Friday 23 March 2018

We need to talk about kefir - are the grains coming with us?


Katy McGuinness

A few months ago, a friend did me the honour of sharing her kefir grains with me. These are a high-class type of kefir grain, having been well established in a good neighbourhood, treated kindly, and asked to do what they do only with the very best of organic milk.

I have amazed myself by not killing them, unlike the numerous sourdough starters that I have done for over the years. The grains have settled in happily, living on a corner of the kitchen counter-top, and not complaining when they have to be stashed away in a cupboard whenever there's been a viewing, or a surveyor has come to do an inspection. They don't seem to take offence when people turn up their noses at their odour or make rude remarks about their appearance.

Every couple of days, when the curds start to separate from the whey, I take the grains out and start off a new batch. Meanwhile, I whizz up the fermented milk in the Nutribullet, pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours, and drink it in a long draft.

I have yet to persuade any of the other family members to join in and, truth be told, some days I have to steel myself to knock it back. It can be a little... er.... funky, and sometimes it reminds me so much of baby vomit that I have to put it back in the fridge to get really, really cold before I can face it.

Despite the odd wobble, though, I'm sure that it's doing me a vast amount of good, filling my gut full of fabulous bacteria and ensuring that I'll live to 100.

Now that we have a moving date and are starting to pack up the house contents, I'm wondering what to do with the kefir. We're not moving straight into the new house, because it won't be ready, and we're borrowing an apartment from a friend for a few weeks. Then we're going on holiday. So the first question is whether or not it's good etiquette to bring stinky kefir with you to somebody else's home (I think that I already know the answer to that one), and the second is whether it's too much of an imposition to ask a friend to mind my kefir and keep it alive while I'm away. So, while I should be getting on with the business of packing boxes and letting the utility companies know that we're moving, I'm fretting about the kefir, and finding it a new home. I'm sure that a psychologist would have something to say about that.

The apartment that we're borrowing is close to our new home, and the prospect of a break between moving out of the old house and into the new house is alluring. Three of the four children will be away for most of the summer and I'm thinking that it's going to feel like a holiday - being tourists in our own city and discovering our new neighbourhood on long evening walks by the canal and along the Great South Wall.

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