it too! 

Where to buy Kefir grains?

You can buy live Kefir grains online through the Facebook marketplace, Amazon, any farms that do cultured foods, or also Etsy. I do sell the live Kefir grains on Esty. Visit my store HERE.
Cultures for Health also sells kefir grains.

What are the ways that we can do to enjoy the health benefits of kefir grains? - by making kefir milk.

Are you ready to make your own milk kefir? Check this POST.

Tools you may need:

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