By Joseph Robertia
There are few things in life where hearing, “The slimier it is, the better,” can be equated to good food, but that was the case at a workshop in Kasilof over the weekend.
Pepper Pond, a naturalist, gave a presentation on making and using kefir, a fermented milk drink, to a group of health-minded attendees.
“It seems disgusting but it has innumerable health benefits,” she said, while rolling in her fingers a dime-sized piece of the white, spongy kefir “grain.”
Pond explained that while the kefir grains look like a tiny piece of gooey cauliflower, they are actually a symbiotic culture of yeasts and bacteria that grow rather quickly when a kefir grain is added to milk. It works in almost any kind of milk, from cow to goat, raw to pasteurized, whole to skim. Even almond and coconut milk will eventually ferment.
“As long as it has lactose in it. It breaks down the lactose as food,” Pond said, and it does so at an exponential rate.
“From this dime-sized piece I grew all this in 24 hours,” Pond said while straining a quart-sized jar of fermented milk to reveal a softball-sized clump of kefir grains. She had fermented it in the jar with a loose-fitting plastic lid by letting it sit for a day at room temperature out of direct light.
She passed out small chunks to the workshop participants to begin their own kefir colonies by adding milk to their own jars at home, then went on to explain the uses and benefits of the fermented milk product, which is the palatable part of the process.