Kefir milk is a cultured, bio-live milk drink from the Caucasus mountains near Russia. Packed with billions of live gut-friendly bacteria, it’s a 2,000 year old drink that’s still enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. But how do you cook with it? The guys at Biotiful kefir give us their favourite recipes and tips.
Often referred to as the champagne of milk, kefir (pronounced kee-fer) has a slightly tart taste and smooth, creamy texture, similar to natural yogurt. It can be drunk straight-up or used in all sorts of ways in the kitchen, added to smoothies or pancakes, as a buttermilk-replacement in soda bread or for a tangy dip. It makes a great alternative to yogurt, cream and buttermilk, adding a bio-live boost to lots of recipes.
Naturally packed with essential vitamins and minerals (including B12 and B2), kefir is high in protein and calcium, and free from artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. It’s a lot more powerful than yoghurt as it contains over 40 strains of gut-friendly bacteria (compared to yoghurt which typically only has a couple). The health benefits of kefir all too clear, from naturally supporting digestion and immunity, boosting energy levels and maintaining healthy skin and bones. Kefir literally means ‘long life’ or ‘good life’ in old Turkish!
8 tasty ways to cook with kefir
1. Deliciously fluffy pancakes
Kefir will make your pancakes incredibly fluffy, and can simply be added to any recipe in place of regular milk. For a savoury vibe, give spinach curry pancakes a go, or check out how to pair your kefir with oat (pictured) or buckwheat flour for something really special.
2. Super smoothies
3. DIY dips
Kefir tzatziki makes a great side dish to crudités, toasted pitas or homemade kebabs. Throw in something a bit different to your homemade hummus or make cultured labneh by swapping the yoghurt for kefir milk. Use this step-by-step labneh guide to help you.
4. Banana bread
Ideal for a weekend breakfast treat or teatime snack, this warming spiced banana bread is the best thing to happen to overripe bananas. Swap in kefir milk to guarantee a beautifully moist loaf every time. Try sliced, toasted and slathered in butter, jam or your favourite nut butter. For more baking recipes with kefir, check out The Natural Baker, Henrietta Inman’s Polenta, raspberry & lemon cake.
5. Overnight oats
Breakfast like a champion with these overnight oats. Leave them to soak the night before (adding a splash more regular milk if it needs loosening), then simply add the fruit and nuts in the morning. Dollop with more kefir and you have yourself a nutritious breakfast that’s bursting with flavour.
6. Cheesy stuffed flatbreads
Award-winning Ukrainian chef and food writer, Olia Hercules is here with her Caucasus-inspired flatbreads – stuffed with oozy cheese and greens. Kefir will add lightness to this deliciously flakey dough. Olia says, “I fell in love with their outstanding flavour. They are normally brushed with melted butter as they come out of the oven, but I love to go one step further and smother them in beurre noisette. It’ll be the best thing you eat this side of summer.” Find the recipe in this summer’s Farmdrop newspaper, available with your next order!
7. Citrusy kefir cheesecake
With a base of dates and nuts, this lemon and lime kefir cheesecake is a summery treat with a difference.
8. I say ice cream!
This is a refreshing dessert that can adapt itself to any seasonal berry. Combine 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries, 2 cups of kefir, 2 cups whole milk, a good pour of honey or maple syrup, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and ½ cup cashew nuts (soaked for 2 hours and drained) in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the instructions. Serve immediately as soft-serve ice cream or freeze to harden.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the ice cream base into a freezer-safe shallow pan. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and mix with a fork to break up all of the ice chunks. Fewer ice chunks means smoother ice cream. Repeat every 20 minutes until the ice cream has firmed up to your liking, 2 to 4 hours.