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.
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.
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.Once 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. 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.
You 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.
- 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.