How to make kefir milk from kefir grains

kefir_grains_milk I’m very new to kefir milk and other probiotic foods/ drinks but it is so easy and super healthy that I wanted to share how to make it with you all. Firstly, some of you will be saying what on earth is kefir? (Just like I did until a few months ago). Kefir (we pronounce it Kiefir like Kiefer Sutherland but that’s not how you pronounce it we just think it’s funny to have our own Kiefer hehe) is basically fermented milk and originates in the Russian/ Turkish region over 150 years ago. Kefir milk is basically like a very healthy runny yoghurt.

Why would you want to drink kefir milk when you could just eat yoghurt? Yoghurt is so yummy and I do love it and if you make it yourself or buy Greek/ natural yoghurt you will get between 7-10 strains of beneficial bacteria and good yeasts while Kefir has 35 – 50 or more. Wow. Best of all kefir costs next to nothing to make and if you feed and look after it you never have to buy anything again just more milk.

How to make kefir milk from kefir grainskefir_grains_milk

First you’ll need to get a hold of some kefir grains from a friend or freecycle or buy some off trade me. Kefir grains multiple constantly so once you have some (provided you care for them) you’ll have an on going supply to use and to pass onto friends and family. I can supply you with some grains if you’re in the lower North Island/ Wellington area just send me an email. Kefir grains are a colony of yeasts and bacteria that look like cauliflower.

Once you get your grains simply fill a jar (not straight out of the dishwasher) with milk and pop in your kefir grains. Personally I use 100g whole milk powder but use whatever milk your family likes.

I use an agee (mason) jar that holds about 900ml of milk and put in 100g of milk powder then fill the jar with water till it’s about 4 cm from the top then shake. Add your kefir grains and pop the plastic lid of your jar on then invert or shake the jar to move the grains around. Use glass jars over plastic and never use a metal container.

You can use any type of milk really I use whole milk powder but other people use raw milk, store bought whole milk, UHT milk, coconut milk, almond milk, goats milk, etc. Actually any type of milk will work as long as the milk has lactose in it as this is what the grains “eat”. If you chose to use a milk without lactose (ie nut milks, etc) in it you’ll need to “feed” your grains once a week or every second or third batch by putting them in a cup of cows milk for at least 12 hours to keep them alive then you can put them back in your milk choice. I haven’t done this yet but I love the sound of coconut kefir.

kefir_grains_milk Once you have put your kefir grains in your milk put the jar in a warm dark place. I have a yoghurt machine (as I like to call it’s basically an incubator) that I fill with warm (about 60C water) and pop my jar into for 12 or so hours (generally overnight) then I change the water in the incubator so it’s warm again I usually change the water again in 12-24 hours so that the milk is fermented for a total of 48 hours/ 2 nightish. You can place your jar in any warm dark area – hot water cupboard, above the fridge, etc.

Or simply leave them on the kitchen bench out of direct sunlight for 24-48 hours depending on how warm your house is.

This makes just under a litre of kefir milk sometimes if we aren’t drinking the milk as fast I put my grains in new milk then pop my jar in the fridge for a night or until we want the milk then I simply pop the milk in the yoghurt machine overnight to finish it off. The grains will continue to multiple above 4C but not too high (maybe above 40C?) as they don’t like heat and this will kill the grains.kefir_grains_milkOnce your grains have fermented your milk; in a warm place this will be 24 – 48 hours depending on how strong/ thick you like your kefirs. Any longer in a warm place and you risk starving the grains. Your milk will smell yeast like but shouldn’t smell bad or rotten or off if it does I’d get rid of it and start over again.

Strain your kefir milk through a sieve into a clean jar. This will separate your kefir milk and your grains. You can be quite rough with your grains they will survive. Your kefir milk is now ready for you to drink/ use. You can store your sieved milk in the fridge for up to two weeks.kefir_grains_milk Then repeat the process with your grains in a new batch of milk. After a few weeks your grain colony will grow and you can separate some grains off and pass them on or give them to your chooks, pigs or compost bin.

kefir_grains_milkYou can use your kefir milk instead of milk and yoghurt in your smoothie, over your breakfast cereal, as a drink on it’s own, as a milkshake, you can cook and bake with it or use it in any other way you’d use milk or yoghurt. I understand you can also make cheese with it but I haven’t tried yet. At the moment we’re not actually making any yoghurt we’re just using the kefir instead.

