Welcome to my blog, where one may find all sorts of random, hopefully amusing tidbits about food & other things.

June 27, 2011

tell me about: kefir!

About two weeks ago, I decided to make chicken fatayer. More about that later though, in an upcoming post about tons of flour and the untrustworthiness of online recipes.

Chicken fatayer is Arabic, and when I was shopping for the chicken, I saw kefir on sale. And since my mom wasn't there to reign me in and sanely point out to me that kefir is pretty much drinkable yogurt (not gogurt, gross.), I bought the vanilla flavored kind to heighten the Arabic-ness of that night's meal. And oh boy, it was too good.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I spent too many hours searching where to buy kefir grains online and how to culture it at home.

Don't shake your head at me, I'm sure you do equally useless things in your free time.

That leads to the purpose of this post. In doing my research, I just NEEDED to know how kefir differed from yogurt.

Kefir has the same tang and tartness of yogurt, if not moreso. Of course, the tartness of yogurt depends on whether you buy whole-milk or lower fat versions, but I typically eat plain, homemade, 2% yogurt. At least I think my mom makes it with 2% milk, because if she makes it with whole milk .. that coupled with the vast quantities in which I consume yogurt ... oh god. I wouldn't want to know.

But yes, both are tart. Both are made from active cultures and milk. Yogurt can be made by using some of the previous batch or store-bought yogurt as a starter. The starter just has to have live bacteria. Kefir grains must be bought online, however. Well, I don't know what store you would find it in.

By the way, bacteria are necessary for survival. Anyone reading this and going oh ew, bacteria? Just keep in mind that your body is home to literally tons of bacteria - on your skin, in your intestines especially, and even on your eyelashes. And you know that Full n' Soft or DiorShow you load onto your eyelashes? Bacteria love that stuff. They gobble it up.

At least that's what a health teacher told me once. But the bacteria that are part of your digestive system are necessary for digestion. There are certain things humans cannot digest, or may need help with digesting, and bacteria are there to aid us. Of course bacteria can also be dangerous, but just be aware that there are also beneficial bacteria.

So what's the difference between the two? (here's what I found from my research)

The bacteria in yogurt helps clean out the digestive tract and provides food for the bacteria already residing in the intestinal tract.

Kefir has more strains of bacteria, ones that are not found in yogurt. These bacteria can do more than the bacteria in yogurt and can actually colonize in your intestinal tract. That's serious stuff. Not only does kefir contain more bacteria (good bacteria!), but it also has nutritional yeasts which eliminate other "bad" yeasts from the body. Additionally, kefir is drinkable. Thus, its curd size is smaller. (What are curds? Ever seen different types of cottage cheese? There are some with big chunks, and others that are almost fluffy. The "chunk size" is proportional to curd size. Smaller chunks = smaller curds.) Because of this, kefir is easier to digest. Which makes it easier for all that good stuff inside it to start making your colon a cleaner and healthier environment for digestion.

All in all, both are excellent for you. I have not even mentioned the large amounts of calcium and protein both of these have. The only downside? Kefir is expensive. I got it on sale (obviously) for 3.29 for one quart, which is four cups. The original price is 3.99. You would pay a dollar for each cup of kefir. That's a lot, and yogurt is much cheaper, especially if you make it at home. Making kefir at home may be cheaper, but you would have to invest time to do that.

But I would say give it a try if you can, at least once! Just to know what it's like, and perhaps impress someone else with your seemingly immense knowledge of foreign foods. Of course, don't buy it if you don't like yogurt. It is tart, even the vanilla flavor. Oh and they have a nice little range of flavors, too! As well as plain. I got mine at Shoprite, so it is definitely becoming more common.

This site helped me in determining the differences. 

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