Kefir, pronounced just like the first name of actor Kiefer Sutherland and not to be confused with kaffir, a type of lime, is a cultured milk. “So many people don’t know what it is,” says Jennifer Lynn Bice, owner of Redwood Hill Farm and Green Valley Organics, who starting making kefir on her family farm back in 1978. “It’s like a sister or cousin to yogurt in that it starts out with milk and we add beneficial bacteria or cultures.” Bice says the process leaves kefir liquidy and drinkable, whereas yogurt remains spoonable. The differences don’t stop there.
It’s a cruel fact: Many of the foods that are potentially good for us also have names seemingly designed to trip us up. Who among us did not have the red-in-the-face moment of learning that quinoa wasn’t pronounced “kee-noah”? To spare us all future embarrassment in the aisles of the Health Food Hut, here’s a guide to several food words known to cause verbal stumbles.
What it is: This dark purple berry is now ubiquitous in health-food store products everywhere, thanks to its reputed superfood powers. It’s a storehouse of antioxidants and may help support the immune system.
How to say it: You’ll sound like a pro at the smoothie shack when you ask to have “ah-sah-EE” added to the mix.
Agar (also, Agar-Agar)
What it is: This gelatinous substance is derived from red algae and used as a thickener and gelling agent in foods like puddings, jelly candies, soups and sauces. Because it comes from a plant (unlike gelatin, which is derived from animals), it’s popular with vegetarians and vegans who can’t resist a good pudding.
How to say it: It’s pronounced “AH-ger,” which, beer lovers will note, rhymes with lager.
A “cultured milk product” may sound foreign, but if you’ve ever eaten yogurt, you’re closer to kefir than you thought. Find out what makes it just a little more special.
What Is Kefir?
Kefir has the mild tang of yogurt, only with a thinner and more drinkable consistency. Plain is the traditional variety but its increasing popularity has caused manufacturers to produce flavors like cherry, strawberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pomegranate. Low-carb flavors are also available but are sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Kefir is available in non-fat, low-fat and whole milk forms. Brands such as Lifeway also offer frozen, scoop-able versions, with a texture similar to frozen yogurt.
“Probiotic” — seems like that word pops up more and more in the dairy aisle these days. Many foods are sporting probiotic labels and promising digestive bliss, but does this bacteria deserve all the hype? Here are the basics.