Product Test: Mad Millie Kefir Kit
I must confess, things like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha aren’t really my thing. However, fermented foods and beverages are all the rage right now so when Kiwi company Mad Millie offered to send me one of their Handcrafted Kefir Kits for reviewing I figured I’d check it out to see what all the fuss was about.
Here are my thoughts on the kit, what kefir actually is, and why it’s so good for us.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink rich in probiotics which originated in the Causcaus Mountains between Asia and Europe hundreds of years ago. It’s typically slightly sour in taste (just as you’d expect from natural yoghurt, which also contains probiotics) and is traditionally made by adding kefir ‘grains’, or live active yeast, to cow, sheep or goat milk.
The probiotics found in kefir are said to help keep the digestive system healthy, support detoxification and boost immunity. Rich in vitamins and minerals, kefir is typically low in sugar as whatever is in the base is ‘consumed’ by the yeast during the fermentation process.
Although it’s usually a dairy product, kefir can also be made without milk by using products such as soy milk, coconut milk or juice instead. These alternatives can be a good option for people who experience dairy or lactose allergies.
Alongside homemade coconut yoghurt and people sourcing scobys to brew their own kombucha, kefir is gaining traction with the fermentation craze.
The Mad Millie Kefir Kit contains everything you need to make it yourself; simply add the culture to your own milk, soy, coconut milk or juice – leave for 24 hours, shake and it’s ready to drink.
This health drink contains eight strains of live kefir culture which are beneficial for your tummy and help you get the best out of your food.
Although Mad Millie’s recommendation is to use full-fat cow’s milk, you can use a range of liquids as a base. This means kefir can still be an option for people with lactose intolerance (however, please note this kit is not dairy-free). Nutrition and energy content of the final product will depend on which liquid you choose to use.
Getting started I did the good reviewer thing and read through the instructions properly. It was far more simple than I anticipated.
The Kefir Kit contains:
- 1 litre glass jar with lid
- Stainless steel mixing ball (the kind you often find in protein shakers)
- Cheese cloth
- Freeze dried Kefir starter culture
The starter culture that comes with the kit consists of two consumable sachets – one makes a litre of kefir – and you can purchase replacements from a range of stockists. Like the top quality probiotics capsules you get from the pharmacy, this freeze dried culture should be stored in the fridge or freezer if possible as it stays in better condition for longer when it’s cool.
For each culture sachet you can reculture your kefir up to two more times by saving quarter of a cup from your previous batch and adding it to 1 litre of new liquid. This means you can make up to 6 litres from just two sachets.
As for actually using your kefir, you can drink on its own as-is, or use it as a milk replacement such as pouring it over cereal or adding it to a smoothie. You can easily flavour it naturally by adding vanilla extract, honey, or maple syrup.
With this kit you can also make Kefir Cheese too.
ROAD TEST BATCH 1:
I used coconut water as the base. I’m a huge fan of coconut water and drink plenty of it so it was already in the house. All I had to do was fill the jar with coconut water, add the sachet, pop in the mixing ball and give it a good shake. Left it on the bench with the lid sealed overnight (keeping the lid on prevents air escaping which results in it being a little fizzy) and it was ready 24 hours later.
The result was a slightly sour, slightly fizzy coconut-water flavoured drink. Unlike using a milk product for the base, coconut water remains watery as opposed to thickening up so the end product is probably more suited as a chilled beverage. It wasn’t really my thing, but interestingly the husband liked it (he doesn’t like standard coconut water) and the toddler LOVED it.
ROAD TEST BATCH 2:
This time I used full-fat cow’s milk and decided to make a more traditional style kefir. To do this you fill the jar with milk (I only made a half batch), add the sachet and mixing ball, then shake it up. Next take a double layer of cheesecloth in place of the lid and secure it over the top of the jar with a rubber band; the instructions advise to cut a square but I just took a corner of the cloth and folded it over. You leave this overnight for 24 hours and your kefir is ready to go!
I decided to go one step further and make kefir cheese; the only difference is that you leave it on your benchtop for an extra 24 hours. Once the liquid has thickened, you strain the cheese through the cheesecloth and leave it in a colander to drain overnight again. The next morning you’re left with a fresh, mild soft cheese which can be flavoured and seasoned with salt, pepper and/or herbs. As I’m pregnant I erred on the side of caution and left my husband to sample this one. He was dubious at first even though he knows I make a lot of things from scratch, but after sampling the first lot on crackers with tomato he announced that it was good and he’d eat it again. Ever the master of understatement, this is about as excited as his recommendations get so I’d take that as a big win…
Where to get it
The Mad Millie Kefir Kit (RRP $21.99) is available from a range of stockists around the country. For more information visit www.madmillie.com.
Thanks to Mad Millie for providing the products for review and giveaway
WIN: 1 of 2 Mad Millie kits to try your own hand at fermenting!
The lovely people at Mad Millie have provided two prizes for two lucky winners.
One winner will receive a Mad Millie Coconut Yoghurt Kit valued at RRP $34.90 to make a delicious dairy-free alternative to regular yoghurt.
The other winner will score a Mad Millie Kefir Kit valued at RRP $21.99; the same one as I’ve used in this review!
Fill out the form below for a chance to win and let me know which one you’d prefer; it’s as easy as that.
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Images / NZ Real Health