What Is The Difference?
People often ask whether they should buy kefir products in Canada at the local grocery store. My answer is always, "It depends."
The best kefir is the one you have and drink. So the first criteria is often simply to know whether you will take the time to care for the kefir culture, or if ready-made is better. Don't get me wrong, it is not a lot of work to keep a milk kefir starter healthy, but it does require a daily milk change, and some stirring. Not much work, but still more than some people are willing to take on.
If you do have 5 minutes a day to care for a milk kefir culture, then milk kefir grains will be a very worthwhile investment for your health. You may have heard that home made kefir milk is better for you than store bought milk kefir. Or you might just assume it is better without knowing why.
Store bought milk kefir is factory made using a very few specific bacteria strains. In fact it is more similar to yogurt than it is to authentic kefir milk made from heirloom milk kefir grains. Foods sold in the store need to be standardized. It is important for manufacturers to produce a consistent product. They limit the numbers of bacteria, and inhibit their growth. They also completely leave out the beneficial yeasts that are in the products. All of this is to provide consistency, but also to prevent bacterial activity from causing enough gas that the container will explode.
When you start making your own kefir, you will appreciate what that means. As bacteria and yeast devour the milk sugars, they put out gases like CO2 that create an effervescent (fizzy) quality. I always make kefir with a loose fitting lid so the gases do not build up. Manufacturers, however, need to properly seal their product. That could be a recipe for disaster.
So here is the breakdown of bacteria and yeast found in traditional kefir milk made from authentic heirloom milk kefir grains like we sell to Canadians on this site.
Homemade Kefir Bacteria and Yeast Breakdown
Bacteria Isolated in Home Made Milk Kefir
Lactobacillus casei subsp. casei
Lactobacillus paracasei subsp.paracase the
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
kefiranofaciens Lactobacillus subsp.kefiranofaciens
Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens subsp. My kefirgran
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis,
Lactobacillus parakefir the
Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris,
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis,
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp.cremoris,
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp.mesenteroides
Fungi Isolated in Home Made Milk Kefir
Dekkera anomala / Brettanomyces anomalus
Candida Friedrich the
Saccharomyces Exiguus Torulopsis Holm
Candida inconspicu A
Kluyveromyces marxianus / Candida kefir
Pichia fermentans / Candida firmetari Candida lamblia by
Issatchenki orientalis / Candida krusei
Debaromyces hansenii / Candida Famatina A
Kluyveromyces lactis has . lactis
to loddera Kluyveromyces
of Yarrowia lypolyti / lypoliti by Candida
Saccharomyces sp nov turicensis
Kefir-specific Yeast Isolated in Home Made Milk Kefir
in Yarrowia lypolyti
Bacteria, Fungi and Yeast Isolated In Store Bought Kefir
Kefir bars Type I (Licaucasicus and
WOW! That is quite a difference right? I don't know which brand was tested. The study I read was in Turkish so I assume it was a Turkish bought kefir product. In Canada, one of the most prominent brands (and my favorite store brand!) is Liberté brand. Their kefir is organic, and quite delicious. You can also choose between effervescent and non-effervescent types. On their site, they state, "Our flat Kefir contains 10 types of bacteria and provides one billion bacteria per serving." (Comparatively, 2 cups of home made kefir can contain as many as 5 TRILLION bacteria!!) source~ SCDiet.net
That's a great start. If you think you do not have time to care for milk kefir grains starter culture, then Liberté kefir may be for you.
So now, when someone asks you, "What is the difference between homemade milk kefir and store bought milk kefir, you can tell them, "The difference is microscopic!"