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What are cultured milk drinks?

Cultured milk drinks by their nature are between milk and yoghurt, and are often called a superior cousins to yoghurt, as they contain a greater variety and quantum of beneficial bacteria and are lighter and easier to digest.

What is Kefir?

Kefir (the second syllable is stressed) is the most widely known cultured milk drink, made by fermenting milk with 2000-year-old kefir ‘grains’ (cultures) that are a natural symbiosis of a large number (40+) of beneficial bacteria strains and several types of beneficial yeasts. As a result, Kefir contains billions of live gut-friendly bacteria and therefore has unparalleled probiotic properties and is naturally low in lactose. Enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, Kefir is often referred to as the champagne of milk. Bio-tiful Kefir is naturally packed with essential vitamins and minerals (including B12 and B2), is high in protein and calcium and free from artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. It’s a lot more powerful than yoghurt as it contains over 40 strains of gut-friendly bacteria (compared to yoghurt which typically has around four).

Where do these drinks originate from?

Kefir dates back over 2000 years to the north Caucasus Mountains where it has always been associated with a long list of health benefits. It is prepared by fermenting cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir ‘grains’ or live cultures – a fermentation starter culture that naturally combines beneficial bacteria and yeasts. In order to live and multiply the ‘grains’ need to be in milk. The beneficial yeast component of the culture provides Kefir with a very refreshing, slightly tangy taste.

What is the difference between yoghurt and Kefir?

Kefir has more (and a wider variety of) beneficial bacteria – the widest variety known amongst natural foods in fact (it contains over 40 strains – compared to yoghurt which typically has just a few)
Kefir’s bacteria are believed to be capable of colonising our intestines, rather than yoghurt that just passes through
Kefir’s protein curd size is smaller than yoghurt’s, making it easier to digest and perfect for babies, elderly, those recovering from illnesses and operations

Overall Kefir has a thinner consistency than yogurt and is typically sold as a beverage. You can drink it, pour it over cereal and granola, or blend it with fruit and/or vegetables to make a smoothie. To make Kefir, milk is fermented with the authentic kefir ‘grains’/culture that contains 40+ strains of beneficial bacteria and beneficial yeasts. Hence Kefir is often referred to as the ‘superior cousin to yoghurt’.

What is the difference between Kefir and Baked Milk Kefir (Riazhenka)?

The difference between these two cultured milk drinks comes from what their cultures contain and how the milk is treated (i.e. temperature and length of the heat treatment of milk before the fermentation). Based on the authentic recipe, the milk for Riazhenka is gently baked for a couple of hours before it is fermented, giving it a more intense, naturally slightly sweeter taste and thicker texture. In comparison, Kefir feels light and refreshing with a silky, smooth texture; its range of gut-friendly bacteria is the richest among all natural foods and, unlike Riazhenka, its culture contains gentle Kefir yeast, which gives this product its ‘umph’.

How much sugar is there in our cultured milk drinks?

There is absolutely no added sugar in any of our products. Our original Kefir and Baked Milk Kefir both contain just two ingredients: whole cow’s milk and live cultures. The only sugars are the naturally occurring milk sugars, most of which are consumed during the fermentation process. In our two smoothies, the only sugar is the naturally occurring fructose from the fruit.

What are the most notable uses of Kefir and Baked Milk Kefir (Riazhenka) in Russia?

In nurseries (a glass of Kefir a day has always been a must!)
Recovery food in hospitals
Alongside or after a course of antibiotics
As the central part of a slimming diet of the Russian beauties!

Does Kefir contain alcohol?

Yes, it contains around 0.2% alcohol (i.e. a negligible amount), due to the presence of the beneficial yeasts in its culture. It is such a miniscule dose, that the drink by definition is not at all alcoholic.

Which probiotic strains are in Bio-tiful Kefir?

There is the fullest spectrum of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillius strains within our kefir and riazhenka cultures. In our Kefir, there are over 40 different strains of beneficial bacteria. It is a truly live product so no batch is an exact replica of another (due to the fermentation process that naturally occurs). Though there are key groups of beneficial bacteria that are always present which include:

  • Lactococcus Lactis
  • Lactococcus Cremoris
  • Leuconostoc Mesenteroides
  • Streptococcus Thermophiles
  • Lactobacillius
  • Bifidobacterium

Are cultured milk drinks safe to drink for children and expectant and breast-feeding mothers?

Yes. In a significant number of countries in Europe and Asia expectant and breast-feeding mothers are recommended to drink Kefir, and children literally grow up on these drinks, consuming them instead of milk and yoghurt (as they are essentially a more beneficial alternative to either). The added benefit of drinking cultured milks when expecting or breast-feeding is that beneficial bacteria can be passed onto the baby.

Do you make your Kefir from pasteurised milk?

Pasteurisation of milk is required by UK law when sold for public consumption, however this only means bringing milk’s temperature to 62 degrees for a few seconds (which claims to kill basic poor bacteria). Naturally, this is done at the stage of the milk preparation, before the fermentation of milk with live kefir cultures, hence there is absolutely no impact of pasteurisation on bacteria.

