How to Make Homemade Milk Kefir

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

Milk kefir grains and how to make homemade milk kefir

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

Milk kifer grains in a jar and how to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

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.

How to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

Now you can add 1-2 cups of milk.

How to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

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!

How to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

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.

Straining kefir and how to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

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!

Straining kefir and how to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

Use a spatula to stir and scoop the kefir in the strainer until all the liquid has drained off.

Milk kefir grains and how to make homemade milk kefir

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.

How to make homemade milk kefir tutorial

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!

Pressed Milk KefirCheese
Lemon Kefir Ice Cream
Blueberry Kefir
Whole Wheat Kefir Pancakes
Almond Peach Kefir Smoothie


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4 thoughts on “How to Make Homemade Milk Kefir”

  • I’m completely new to the whole Kefir thing. My big question is, but how does it taste? Based on your post I am imagining something like plain yogurt.

    • Hi Elizabeth, it is similar to plain yogurt, but also similar to buttermilk. It also depends on how long you let it culture. I would start with 12-18 hours and see what you think of that taste. I let it get pretty strong and when I use it to make ice cream or popsicles it tastes just like frozen yogurt to me.

  • A friend shared matured “grains” with me and am anxious to get started making kefir. Your directions are very helpful.

    One question. What atmosphere is best for the brewing period. I make my kombucha in a dark slightly warm place for best results. My friend who gave me the starter said leave the milk and starter in light – even a window as long as no direct sun.

    What do you recommend?

  • I’m confused. How many times can I reuse kefir grains? If I don’t want to continually make more, how do I store it? Thank you for your help.

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