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Where does kefir come from?

Little was known about kefir outside the Black Caucasus Mountains which run along the continental divide between Asia and Europe, despite the fact that Marco Polo mentioned kefir in his writings. The shepherd inhabitants of the Black Caucasus region guarded their kefir grains jealously, calling them “The Grains of the Prophet,” and refusing to give them away to outsiders.

Grains were passed down as dowries inside families, and although outsiders like Marco Polo were occasionally given some of the fizzy beverage to drink, no one was allowed to handle the kefir grains or learn the secrets of its production. Thus kefir has remained a mystery to the rest of the world for many centuries.

In the Black Caucasus Mountains, the traditional method of making kefir was to pour fresh milk into watertight bags made of goatskin, and add the cauliflower-like kefir grains into the bags, where they were suspended in the sun during the day.

When the sun went down, the goatskin bag was brought inside and hung near the door. Each person that passed through the doorway would push or prod the bag, helping to ensure that the milk and kefir grains remained well mixed as the milk fermented. As the kefir was consumed, more milk would be added to the bag for a process of continual fermentation.

Sometimes kefir was made in clay pots, wooden buckets or even vats of oak, but the most traditional method was in watertight skin bags. Today at Chuckling Goat, we use essentially the same method, except that we make our kefir in 50 ltr stainless steel microbrewery vats to fulfill modern hygiene requirements.

Shepherds could make their own kefir as they traveled; they took skins of kefir with them on their treks across the slopes, adding fresh milk from the animals they herded to replace what they drank. As the shepherd moved, the milk would mix with the kefir grains and ferment into the mildly self-carbonated beverage.

4 thoughts on “Where does kefir come from?

  1. hi Shann
    I was interested in the kefir for my daughter as she has terrible eczema due to lots of allergies.
    One of her allergies is dairy and was wondering if the goats milk products would be suitable?
    We are trying to follow a vegan diet but it is very difficult as she is allergic to soya as well.
    I hope you can give us some advice to help us.
    Thank you

  2. My husband suffers with what the doctor’s say is a type of eczema but they’re not entirely sure.we got from you the milk lotion and soap,at first it was clearing up but towards the end of the treatment it is just as bad is this normal I would like to know before ordering anymore of your products.thankyou.

    1. Hi Beryl – Eczema is an autoimmune disease, so you’re going to need to heal the gut to heal the skin. The initial clearing is a sign you’re on the right track! Worsening of the condition before it improves permanently is a classic sign of detox. Expect to commit to 3-4 courses (9-12 weeks) before you see permanent results. You’ll then need to take a seasonal booster 4x per year. Good luck – Best, Shann

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