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Why Does Good Kefir Taste So Sour? And Why You Should Drink It Anyway

If you struggle with the taste of the goats milk kefir, you’re not alone! The sharp, fizzy, fermented taste is unfamiliar to us, in these days when everything is sweetened. 

But there’s a good reason for that tangy taste. What you’re tasting is butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid famed for its distinctive scent, its bite (butyrate is what gives parmesan cheese its flavour) and most importantly – its anti-inflammatory health benefits for your gut. 

Butyric acid is so critical for good gut health that many people take it on its own, as a food supplement. Science has found that butyric acid butyric acid can aid in the prevention, management, and/or treatment of gastrointestinal problems, IBS, colon cancer, diabetes/metabolic disorders, and neurological disorders.

In fact, butyrate is so important inside your gut that your butyrate score has its own category in our Microbiome Tests, where it is measured separately.  Your gut bugs’ ability to synthesize butyrate is one of the things that will be explained to you in a free consultation with one of our nutritional advisors if you take the test. 

At the end of the day, good medicine doesn’t always taste sweet – nor should it. As human beings we can perceive five basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami). Each taste activate specific receptors—the taste buds—of the sensory system, which map directly to cranial nerves. 

In this culture we focus mostly on sweet, salty and savoury flavours. And sweet tops the list – both in its contribution to obesity and disease, and in how much we crave it. We want everything to be sweet these days! 

There are solid biological reasons behind that. Normally the body makes its own glucose—an ingredient in sugar and the “energy of life” that powers your every cell—by breaking down healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbs. In the brain, sugar stimulates the “feel-good” chemical dopamine, because this process is so central to our existence. 

When cave folks came across something sweet, their brains rejoiced, since sweet meant a rare glucose boost from the outside world – a survival hack. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors who hoovered  up the rare bits of sugar upon which they stumbled on (honey or berries, hurray!) probably had a better chance of survival. Our earliest ancestors likely downed about 20 teaspoons of sugar…per year. 

But now sugar is everywhere – and that evolutionary adaptation once meant to save us, is now killing us. The average UK adult eats 90 grams – or 22.5 teaspoons of sugar – per day. You read that right – we eat the same amount of sugar in one day, that our ancestors consumed in a year. 

Needless to say, our bodies aren’t cut out for it, and this sugar glut is killing us. Obesity – related to sugar overconsumption – now causes more cases of four common cancers in the UK than smoking, according to a charity Cancer Research UK.  

In the meantime some tastes that have fallen out of flavour – particularly bitter and sour – have their own health benefits for your system. Recent studies now confirm that bitter foods can enhance digestive health, sharpen the appetite, aid in the prevention of leaky gut syndrome, optimize nutrient absorption, improve the gut microbiome and more.

Sour foods are secretagogues– which stimulate the secretion from various mucous and secretory linings and hence, moisten up and freshen up the dry palate by stimulating the secretions from the gastrointestinal tract. Organic acids present in sour foods improves the efficiency of nutrient absorption from foods and therefore, increases the bioavailability of these nutrients to the body.

This process aids in digestion as well as smooth peristaltic and bowel movement.

So use your forebrain, to push back against your knee-jerk biology. Push yourself to eat bitter, sharp, fermented and tangy flavours. Try your kefir neat – you’ll be surprised how quickly it grows on you. 

Love your sour! ; ) 

18 thoughts on “Why Does Good Kefir Taste So Sour? And Why You Should Drink It Anyway

  1. I have grown to love the taste of the kefir and look forward to it each morning, first thing on an empty stomach! Straight down – don’t mix it with anything! Interestingly, on the rare mornings I have had to take the kefir later in the day I must admit the taste has not felt so pleasant!
    I hope I eat other sour foods. I found the article in the blog rather heavy going so didn’t finish it. I enjoy goats milk and goats yogurt. Decaf (the natural way) coffee.
    Thanks for making this kefir available.

    1. So glad to hear that you’re loving your morning dose of kefir, Julie 🙂 Unusual that it would be a different experience in the afternoon! Mmmm you can’t beat a proper cuppa coffee – Shann adds frothy goats milk, raw cacao, turmeric and collagen to hers to make a CG chocolate latte! Let us know if you give it a go!

      Best wishes,
      Elly.

  2. I love kimchi, capers, dill pickles and olives and lemons.
    If I find the kefir too strong I stir in 1 teaspoon of Morello cherry juice- delicious- but I worry if the fructose inhibits the rôle of the kefir, sugar being sort of counter productive.

  3. I love the flavour, although I was ready not to! However I have been unable to persuade any of my friends or relatives! I cannot however stomach goats milk yogurt!

    1. Interesting Joanna – people often struggle with the unfamiliar flavour and then find they become quite addicted to it – my theory is that your gut bugs work out how good it is, and want more!
      Best,
      Shann

  4. Really interesting post . Thank you . I have been taking your kefir for a couple of years I was tolerating the taste well but recently for reasons I cannot fathom I am finding it really the taste really hard . Because I do feel it is important to me as I have thyroid autoimmune issues and I feel better gut wise if I don’t let up on it I keep going . I am convinced of its efficacy and quality but I now have to hold my nose and drink it down in one much to my grandchild’s huge amusement.

  5. Love the taste of the pure kefir just on it’s own. So refreshing first thing. After one year I’ve seen huge improvements. I never feel bloated and I am super tuned to anything sugary as I can detect it instantly and rarely crave anything sweet. Just love those goats.

  6. I absolutely love the taste of your kefir drink. I’ll definitely be doing a regular order as soon as I get a larger fridge 🤦🏻‍♀️

  7. Hi Shann, it is interesting to get this from you now, because I have been having your kefir for – 2 years? And I am a person who has always liked its sharp sour flavour, and really don’t want to mix it with banana or other fruit or flavouring. And Up until recently the flavour of Chuckling Goat kefir has been wonderful! But in last few months it seems to have soured down so much, it has taken away my enjoyment of it! It makes me crinkle up my face (should send selfie!) and shiver, and at the moment I am not enjoying it. Are the goats eating something that has made it different? I know it is a natural product and that is that – but has their diet changed?? Honestly, my first year or more of Kefir was wonderful! It sometimes (not always) sort of bubbled creamily out of the bottle when pressure was released, and I’d spoon up all the dribbles it was so delicious – and when it was thinner, it was still sharply palatable. But not now. I am persevering at the moment because the thought of not getting my daily dose for my gut is not a good one! But I can only think goats are getting – or not getting- something different? Does anyone else say this or am I on my own? I am really not wanting to be negative, and fully take on board sour/bitter taste being good. Very best wishes to all at Chuckling Goat.

    1. Hi Lesley –
      Because the kefir is a natural product, the flavour is always flexing a bit depending on the temperature, weather conditions, etc. there hasn’t been any change in the process. But the taste of wild kefir (that is, kefir made with real grains) is infinitely variable – part of what keeps it interesting!

  8. Yes. I regularly eat sour tastes and have always loved to since a child. I love the taste of your Kefir and could drink it by the bottle!
    I love drinking freshly squeezed lemon with a little water or even a whizzed up whole lemon with fizzy water.
    I love the taste of vinegar in a glass of hot water instead of tea.
    I’ll only eat natural yoghurt – occasionally with fresh fruit.
    I love fermented foods too.
    I can’t stand foods that have had flavourings added to make it more palatable as the original is usually perfectly acceptable for me!

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