If you’re asking “what is kefir?”, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here is an in depth post explaining kefir milk, milk kefir grains (aka kefir starter), kefir health benefits, and everything in between. Today’s post is a simple tutorial focused on how to make homemade milk kefir, but I will say here that milk kefir (or kefir milk, they’re the same thing) is a fermented drink full of probiotics and loaded with incredible health benefits!
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:
- Where to get milk kefir grains
- How to make homemade milk kefir
- How long does kefir last
MILK KEFIR GRAINS
To make milk kefir, you have to start with milk kefir grains. I thought for the longest time that they were actually a grain, but they are gluten free and grain free. I will explain more about what kefir grains are in my “What is Kefir” post, but they are a combination of good bacteria and yeast living in proteins, lipids and sugars that form these squishy little grains that look like tiny cauliflower buds.
The best way to get kefir grains is to ask a friend. I got mine from my friend Barb when my midwife suggested I try drinking kefir during my pregnancy.
Try posting on facebook to see if someone in your area has some milk kefir grains. You can also ask to join the wonderful Facebook group Kefir Grains, SCOBY, and Others to Share, and request some grains that way. If you are in a hurry or can’t find some near you, there are sites all over the internet, including Amazon.
I haven’t tried these particular milk kefir grains, but they have hundreds of 5 star reviews on Amazon. They are a fresh culture, not dehydrated, so can be used right away.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE MILK KEFIR
Once you get your grains, put them in a completely clean glass jar. I like to use a quart mason jar, usually wide mouth. I’m linking to them on Amazon so you can see exactly what I use, but they are way cheaper at Walmart or a thrift store.
Now you can add 1-2 cups of milk.
We use whole milk and do two cups at a time so that we have plenty for making smoothies, kefir ice cream, kefir yogurt, kefir popsicles and more!
Now you need to cover your jar. There are several options. You can use a paper towel or paper coffee filter with a rubberband, as shown in the photo, but that does run the risk of airborne yeasts and cultures contaminating your kefir and affecting the taste. The best option is to use a plastic lid (never metal!) to seal the jar. That is what I used on my regular mouth jars, but I just switched to wide mouth jars for easier cleaning, and am waiting on my order of wide mouth plastic lids.
Now you let the kefir sit for 24-48 hours depending on how much milk you you used and how many kefir grains you have. For two cups of milk, we do every 48 hours, although sometimes I forget and go a little longer. After a couple months, my grains have really multiplied and are making kefir faster than I can keep up, so I split them and am trying some almond kefir now.
Once your kefir is ready, it’s time to strain out the grains. I’m using a metal strainer, which is not suggested for best kefir making practices, but it hasn’t caused problems with taste for me. I think that because the kefir spends so little time in it, there’s no reaction. I didn’t want to buy a new strainer until I knew for sure that I wanted to continue making kefir. Now that I’m sold on the benefits of kefir, I have ordered this nylon strainer and can’t wait to try it. I feel like such a kefir nerd!
Use a spatula to stir and scoop the kefir in the strainer until all the liquid has drained off.
Now you are left with beautiful milk kefir grains in your strainer and can put those into another clean jar and add some more milk. I actually use the same jar for a week before I switch to a clean one.
Pour the strained kefir into a glass jar or pitcher that you keep in the fridge. Make sure it has a lid to protect the kefir. I add my kefir into the same pitcher and rinse it every 2-3 weeks after making a big batch of kefir ice cream if I have a lot left.
HOW LONG DOES KEFIR LAST
Kefir will keep in the fridge for several weeks but the taste is usually best within two weeks of making and refrigerating it. After two weeks it will start to taste VERY tart.
You can also freeze kefir. That may kill of some of the probiotics, but there will still be plenty left, more than you would find in store bought yogurt for instance.
MILK KEFIR RECIPES
I have been playing with a lot of milk kefir recipes and plan to share several in the future as I perfect them. For now, here are a few from around the web. You can also try my friend Dani’s free 30 Day Kefir Challenge!
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.