Kefir is a cultured milk product similar to yogurt. Much like making yogurt at home, making kefir at home is much more cost effective than buying in the store. However, making kefir is easier than yogurt! Kefir is made right in a mason jar or container, no need for crock pots or fancy yogurt makers. Kefir is Amazing! It is said that Kefir was with Noah on the ark, and rumored to be the “mana” that fell from heaven. The people in the Caucasus mountains drink kefir on a daily basis and are said to have a longer life span !! True or not, Kefir is amazing, because the healthy pro-biotics stay in your gut longer than yogurt making it incredible for digestive issues. Ever heard the saying your health starts in your gut? This good bacteria also helps you ward off sickness during cold and flu season. Plus it helps fight the bad bacteria that increase sugar cravings Ka Pow!!
Kefir is a fermented food, and it has a bit more of a tangy-taste than yogurt. “Double fermentation” comes from a fermentation period of twice as long and results in ultra low carb and low natural sugar content, and more tangy flavor! Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like sour milk! We drink it daily, either as a beverage or as an ingredient in recipes. It’s actually quite versatile! So here’s what you need to get started.
-Kefir grains- you can buy these online! Or get some from a friend who cultures kefir at home. Some health food stores sell them as well
-Milk- raw and organic is best. But store bought will do! We will talk more about skim, versus whole, versus 1% 2% ect. in a bit!
-Plastic or wooden spoon, plastic or glass jar, plastic strainer. You should not use metal spoons, containers or strainers as it kills the culture!
2 Tbsp kefir grains
1 pint milk
Mix the kefir grains and milk in a pint mason jar and loosely cover with a coffee filter secured with a rubber band. This allows the kefir grains to breath (they’re alive and need oxygen too!) while ensuring flys don’t get into your jar! You can use cheese cloth if you have it instead of a coffee filter. (Make sure to keep the coffee filter or chesse cloth dry, as a wet filter is the ideal breeding ground for flies… yuck)
Let this sit on your counter (away from the sun) or in a dark cabinet for 24 hours.
Now that it’s sat for 24 hours to culture, grab a strainer, and pour the pint jar into a clean jar, using the strainer in between to catch the kefir grains. It will be thick, and you will need to stir the mixture through the strainer.
At this point, you can place your kefir into the fridge or start enjoying it right away!
Or, you can put a lid on your mason jar (not just a coffee filter) and leave it on your counter for another 12-24 hours for a longer fermentation period.
Now, take the kefir grains in your strainer and put them back into your first jar, the one that you might want to call “dirty”. It’s already full of your culture! You can put the grains back into the jar, refill with milk and top with coffee filter to start again! **Peanut butter jars fit perfectly on regular mouth mason jars!!
I chose to make this recipe in a pint jar, but my sister has a big family, so she doubles the grains and makes it in a quart jar!
Now- for some tips and troubleshooting kefir advice…..
1. Milk types. Full fat , Raw milk can be used if you prefer lowest carbs, don’t mind the fat content, and don’t plan on double fermenting. This kefir is rich and considered THM S. Lower fat milks can be used as well, and can fit into your THM E or FP settings because of the lower fat content. The lowest fat, lowest carb kefir is double fermented skim milk kefir. This kefir is definitely THM FP. Serene and Pearl recommend that when using store bought milk, skim milk is the best.
2. Uh oh, you left the kefir too long and it turned into curds and whey.
This is also called kefir cheese. Don’t sweat it! You can scoop out 2 Tbsp of the kefir cheese and use it in milk as you would kefir grains and start over. But don’t throw out your kefir cheese! Try out our Kefir cheesecake recipe here Strawberry Kefir Cheesecake THM S ! You can also use this kefir cheese in your pasta, sandwiches, it’s somewhat spreadable and dippable and so good for you!! Try mixing the kefire cheese with a packet of ranch seasoning, for a yummy ranch veggie dip or salad dressing! The whey, is also great in this bread recipe Livin’ on a Prayer Breadmaker Bread THM E
3. Kefir separation
About this amount of separation is normal! Just shake it up! Depending on your strainer, your kefir might be a bit chunky. You can put it in the blender and smooth it out if consistency is a problem for you.
4. Yuck! I don’t like the taste! Don’t worry, it will grow on you! But here are some ways to spruce it up and make it delicious.
- You can mix it half and half with almond/ or coconut milk to diminish the sour taste.
- Add some fruit ( like frozen strawberries) and stevia( or other sweeteners like truvia or swerve) and blend it up!
- A refreshing tart cherry Baobab smoothie- YUMMY! Add two frozen cherries, a scoop of baobab powder, stevia.
- Kefir Italian soda! – blend kefir, almond milk, fruit and stevia till smooth, pour into a cup and top with ice and carbonated water for a refreshing fizzy drink.
- Use it in a smoothie recipe in place of yogurt or milk. Stay tuned for our Kefir Horchata recipe!
5. Too many kefir grains!
Kefir grains grow and multiply! Give the extra away to your friends. Store them in your freezer or just eat them. They are good for you, but have an intense taste!
5. I don’t need this much kefir! If you don’t need to continually make kefir, you can take a break from your constantly culturing by putting the grains in 1/2 c milk and placing in your fridge (with a regular lid on) for up to two weeks. When you are ready to start up again, they will be ready! If you need more than two weeks off, refresh the milk. After taking a break from kefir, you might need a longer fermentation period, as cold grains take a while longer to wake up.
6. Cold house or hot house… the temperature of your house matters! Warmer temps in the house, shorten your ferment to 12-18 hours. Colder house? Lengthen our ferment to up to 36 hours.
7. Kefir smells like sour milk. Kefir should have a pleasant, yeasty, tangy, scent. It shouldn’t smell like sour milk. If it does, something went wrong and you should start over. Unfortunately, even the grains can’t safely be salvaged.
Kefir is so fun to experiment with! What are some of your ideas – Let us know!