It’s rich and creamy and drinkable. It’s full of protein, low in sugar and rich in probiotics. What is it? Kefir! This powerhouse drink can be pricey to buy so I’m going to show you how to make kefir at home.
What is kefir?
Kefir is a fermented and cultured form of milk. It is cultured with little “grains” of bacteria and yeast that resemble cauliflower. The finished product is similar to a drinkable yogurt. It’s a bit tangy and thicker than milk.
Yogurt is made with only bacteria while kefir is made with both yeast and bacteria offering a wider variety of healthy critters (probiotics) for your gut.
Probiotics is a huge buzz-word these days because of the research being done on gut health. We are discovering that our bodies are made up of more bacteria than cells even and how important it is to support the good bacteria that maintain overall health.
Want to hear something cool? Even my doctor suggested kefir as a probiotic for my son! Love my doctor!
Can’t I just buy kefir?
Just be careful of the sugar trap. Always buy plain kefir and add your own fruits or sweeteners if you desire so that you control how much added sugar goes in.
I prefer to make mine because it’s way cheaper than buying it (yes, I get milk for free from the bulk tank). But even if you buy your milk, it will still be cheaper to make your own as you would pay the same for a quart of kefir as you would for a gallon of milk.
Another reason I prefer to make my own is then it’s raw. I start with raw milk and therefore get raw kefir.
Who should drink kefir made at home?
Kefir is for anyone!
I blend it into my little guys baby food. I soak his oatmeal with it overnight. He even loves my crazy concoction smoothies that I make for myself!
The best part? Most of the lactose (milk sugar) has been eaten up by the bacteria and yeast. What does this mean? It means that kefir has a much lower sugar content than straight milk.
Many people who are lactose intolerant enjoy kefir! My old employer’s wife and son had lactose issues. The wife couldn’t drink milk at all and the son could tolerate it by popping a lactase enzyme pill.
I introduced them to kefir and they were able to drink to their hearts’ contentment![If you have an allergy to casein (the protein in milk) then you probably won’t tolerate kefir, either.]
Where do I get the grains to start making kefir at home?
The best place to get them from is a friend, though. If you know someone who makes their own kefir, ask for some grains when they have extra. Maybe you are part of a buy, sell, swap site – ask for someone willing to split their grains.
I always have a running list of who gets grains when mine have multiplied beyond what I can use. And I never charge people for them because I’m just excited people are taking care of their gut!
How to Make Kefir at Home
Making kefir at home is even easier than making yogurt at home! I’m lazy, so I make this all the time over yogurt.
What You Need:
- Kefir grains or culture
- Jar (actually, I just use spaghetti sauce jars)
- Spoon [I love these long handled stirring spoons.]
- Blender (optional)
Place the kefir grains (about the size of a dime) in a glass quart jar.
Fill the jar with milk. Set the lid on. Do not make it air tight.
Let the jar sit out on the counter at room temperature for 20-30 hours until the milk has thickened. How long it takes to culture depends on the room temperature and the amount of grains in the jar.
If you let it culture for too long, eventually the whey will separate out. The kefir is still good, it will just be very strong. When I let mine go too long I just use it for baking.
Related Post: Uses for Raw Milk After it Sours
Once the milk has thickened, remove the grains with a spoon or pour the kefir through a sieve to catch them.
My grains stay in one clump. I can usually see the clump through the glass and can just scoop them out with a spoon.
Put the grains in a clean glass jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge until ready to use again.
Blend the kefir until smooth. If you chose to add some sweetener, fruit or other flavorings, you can do this now, as well.
Related Posts: 10 Ways to Use Maple Syrup Instead of Sugar
Kefir grains are resilient!
I thought I cooked them dead.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had killed my grains. Once, I left them on my stove when I did an oven clean. During the oven clean the temperature rises to over 500 degrees or something crazy like that. After a couple hours I remembered my kefir culturing on the stove.
They were a little weary for a few batches. The kefir didn’t culture very quickly and it turned out a little funky so I poured those first few batches on my garden.
After several attempts they were normal again.
I thought I dried them out dead.
After my son was born I had a long recovery. I didn’t do much in the kitchen for several weeks. My poor grains sat in my fridge all that time and got dried out.
When I finally got around to making kefir, the first batch was nasty. And the next. And so on. After eight batches of nasty kefir (that I dumped on my garden) the grains finally became happy again.
I’m still using the same grains that I bought seven years ago!
How I Make My Kefir at Home
I’m lazy so I don’t usually blend my finished kefir. I just scoop out the grains, screw on the lid and set the jar in the fridge. Less dirty dishes!
Before pouring myself a glass, I shake it. Not blending the kefir leaves it lumpy, but that doesn’t bother me. The lumps just make it splatter a bit as I pour.
I enjoy my kefir plain. It is milder than plain yogurt. I’m sure it’s an acquired taste, but I didn’t start out sweetening mine so it’s just what I’m used to.
My old employer that I mentioned earlier – they made kefir by the half-gallons. The wife would pour the finished kefir right in the blender and add some maple syrup to take the edge off. They loved it this way.
If I’m sharing kefir for the first time with someone, I always blend it and add some berries or maple syrup so they don’t get scared off!
How to Make Kefir at Home
Now that you see how easy it is to make kefir at home, go for it! Kefir is a great way to nourish your family’s gut microbiomes by providing regular probiotics. Whether you use raw or store milk, both will have health benefits and save you money.