I did it! I really did it! I seriously have no idea what I was so afraid of. Making milk Kefir was probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever done in the kitchen. If you can pour milk, you can make Kefir! In fact, you could do this with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back. Yeah, you’d make a mess but who doesn’t enjoy a good mess in the kitchen?
A fellow food blogger was nice enough to mail me some Kefir grains. When they arrived in the mail I freaked out, and tossed them in the fridge. Admittedly I have no idea when I was planning on getting around to dealing with them, and I may have been secretly hoping that they’d just magically make a gallon of Kefir on their own without any help from me, but that didn’t happen.
I love probiotic drinks. Being that I’m healing from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, probiotic and fermented drinks have become my new best friends. Between Kombucha, Kefir and my Real Food Electrolyte Drink, I don’t have time for sodas, or any other unhealthy drinks. I love how I feel after drinking Kefir. I just feel strong, focused, and alert and I’ve got pep in my step. Kombucha does the same thing for me. I can tell when I’ve skipped a few days because I start to feel foggy-brained and sluggish. And not that this is a big selling point or anything, but I swear this stuff keeps you regular!
Maybe I should email Jamie Lee Curtis and tell her to save a few dollars and consider ditching that nasty Activia Yogurt in favor of something healthier. How could she not want to come over to the Real Food side after learning about the ingredients in Activia. Let’s take a quick peek. Activia contains modified food starch (GMO) , corn starch (GMO) , guar gum, carageenan, natural flavor (MSG anyone?) agar agar, sugar (GMO), water, gelatin, milk protein, whey protein, carmine for coloring (which is a natural coloring made from the extracts of dried bodies of the Coccus cacti bug), sodium citrate (keeps the mixture emulsified) and citric acid. (Source)
Does any of that gross you out? For crying out loud it’s just yogurt! Yet Dannon has managed to produce a “yogurt” using crap and foodstuffs for ingredients and they put a lot of money into clever marketing to get you to eat 3 yogurts a day to become regular. Here’s a news flash. Eat more fiber. You’ll become best friends with your bathroom every day. I promise. Best of all, no extracts of dead dried beetle bodies. Say that ten times fast.
Did you know that Milk Kefir is a cultured, probiotic drink? It’s tangy, and sour and similar to liquid yogurt. It can also be a little effervescent. To some it is an acquired taste, but I loved it after the first sip. There is a huge difference in taste and texture between the store bought and homemade. FYI.
To add some fun and flavor to your Kefir, you can blend in fruits if you don’t want to drink it plain. You can even add vanilla to it. You can cook with Kefir, make Kefir cheese, or Kefir cream, the possibilities are endless. Since it’s taken me 5 months to make my own after learning what it was, chances are you won’t be seeing a recipe for Kefir cheese on my site any time soon. I’m sorry. Feel free to file a complaint with upper management.
Did you know that Kefir is loaded with a quite the complex collective of up to 27 different varieties of bacteria and 27 different types of yeasts? When I heard that the first thing I thought was “Whoa! This is like a super-food!” Short of running your grains to a lab to have them tested, you won’t know which strains of the bacterias or yeasts that your grains contain, but regardless you have one mighty healthy beverage on your hands. (Source)
Milk Kefir is bursting with all sorts of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. (Source) You could spend a good hour online reading up on all the benefits of Kefir. In fact, I’d recommend spending a little time doing just that so you not only understand just how good this stuff is for you, but also so that you might just be motivated to procure some Kefir grains and take a stab at making your own. Cultures for Health sells Kefir Grain kits for under $20.00. Or you may know a friend who can share a tablespoon of their grains so you can get started.
Here are a few links to get you started:
What Kind of Milk Should I Use?
Organic or Raw milk is best. However if the best you have is regular ol’ whole milk from the grocery store that will have to do. I went and splurged on some grass-fed cream-top organic whole milk today. I made my first pint with regular Organic Milk from Trader Joe’s, but I wanted something special for my second batch. I have read that people have had success using goat’s milk and coconut milk. I do not know if any other type of milk would work. I do know that if you ask me about Skim milk, I’m going to direct you to this post and then ask you to also read this post and then beg you to never speak of Skim milk again.
So What Do I Need to Make Kefir?
I’m glad you asked! I’m going to list everything you’ll need to use from start to finish.
- Two pint sized jars or one quart sized jar
- 4-cup glass measuring cup or quart sized glass bowl
- Cheesecloth or paper coffee filters and a large rubber band
- A mesh strainer- preferably nylon
- Silicone/rubber spatula
- Wooden spoon
- Organic or raw milk
- 1 TB Kefir Grains
- Fresh or frozen fruit or berries of your choice
- 12-48 hours TOPS
What Do I Do Next?
- I sterilized my jars in boiling water for 2 minutes because you do not refrigerate Kefir as it is fermenting. As a result you don’t want the wrong kind of bacteria growing in your Kefir. So sanitize the jars and lids. I’ve read to never put metal near the Kefir as it can mess with the taste. Because I have a tendency to knock things over in my kitchen, I opted to not make a lid of cheesecloth and paper coffee filters and a large rubber band. I used a regular metal lid and was careful not to stir, shake or move my Kefir while it was busy getting busy.
- Put your TB of Kefir Grains in the bottom of your jar(s) (split the grains if you have two jars). I only had about a teaspoon of grains when I made my first batch so I only made one pint. I now have a TB. My grains multiplied big time!!
- Add your milk to within 1/2 inch of the top. If you want a thicker product, you may add some cream.
- Seal your jar(s), make note of the date and time and put it in a warm, dry place for 12-48 hours but no longer or your grains will starve. You may stir your Kefir as it’s fermenting but you do not need to. It may separate and look chunky and watery, or it may not. I’m still a novice at this. Mine started to get thick and then started to separate at the top and a yellowish watery liquid streaked through the Kefir. I knew it was ready. It took mine just about 40 hours to ferment and it wasn’t as thick as I’d wanted it to be, but I figured that was because of the milk I used. You can let it ferment a second time by putting it on the counter for another 12 hours after you strain it. If you do, it should really thicken up.
- When your Kefir is ready, break out your strainer, and your glass bowl or glass measuring cup, your wooden spoon and spatula.
- Gently pour the contents of your jar into the strainer that should be placed over your bowl or measuring cup. Using the wooden spoon or your spatula, gently press the Kefir through the strainer being careful not to smoosh your glob of grains. Mine grew from a teaspoon to a Tablespoon of grains. I was super excited. It means I can brew a quart at a time vs. a pint at a time.
- Once all the Kefir is strained into the bowl, set the grains into a freshly sterilized jar and fill with organic milk and start your next batch. If you don’t want to make another batch that soon, still pour in the milk, and just put the sealed jar into the fridge. Cold hinders the grains ability to ferment, so that can buy you a few days until you’re ready to make more.
- If you want to make your Kefir fruity, add 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit to the carafe of a blender. Add a few scoops of the Kefir to the blender and whir it until it’s nice and smooth. Add the fruit mixture to your Kefir and stir to combine. You are now ready to drink your Kefir, OR you can store it in a glass container with an airtight lid in the fridge to let it get cold. It should keep for at least 5 days in the fridge.
That’s it! How easy is that? Time and room temperature surroundings and those little grains do all the work. I love it every once in a while when something easy comes along, and Kefir is definitely easy!! What is your favorite flavor to combine with your milk Kefir? Let me know in the comments below.
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