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Oat Kefir

Kefir is a traditional fermented food, from the Causcasus mountains. Kefir was originally made from milk, but you can make kefir without dairy products. Kefir has been made from coconut milk, rice milk, and soy milk. I got a kefir grain, and used it to make oat kefir. It's easy to make, and has an interesting flavor, sour and cheesy.

How to Make Oat Kefir

Get some oat groats. Put them in a blender, or food processor, or grain mill, or mortar & pestle. Dry grind the oat groats into oat flour. Put the oat flour into a glass jar or bottle, add water, mix until you get oat milk.

Put a kefir grain, or more than one, into the jar. Don't seal the jar with a lid; carbon dioxide produced by the microorganisms could build up pressure, and cause the jar to explode. Put a cloth on top of the jar, and a rubber band around the neck of the jar to hold the cloth in place.

Let the jar sit on the kitchen counter for a few days. Every day, stir the contents. If the culture is in a tall bottle, a long chopstick can be useful for stirring.

Every day, stir the culture. When the culture has settled for a while, there should be a watery layer, floating on top of a thicker mixture. If it's all thick, add some water. Water will evaporate, so you need to add some more.

When the oat mixture gets sour, the kefir is ready. You can use it then, or let it get more sour if you like.

Caring for the Oat Kefir Culture

The kefir grain or grains will float toward the top of the culture. Remove the kefir grain with a spoon, and save it for the next batch. Put the kefir grain into another mix of oat flour and water, to keep it alive. Or you can carefully pour out some kefir, leaving the kefir grain in, and add more oat flour to keep the culture going.

The microorganisms in the kefir grain need food. If you let the kefir continue to ferment without adding any oat flour, eventually the kefir microorganisms will consume all the carbohydrate in the culture, and then they may starve and die. Then the culture may be taken over by other microbes, and go bad, it won't be healthy kefir anymore.

If you need to go out of town for a while, put the kefir grain(s) in a fresh mixture of oat flour and water. Put the jar into the refrigerator. Don't screw a lid on the jar, cover it with a cloth held on by a rubber band.

Using Oat Kefir

You can drink the oat kefir, or use it in soup, make a smoothie with it, use it as a salad dressing, or as a dip for vegetables.

Kefir Health Benefits

Kefir is a probiotic, which means it contains beneficial bacteria that produce acids such as lactic acid. The acids promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut, and suppress the growth of fungi, yeasts, and harmful bacteria. Kefir also contains a protein called kefiran, that has been shown in animal studies to reduce blood pressure, serum cholesterol, and have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. However, things that work in animals sometimes don't work in humans, since our genetics are different. So it's too early to say whether kefir will prevent or treat cancer in humans.

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VegPeace.org © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at vegpeace.org>