October 15, 2014 | 4 Comments

If you are like me you may be saying “What is milk kefir?” I was really clueless until just a few months ago. But recently we’ve had some challenges with Josie‘s health (digestive related problems – won’t go into more detail than that here) and we’ve been looking for ways to supplement her doctor-prescribed, formula tube feedings to include some more natural and healthy things. As we researched this, we ran across information about homemade milk kefir.

Homemade Milk Kefir with text 640

What is kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk product, somewhat similar to yogurt, but thinner (drinkable) and with many more probiotics and other healthy bacteria that can improve health and digestion. I’m not going to tell you that plain kefir tastes wonderful. It doesn’t. I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to choke down my first glass – but I did. And I will say, it’s an acquired taste. While I still don’t say “Oh yum! I’d love to have some kefir right now!”, I at least don’t drink it like I’m taking some nasty flavored medicine anymore. And when I blend it up into a smoothie with some frozen mixed berries, it’s absolutely delicious! Since Josie is tube fed, she doesn’t have to worry about the taste at all.

How is kefir made?

You can buy pre-made kefir in the store, although this recent article about the most well known brand of store-bought kefir wasn’t exactly encouraging. It’s so easy to make kefir right at home! You can use a source of dairy that you trust. We use raw milk from our local dairy! Swan’s milk is the best!!

Swan Dairy 640

First you need to get some kefir grains. (This is a milk product, so don’t mistake the “grains” for being some sort of wheat, corn or other similar product. It’s just what they’re called because of their appearance.) If you know anyone who makes kefir, they probably have some extra grains to share. Put a plea out among your friends. You might be surprised to find out how many people make kefir. And if you are local (Tulsa area), I have a limited amount to share too. First to holler gets them! Shoot me a message and we’ll see if that’s you!

Kefir Grains with text 640

If you can’t find kefir grains locally, you can buy them online here {affilliate link}. They’ll need to be re-hydrated and you’ll receive instructions on how to do that.

Making kefir is as simple as putting the grains in a jar of milk, and setting it in a room temperature location for 12-24 hours. About two tablespoons of kefer grains are enough to make one quart of kefir. You can allow it to ferment for a little less or more time to get a product that is to your liking, but don’t go much over 24 hours or you’ll risk the kefir grains starving. (They are actually “eating” the sugar in the milk as it ferments.)

To get some extra probiotics and B vitamins in your kefir, you can take the extra step of leaving it in your fridge for an additional 24 hours after it’s initial room temperature fermentation time.

You’ll notice that when you open the jar, it makes a “hiss” similar to opening a bottle of pop. That’s because kefir is slightly effervescent. If the effervescence bothers you, ferment your kefir a little shorter next time.

Use a plastic strainer {affiliate link} to separate the kefir grains from the kefir.

Never ever use metal in the preparation of your kefir. Metal strainers, spoons, or bowls can kill your kefir grains. Some people use stainless steel successfully, but I say better safe than sorry.

Your kefir might have separated into curds and whey if you fermented it a bit too long. You can gently agitate the jar to recombine them. After straining, place your finished kefir in the fridge for up to a week. Cover your grans with more milk to start your next batch. If you need a break you can leave the grains in milk in the fridge. The cold temperature will nearly stop the fermentation process and keep the grains from starving until you get back to them.

That yummy berry smoothie

Kefir Smoothie with text 640

To make that yummy berry smoothie that I mentioned earlier, just put about 1 cup of frozen mixed berries in a blender and cover with about 1 cup of kefir. The resulting smoothie is a bit tart for me, so I like to add a few drops of liquid stevia, but you can use any sweetener you like, or none if you’re a fan of sour things. Have a simple, healthy breakfast in just moments!

Kefir Smoothie Ingredients 640

Huge thanks to my friend and chiropractor Dr. Deb for providing me with my kefir grains to get started as well as instructions for using them. I also got lots of good information from Cultures for Health.

4 Responses to “Homemade Milk Kefir”

  1. Anne

    I love kefir and have been drinking it for years. I find if you put in a small handful of oats, chia, almonds, hemp seeds etc you get even more bang for your buck. Also a good idea is to blend up a mixture of greens (kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, mint, parsley, kiwi, ginger (although that’s not green)) in water or coconut water and freeze them in ice cube trays or silicone muffin molds for easy ejection. Pop a couple in your smoothie for even more goodness without changing the flavor.

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