Obsessed With Cleanliness

KeFIR, a lion of a drink

KeFIR, A Lion of a Drink ‎- Is Bacteria a Dirty Word?

You there, yes, I know that you staunchly support the five second rule. ‎Surely you have no problem with your children reaching down to ‎reclaim their fallen treasures every now and again… Our children, ‎however, spent their days in a kibbutz children’s house. Even if we had ‎belonged to the other camp (cleanliness is godliness), practicality ‎trumped. The “metaplot” (the daycare teachers) had their hands full: ‎pacifiers, bottles, and anything in “mouth’s way” was fair game. After ‎all: “what is yours is mine and what is mine is yours”. Such was the ‎way of the kibbutz. The tykes grew up in a multisensory environment. ‎Inside and out, it was flooded with fascinating stimuli, a truly “hands ‎on” environment. Between the “junk yard” playground, the farmyard ‎animals and the foraging, it was a wonderful culture to sprout ‎microorganisms. A cleanroom it was not.‎

Today’s modern world is polished, sterile, pasteurized and ‎homogeneous. Pocket hand sanitizer gel has become a must for the ‎common germophobe.‎

Recent groundbreaking research has put the human microbiome in ‎the spotlight. Of particular interest are the probiotics or the “good” ‎bacteria that make their home within our bodies, particularly our ‎digestive system. Just as each of us have our unique DNA code, so do ‎we boast a unique microbiome ecosystem. Within each of ‎our bodies are to be found in the neighborhood of three trillion little ‎bacteria, the “cleanup crew” of our bodies in general, most notably of ‎our digestive system.‎

The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome

The next time you look in a mirror, think about this: In many ways you’re more microbe than human. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. But these tiny compatriots are invisible to the naked eye.

In nature these urchins greet the newborn with fanfare, crowding tight ‎in the birth canal, eager to smother butterfly kisses. The precious babe ‎is born warm, wet and slimy. The enchantment continues as the baby ‎suckles more of nature’s magical protection.‎

Is Clean Natural?

Once upon a time there was a natural world, wild and dirty, inhabited ‎by plenty of microbial pathogens and toxins. We may have eradicated ‎epidemics and trumped disease but in the heat of our zealous purge, ‎friendly fire dealt a heavy blow to the grand support team of friendly ‎bacteria.‎

Many are the ways that our friends get caught in the crossfire. It ‎begins with elective C-sections and breast milk substitutes weakening ‎the infant’s natural defenses and continues in a passionate clean up: ‎disinfection,‎‏ ‏crop dusting, pasteurization and sterilization. Of course ‎our love of pills n’ potions, particularly antibiotics, weakens our urchin ‎team as well. Let’s not forget our heavily processed and empty foods ‎which also provide little or no team support.‎

While the genes which we inherited from our parents are fixed ‎‎(sometimes we have the power to turn on or off an inherited trait), we ‎have the ability to completely makeover over our microbiome ‎ecosystem and transform both its quality and composition!

A Quick Fix

By merely changing our eating habits, cleaning up our act, removing ‎processed foods, sugars and other unhealthy foods and adding healthy ‎whole plant based foods we can create rapid change within our urchin ‎community. Even removing stress and adding physical activity to our ‎routine will ignite change.‎

Regular probiotic supplementation will enrichen our microbiome ‎ecosystem.‎

There is yet another way, delightful and delectable, a long forgotten ‎kitchen skill. Add fermented food and drink such as sauerkraut and ‎other pickled foods, kimchi, kombucha and kefir to your diet.‎

kfir grains

Kefir, What is it?

Kefir, a lion of a drink, is a probiotic drink which is formed by ‎fermenting “kefir grains”. “Kefir grains” are not grains at all but a ‎gelatinous culture of healthy bacteria and yeast. The shape of these ‎cultures resembles grains, thus the name “kefir grains”.‎

There are two versions of kefir, one which is milk based and the other ‎which is water based. Each has its own unique culture of “kefir grains”. ‎The word kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif” and translates ‎loosely to “feeling good”. The milk based kefir originated from the ‎Caucasus Mountains in Turkey while the water based kefir is thought ‎to have originated from the sweet water of the Mexican Opuntia ‎cactus.‎
Water based kefir has a refreshing taste; it is light, fizzy and fun to ‎drink. The longer the fermentation process, the fizzier the drink will ‎be. A longer fermentation will also produce a minuscule amount of ‎alcohol. The finished product has a taste reminiscent of a tropical ‎soda. ‎

Regular consumption of kefir will not only provide a supply of friendly ‎bacteria (probiotics) but also enzymes, minerals, amino acids, folic ‎acid and type B vitamins. ‎

I am a devoted fan of simple and easy recipes and usually steer clear ‎from complicated multistep ones. Moreover, I’m afraid that I am a ‎murderess in the home. I can’t seem to keep my houseplants and ‎other organisms alive. After taking a sourdough bread workshop, I ‎happily brought home my personal starter and stuck it in the ‎refrigerator. By the time I got around to making bread, I found my ‎starter in the back of my fridge starving, stinky and in a sorry unusable ‎state. So much for sourdough bread! ‎