How to make kefir milk from kefir grains
Author: NZ Ecochick
Prep time:
Total time:
Instructions
  • Add your kefir grains to about 1L of full fat milk
  • Put the milk/ grains in a warm dark place for 12-48 hours
  • Strain the milk through a sieve to separate the grains and milk
  • Store the kefir milk in the fridge until ready to use
  • Add your sieved grains to another litre of milk and start the process again

Do you make any fermented foods? Would you like to give kefir a go?

My grains are currently sleeping so sadly I don’t have any to give away. However, if you’d like some grains be sure to check out this great facebook page called fermenting freaks. I have no doubt you’ll find someone near you who will be happy to supply you with some grains. Happy fermenting.

eco_living_nz

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46 thoughts on “How to make kefir milk from kefir grains

  1. April 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Kefir is awesome stuff 🙂 Have you tried making it at room temperature? The consistency tends to be thicker and creamier at cooler temps (I much prefer ‘winter’ kefir), though of course warmer temps will speed the process up. Also, if you leave the strained kefir (ie with the grains removed) for another period, say 12-24 hours it becomes even more nutritious, potent, and surprisingly, less tangy!

    1. April 29, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      That’s goo dot know. So you mean just leave the jar on the bench? Interesting next time I strain I’ll be sure to ferment it a second time. I had heard it was meant to be much yummier. I’ll give it a go thanks MX

      1. May 2, 2014 at 9:56 pm

        Yup, just on the bench (with a cover) is fine.

  2. Honora
    April 29, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I got given some grains and not sure why but basically I’m making cottage cheese now. I strain out the whey and add chia seeds to this and use half the cottage cheese in my salad, then shake out the jar with a cup of milk and add the other half of the cottage cheese back in. Anyway I’m happy with my mix but will probably get some more kefir grains and try again. The chia seeds ferment in the kefir whey mix and that’s a good thing. I add yogurt and fruit for my afternoon snack.I have never identified the rubber kefir biofilm as in the picture.

    Kefir is better than yogurt because being a biofilm it survives stomach acid so gets into the gut to do its good work. http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/kefir

    I’ve also seen a post where you remove the grains and then add other stuff to the fermented milk such as lemon peels and allow it to ferment some more.

    1. April 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Cottage cheese that does sound yummy. Thanks for sharing. I’ve read about double fermenting too. I’ve done it once but must try it again. Thanks for the reminder. Mx

  3. May 2, 2014 at 1:53 am

    I make milk and water kefir. I have to say I am not a great fan of milk kefir, mainly I suspect because I don’t like milk much full stop! I do love yoghurt, I think because it is tarter than kefir I can manage it. It’s the icky creaminess and not quite flavouredness of milk I can’t cope with! I just leave mine in the pantry for 24-36 hours and it’s fine.
    I notice that you have been using metal spoons and strainers. I was always told that metal killed the grains (like a vinegar mother) so always used wood or glass. Have your grains survived the metal?

    1. May 2, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I’m with you there I personally don’t like milk either. I really couldn’t imagine drinking a whole glass. Yuck! I do like the kefir milk in my smoothies though. Yummy.
      You’re right I have been using metal and I’ve heard as well that they don’t like it but I’ve always used metal on them and they don’t seem to mind. I figure since they are only touching the metal for a short time it’ll be ok. Mine have been growing happily so much so that I’ve given four batches away already so I guess the metal makes no difference really. But certainly don’t store them in metal that they will not like at all. I’m getting some kefir water grains soon too. Can’t wait to try this now that I have mastered the milk grains. Mx

      1. May 2, 2014 at 10:00 pm

        I use metal too and I reckon as you do Madeleine, if the grains are growing they can’t be too unhappy.

        And not suggesting that you should like milk, but have you tried it raw? I found it quite a revelation!

