Many of you will now be familiar with one of Turkey’s most popular drinks, Ayran.

We recently came across another yoghurt type drink, kefir, and wanted to share it with our readers. The home made version is even better for you than ayran!


Kefir is an ancient fermented, enzyme rich drink that acts as a natural antibiotic. It’s a cultured drink that that is very similar to yoghurt.

Kefir is the Turkish word for good feeling and when drunk daily, kefir promotes health and an overall good feeling.

History of kefir

It’s history started thousands of years ago when shepherds and townsmen of the Caucasus Mountains discovered “kefir grains”.

The shepherds accidentally discovered this magical food when they kept raw milk in their leather pouches which fermented into an effervescent, carbonated drink. At first, they did not know anything about this new food. They just realized that they felt more energetic, healthier and were freed from diseases after taking it.

The origin of the grains has long been surrounded by mystery. The most popular story is of the Prophet Mohammed giving the Orthodox people of the Caucasian Mountain the very first grains and teaching them how to make kefir or “the drink of the Prophet Mohammed” from it.

Kefir - it's a cultural thing
These kefir “grains” are actually not grains but a delicate combination of beneficial yeast and bacteria.- they look similar to cauliflower florets

The kefir grains or “grains of the prophet” and the process of making kefir, were guarded very closely and were regarded as the family’s or tribe’s wealth. And since the kefir grains could be retrieved and reused indefinitely after each batch of culturing milk, these were passed on from generation to generation.

Magical kefir

Kefir grains are packed with billions of probiotics that are very beneficial to health. The following are some of the top kefir benefits.

Boosts immunity

Builds bone strength

Potentially fights cancer

Supports digestion

Improves allergies

Heals skin problems

Increases energy and gives you an overall feeling of excellent health

Kefir grains eat the lactose in the milk so people with lactose intolerance can drink it

Kefir - it's a cultural thing

Where can I buy it?

Commercially produced kefir is available in the dairy fridges in supermarkets alongside yogurts and ayran.

Kefir - it's a cultural thing
Kefir from Migros

You can choose natural or flavoured versions. The apple and cinnamon (elma ve tarcın) flavour is very tasty!

Kefir - it's a cultural thing

You can’t beat home made

If you talk to the locals they will tell you you can’t beat the authentic version, and they’d be absolutely right!

Making kefir is quite a simple process and, once you’ve started to feel the health benefits of your daily glass, you’ll want to make sure you always have some in the fridge.

What is needed to make your own?

  • 2 Wide-mouthed glass jars with plastic lid
  • Non-metal strainer (plastic mesh works well)
  • Large plastic bowl
  • Large wooden spoon
  • 3 Tbs. kefir grains
  • 1 L fresh milk
Kefir - it's a cultural thing
Milk kefir grains on a wooden spoon – Photograph courtesy of Cultured Palate

Click here for the method from Cultures for Health

We may never know where kefir came from but it will continue to fascinate generations to come with its miraculous health benefits.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!