Homemade Coconut Kefir
Kefir (pronounced ke-feer) from either the Arabic “keyf” (joy and pleasure) or the Turkic “kopur” (milk) is a fermented drink that originated with shepherds of the North Caucasus region. Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem.” More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins. Imagine combining the nutrients of coconut to make an incredible coconut kefir.
What are the benefits of kefir? According to ChrisKresser.com:
A Coconut Kefir has positive effects on gut and bone health
It is a potent probiotic, consisting of both bacterial and yeast species of beneficial flora, and may help protect against gastrointestinal diseases. It has also been demonstrated to improve lactose digestion in adults with lactose intolerance. (4) In addition to providing the gut with healthy symbiotic microflora, many studies have also demonstrated the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of kefir. (5) Certain bacteria strains from the kefir culture have been shown to help in treating colitis by regulating the inflammatory response of the intestinal cells. ( 6)
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As we know, vitamin K2 is one of the most important nutrients that is greatly lacking in the American diet. (7) Vitamin K2 is a product of bacterial fermentation, so kefir is a likely a good source of this nutrient, especially if made with milk from pastured animals. (8) Vitamin K2 plays a key role in calcium metabolism, where it is used to deposit calcium in appropriate locations, such as in the bones and teeth, and prevent it from depositing in locations where it does not belong, such as the soft tissues and the arteries. (9) Since kefir is high in calcium and phosphorus and also contains vitamin K2, drinking kefir is likely beneficial to bone health, providing the essential minerals needed for bone growth as well as the vitamin K2 needed to effectively deposit those minerals in the bone
Kefir modulates the immune system,
Certain compounds in kefir may play a role in regulating immune function, allergic response, and inflammation. One study found that kefiran, a sugar byproduct of the kefir culture, may reduce allergic inflammation by suppressing mast cell degranulation and cytokine production. (10) Another study found that certain bacteria in the kefir culture inhibited IgE production, helping to moderate the body’s allergic response. (11)
Research has also demonstrated that kefir may have an anti-tumor effect. In one study, kefir consumption inhibited tumor growth and induced the apoptotic form of tumor cell lysis, suggesting that kefir may play a role in cancer prevention. (12) When applied topically, kefir and its polysaccharide compounds have even been shown to be effective antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents for improved wound healing. (13)
Time to make coconut kefir!
- Milk kefir grains
- Coconut milk: Fresh homemade, canned or boxed. We recommend avoiding brands with additives and sweeteners as they can be hard on the kefir grains (guar gum, which is a typical additive, does not seem to be problematic).
- To make coconut kefir, just place the milk kefir grains in coconut milk, give the coconut milk a quick stir with a non-metal spoon, cover loosely (a towel works great), and allow the coconut kefir to culture on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.
- After 12 hours, check the coconut kefir every few hours (as possible) so you can remove the kefir grains once the coconut kefir reaches the desired consistency. If your home is on the cool side, it can take a few hours longer for the milk kefir to culture.
- Sometimes kefir grains will require an adjustment period so the first batch of coconut milk kefir may not culture as desired. Use the non-kefired coconut milk for cooking and place the kefir grains in new coconut milk. An adjustment period isn't uncommon whenever kefir grains are switched from one type of milk to another (cow to goat, pasteurized to raw, dairy to coconut, etc.).
- Milk kefir grains can be cultured in coconut milk regularly but should be allowed to culture in cow or goat milk for 24 hours once every few batches to revitalize.
- Note that dehydrated milk kefir grains should be rehydrated in dairy milk and allowed to become fully active before being used to culture coconut milk.
- Dairy-free Option: While using milk kefir grains is the most effective way to make coconut milk kefir, there is a truly dairy-free option. Put 1/4 cup water kefir (finished kefir, not the water kefir grains) in 2 to 4 cups of coconut milk. Cover loosely and allow to culture for 24 hours.
Ideas for Using Coconut Milk Kefir
- Use in place of sour cream in a recipe or as topping to your favorite recipe.
- Add to your coffee.
- Sweeten the coconut kefir and add it as a topping to fruit or your favorite dessert.
- Use as a base for your favorite smoothie.
- Use as a base for making coconut milk ice cream.
- Use in almost any recipe calling for yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk (will add a coconut flavor; may need to thin out the kefir with a bit of water).
- Just eat with a spoon like yogurt (particularly when cold, as coconut milk kefir can be quite thick).
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