Can lactose-intolerant people consume cultured milk drinks?

Cultured milks drinks are naturally very low in lactose as a result of the fermentation process, whereby beneficial bacteria consume lactose. The Company’s founder is mildly lactose intolerant and she (like everybody around her) grew up with these drinks.

How much Kefir should I drink daily to feel its benefits?

Kefir is first and foremost a natural, every-day food that has existed for around 2000 years; therefore there is no recommend daily allowance, as it is not a supplement or medicine. In Eastern European and Asian countries Kefir is drunk by the litre! Our 250ml bottle is a cup-size and 500ml bottle is essentially 2 cups.

What allergens do our organic cultured milks contain?

None, except for cow’s milk (naturally!). This means that our Kefir, Baked Milk Kefir (Riazhenka) and two Kefir Smoothies are gluten-free and preservatives-free.

Why are our cultured milk drinks made with lightly homogenised milk?

In order to make our drinks in sufficient quantities for everybody to enjoy (i.e. in larger than home kitchen volumes), we are having to lightly homogenise the milk before fermenting it, so that we can achieve consistent results in the quality of these truly live products.

Are our Kefir drinks suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, absolutely.

How does dairy Kefir differ from non-dairy alternatives?

Kefir is traditionally made with whole cow’s milk as this is the best environment for the live culture to thrive. Only dairy Kefir contains certain essential amino acids (including tryptophan that is known to help relax the nervous system) and a significant number of essential vitamins and minerals that are contained in the high-quality milk that we use.

What essential vitamins and minerals are contained in our cultured milks drinks?

Following EU regulations, we have listed on our packaging all essential vitamins and minerals that account for over 15% of the NRV (Nutrient Reference Values, formally RDA – Recommended Daily Allowance) in a portion, i.e. 250ml. This includes vitamins B2 and B12, calcium and phosphorus. There are plenty of others found in our Kefir, however as they are below that threshold, we have not referenced them on our labels. These include magnesium, iron, zinc, Biotin and vitamins A, K, B6 and D.

How important is it to refrigerate Kefir, and how should I consume it?

It is very important to refrigerate our live, cultured milk drinks properly, i.e. below 5 degrees, as otherwise the bacteria will ‘wake up’ before they get into your tummy and get too active, sometimes giving an over-powering taste (and fizz in Kefir). Therefore please always make sure you keep our drinks at the back of your fridge and check the fridge’s temperature regularly, to ensure that it is between 2 and 5 degrees. Give the bottle a good shake before opening and enjoy cool – on their own, with your cereal or muesli, or poured over fruit (please see our Recipes page for lots more ideas)!

As it is a live product full of beneficial bacteria and yeast, why can’t I use it for more than 2 days after opening?

Because our Kefir is a live, preservatives-free product, full of beneficial bacteria and yeast, once opened and in contact with the air the cultures ‘wake up’ and the product becomes fizzier and ‘more sour’ (whilst it is not dangerous to drink past the UBD, it is there really to indicate the date beyond which it is not advisable to use the product).

Is Kefir gluten-free?

Yes, our Kefir is completely gluten-free. It contains naturally occurring beneficial yeasts, not the standard bread-baking yeast (which may well contain gluten!).

Does heating Kefir make it lose its beneficial qualities?

As Kefir’s fermentation process takes place at above 30 degrees, the culture is actually at its most active at this temperature (e.g. when you consume chilled Kefir, the culture is ‘sleeping’ in the bottle, and wakes up once in your body that brings its temperature right up). There is no clear rule of thumb as to at which temperature each type of bacteria begins to fade, but it is most likely to happen around 70 degrees.

Is your Kefir made from a packet of cultures or real kefir grains?

Our Kefir is made from superior, perfectly balanced authentic kefir grains (which are freeze-dried and powdered for transportation). The quality of the grains and milk that we use mean our Kefir has a beautiful taste and texture.

What plastic do you use, is it safe?

We use a prominent European packaging producer and the material used for our bottles is the highest quality food-grade approved HDPE, meaning it is very safe. The packaging is also fully recyclable.

How many millions of beneficial bacteria does Kefir contain?

Each 250ml portion contains c 2.5bn of beneficial bacteria.

How long are the Kefir products fermented for?

It is over 10 hours with the specific, grains-based cultures that we use.

Can you freeze Kefir?

Yes, Kefir can be frozen (the bacteria are asleep anywhere below 5 degrees Celsius). However, it is not to be kept in this state for too long (a few weeks) and once defrosted (in the fridge, not room temperature or any form of heating), it should be consumed within 24 hours.

What is Kefir-Quark?

Bio-tiful Kefir-Quark is the world’s first ever combination of Kefir, the 2000 year old bio-live drink, and Quark, a high-protein fresh cheese. This brand new, unique product is best described as somewhere between strained yoghurt and fresh cheese. It has a pure, natural taste and a delightfully thick and creamy texture. Packed with billions of gut-friendly bacteria and over 18g of protein per portion, Kefir-Quark boasts a wealth of health benefits.