Q. I have recently been drinking a lot of kefir instead of regular milk. I like that as a fermented food it has a lot of probiotics. I enjoy it plain, but I also like to add it to smoothies, iced drinks, or even with cereal. I have toying with the idea of adding it to some warm dishes as well, such as oatmeal once the winter sets in and I will be looking for warmer breakfasts to keep e going through cold days. I usually make my oatmeal in the microwave, and I don’t know if microwaving the kefir will ruin it. I’ve never heard of anyone using kefir in warm recipes before, so I’m not sure if heating it on the stove is a better idea, or if it’s fine to just heat it in the microwave. Can you microwave kefir?
A. This is a bit of a tricky question. In terms of plain taste, then if you like your kefir warm there’s no reason why you can’t heat it up in the microwave as you would any other liquid. It’s not the traditional way to consume it, but it would certainly add extra flavour to a dish like oatmeal. However, there is the question of the probiotics.
It’s generally believed that heating foods kills the healthy bacteria after a certain temperature. That is regardless of whether the food is heated in the microwave or on the stove. It’s the heat that affects the bacteria, not the method of heating that’s important. Heating kefir to relatively low temperatures may not remove all of the probiotics, but I’m not a scientist so I can’t tell you for certain how hot is too hot.
If you are not overly concerned about the probiotic aspect being compromised from time to time, then you can go ahead and heat kefir in the microwave when you feel like it. Keep in mind that like regular milk, it can burn quite easily, so begin at a medium heat, and check it after short intervals of about 15-30 seconds each. Stirring the kefir partway through the heating process can also help evenly distribute heat. Allow the kefir to stand for a minute or two after heating before consuming. Refrigerate any unused kefir immediately, and consume as soon as possible. I don’t recommend reheating previously microwaved kefir.