by Don  

Another of the Russians' favorite fermented milk products is кефир kefir. You take milk, mix it with bacterial and yeast cultures, let it ferment for one or two or three days, and then bottle it. Usually it is made from cow's milk, but it's possible to use sheep or goat's milk as well. Compared to ряженка it is rather more acidic and slightly carbonated. The alcohol content in commercial kefir in Russia is usually less than 1%. It actually has live cultures in it, so it colonizes your gut with friendly flora that may have beneficial effects in human beings.


Most Americans' only exposure to cultured dairy products is to yogurt, usually flavored with sugar or fruit in the US, or sour cream as part of dips or dressings. So when Americans are first are exposed to kefir, they usually have a negative reaction. I didn't care for it at first, but now I really like it; and the American version that they sell in places like Whole Foods that is flavored with sugar and fruit... well, it's edible in a long-term toxic sort of way, but it's nothing like Russian kefir. Let's see some sample sentences:

— Ты любишь кефир?
— Очень.
“Do you like kefir?”
“Very much.”
—Ты хочешь кефира?
— Хочу.
“Do you want some kefir.”
“I do.”
Ни в одном из магазинов белорусской столицы кефира в продаже нет. Not a single store in the Belarusian capital has kefir for sale.
Скажи кефиру «Нет»! (source) Just say ‘no’ to kefir!
Похудеть на кефире: всю неделю нужно пить пол-литра кефира до четырёх часов дня. (adapted from this source) Lose weight on a kefir: all week long you need to drink half a liter of kefir by four o'clock in the afternoon.
Я обожаю острую пищу с кефиром — варишь макароны, на сковородке жаришь лук и красный перец, потом добавляешь черный перец, в блюдо наливаешь кефир и макароны, и со сковородки всё выкладываешь и сверху трёшь чеснок! Так остренько и вкусненько получается! (adapted from this source) I love to make spicy dishes garnished with kefir. You boil some pasta. In a frying pan saute onions plus red pepper, then add black pepper. Into a dish you pour the kefir and the pasta, and you pour out everything from the frying pan and mince some garlic. It turns out nicely spicy and yummy!

Now what about the nutritional value of kefir? Here's the label.

Nutritional value (contents per 100 g of product)
Fat — 2.5 g; protein — 2.8 g; carbohydrate — 4.0 g.
Energy value (caloric value)
per 100 g of product — 50 calories

Now that's interesting. In terms of its fat content it's about the same as ряженка.

1 comment

Comment from: Clifton [Visitor]

I love kefir and always had some in the refrigerator when I was in Russia.
In Novosibirsk, in May, 2011 one litre cost around 35 roubles; say, $1.20.

I bought some in Vancouver in June 2011 and had to pay $5.00 for one litre. Ouch!

06/29/11 @ 14:22

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