Kefir is cultured milk. It is thought to have originated in the Caucasus Mountain region and has been around for hundreds of years. I have purchased kefir from the grocery off and on for some time and try to include some kind of food that incorporates probiotics into my diet, but my effort has been inconsistent. I looked into making my own kefir some time ago, but with everything else going on in my life it just wasn't a priority. Recently I read an article that got me looking into making kefir at home once again. The article talked about a study done by UCLA on the benefits of probiotics in your diet. What they found just blew me away. They determined that there is a powerful gut-brain connection. A healthy intestinal flora balance is shown to make a positive impact on sensory processing and emotion. I have dealt with depression in the past, and to hear that adding probiotics to my diet may help combat it was enough incentive to take a second look into making kefir from home. To top that off, my daughter pointed me to an article that shows probiotics and a healthy gut are important to the surivival of cancer patients dealing with chemotherapy.
Kefir is actually really easy to make. The steps are clearly outlined at this website: yourkefirsource.com. It is an excellent web site and will tell you all you need to know about making your own kefir. Kefir grains look like mini cauliflower (see pic below). I was lucky to have someone from a natural parenting group give me some grains (thank you, Monica!), but you can purchase them from Amazon.com if you can't find them locally at your health food store.
Taste wise, I am finding it to my liking to leave the kefir grains in the raw milk for 24 hours. Any more than that seems too strong. If you don't like the taste straight up, blend in some fruit or stir it into fruit juice or smoothies. While you may be able to make it from regular whole milk, it is preferred to use organic raw milk. I am lucky enough to have a couple sources of certified raw milk in my area.
Most importantly, what is the correct way to pronouce "kefir" anyway? I have heard it pronounced two ways, KEE-fuhr and keh-FEER. Turns out the correct way to say it is keh-FEER.