If you’re wondering what in the world I’m even talking about, you should first check out my post: What Is Kefir?
After you familiarized yourself with how amazing kefir is, I know you’ll be itching to make it & I understand! Making kefir is exciting. It’s a little like uncharted territory for some & lends itself to a ‘mad scientist in the kitchen’ kind of vibe without the concern you might actually blow something up. If you have heard of people blowing up their kitchens while making kefir, please tell me about that in the comments. That’s a story I need to hear.
My method for making kefir uses raw milk so I don’t have to heat the milk first. If you don’t have access to raw milk I would suggest getting the best milk possible, preferably grass fed & organic. Everything I have researched has told me that Ultra Pasteurized & Ultra Homogenized milk produces the most inconsistent kefir. According to the GAPS Diet book, if you are using store bought, pasteurized milk, it will need to be heated to destroy any bacteria that may interfere with the fermentation process. But you should not boil your milk – just heat it close to the point of boiling. Once it’s heated, remove it from the heat & let it cool. (Do not put your live grains into hot milk as they will be damaged). The GAPS Diet book recommends letting it cool to 105-113 degrees or until it feels slightly warm on the inside of your wrist. After a great question from a reader concerning storing your live grains using store bought milk I did some further research on the idea of having to heat your milk. It seems there are differing thoughts on if you first need to heat store bought milk when using live grains. Although the GAPS Diet book does recommend this, other sites may not mention it. My best advice would be, when getting your live grains, either from a company or friend, ask what their recommendation on heating store bought milk & then storing live grains would be.
If you are using live, raw milk, no need for preparation! Just getting ready to make kefir.
What You’ll Need
Kefir Grains or Dehydrated Starter
1-2 Cups Milk (Depending on how many grains you have)
Glass jar or container with lid (where your kefir will ferment)
Plastic colander (nothing metal or you can use a fine mesh sieve)
Glass bowl or container for catching strained kefir
Plastic or wooden spoon (but nothing metal)
New, clean container to hold your freshly made kefir.
How to Make Kefir
I typically use 1 Tablspoon of grains to 1 cup of milk. This will adjust according to many things. How active are your grains? How many do you have. Making kefir is trail & error so don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t come out exactly as you planned the first time you make it!
Cover your jar, write the time on your jar with a Sharpie so you’ll remember & set your kefir somewhere in your kitchen to ferment. Do not put it in the fridge! This is a room temperature fermentation! The wait will really depend on the temperature of your kitchen. I find in summer or if I’m doing a lot of baking with my oven, my ferment time might be faster. The total time can be anywhere from 12-36 hours but typically mine is very close to 24 hours. Clear as mud, yes!
As you learn, there are some things to look for that tell you your kefir is ready. The grains will have floated to the top.
Once you think you’re kefir is ready, I recommend testing the taste with a clean, plastic spoon. If you remember my previous post, you should never be afraid to taste your kefir! It isn’t going to taste like curdled milk! It will simply taste sour (like unsweetened yoghurt or sour cream) & slightly fizzy. It will have a yeasty smell (like fresh bread). Sometimes the taste test is the best way I know my kefir is ready because the consistency of your kefir can always change & some people I know have runny kefir & some people have thick kefir. It all depends. That’s why I recommend the taste test!
After you’ve tasted, you’ll need to strain your kefir to remove the grains. Use a large glass bowl under a colander to do this. You can see how thick the kefir looks for this fermentation. I admit, it doesn’t always look like this so I’m glad I was taking pictures this day!
Now you’re left with the strained kefir! You can use a spoon to stir it & make it more consistent. Sometimes I have even put it in my Vitamix to blend it up but there are some differing opinions on doing that.
Kefir Grain Maintenance
Your kefir grains are sensitive little beings. You’ll need to keep them in mind & realize that you can actually damage them. Store them in your fridge & be consistent with giving fresh milk to cover them. I sometimes do this once a week but I’ve heard some people do it every day. Just drain the old milk & then pour enough fresh milk to cover the grains. How often you do this will probably determine how well your grains adapt & how well they do at fermenting your milk. Remember, even though they are sensitive, they are also survivors! I’ve heard lots of stories of people reviving their grains but personally, I’ve been responsible for killing a few batches so… Just be aware.
Are you a kefir wizard? I’d love to hear any tips you have so leave them in the comments!