Kefir (rhymes with heifer) is like a super hero yogurt. There are a lot of great sites devoted to dairy kefir and all it’s glories such as Dom’s About Kefir in-site and kefir.net where you can find lots of in depth information, research, recipes etc so I won’t try to duplicate that. But, for those who are unfamiliar with kefir here’s a quick summary: dairy kefir is a lot like yogurt. The curds are more delicate so kefir is often made into smoothies- which you can sometimes find in stores. While yogurt only contains beneficial bacteria dairy kefir contains several additional strains of beneficial bacteria and beneficial yeast which can actually colonize the digestive tract.
Sounds great right?!
Here’s what makes it even better:
Dairy kefir “grains”. They look a bit weird but add milk (any kind including coconut) and you have a never ending source of kefir. The grains (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast not actually a grain) will also grow and multiply over time. Extra grains can be eaten, shared or dehydrated. The grains above are quite large, they can be smaller like rice too. Don’t buy the powder though. After a few batches you’ll have to buy more powder and start again.
If you’re looking for dairy kefir grains you can buy them (I’ve seen them at cultures for health) or ask around (maybe try yahoo groups) often people are glad to share their kefir grains for free/ the cost of shipping.
Personally, I culture with a cloth cover the top so the dairy kefir doesn’t get effervescent (tho it’s interesting that way too). I generally use dairy kefir in smoothies or to soak flour in i.e. pancakes. Occasionally I’ll strain it till it’s thick like greek yogurt and make cheese balls or mix up a dip.