How to Make Milk Kefir
What is Milk Kefir?
Milk kefir is a tangy fermented beverage much similar to yogurt but thinner in consistency. It is made by taking kefir grains and putting them in milk until the milk ferments. This process not only adds beneficial bacteria but also preserves the milk.
What are Kefir “Grains”?
Kefir grains are not actually grains but are a symbiotic cluster of bacteria and yeast.
The Story of Kefir Grains
Kefir grains are shrouded in a lot of mystery. They have been around for thousands of years and there are many stories about the origins of the grains. It isn’t quite certain where kefir grains originated from but many believe them to be from the Causcacus Mountains, a mountain range between Russia and Georgia. It is here where they say the grains magically appeared in the sheep skin leather bags that the shepherd used to carry milk.
Others say that the “manna” described in the Bible as the food that god gave to the Israelites was in fact kefir grains.
Part of the legend handed down also warns that of kefir grains are given to the wrong person, they will lose their magic and potency.
What are the Benefits of Milk Kefir?
Like all fermented foods, probiotic rich foods boost the immune system and aid in digestion by improving the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.
What is the Best Milk to Use to Make Kefir?
Grass fed, organic raw cow or goat milk work best for kefir. However pasteurized milk from the store will also work as long as it is not ultra pasteurized so check you label.
Coconut milk can also be used but I have never tried this myself. You will eventually need to use cows milk after a few batches in order to revive the grains and feed them properly.
Is it Better to Use Raw Milk for Milk Kefir?
Yes! Raw milk has not been pasteurized and therefore retains all of its enzymes, beneficial bacteria and fat soluble vitamins. All which are lost in the pasteurization process. However, the decision to consume raw milk is up to you. I personally feel comfortable drinking raw milk myself and giving it to my family. A decision I came to after much research on the topic. I was also able to find a trustworthy source for purchasing raw milk which is very important. In New Jersey, raw milk is illegal here so I have to travel 30+ minutes out of state to buy it. I know of many people who travel much farther since the benefits of raw milk are vast! Again, the decision to consume raw milk is yours and yours alone.
Where do I Buy Milk Kefir Grains?
If you do a quick internet search you will likely be able to find milk kefir grains online to buy. Here is one site that many people trust. I got mine from the same farm I purchase my raw milk from. I found this farm by going to https://www.realmilk.com/ and searching for a farm close to me.
What you will need:
1-2 tablesppons of kefir grains
2-4 cups of milk
large mason jar
cloth or coffee filter to cover jar
mason jar and plastic lid for storage
How to Make Milk Kefir:
- Place kefir grains and milk in mason jar.
- Cover with cloth and leave on counter top for 24-36 hours out of direct sunlight. Do not go over 48 hours. The timing will depend on the temperature in the house. If its a hot summer day the fermentation will happen rapidly. If its cold then you may need to leave for longer.
- Once the desired thickness is reached, place the colander over a large bowl and strain out the kefir grains. The liquid in the bowl is now kefir!
- Pour the kefir into a mason jar, close the lid and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- Take the grains from the colander to start another batch.
- If you are not ready to start another batch then simply place them in small jar with some milk and store in the fridge. They will go dormant in the fridge but it is best to give them fresh milk after a few weeks if you are not making another batch.
How do you Use Milk Kefir?
>drink straight plain or sweetened with honey or maple syrup
>use in place of yogurt and top with granola
>add to smoothies with fresh or frozen fruit
Wild Blueberry Milk Kefir Smoothie
- 1 Blender
- 2 Cups Milk Kefir
- 1 Cup Frozen Wild Blueberry
- 1 tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey
- Add all ingredients into blender and mix until smooth.