Kefir Lessons


Those of you that have been around here for any time at all already know this, but in case you’re new, I’m telling you now that we are passionate about kefir. You can read all about it and how to make it and why you should be making it here. Anyway, I made a discovery in making my most recent batch this morning. It’s something I already knew, actually, something I had already experienced in the process. Here it is–less is more. But what I learned today was that even less gets you still more!  Let me explain.

In making kefir, a small amount of the grains (this is what they call the culture even though it’s not a grain and doesn’t resemble that at all, it looks more like cottage cheese or tapioca) are added to milk and allowed to culture for at least twenty four hours until it gets thick and rich and so deliciously creamy you want to dive into it. When I first started I had to experiment a long time to figure out that a whole bunch of grains did not mean a thicker or quicker result. I finally settled on a proportion that I’ve used consistently over the last couple of years (¼ cup grains to ½ gallon of milk). The other day, however, I only had a few tiny grains that weren’t already being used, approximately half of the usual amount, so I gave it a try. The result? My smoothest, richest batch ever!  I flavored it with maple, almond and vanilla which tasted like delicious liquid silk and thus entered an altered state of kefir loving nirvana . YUMMY!

So less is more in kefir making and of course in so many aspects of this magnificent experience we call life, but as I look around in the midst of the seasonal shift we are now experiencing, I’m thinking this reminder could not be more timely. It’s a time in which our culture is in it’s greatest conflict with nature, and even more pronounced viewed from the perspective of life in the country. The garden has died back, gone to bed, roots and seeds retreated into the darkness of the soil waiting through the cold. The sun is on it’s annual jaunt to the other half of the globe, leaving us with short days of a thin, fleeting light and the  longest of nights. It’s okay though, because it gives us a chance to put away the tools, to gather ourselves and loved ones inward, to create warmth on the inside. This is a good thing.

Yet we humans, largely disconnected from nature, are unsettled. The darkness scares us. Instead of embracing the cycle of wholeness and restoration,  we want to dispel it by putting up  lights, surrounding ourselves with shiny things and seeking crowded and noisy places where we can feel exhilarated by the rush and buy stuff in an attempt to fill the emptiness we feel inside.

It’s okay, though. We are only human, and it’s been going in some form or another since our earliest ancestors gathered around a fire waiting for that moment when the sun began its inevitable return. It’s just good to remember, to be reminded, that our impulses towards excess so often do not give us what we’re really seeking–which is the thick, rich and delicious experience of life that even these tiniest of life forms can show us. So I hope you can slow down,  take some time, make some kefir, sit by a warm fire with special people and then share your grains with them–because it doesn’t take much to create a marvelous experience.

– Mary