If you look on my kitchen counter on a shelf next to my nonstick pan spray, a measuring cup, and a large variety of teas, you’ll find a quart canning jar (Thanks grandma!) covered with a muslin “hat”. It looks like a bonnet, and if you look inside it you might be wondering if it’s some kind of strange science experiment. In a way it is. It’s a unique culture, a world of alien creatures so small that we can’t see them except under a microscope, and yet their impact is as powerful on our body as a boxer’s right hook–but in a good way.

It’s kefir.

I’ll be talking more about kefir, especially as it relates to my Fibromyalgia Gone Wild blogs, because it’s something that my body LOVES, and it loves my body. Kefir is fermented milk. Which while it doesn’t sound appetizing, I like to explain it as yogurt with a lot more extra good stuff–probiotics. To me it tastes like a really rich, really good Greek or French yogurt. (I love Oui! but it’s out of the budget right now, alas…)

So how does it work? You start with kefir grains (little blobs of probiotics and microscopic organisms that look a lot like some kind of alien cell or world) and you put it in milk. The amount of milk depends on how much kefir grains you have. Since I’m starting back up after about a 8-9 year hiatus, I’m doing about 1 1/2 cups at a time, which is perfect for a morning smoothie. Let it sit in the covered jar for about 24-36 hours. Strain it so you keep the grains. Then tada, add more milk and away you go.

(You can also buy Kefir in stores. I’m a fan of the Lifeways brand, which I see at both Walmart and Aldi’s, but making your own is much cheaper.)

Ideally you’d use raw organic milk, but as that is very limited in this area, and way out of my price point, the next best thing is organic milk that hasn’t been Ultra Pasturized (that kills the good stuff). Alas, that’s all I can find in my stores, so I use a gallon of Aldi’s whole milk. (You can use 2%, but it’s not as good. The fat content helps it to ferment.) That means at the moment, I can make kefir for about $2 a week at this volume. (I paid $2.67 for the gallon of whole milk at Aldi’s–MUCH cheaper than Walmart.). Someday I’ll have a goat (because I love making it with goat’s milk, but that’s about $4 a quart, so again, out of the budget.) and can use my own raw milk. Delish!

Right now I’m battling some kind of GI thing that goes along with my fibromyalgia. It’s either an ulcer, which I’m leaning towards because of pain intensity and location, or my IBS (a friend of fibromyalgia) getting worse. Either way, the probiotics in kefir make my stomach happy! They make the rest of me happy too.

I’m currently reading about komboucha, has I have a friend with a SCOBY that’s going crazy and she can share with me. I’m hoping to hook my husband on it since he’s a tea guy and open to trying new things, but don’t let him know. *wink*

From there…did you know I’ve never eaten sauerkraut? I just looked at it and said EWW. Which is kind of silly considering I grew up around the Amana Colonies, a large German settlement in Iowa. So I’m going to dive into fermenting more foods because I think my body would be very happy with me, and it’s fun. It’s science!

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