To my delight I can attest to the fact that the “kefir grains” are particularly ‎robust and seem to be flourishing even in my refrigerator! There is no ‎doubt in my mind that if they can thrive in my care then surely they ‎will in yours…‎

Adopt Your Grains

In order to prepare kefir you must have a kefir donor. While “kefir ‎grains” can be purchased online, usually the grains are “adopted” ‎from a friend or an acquaintance. They truly flourish and from batch ‎to batch they double in quantity! Anyone in need of a donner is more ‎than welcome to mine. There are websites that sell “kefir grains” ‎either live or dried.‎

I will assume that you received live “kefir grains”. They look like clear ‎or semi clear crystals and can be in many shapes and sizes (but ‎generally small). You will notice that they are pliable and slippery.‎

Pick A Way, Any Way

In order to preserve the “kefir grains’” health and growth there must ‎be a steady supply of sugar and minerals.‎

Any number of sugars or combination of them can be used. One could ‎use white sugar, whole cane sugar, maple syrup, coconut sugar and ‎others. I was taught that kefir does better with white sugar but I have ‎been using whole cane sugar and the results have been great. Honey ‎cannot be used as it is a natural antibiotic.‎

Minerals can be provided through dried fruit (raisins and/or figs are ‎best but I used fresh apricot and I have not heard any complaints!) and ‎lemon (organic is best if not then peel the lemon). Likewise, minerals ‎can be enhanced by adding a few drops of liquid (trace) minerals or by ‎adding a clean eggshell to the fermentation process.‎

A fizzier and sharper kefir will be made using a second fermentation ‎process.‎

After researching and experimentation I discovered that there are a ‎number of ways to prepare kefir.‎

Water Based Kefir from A to Z


Note: in all preparations avoid using metal utensils (don’t kill your ‎babies)!‎

Step 1 First Alternative

‎2 T sugar (sweetener)‎
‎¼ c rinsed “kefir grains”‎
‎2 figs (dried – without sulfur or fresh)‎
‎½ organic lemon with peel (otherwise nonorganic without peel)‎
‎1 l water (unchlorinated, no reverse osmotic‎ water or distilled water)‎

Step 1 Second Alternative

‎4 T sugar (sweetener)‎
‎¼ c rinsed “kefir grains”‎
A few drops of liquid (trace) minerals or a clean eggshell
‎1 l water (unchlorinated, no reverse osmotic‎ water or distilled water)‎


Large glass jar
Plastic strainer
Plastic spoon

The Process:

Strain and rinse the “kefir grains”.‎
Dissolve the sugar (sweetener) in warm water in the glass jar.‎
Add strained “kefir grains”.‎
Add the fruit or eggshell or liquid (trace) minerals.‎

Step 2 First Alternative

Cover the jar and let sit in a warm place (about 25 degrees Celsius) ‎without direct sunlight for 24 hours.‎
Strain the liquid. Dump the fruit or eggshell. Strain and rinse the “kefir ‎grains”. “Kefir grains” should be refrigerated in a jar with water. For ‎every ¼ cup of grains add 2 T of sugar.‎
Return the strained kefir to the large jar for another 24 hours. After a ‎total of 48 hours the kefir is ready: store in refrigerator.‎

Step 2 Second Alternative

Cover the jar and let sit in a warm place (about 25 degrees Celsius) ‎without direct sunlight for 48 hours.‎
Strain the liquid. Dump the fruit or eggshell. Strain and rinse the “kefir ‎grains”. “Kefir grains” should be refrigerated in a jar with water. For ‎every ¼ cup of grains add 2 T of sugar.‎
After a total of 48 hours the kefir is ready: store in refrigerator.‎

Optional Step 3 Flavoring

At the end of the fermentation process flavorings can be added to the ‎kefir. For each liter of kefir one cup of fresh fruit juice or fruit pieces ‎can be added as well as other flavors. Personally I prefer a ‎combination of lemon juice and ginger. It reminds me of the ginger ale ‎that I so loved to drink in my youth.‎

Optional Step 4 Second Fermentation

my kefir

The flavored kefir can be fermented a second time around with the ‎juice, fruit and other flavorings. Simply let it sit again for a period of ‎‎24-48 hours before refrigerating. Flip top bottles are great. Leave ‎empty space for air (about ¼ of the bottle). Open the flip top once or ‎twice a day to burp the kefir, release pressure and prevent ‎unnecessary explosions!‎

‎“Kefir grains” have a good life. They thrive and the community will ‎grow exponentially if you give them half a chance. Next time around ‎you will be able to prepare twice as much kefir or share “kefir grains” ‎with a friend. You can add a bit of grains to your morning smoothie or ‎even munch on them as is. They can be frozen or dehydrated for ‎future use.‎

The kefir grains need to be fed every two weeks if they are just lying ‎around in your refrigerator.‎

L’Chaim – ‏À la tienne‏!‏

If you have not yet read about the rocky part of my journey, you can read it here.‎

I would like to thank you for your patience in reading this post to its end.‎

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