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If you’re looking for ways to incorporate healthier foods into your diet, click here. Kefir offers a lot of health benefits and is similar to yogurt. Here are the main differences between kefir vs. yogurt.
Did you know that kefir and yogurt actually aren’t the same thing?
When it comes to kefir vs. yogurt, many people think that they’re essentially the same. However, comparing kefir vs. yogurt isn’t comparing apples and apples – it’s more like comparing apples and pears.
Should you choose kefir or yogurt for your health? What makes them different? In this guide, we’ll answer those questions and more – keep reading to learn more about kefir vs. yogurt!
Kefir vs. Yogurt Starter Cultures
Kefir and yogurt are both cultured dairy products, which is where some of the confusion comes from. However, they both have different starter cultures, which sets these two products on different paths from the start.
Kefir can actually be made from coconut milk, rice milk, coconut water, and other non-dairy products. But for the purpose of comparing kefir vs. yogurt, we’ll take a look at dairy or milk kefir.
Milk kefir is a type of mesophilic culture. This means it gets cultured at room temperature, no matter what starter culture you use. Yogurt, on the other hand, has two starter types: mesophilic and thermophilic.
Mesophilic yogurt starter gets cultured at room temperature, just like milk kefir does. But thermophilic yogurt starter gets cultured in hot temperatures instead.
Thermophilic yogurt starters should generally be prepared in an appliance like a yogurt maker. This kind of yogurt generally cultures at about 100 degrees F.
Kefir vs. Yogurt Propagation
Milk kefir, like yogurt, can be cultured with either a single-use or reusable culture.
However, with yogurt, a small amount of the prior batch can be reused for continuous culturing. But with kefir, it can be cultured continuously using milk kefir grains.
These grains don’t look like the “grains” you might usually imagine. They’re a gelatinous mix that hosts plenty of yeast and bacteria, which allow you to make the batches of kefir continuously. You’ll need to transfer the milk kefir grains to fresh milk at least once every 24 hours.
You can also use powdered kefir starter to make milk kefir. This is kind of like using a direct-set yogurt culture.
The powdered kefir starter can get re-cultured for a few reuses, using the prior batch of kefir. But after a few reuses, you’ll need some new powdered kefir starter to work with.
Yogurt starters can also be reusable or single-use. Reusable yogurt starters, when they’ve been activated, get recultured when you mix a little bit of the batch of yogurt into some fresh milk. Each new batch can be used as a starter for the next batch, unlike kefir.
Your yogurt cultures will usually need to be re-cultured at least once a week. You can get powdered yogurt cultures for single-use or direct-set culturing. These powdered starters tend to be thermophilic.
Every time you make a fresh batch of yogurt using this method, you’ll need some new starter cultures. You can re-culture this yogurt a few times, but before long you’ll need some new powdered starter to make more.
Bacteria in Kefir vs. Yogurt
Milk kefir contains bacteria that can colonize your intestinal tract. It also contains many more different types of bacteria, in addition to yeast.
If having bacteria colonize your intestinal tract sounds scary, you might be surprised. Kefir is actually very helpful for people with gastrointestinal issues, since it can help bring the bacteria ratio in the gastrointestinal tract back to a healthy level.
However, yogurt also has its share of healthy bacteria. These bacteria are useful for cleaning your digestive tract, and they offer a food source to the healthy bacteria that you should have.
The difference is that, unlike kefir bacteria, the yogurt bacteria actually don’t colonize the intestinal tract. They’re known as transient bacteria, because they just pass through.
Eating Kefir vs. Yogurt
So there are some differences in the health benefits of kefir vs. yogurt, as well as the process of making them. But what about eating them?
Milk kefir is tart, like yogurt, but it tends to also have a yeasty flavor since it has so many beneficial yeasts in its culture. Milk kefir also tends to taste more sour than yogurt. Some people say it tastes like a mix of yogurt and cultured buttermilk.
By changing the fermentation time, you can actually change the taste of milk kefir.
Kefir also isn’t as thick as yogurt. You don’t eat it with a spoon – you typically drink it as a dairy beverage.
Yogurt can have a range of tastes of its own. Depending on the type of starter that was used, it might taste tangier or milder. Yogurt consistency ranges from thin and easy to pour to creamy and thick.
However, on the whole, yogurt is thicker than kefir.
Uses for Kefir vs. Yogurt
Both kefir and yogurt can be used to make a number of different things.
Each dairy product can become thicker when you drain the whey from them. If you drain away the whey from yogurt, you’ll get a much thicker yogurt, sometimes known as Greek yogurt. If you drain even more whey from the yogurt, you’ll end up with a type of yogurt cheese.
With milk kefir, draining the whey results in kefir cream cheese, spreadable cheese, or even hard cheese.
Lots of different recipes also use yogurt or kefir in a number of different capacities.
Should You Buy Kefir or Yogurt?
Kefir and yogurt have some things in common, but their benefits, uses, and tastes vary a lot.
Which one should you choose when it comes to kefir vs. yogurt? It all comes down to personal preference. We recommend giving both a try to find out what you really like.
Of course, most people are more familiar with yogurt than with kefir. Wondering how to add kefir to your diet? Check out our tips here.