Several years ago, I read about the health benefits of fermented foods. I decided to start adding more of them to our diet. Then, I realized we had a problem. We're pretty picky eaters around here and it turns out we didn't really like fermented foods much. We tried sauerkraut (couldn't get past the smell) and kimchi (ouch!). Then we tried kombucha which wasn't bad, but wasn't really something we enjoyed either. Finally, I was given some kefir grains. YAY! A fermented food we liked! Kefir tastes pretty much like yogurt only it's more of a liquid. We mostly use it as a base for smoothies. I also use it in place of yogurt and buttermilk in cooking. Last night I made biscuits replacing 1 cup of the milk with 1 cup of kefir and they turned out amazing! WebMD seems to consider it a medical treatment and has a whole list of precautions for using it, but we treat it as a food and haven't ever had any problems.
It starts out as little "grains" that look sort of like cauliflower tops. You pour milk over them, cover with a cloth (nothing air tight) and leave them alone for a day or two. Then you pour the whole thing in a colander and let the kefir strain out (sometimes I have to stir it a bit with a spatula). Refrigerate the finished product (or let it ferment a little longer at room temp., but we don't like it that strong) and pour more milk over the grains for a new batch. The whole thing works sort of like a sourdough starter. We enjoyed kefir for several years, then Owen was born. During the three weeks in the hospital and the first incredibly busy weeks home with a very high need baby, I managed to kill my kefir start. I considered getting more several times, but it seems as soon as I thought about it Owen's condition would change and require more work for a while.
A couple of months ago I answered an ad on Craig'slist for a couple of barn kittens. When the kittens' owner called to arrange a time for delivery, we got talking (she's a homeschool mom too) and she offered me another kefir start. So, I ended up with two gorgeous kitties (who are already hunting at only 4 months old) AND a brand new kefir starter.