  4. May 5, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Just a note – milk kefir grains need actual milk in order to grow and multiply. That means it needs to come from an udder. The only exception is coconut milk, probably because of the sugar content. Almond and soy milks will ferment, but the kefir grains will not be especially happy and they will not multiply. Also, it does not need to be full fat. I use 2% and it comes out just fine. I make mine on the counter, not in the fridge. I use about 2 1/2 cups of milk for every 1/4 of kefir grains, and leave them out for 24 hours. Longer is not necessarily better. The grains will eat up the sugar in the milk in 24 hours. I find that when I need to take a break for a couple days an put my grains in the fridge, for the next several batches, the kefir does not get as thick. It tastes fine, but is thin.

  5. Tim
    May 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Interesting article here:

    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.390.8918&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    In their experiment, the grains grew the most in skim milk (i.e. nearly fat free) by quite a long way. They also have a neat image showing the antimicrobial effect of the grains on agar.

    1. Elizabeth
      October 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Right Tim.

      I cannot drink commercial cows milk so I raised my kefir grains in coconut milk for a while. They got smaller and smaller until I thought that they would go away.

      I then discovered that I can drink raw milk. After about six months of experimenting, I found that not only is it easier to strain skim milk off the grains but they grow like crazy in the skim milk.

      If anyone needs grains, I have tons of them for sale. I have been told by TradeMe that Kefir grains are banned from sale on their site because of food safety dangers. And if anyone is concerned about that, my dogs, cats, chickens and me have been eating kefir for ten years. You just feel better and better with each glass (preferable mixed in an organic raspberry smoothie with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg).

      1. Stephen
        April 8, 2015 at 5:02 am

        hello,
        do you have any kefir grains available at the moment?
        thanks,
        Stephen. ph 09 4395678

        1. April 12, 2015 at 12:18 pm

          Hi there.I still have milk grains please email me on nzecochick at gmail dot com. I can provide them for pick up if you live in Wellington. Mx

      2. Susan
        October 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm

        Hello Elizabeth
        I would like to buy some Kefir grains, I live in Tauranga is it possible to have some sent here.
        Please let me know if this is possible and how much to have these sent
        Regards
        Susan

  6. Elena
    June 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Your can order high quality milk kefir grains from Elena, lenartnz@gmail.com

    1. Stephen
      February 3, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Privyet Elena,
      I have kefir which I have grown from grains given to me a couple of years ago and also from a good quality Ukrainian kefir.
      The grains are small and are different from the large rubbery grains we used to have as a kid.
      I would be interested in getting some of yours. Also can send you some of mine if you are interested. I have a new batch of Ukrainian kefir grains I started just a few weeks ago from a fresh source.

      1. Elena
        April 7, 2015 at 8:30 pm

        Hi Stephen,
        Thank you for your offer. I am quite happy with my kefir grains, they are very active, the best from what I had over the years. Make really authentic tasting Russian kefir. I don’t keep many grains, just a small amount enough for myself and they are always at work and fresh. I only sell when I have spare grains and the requests are quite regular.

      2. Stephen
        April 8, 2015 at 5:13 am

        Kia Ora Elena,
        My kefir seems to have changes over the lst year, now has more yellow grains, all small grains and not like the kefir I knew as a child. The quality of kefir is not so consistent.
        I would like to start with a new batch and wondered if you might have some available.
        Let me know if you are able to help.
        Thank you, Stephen

        1. Elena
          April 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

          Hi Stephen,
          I am not sure whether you need new kefir grains. All depends how you kefir tastes. The consistency depends on the same conditions, the same amount of grains, the same temperature and milk. And whether you use the grains continuously or taking a break and storing the grains in the fridge. After the fridge the grains may take some time to restore the balance of yeast and bacteria.
          Any kefir grains will change if conditions change. The “grain” itself is just a polysaccharide matrix that houses lactic bacteria and yeasts. The yellowish of grains may be because the milk was changed and it has more fat contents or something similar. And the grains grow and multiply with time and more grains to milk results in more yeasty and fizzier kefir.
          I had large grains and small grains and large grains didn’t ferment as well as smaller grains, didn’t produce nice and tasty kefir, but they were growing fast.
          I myself have small grains and I am happy with them.
          Currently I sold out and one person is waiting.
          If you put your grains in the fridge from time to time, then any grains won’t behave consistently. The problem may be not with the grains, looks like you tried different sources, but perhaps in the way that the grains are used?

