I just got a good question in my comments:
What is the difference between buttermilk and kefir? I have heard that both are good for you (talking health here) and just wondering what the differences are or similarities? Thank you
They have different flavors and consistencies. I too am exploring the health aspects to them. BTW- the book Nourishing Traditions is quite the eye opener! I just started it and its rocking my world.
- cultured buttermilk is the liquid that comes out of the butter-making process. (My post about butter making doesn’t include the culturing step- but the blog Travelers Lunchbox does. Its an easy process- I recommend it. ). Cream is mixed with a yogurt culture and set out for a couple of hours at room temperature. The now cultured cream is churned into cultured butter and cultured buttermilk is the liquid that is left over.
- kefir is milk that is treated with kefir grains or freeze-dried kefir culture. The grains are reusable, the freeze dried culture isn’t- a new packet is used each time you make kefir. The kefir is made in a manner similar to making cultured cream for making butter- the kefir grains are added to milk that has been briefly heated. The milk with kefir grains is left at room temperature for several hours and becomes thick and takes on a yogurt-like flavor. It is then refrigerated when it achieves a good flavor and is thicker. Kefir will continue to ferment- and become more nutritious with age.
Kefir looks and tastes like a drinkable yogurt- however it contains beneficial bacteria that is slightly different than yogurt and more active. It’s flavor is also more nuanced than yogurt’s.
How are they good health wise? Eating food like kefir is considered beneficial as it contains healthy bacteria that are digestive system needs in our gut to help our own bodies with the digestive process. Food cultures worldwide have a tradition of supplementing their diet with “live” foods such as kefir, yogurt and other fermented foods.
Another good book to explain fermentation and its context in our food culture is Sandor Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.
hope that helps!