I have been wanting to make kefir for a while, just to help my stomach and weird issues I have been having with food. I figured more good bacteria in my tummy cannot be a bad thing! Instead of buying bottle after bottle of it in the store, I wanted to learn how to make it myself. And it is super easy!
First of all, I love buttermilk and unsweetened plain yogurt. To me, kefir is a combination of these 2. About a year ago, I discovered buttermilk, and I just love the creaminess and tanginess of it! Since I have been making my own yogurt, I don’t add any sugar to it — fruit maybe, nuts, pumpkin, etc, but not sugar. And I loved the taste of the store bought plain kefir, so I figured homemade kefir couldn’t taste THAT much different.
The first thing you need to make kefir is kefir grains. There are a bazillion places you can get them – I got mine from Cultures for Health. I got the Milk Kefir Starter Kit which came with a handy dandy little strainer. This strainer is small and PERFECT for straining out the kefir grains. I am so glad I got it!
When I first opened the package, I found out you have the re-hydrate the grains before you can actually get kefir. Which I hadn’t counted on – I though I would have kefir in a day or so! Doh! The re-hydration process usually takes 5-7 days, but can take up to 2-4 weeks!!! Here is what they looked like:
It had some organic powered milk in with it (that is the powder you see). You are instructed to add 1 cup of milk, and leave it for 24 hours.
I used a quart canning jar. The instructions say to put a cover on the jar, but allow it room to “breathe”.
After 24 hours, you strain out the kefir grains, and add 1 more cup milk.
You can use any kind of milk. I choose to use organic 1% milk. The instructions say you can use any kind of pasteurized or raw milk, or even coconut milk, but the grains need to be hydrated in cow or goat’s milk first.
After the first day, it really didn’t look any different, but I strained out the kefir grains, discarded the milk, and added 1 cup fresh milk to the grains and let it sit again. I set myself an appointment every night to remember
The optimum temperature for the kefir grains to do their magic is 70 degrees. If your house is cooler, it may take longer, and warmer environments will take a shorter amount of time.
It really only took my grains 4 days to start to thicken the milk into kefir. At first, I didn’t know what was going on with my kefir! There is no magically sign that appears that says “Congratulations! Now you have kefir!” I thought I had broken it. Ha! The kefir was a little “chunky” and not smooth, but after I made it a few times, it smoothed out.
I also have noticed that when I make the kefir at our house in the mountains (9000 feet elevation), it takes a lot less time. I don’t know if that is because the house is warmer, or if the elevation affects it. This is what it looked like:
The curds and whey had separated, but when I stirred it, they all mixed together …
I checked the instructions I had gotten with the kit, and guess what! They had some advice for me!
“If your kefir separates into curds and whey, experiment with
shorter fermentation times. How quickly kefir forms and
separates into curds and whey is dependent on the temperature of
the environment. Therefore, exact fermentation time will be
unique for to your situation and also depend on the consistency of
kefir you desire. To determine a good fermentation time for your
situation, we recommend placing the grains in new milk
approximately 12 hours before you plan to wake up the next day.
After waking in the morning, check the kefir (just give it a quick
stir) every few hours until the desired consistency is reached.”
It also becomes so thick when I make it at higher elevation – so much that I had to use my hands to separate it out and remove the kefir grains!
It is a no-no to let metal get in contact with the kefir. That is why they suggest glass jars, and the strainer has no metal in it. When I stir the kefir, I use a wooden or plastic spoon.
After I re-hydrated the grains, I started increasing the amount of milk I used. It can be used with up to 1 quart of milk, but the amount needs to be slowly increased. I am at 2 cups of milk right now. I found the perfect amount of time to let the kefir grains ferment is 36 hours.
Here are the grains after straining the milk -
I just strain it over a clean quart sized Mason jar-
This jar then goes in the fridge for whenever I want to drink it.
The grains go in a new quart jar -
And I add 2 cups milk.
I cover with a clean cloth, and let it sit on the counter for 36 hours!
You can use cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or just a washcloth to cover it with. Sometimes I put a rubber band around it to make sure it doesn’t get disturbed.
You can make a gazillion things with kefir: kefir cheese (just strain it and it will become the consistency of cream cheese), use it in smoothies, in baked goods, or how about kefir ice cream!
Quite honestly, I can’t say if I have noticed a change in how my stomach feels in the time I have been drinking homemade kefir, but I have a couple other things going on, so that could have impacted it. I love the taste of it, and I love that I can make it myself and that is enough incentive for me!
Up next, I want to try making kombucha!
Please note that I was not compensated for this post in any way. I recently discovered Cultures for Life on my own, and I thought you might enjoy this as well. Opinions stated are my own.