          1. October 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm

            Hello

            I have so many cultures that I now dry my milk cultures and throw my water cultures on the compost. If you or anyone know someone that needs grains, please send them to me. I post them anywhere for just the prize of the postage.

            While I’m here, I might as well share how I make my kefir. I use a 3 litre milk bottle and put 120 g of milk grains for nearly 3 litres of milk. I fill up with any milk (but will in future use milk powder as well) until about 5 cm from the top. I put the lid on, shake the bottle and leave on the bench until the next day. Ever so often I shake it again. I leave to ferment for 24 hours, never longer. After the 24 hours the bottle goes in the fridge. I always have 6 litres of kefir in the fridge, one bottle that is fermenting and the other is for daily use. My cultures love the fridge and I have never had any failures. I have been making kefir with these cultures about 5 years and sent them all over the world. I have used goats, skimmed, blue top, powdered, almond and other milk types and have NEVER had a failure from switching or otherwise. Guess my grains are real tuff ay;)

          2. October 2, 2015 at 8:57 pm

            Hello Madeleine

            I have so many cultures that I now dry my milk cultures and throw my water cultures on the compost. If you or anyone know someone that needs grains, please send them to me. I post them anywhere for just the prize of the postage.

            While I’m here, I might as well share how I make my kefir. I use a 3 litre milk bottle and put 120 g of milk grains for nearly 3 litres of milk. I fill up with any milk (but will in future use milk powder as well) until about 5 cm from the top. I put the lid on, shake the bottle and leave on the bench until the next day. Ever so often I shake it again. I leave to ferment for 24 hours, never longer. After the 24 hours the bottle goes in the fridge. I always have 6 litres of kefir in the fridge, one bottle that is fermenting and the other is for daily use. My cultures love the fridge and I have never had any failures. I have been making kefir with these cultures about 5 years and sent them all over the world. I have used goats, skimmed, blue top, powdered, almond and other milk types and have NEVER had a failure from switching or otherwise. Guess my grains are real tuff ay;)

            1. Fay
              March 16, 2016 at 8:05 pm

              Hi Christel, I have been hunting for grains and came across this page and your offer of grains. I lost mine and am wanting to use grains in coconut milk as well as goat’s milk. Hope you can help. email at alpacas at clear.net.nz
              Many thanks.

              1. March 16, 2016 at 9:50 pm

                Hello, wow goats milk that’s awesome. Check out fermenting freaks (https://www.facebook.com/groups/116632298492769/?fref=ts) I’m sure you’ll find someone local who can help you. Have fun. Mx

  7. Diego
    September 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Very interesting!
    I’ve made kefir during many years in my country (Spain). I haven’t found any place/friend who has kefir in Bay of Plenty area so I cannot continue making it but I hope to carry on soon!

    About using metal spoons and strainers it’s not really a problem to use it a few times, but kefir is acidic (high PH) and it’s quite corrosive for metal, so it’s better to avoid it and use plastic or wooden strainers/spoons. They will be much more happier 😀

  8. terewai
    November 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    hi i was just wondering if you sell milk kefir, water kefir, and kombucha scoby,
    i have recently moved to wellington from perth and have had to leave my probiotic babies at home.
    thank you hear from you soon

    1. November 18, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Lovely to hear from you. I have milk grains and if you get in touch with the lovely Sarah from Cultured Kiwi (http://cultured.kiwi) she will be able to help you a scoby, actually she’ll have water and milk grains too. If you would like milk grains from me please email me at nzecochick at gmail dot com otherwise I am sure Sarah will be able to help. Have fun Mx

