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What is kefir? It is a cultured or fermented drink that is loaded with probiotics. I make milk kefir. You can make water kefir as well.
When made with milk, it is different than yogurt in the consistency and in the number type of strains of bacteria. Yogurt usually has between 4-10 different strains of bacteria in it while dairy kefir frequently has between 30 and 50+ unique strains of bacteria. In case you are wondering, this is a good thing!
There are lots of great websites out there that have a whole lot more information than I do about kefir and other cultured foods. I’m not claiming to be an expert in all things kefir… but what I do know, I will share with you. I have been making kefir for several years now. It’s very easy to make. We love it in smoothies, and I am beginning to experiment with different ways of using it (like kefir cheese).
To make kefir, you need to obtain some kefir grains or a powdered starter. I think the grains are the superior way to go. I asked around until I found someone who had some extra grains.
I use approx. 1 TB kefir grains per cup of milk. I culture 1 qt at a time, so I used about 1/4 cup of grains per batch. You can use less and allow it to ferment longer. My grains are very healthy and they grow very fast, so I usually have some to give away to friends.
1 TB kefir grains
1 C milk (whole milk, 2%, skim milk, pasteurized, or raw- DO NOT use ultra-pasteurized)
Place the grains in a glass jar. I use a quart jar.
Fill the jar up with milk, put a lid on it (I use plastic canning jar lids) and allow it to sit on the counter for 12-24 hours until it thickens up. If it sits too long, the whey will separate. It won’t be ruined, but it might be very tart.
I like mine to be pretty thick, so I usually let it ferment for 24 hours.
The next day, strain your kefir to remove the grains from the kefir. I use a plastic strainer and a pitcher to catch the kefir.
I gently stir the kefir and grains to press the kefir through the strainer, leaving only the grains behind.
Place the grains in another glass jar, add milk, put on the lid, and you are ready to go again!
Place the strained kefir in a clean glass jar and store it in the refrigerator if you aren’t going to use it right away.
As soon as it is strained you can drink it straight (it may be tart!), or add a little sweetener to it and drink it, or make smoothies, kefir cheese, etc…
Banking Your Grains
If you want to wait to make more kefir, you can bank your grains. Place them in a jar, cover them with milk, and put them in the refrigerator. You will need to replace that milk with fresh milk every week or so while they are banked. To make kefir from the banked grains, just strain out the milk, put them in a clean jar, pour in fresh milk, add a lid, and put them on the counter.
Kefir is a super easy way to add an amazing nutritional powerhouse to your diet. My children love it in smoothies and drinks! You can read more ways we use kefir. My husband? Well, maybe not so much! But he loves us and totally supports our fermenting habit. Kefir- A Husband’s Perspective is a must read! 😉