If you don’t know or understand lactose intolerance then you are lucky and can eat cheese to your heart’s content, drink hot chocolate in winter, and milkshakes and ice cream in the summer. If you find that within 20 – 40 minutes of eating a delicious dairy treat you are in the bathroom, then suffer no more. There are many great alternatives to dairy and while I enjoy dairy, there is a lot to be said for the diversity of food that is being looked over by us dairy lovers, that lactose intolerant people have the motivation to explore. From nut and oat milks to coconut creams there are ways to every food need.
Kefir, a typically creamy dairy drink or soft cheese, is a fermented food that consumes milk sugar, or lactose, and multiplies into trillions of microorganisms; good bacteria that your body needs to digest food efficiently.
For those who crave the tart yet creamy flavour of dairy but suffer lactose intolerance, let me introduce you to non-dairy kefir, so you can have a delicious creamy drink even better than yogurt. By that I am not anti-yogurt, but real yogurt really does not compare to kefir in terms of probiotics; kefir yogurt tastes as good but has 20+ strains of the good bacteria that your gut needs to thrive.
Non dairy kefir to drink can be made with coconut milk, nut milks, especially Almond and Cashew, or rice milk. In fact you can link to 16 different non-dairy kefirs at Cultured Food Life where you can learn almost everything there is to know about this and much more.
Here’s a short explanation of how to make non-dairy kefir and tips to adjust the kefir grains (not a plant grain in the traditional sense) to non dairy.
The guiding principles are simple and the first thing to know is that the kefir grains required to ferment non dairy milks, need lactose to survive. That means that you need to rest your kefir grains in whole milk if you want to plump them up after 6 or seven batches or whenever your grains seem to be small or lack body.
If you are acutely sensitive to lactose, simply rinse your grains in chlorine free water before applying them to your non dairy milk.
The next thing to understand is that if your non dairy milk is struggling to ferment, adding a teaspoon of whole sugar, will help them by giving them the food they need to multiply. Remember, once fermented and though it may have a sweetness to taste, the fermentation process is when the grains consume the sugar and multiply, leaving an absence of sugar when you drink it.
How to make non-dairy kefir
You will need:
1 tin of organic Coconut milk (or whichever non dairy milk you prefer)
One 500ml glass mason jar
What to do:
Place the kefir grains and non dairy milk into a mason jar and leave covered with a breathable cloth or loose fitted lid and leave for 12 hours at a comfortable room temperature.
After 12 hours, taste and smell test your kefir for flavour. Fermentation can carry on and the flavour will become more tart the longer you leave it.
Once you have your desired level of ferment, strain the grains and store your kefir drink in the fridge.
Add your kefir grains to more non dairy milk and repeat for an on going production of a healthy, natural and delicious probiotic drink.
Like with all living creatures, your kefir grains may need nurturing and will take time to adjust to non dairy if they have been rested in milk for a long time, so allow the first batch some extra time, every batch will get better until the 6th or 7th batch when you will have to rest them in milk again So don’t be hard on yourself if your first or second batch is thin or mild, by the 5th batch you’re winning. The result is so beneficial you’ll be thanking yourself later.
There is a great deal of information on the value of natural probiotics and the uniquely rich source that kefir is. Check out this article that gives you a great deal of information on fermenting non dairy kefir if you want to broaden your understanding further. Probiotics, the healthy bacteria that make up your microbiome, are being linked to the prevention of chronic illnesses as well as mental and psychological health in gut health studies.
We at NuMeSA believe a healthy tummy is a happy life. We are NuMe S.A – Microbiome influencers – building a healthier, happier South Africa, one microbiome at a time.