Making milk kefir is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen. Learn how to make this tangy probiotic drink and never spend another dime on commercial kefir again!
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MAKING MILK KEFIR VIDEO
Here’s a little video tutorial showing you how to make your own milk kefir at home. If you like what you see, I hope you’ll subscribe to my YouTube channel!
You may have noticed kefir in the dairy section at the grocery store stashed beside the goat milk. It’s a fermented, gut-healthy probiotic drink that is slowly gaining in popularity but still has a long way to go. When bought at full price (compared to making your own at home) the cost can be slightly prohibitive for a non-essential grocery item. Even if it was more affordable, commercial kefir tastes nothing like the homemade version.
The kefir that I make at home is akin to drinking yogurt in liquid form. It’s a thicker, tangier version of buttermilk, but oh, so much better. When it comes to probiotics, it kicks yogurt’s butt, making it my daily go-to beverage for optimal gut health. I’m not going to focus on kefir’s many virtues in this post, but if you’re curious, you can find a good summary of its health benefits HERE.
HOW DO I MAKE KEFIR?
First off, you will need to get your hands on some milk kefir grains. These are not to be confused with water kefir grains, as they are two completely different cultures. Where can you find these? Find a friend who makes their own kefir, enquire at your local health food store, or order some online. If you run a search on Kijiji, you’ll likely find someone selling their extra grains for a few bucks. Making milk kefir is one of the simplest things you can do. When I was a kid, one of my dad’s nighttime rituals was retrieving his delegated mason jar from the lower kitchen cabinet.
Unscrewing the lid, my father would dump the contents into a fine-mesh sieve perched over a bowl and work a spoon around the grains, scraping the liquid through the sieve. Then he’d divide the milky prize into three tumblers, adding a spoonful of cod liver oil to each. Smart! My brother and I were clueless. The tangy goodness masks the fishy tonic many a child has hidden away from!
STEPS TO MAKING KEFIR
Pour the contents from your designated vessel into a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl.
Work a spoon around the sieve until all the liquid has passed through and only the grains remain.
Wash and dry the designated kefir vessel.
Scoop the grains back in the jar and top off with 3.25% milk.
Loosely cover the jar and store in a dark place.
HOW MUCH MILK SHOULD I ADD?
The amount of milk you add to your kefir grains really depends on how much kefir you want to drink. If you can only commit to drinking a cup of kefir a day, then add a cup of milk. It’s one of those things you can eyeball. I usually fill my pint jar three-quarters full. Don’t fret. If you add too much milk, you’re not going to mess up your kefir. You might have to let it ferment for an extra day, but with time and experimentation, you’ll discover what works for you. Chin up, it’s kefir, not rocket science!
HOW LONG SHOULD MY MILK KEFIR FERMENT?
The rule of thumb for kefir fermentation is 24 to 36 hours. I personally let mine ferment for 48 hours because I like the flavour, but, at the very least, kefir needs a full day for the grains’ lactic acid bacteria to work its magic. The longer the ferment, the tangier it’s going to be.
WHAT DO I DO IF I FORGET ABOUT MY KEFIR?
It happens. Sometimes life gets in the way or you go away on vacation and you come back to an unhappy jar of milk and culture. When this happens, dump the lot into your trusty sieve and get all the liquid out. I would advise against drinking it. Once this is done, rinse the grains under cold, filtered water, and proceed with making kefir as you normally would. It will take a couple of weeks for your kefir to bounce back from the dead, but your patience will be rewarded, I promise! With that being said, if you’re going away on vacation, remember to store your kefir jar in the fridge.
WHAT DO I DO WITH MY KEFIR?
Now that you have an abundance of milk kefir, what do you do with it? Well, you can drink it for starters, or use it to trick your kids into taking a dose of cod liver oil, but the gamut doesn’t stop there. Here are a few ideas to get the imagination running:
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Add it to your morning smoothie instead of yogurt.
Use it in place of buttermilk and make kefir pancakes, waffles, and cornbread.
When fermenting steel cut oats or making a batch of regular overnight oats, sneak in a couple of tablespoons of kefir for a lacto-fermentation.
Use it as an ingredient in salad dressings. A homemade kefir ranch or a chipotle lime dressing would be delicious.
Play with it in your favourite recipes for popsicles. Mango lassi pops, anyone?
Brine chicken with kefir. You won't go back!
Create a secondary fermentation. Infuse freshly strained kefir with mango, crushed raspberries, or vanilla bean to take your kefir to a whole new level. Experiment with different flavours and let me know how it goes!
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Kefir expands as the culture grows. Make sure you leave a bit of room in your kefir vessel to avoid an overflow.
You can store kefir in the fridge for up to two weeks.
If you're lucky enough to have access to raw milk, your kefir grains will grow like crazy. With that being said, your kefir will be just fine if all you can get your hands on is pasteurized milk. The grains will be even happier if it's organic pasteurized milk!
FUN FACTS ABOUT KEFIR
In addition to milk kefir, there's also water kefir which is usually made with coconut water or fruit juice.
For the vegetarians in the house, kefir contains vitamin B12.
Euphemisms for kefir grains include Tibetan mushrooms, snow lotus, and yogurt plant.
Kefir is kind to the lactose-intolerant.
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