This tart and light fermented milk recipe is the perfect addition to smoothies and dressings while offering tons of beneficial probiotics.
Alike people in time’s past, I’m going to share with you how to make milk kefir right at home. Like sourdough, milk kefir has been around for thousands of years, originating in the north Caucasus region of Russia. This slightly tart and light fermented milk uses milk grains to create a runny yogurt-like consistency drink, perfect for using in a variety of different ways.
Not only is milk kefir delicious, but it’s a perfect way to start incorporating more natural probiotics into your diet. It helps populate the gut with a plethora of good bacteria ideal for digestion.
It is even known to have far more probiotics than yogurt. And while milk kefir can be bought at the store, there’s nothing like fermenting your own right at home. It’s also far cheaper and better for you.
How to Make Milk Kefir
Milk kefir is made by taking milk kefir grains and adding them to fresh milk of your choice and letting this ferment for 24 – 48 hours. You will need to make sure you are using milk kefir grains specifically.
The type of milk you use is totally up to you. I’ve seen people make kefir with anything from goat’s milk to raw cow’s milk. Raw cow’s milk is my favorite milk to ferment kefir in because it is so full of beneficial bacteria that really enhance the healthy benefits of the kefir.
The only milk I do not recommend using is ultra pasteurized. This is because there are not enough good bacteria present to kick off your kefir and populate it.
Here are the steps you will need to follow.
1. Add 1 tablespoon of milk kefir grains to a clean quart mason jar
2. Fill the mason jar up with your milk of choice
3. Cover the jar with a tea towel and secure with a rubber band
4. Let ferment on your kitchen counter for 24 – 48 hours until preferred taste is reached
5. Strain the milk off the grains into a clean mason jar. Screw a lid on and store in the fridge or drink fresh
It’s really that simple. There are a few factors that will play into this. One is the length of time you let the grains ferment with the milk. Notice the time range. The longer they ferment, the more sour the kefir will taste. The milk whey will also start to separate from the thicker layer of kefir. At this point, it’s still drinkable and is normal. Just keep an eye on it, because this could be a sing that the kefir is starting to over ferment
Another factor to consider is the temperature of your home. Ferments love a warmer home. 65 – 85 degrees is and ideal range for fermenting. A 65 degree house will take longer to ferment, whereas the 85 degree house will produce a quicker ferment. Kefir in a house this warm could very well ferment in a timeframe less than 24 hours.
Making quarts of kefir at a time for a small family is a good way to get an oversupply. You can absolutely cut down on the amount and do 1 tsp in a 16 oz mason jar. This is a good amount for a single person.
What tools are needed to make Milk Kefir?
You don’t need very many tools to make milk kefir at home. I recommend the following
Mason Jars – or some other type of glass jars for fermenting and storing in. Mason Jars are an excellent tool to have on hand for a DIY from scratch kitchen.
Mini Fine Mesh Strainer – a strainer is used to separate the kefir from the grains after fermenting. I’ve seen recommendations to only use plastic, but in my experience, the metal doesn’t react with the kefir if only exposed briefly. A cheese cheesecloth can be used for this as well.
Lids – You’ll need lids for storing the kefir in the fridge after fermenting, unless you choose to drink it fresh right away.
Where can you get kefir grains?
Kefir grains aren’t your common grocery store item although they do resemble cottage cheese. But they can be found. You just have to know where to look. The best places to find and buy kefir grains are online sites like Etsy where you can browse and find a trusted retailer. Some people who only choose to buy grains fermented in a certain type of milk will find this a positive.
Another option is to ask a friend you know who also makes kefir at home. As kefir ferments each time, the grains grow, creating an overabundance. Most people are more than happy to give away a tablespoon of extra grains to a friend.
Best Ways to Use Kefir
Milk kefir is so versatile. It can be used in a number of different ways. Not only does it add a different flavor profile, but it also packs in additional probiotics you wouldn’t get using regular unfermented milk. These are a few good ways I like to use milk kefir. Smoothies being at the top of my list, are an excellent way to drink kefir if you’re not used to the strong taste.
- Buttermilk Substitute
- Granola Topping
- Baking Recipes
How to Store Milk Kefir & Grains
Storing your kefir and grains is where I feel people start to ask the most questions. And if properly fed and taken care of, your kefir grains can last generations!
Kefir is commonly consumed fresh, but if you do anticipate storing it, it can be kept in your fridge for a few days. Mine typically starts to get too sour around day four. Using raw milk does play into this though. If you are using a pasteurized milk, it will keep longer in the fridge. A smell and taste test is how I test mine to see how usable it is.
For you grains, when not being used on a daily basis for fermenting, can be stored in the fridge for months at a time. This will put them to ‘sleep’. You’ll will just need to make sure to feed them occasionally with fresh milk so they don’t dry out during the timeframe they are being stored in the fridge. And when you want to use them again, it’s as simple as pulling them out, giving them a good two feedings (24 hours each) and then using them as normal in your milk kefir. We give these feedings to revive them from being in that ‘sleep’ they’re in while in the fridge.
Other Ferments To Give A Try On The Blog
- 1 Tbsp Milk Kefir Grains
- 1 Quart of Milk
- Add 1 tablespoon of kefir grains to a quart glass mason jar
- Fill the mason jar up with milk of choice
- Cover the jar with a tea towel and secure with a rubber band
- Let ferment for 24 hours
- Strain the milk off the grains into a clean mason jar. Screw a lid on and store in the fridge or drink fresh
Goat milk can be used as well as cow's milk
Smell and taste test your keifr to check fermentation
Longer fermenting will result in a more sour kefir