Despite popular belief, kefir and yoghurt are very different products. Yoghurt and kefir are extremely similar in uses and variety, but they are different dairy products.
In fact, even though they do have similar qualities, kefir is not a variation of yoghurt. They both have positive effects on our digestive system and are dairy products, but there are some differences as well. In this article, we are going to discover the main differences between kefir and yoghurt.
What is kefir?
Kefir originated centuries ago in the Caucasus Mountains near present-day Turkey. The word kefir is in fact derived from the Turkish word 'keif', which translates to 'good feeling'.
Actually, there is not only one kefir. There are, in fact, two types of kefir: milk and water. Both are made using live cultures, also called kefir grains, but they are not the same grains.
Milk kefir is a fermented milk drink made from cow, goat, or sheep milk. Water kefir is a similar product but has a water base instead of milk.
Milk kefir is kind of like a drinkable yoghurt that contains probiotics —good bacteria and yeasts— that may help maintain a healthy digestive system. The big difference between yoghurt and milk kefir is that milk kefir generally contains more strains of probiotics than regular yoghurt. Milk kefir typically contains five or more probiotics, while most yoghurts generally contain just two, such as Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. But that doesn't mean milk kefir is better than yoghurt. Some of those probiotics don't make it to your gut because stomach acid can kill them.
The water version can be fizzy like a soda. It's similar to kombucha, only it has a more 'filtered' taste. Like milk kefir, water kefir also contains six probiotics, but they are a little bit different from those found in milk kefir. The grains are different. Water kefir grains look kind of like crushed ice and feed on sugar during fermentation; milk kefir grains look like cottage cheese and feed on the lactose in milk during fermentation.
Milk kefir can be made at home using living cultures called milk kefir grains. The kefir grains are mixed with milk and then left to ferment for about 24 hours. The grains are then strained out and kefir is ready to drink by itself or it can be added to smoothies and other recipes. The method used for making water kefir is similar to making milk kefir, but the grains are different.
What is yoghurt?
Yoghurt, also spelt yogurt, is a semifluid milk product obtained by fermentation of milk specific microorganisms, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These bacteria convert lactose (a sugar in milk) to lactic acid. As a result, the mixture sets and develops a characteristic tang.
Yoghurt may be made from the milk of many different herbivorous animals such as cows, sheep, goats, or water buffalo. Cow’s milk is used in western countries; sheep’s and goat’s milk are used in Turkey and southeastern Europe; water buffalo's milk is most commonly used in India.
How is yoghurt made?
In its simplest and basic form, yoghurt is made by just adding lactic acid bacteria to the milk. These bacteria are usually Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. By adding lactic acid bacteria also called "yoghurt culture", the milk starts the fermentation process and during this process, the lactose naturally present in milk is converted to lactic acid. The milk is kept warm during fermentation to allow lactic acid bacteria to ferment lactose into lactic acid. The lactic acid produced increases the acidity of the milk and causes the milk to curdle over a period of time up to 12 hours.
The characteristics of the yoghurt are dependent on the yoghurt culture type, the composition of the milk and the temperature and duration of the fermentation process.
Kefir nutrition information
Kefir is an excellent source of the minerals magnesium and potassium and is also a good source of vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D2, vitamin K, folate and phosphorous. One cup of low-fat cow’s milk kefir with no added sugar contains only 2 g of total fat and it is the equivalent of just 110 calories.
Yoghurt nutrition information
Yoghurt contains a lot of calcium, a mineral necessary for healthy bones. It is also high in B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Unfortunately, yoghurt does not naturally contain vitamin D3, but it is commonly fortified.
How to eat kefir
Kefir is not only a healthy and delicious beverage but is also a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of recipes. Kefir matches perfectly with pine nuts and aromatic basil. Fancy giving this peculiar pairing a try? You should check out our cold kefir soup with basil and radish. But if, instead, you are looking for a new cold soup recipe idea, you should try this cold beetroot soup with radishes, cucumber, dill and kefir to serve with a boiled egg.
How to eat yoghurt
Similarly to kefir, yoghurt is not only a nutrient-dense food but is also used as a versatile ingredient in many types of recipes around the world. A very unusual combo is yoghurt and aubergines or eggplants. Eggplants with yoghurt is a vegetarian recipe that is simple to prepare.
If your guests prefer to enjoy a typical Indian delicacy, chicken tikka patties with yoghurt mint sauce, considered Indian at heart, is the best solution to turn your exotic Asian dinner into a complete success.
Last but not least, if you are more into baking at home and looking for new scones ideas, try these easy yoghurt scones at home.