Kefir is a great probiotic, even more nutritious than yogurt, and it is very easy to make at home. This is because kefir does not need any special equipment like homemade yogurt does. Once you mix the milk with the kefir starter, you can leave the jar at room temperature until it is cultured and ready to drink. Unlike yogurt, which must be kept at a constant warm temperature while it is culturing. This is how to make milk kefir at home.
Where to buy Kefir grains
You can usually find fresh kefir grains advertised for sale on Amazon, or you may know of someone locally who will share some starter grains with you. When you get your kefir grains, you will need about 2-3 tablespoons of grains for a quart of kefir
Even though they are called grains, they are not actually any kind of grain, and look more like cottage cheese curds, or small pieces of cauliflower.
What you will need:
- Fresh milk (organic is best)
- A large glass jar with a lid
- A wooden spoon
- A mesh strainer
- A large bowl
- Kefir grains or a kefir starter set. (2-3 tablespoons per 1 quart of milk)
There are 2 ways to do this:
Using a Kefir Starter Set
The first and simplest way, is to use a kefir starter, which is just a little packet of dried kefir that you add to milk and let it culture overnight. This is how I started making my own kefir, and nothing could be simpler to do.
After you leave the kefir at room temperature, usually overnight, you will notice the kefir starting to separate into curds and whey. The whey is the watery-looking part.
When you see the kefir starting to separate and stick to the side of the jar, then your kefir is ready to drink. Just give it a good stir to mix the curds and whey together again, and then put it in the refrigerator to chill.
I usually leave the kefir in the refrigerator for another 12-24 hours to further culture and chill; but many people actually like to drink their kefir at room temperature. It is all a matter of taste.
You can either drink it plain, or add it into a fruit smoothie for a sweeter flavored kefir. Plain kefir tastes somewhat like plain yogurt or buttermilk; so if you like either one of those, you will probably like the taste of plain kefir.
If you prefer flavored kefir you will need fruit and a blender. You will need 1 cup of fruit for every quart of milk. Place the fruit in the blender with the kefir on top. Blend until smooth.
I always save the last fourth of the jar of kefir, and that can be used as a starter for the next batch, simply by adding more fresh milk, and then leaving it out on the counter overnight again to culture.
Each time you use the kefir as a starter, some unwanted bacteria will get into the culture, giving it a different flavor; so after using the starter a few times, then I would suggest using a new packet of the store-bought starter. This makes the starter that you buy last a lot longer than if you use a new packet for each quart of kefir that you culture. It is better to use whole milk than skim or 2% milk when making kefir, and some people make it from coconut, soy, or almond milk, as well.
Once you have made several batches of kefir from the starter packets and acquired a taste for homemade kefir, you may want to try using kefir grains and making your kefir that way. This is a little more work, but it does provide a lot more of the probiotic bacteria and yeast cultures than using the starter packets. However, even the packets will provide a lot more types of probiotics than commercial pasteurized kefir from the grocery store.
Using starter Grains
Put the grains in a quart jar and add the milk, just like you did with the starter packets, and leave the kefir out overnight to culture.
Once the kefir has cultured, then it is time to separate the grains from the kefir because you will reuse the grains for the next quart of kefir.
I use a mesh strainer, and gently pour the kefir through the strainer, stirring along the edges to help the kefir to strain faster and not clog the strainer.
When the kefir is strained, you should have the little clumps of the kefir grains left in the strainer, and these are what you will use to make the next batch.
The kefir grains can be used over and over forever, so you never have to buy more like you do when you are using the starter packets.
Each time you make a quart of kefir, the grains will grow in size, and eventually you will need to sell some or give them away if you are making the same size batch of kefir.
Using too many kefir grains will make the culture sour too fast and have a bad taste, so it is important to use the same amount of grains each time you culture kefir.
Of course, the grains are edible, too; so you can always just add the extra grains into your kefir smoothies, or even feed them to your dog or cat. I add a bit of kefir into my cats wet food so that they get their probiotics as well. The recommended dose for cats and small dogs is 1 teaspoon per day. Medium to large dogs can have 1-2 Tablespoons.
Milk kefir is a great source of probiotics. It is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12,and folate. Making your own milk kefir at home s easy. You will not have to worry about added sugars and artificial flavors that are sometimes found in store bought kefir.
Kefir can be used as a substitute for yogurt in just about any recipe.
Have tried Kefir? How do you like to drink it or use it in recipes?
Let me know in the comments below.