      1. terewai
        November 18, 2014 at 9:45 pm

        excellent thank you for that i will get in contact with her i will wait and see if she can provide all 3 if not i shall be back in contact with you as im needing some probiotic goodness asap 🙂

        1. November 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm

          Fantastic. Enjoy Mx

  9. Livia
    November 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Hi!
    I’m italian, in Genuary I’m going to go in NZ and I would like to have my kefir’s grain with me but I’m affraid that they will not survive to the journey (32 hours).
    Can you give me some advises about how I can have it?
    In Italy we have a freesharing website where I had some contacts.
    I don’t know if in NZ you have the same system for sharing grains, tell me if I have to pay to have a small quantity to start my personal kefir’s production.
    Thank you in advantage for your response!

    1. November 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Hello, I wouldn’t recommend bringing your grains with you. I’m sure they would survive the journey but I don’t think NZ customs would be too impressed. There are places you can get grains here. Feel free to email me when you get here and I’ll be able to sort some grains out for you. My email is nzecochick at gmail dot com Mx

  10. Kristie
    April 7, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Hi, are you still selling the grains? I would love to get some! Can the same ones be used for water though or are they a different grain? Used to make the water kefir years ago and loved it. Couldn’t keep it up as I was travelling.
    Thanks!

    1. April 12, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Hi there.I still have milk grains please email me on nzecochick at gmail dot com. I can provide them for pick up if you live in Wellington. Mx

  11. charles
    June 14, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Could anybody tell me where to buy kefir grains in New Zealand and not the powders.thanks

    1. June 14, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Good evening,
      Check out this facebook page for someone near you who should be able to provide you with some grains to get you going.
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/116632298492769/?fref=ts
      All the best Mx

  12. Liisa Williams
    September 29, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Hi I am staying in Tauranga for six weeks and would like to get hold of some milk kefir grains. If anybody could help me out it would be great. Liisa

  13. Jax
    January 4, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Hi I live in Hamilton and am looking for milk Keffirgrains!!
    I hav plenty water keffir grains & kombucha scoby if anyone wants to share, swap etc

    Jax

    1. January 14, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Jax, if you get in touch with someone on fermenting freaks (https://www.facebook.com/groups/116632298492769/?fref=ts) I’m sure you’ll find someone local who can help you. Good luck. Mx

  14. Teresa
    February 17, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Madeleine
    May I purchase some keffir grains from you? I live in Lower Hutt area. Am also looking for kombucha scoby.
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    with thanks and kindest regards
    Teresa

  15. Julie Paranihi
    May 19, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Madeleine
    Just read your great article.
    Would live to get some granules asap live in Porirua do you know where I could purchase some?

  16. Elena
    May 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I post kefir grains every week on Mondays or Tuesdays.
    Email me lenartnz at gmail.com
    Cheers. Elena

  17. Ania
    July 28, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Hi!

    Thanks for the really useful article. I’m Wellington based – would it still be possible to get some grains off you to start my own? 🙂 Thanks

    1. October 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Hi there, sorry I don’t currently have any spare grains however if you get in touch with someone on fermenting freaks (https://www.facebook.com/groups/116632298492769/?fref=ts) I’m sure you’ll find someone local who can help you. M x

  18. Haley
    October 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Hi, sorry to sound silly but are milk and water gains different? so i can’t use my water grains to make milk kefir?

    1. October 30, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Hello, not silly at all. They are different. Water grains live in water and need a tea/ water/ sugar solution. Milk grains live in milk and eat lactose though you can put them in other types of milk but best to feed them once in a while with cows milk. M x

    2. Elena
      January 22, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      They are different. People call tibi grains “kefir” by association simply because they are also ferments. Tibi grains ferment sugary drinks, feed on sugar dissolved in water. Drinking water kefir regularly will increase your daily sugar intake. I stopped growing water kefir for that exact reason a while ago.
      I only left milk kefir grains which I truly love and enjoy. I post kefir grains once a week to people who are after them. Elena

      1. February 3, 2017 at 7:49 pm

        I put some information about kefir on a Facebook page
        https://www.facebook.com/elenaskefirgrains/
        A bit of kefir history and my own experience. Elena

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