It wasn’t until last year that I started incorporating milk kefir into my family’s diet. It took me so long because I was already settled into my yogurt making routine and honestly, I had tried kefir years ago and I remember thinking it was much too tart for my taste buds.
Oh goodness, what years of adding fermented foods to your diet will do. From sourdough, kombucha, natural pickles, beets, and kraut, I now can’t get enough of anything fermented with a bit of fizz – tart and tangy. So last year when my friend Elisa gave me some kefir grains, I couldn’t wait to start brewing this nourishing probiotic rich drink at home.
Kefir is a fermented milk product that originated in Southern Russia. Kefir (pronounced keh-FEHR) is much more than just bacteria but is also made up of yeast. Just like a kombucha scoby, kefir grains are also a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The benefits of the yeast and extra bacteria make it a much more powerful probiotic than yogurt as it may colonize the gut more thoroughly. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my sweet delicate yogurt, but in my family we are now consuming much more kefir than yogurt.
Besides the probiotic benefits of yeast and bacteria to the gut, kefir is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. It contains high levels of thiamin, B12, calcium, folate, and Vitamin K2. It contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. It also contains biotin, a B vitamin that helps assimilate other B vitamins. For women deficient in B vitamins and magnesium, kefir is a great fermented drink to add to your diet that can help ease stress and anxiety.
How To Make Milk Kefir
One of the things that I love most about kefir is how easy it is to make.
To make kefir all you need is…
- a quart sized jar
- 2 tbls – 1 cup (if you like tang) of kefir grains
- raw or VAT pasteurized local milk
All you need to do is place the grains into the quart sized jar and fill it with milk. Cap it with a lid, give it a shake, and place it on your counter at room temperature. Traditional kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. Since most people no longer ferment their kefir in skin bags, just give you kefir jar a couple of good shakes throughout the day to mix the grains into the milk.
That’s really it. After 12-24 hours your kefir will be done. The jar above was fermented for about 6 hours. Since I use a cup of grains, it doesn’t take long to ferment at all! Just know, the longer your fermented time, the more sour and tangy it will be.
Once it’s fermented, all you need to do is strain out the kefir grains from the thickened milk and whey. When straining, use a a non-corrosive straining utensil which can be stainless steel or food grade plastic.
I use a spoon to mix the kefir and grains which helps the straining process.
Once the kefir is strained, you’ll be left with just the grains. You’ll soon start to notice that your grains have multiplied. I like to use just about a cup for brewing. Anything more I feed to my chickens or give away to friends. However, a couple tablespoons of grains is all you need and won’t lead to such a tart and tangy brew.
After straining, I pour my kefir into a pint sized mason jar and fill a quart sized jar with the grains to start the process all over again.
Another great thing about kefir is that it is so forgiving. You can keep your grains in your fridge covered with milk for quite a long time and they won’t die. I love that about kefir as I’ve been known to kill quite a few cultures 😉
Just remember, you don’t need to use 1 cup of kefir grains to brew. A couple tablespoons will suffice. The more grains… the tangier!
How to make milk kefir - a probiotic yogurt-type drink. It's simple and completely nourishing!
- 1 quart sized mason jar
- 2 tbls - 1 cup (if you like tang) of kefir grains
- raw or vat pasteurized milk to cover
- In a quart sized mason jar, add the grains and cover with milk leaving about 1-2 inches of headspace.
- Give it a good shake and set on a darkened corner of your countertop at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Make sure to keep it away from other fermented foods to avoid cross culturing. During the 12-24 hours, give it a shake to mix the grains and milk.
- Once fermented, strain the grains from the kefir. When straining, use a a non-corrosive straining utensil which can be stainless steel or food grade plastic.
- Place the kefir into a pint sized or quart sized jar and store in the refrigerator.
- Place the grains into a clean quart sized jar and start the process all over again.
One of the best things I love about kefir is how refreshed and energized I feel after drinking it. When I’m feeling sluggish, a bit sick, or need a bit of a boost, I drink about 6-8 oz straight. I love it. I now enjoy the tart and tang; however, my kids aren’t fond of it like that just yet.
So for them, I make sure to include it into a morning powerhouse kefir smoothie 3-4 times per week. They drink this down and I’m sure you will too!
Powerhouse Kefir Smoothie
Feel free to share and pin this recipe! I’d appreciate it 😀
So, do you enjoy drinking kefir? Tell me, what do you like best about it? Do you have any recipes using it that you can share with My Humble Kitchen?