I’ve been a little preoccupied with goats over the last few weeks. Ever since hearing Shann Jones of the Chuckling Goat on Steve Wright on Radio 2 a few weeks back talking a great show about the benefits of goats milk probiotic for eczema, I’ve been borderline obsessive about these gorgeous little creatures and their health giving properties. I have just finished a 21 day course of kefir, a probiotic drink made from raw goats milk, produced on Shann’s idyllic farm in West Wales and I believe I’m starting to see the benefits. (I won’t repeat everything I’ve already written about probiotics and allergies/eczema – you can read all about it here).
My final week of taking the 21-day course of kefir saw my skin feeling supple, clear and strong. I do seem to have had fewer allergic reactions on my face and I feel pretty perky too. But these phases come and go naturally anyway so I would need to give it much much longer to give the results a proper road test.
I would dearly love to order the magical kefir from Chuckling Goat each 21 days and continue where I left off, but my bank account would bleat loudly at that idea. So that left me with the DIY option. Now, in my wildest dreams of course, I am shepherding a herd of goats on a Greek island soaking up the freshly pressed olive oil and Mediterranean sun and warmth …
… but a screech back to reality sent me off to our amazing local farm shop where I managed to stock up on some raw goats milk from a small farm in Kent. For the kefir starter there was a choice to be made – live kefir grains (the best and would provide an indefinite supply of kefir for generations of little Beczemas to come) or kefir direct-set powder (a slightly less risky option for the novice kefir brewer – will provide 4-5 weeks of repeated brewing). I went for the direct-set option simply because it is my first attempt.
So here’s the kit:
- 1 litre of raw goats milk
- 1 litre kilner jar (run through the hottest setting on the dishwasher)
- 1 packet of direct set-kefir powder
- Stirring spoon (also washed in hot dishwasher)
Raw goats milk from Ellie’s Dairy in neighbouring Kent:
Kefir Direct-set Powder Starter Culture from Natural Probiotic Selection
Step One: Pour your powder into the (clean!) kilner jar
Step Two: Pour milk into jar (warmed to around 30-35 degrees is advised – I warmed it until it just took away the chill and felt like room temperature)
Step Three: Stir with (extremely clean!) spoon
Step Four: Secure a muslin cloth over the top to keep the nasties out and let the whole thing breathe as it ferments and turn into your little magical pot of eczema warriors that you can send into your gut to fight your atopic fight for you. Somewhere that will be warm (20 degrees or so) and not in direct sunlight. I’ve put mine on my kitchen counter top.
Step Five: After 48 hours – and after the milk has set to a thick, but still drinkable consistency, remove three tablespoons of the kefir into another (scrupulously clean!) kilner jar and pour on as much raw goats milk as you like (to a maximum of 1 litre) to start the whole process again – this time leaving only for 24 hours. Give your kefir a shake and chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours, shake again before you drink it and hey presto – Kefir for eczema.
You can carry on doing this for about 4-5 weeks apparently with the direct-set powder starter. With the live grains on the other hand, you can just strain out the grains (with a plastic sieve – metal sends it into a spiral of kefir hysterics so I’m told) and then pour on the new milk to keep the live grains fed and happy. In fact the grains multiply so fast that kefir brewers pass them on to friends and likeminded people with a desire for a healthy gut.
So, there it is – quick and easy kefir. Of course, the easy peasiness of the whole exercise has come with a wee compromise – I’ve got to confess that, so far, the direct set stuff is not a patch on the taste of the kefir from Chuckling Goat, which has a beautiful fizzy and sour kick to it, so I’m going to switch to live grains as soon as I can in the hope that the taste improves. But I’m going to keep on keeping on with this stuff because my skin has never felt so healthy, supple and strong. I’d love to hear from anyone else who is having a go themselves – and, well, if any kefir brewers want to share some live grains, you know where I am. Wishing everyone happy skin 🙂