Why The Recipe For Kefir Was Once A Secret

If you've long been invested in the world of dairy-milk alternatives, you may have tried your fair share of classic vegan options like oat, soy, or almond milks, and settled on a favorite. Or, you may have found some lesser-known types of plant-based milks, like pea or hemp milk, to best suit your dietary needs. Even if you're not strictly against limiting dairy in your diet, you may have started supplementing your post-workout smoothies, morning cereal bowls, or homemade salad dressings with kefir instead. For those unfamiliar, kefir is a fermented beverage made from the milk of either sheep, goats, or cows. Kefir is widely considered a superfood, and it has grown very popular in North America for its health benefits.

From it having antibacterial properties to it being stacked with probiotics to evidence that it may prevent certain cancers, kefir is definitely worth incorporating into your diet. However, since long before kefir became a trendy probiotic drink in the U.S., the beverage has been a centuries-old staple in many cultures around the world. Kefir is thought by researchers to have its roots in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe, close to modern day Turkey. And, kefir's origin story is shrouded in both mystery and mysticism.

The legend of kefir

Kefir is a drink that has been around for likely more than 1,000 years and, like many centuries-old foods, its exact beginnings are not fully known. There is a long-standing myth that has been worked into the drink's origin story, though, and it is one told by the Islamic people who inhabit a region of the Caucasus Mountains. It is said that Mohammed was the first one who gave kefir grains, a combination of yeasts and bacterias that are integral in making kefir, to the Orthodox Christians in the area. The legend says that Mohammed was the one responsible for inventing the drink, and, after he taught the Christians the process of making kefir, the newfound grains were kept a secret by the group. They worried that if the knowledge became well-known, the grains would lose their effectiveness. People were thought to live longer lives if they drank kefir and that it was a miraculous way to preserve milk.

As a result, kefir grains were considered a great gift and, therefore, were handed down clandestinely from generation to generation. While some outside of the original families were able to taste the drink, it was the production process that was really considered a gift from God. In fact, families kept it to themselves so well that the drink had mostly disappeared until the 1800s. Eventually, the long-held secret escaped the Caucasus Mountain region and kefir can be found all over the world today.