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It’s perfect for when you’re too busy making bread to make healthy probiotic yogurt.
Or if you just like to go to sleep and wake up to the work being done for you!
The process truly is simple. Those with NO kitchen experience can do this without a problem. The kids could do it if they can reach the counter top!
(PS – if you haven’t read the “all about kefir” post, be sure to read that too. There’s lots of good information there than can help you in the making process.)
1. Acquire kefir grains.
These are not the same as the powdered starter culture. The starter culture can be reused only a few times and is heavily dependent on cleanliness and contamination of the culture. You want the indestructible, super-resilient grains. (The grains really aren’t invincible, but they are pretty tough.)
Kefir grains can be purchased (I recommend Cultures for Health), or a generous friend who is having a hard time keeping their grains under control can pass some onto you. Grains can be found on Amazon, but many of those buyers had poor experiences. I chose to pay a bit more from a trusty-worthy company. And if you’re curious when you’ll break even after this initial investment, I did the math here.
FYI: Purchased kefir grains come in a very tiny package, sealed with organic powdered milk. It will honestly look like nothing of importance, which makes the kefir-making process all the more exciting!
2. Place your grains in a glass jar and add approximately one cup of organic milk. Cover the jar with a coffee filter and let it sit on your countertop.
The filter is so debris and other food particles don’t interfere with your kefir making process. The kefir grains need air to breathe, so do not put a lid on your jar. Besides, the fermentation process will create pressure in the jar. If you seal the jar instead of using a filter, your jar may explode when you try to open it.
Know anyone volunteering to clean soured milk off your ceiling?
Kefir grains thrive best between 68 and 77 degrees, so you may have to find a better suitable spot if your kitchen is especially warm or cold. Don’t feel discourage when nothing magical happens. It will, just not yet…
3. After 24 hours, use a strainer to pour the milk down the drain or into a another vessel, but not the kefir.
Note: You may use this milk if you’d like so long as it doesn’t smell sour. Room-temperature-possibly-soured-milk does not sound appetizing to me, but it may be suitable for pancakes, waffles or biscuits. Your strainer should be plastic if at all possible, but stainless steel is sufficient. You may use a plastic spoon if it’s necessary to help drain the milk from the kefir. Moving the kefir and curds from side to side will help the milk drain. This may not be an issue yet, but it will be later on.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for 10 days.
Yes, 10 days. This process is called rehydrating the kefir – you’re essentially bringing the dried kefir grains back to life. Some grains are ready after 7 days and some take as long as 14 days. Use your best judgment, but I’d personally rehydrate for 10 days.
5. After the kefir grains are “alive,” you’re ready to make kefir.
Want to know how? Repeat step 2. No joke. Once your grains are active, you’re making the good stuff!
Depending on the environment and the quantity of grains you have in your milk, the jar may only need to sit for 12 hours, or it may need to sit for 24. After one month of making my own kefir, my grains have grown from a teaspoon of powder to one full tablespoon. In one cup of milk, these grains make kefir in about 18 hours.
My grains came with a list of FAQ – which was helpful – but I still had more questions. Here’s a few of the FAQ’s, along with my own questions and the answers it took me forever to find. You’re welcome.
My grains are yellow. Is this normal?
Yes. Kefir grains can be anywhere along the white to yellow color spectrum
My grains are super tiny. Is this normal?
Yes. Grains can range in size from a pin head to a golf ball.
Do I have to stir the kefir in the process?
It’s not required, but I’ve found it helpful.
Do I need to rinse the grains between batches?
No, but I usually do because yeast and curds builds up on the grains. There’s also something kinda oogey about putting soured milk curdles into fresh milk and then drinking it. It is recommended to use filtered water, but I use tap water without any problems. (I know, such a rebel.)
Can I reuse my jar?
Use a clean jar for each new batch of kefir.
My kefir separates into curds and whey. Is this normal?
Yes. This happens when the milk is over-cultured. Reduce the culture time, or use a plastic spoon to help strain the curds through the strainer.
My grains don’t look any different after the rehydration process. Is this normal?
Yes. Grains may grow, they may not. They may stay yellow, they could turn white. Don’t give up. Give it to the max of 14 days before thinking the grains are bad. Even after 14 days, the grains are probably doing what they’re supposed to, they just don’t look any different.
What if I need a break from making kefir?
Since cold temperatures render the grains dormant, you can store grains in milk safely in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want to store them longer, it’s recommended that you rinse, dry and freeze the grains. I haven’t done this personally, but there is information available.
Do I have to make big batches?
No. You can make as little or as much as you’d like. Making one pint (two cups) at a time works well with the quantity of kefir grains I have. I make a batch, pour half (one cup) for a smoothie and refrigerate the other half. The grains are given fresh milk and put into the fridge. They get moved to the counter when the second cup from the original batch is pulled out. They then come to room temperature and kefir is ready the following morning.
Can I make kefir with non-cow’s milk?
Yes, milk kefir grains can be used with other milks, but may need to be rehydrated in mammal’s milk every couple batches or so. Milk kefir grains need certain bacterias to thrive and grow and while the grains will ferment almond, soy or other milks, they will not grow. Rehydrate your grains for maximum long-term potential.
Easy peasy, right? Are you ready to start making your own kefir?
Cultures for Health has milk kefir grains and they have excellent customer service. If you have any questions in the process, you can contact them via their website or shoot, leave me a comment and we’ll see if my experience can help out too!