Kefir, which loosely translated into English means “feel good“, is a fermented dairy product that originates from a region of Turkey that is believed to contain the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. Similar in taste and texture to drinkable yogurt, Kefir is actually much more nutritious. A fermented milk product, Kefir is more bio available than regular milk and is enjoyed by many that are lactose intolerant.
The ancient Turks kept the Kefir recipe a closely guarded secret for over a thousand years. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the secret of Kefir was spread. The legend of this super-food spread outside of the Caucacus mountain region and even Marco Polo wrote of it’s incredible benefits when visiting the area.
Russian medical professionals took notice of Kefir when it showed promise in treating tuberculosis and stomach diseases in Sanatoria. The All Russian Physician’s Society became intent on finding the secret recipe. At the turn of the 19th century the Blandov Brothers, Russian dairy farmers, became obsessed with the marketability of Kefir and concocted a plan to steal the recipe from the Turks. Nikolai Blandov sent a beautiful young employee, Irina Sakharova, to the court of a local prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov. She was instructed to charm the prince and persuade him to give her some kefir grains. Unfortunately, everything did not go according to plan. The prince, fearing retribution for violating a religious law, had no intention of giving away any ‘Grains of the Prophet’. However, he was very taken with the young Irina and didn’t want to lose her either. Realizing that they were not going to complete their mission, Irina and her party departed for Kislovodsk. However, they were stopped on the way home by mountain tribesmen who kidnapped Irina and took her back to the prince. Since it was a local custom to steal a bride, Irina was told that she was to marry Bek-Mirza Barchorov. Only a daring rescue mission mounted by agents of her employers saved Irina from the forced marriage. The unlucky prince was catted before the Tsar who ruled that the prince was to give Irina ten pounds of kefir grains, to recompense her for the insults she had endured. The kefir grains were taken to the Moscow Dairy and in September, 1908, the first bottles of kefir drink were offered for sale in Moscow. Small quantities of kefir were produced in several small towns in the area where there was a ready market for it; people mostly consume it for its alleged medicinal value. In modern times every Russian school child has a glass of Kefir every day upon arriving at school. The secret of Kefir is out and readily available in the US.
It is now possible to make your very own Kefir at home by using young green coconuts instead of dairy in the beginning. This tremendously healthy beverage is a huge hit with children and many parents have fun tying in the story of Kefir as they make it together.