The Simple Guide to Dairy Kefir

So you realize that Dairy Kefir is the Most Probiotic Rich Food, and you want to try it. For the price of a cup of coffee from a coffee shop or a value meal from a fast food chain, you can get your hands on some kefir grains. You may have a friend that passes some on to you for free. But then what?

Kefir Grain Basics

One little start of kefir grains can last you a lifetime and give you a lifetime of health benefits. The grains look like squishy little transparent blobs. A tablespoon of grains quickly grows to 1/4 cup. By the time you have that much, it’s a great time to start passing starts on to curious friends and family. Kefir grains just take a bit of care. And take it from someone who unwittingly tried- they are hard to kill.

How to Make Kefir From Kefir Grains

Here are basic, simple instructions to transform milk into kefir with kefir grains.

Tools

  • A jar
    • For 1 Tablespoon of grains, use a quart jar
    • For 1/4 cup of grains, use a 1/2 gallon jar
  • A cheesecloth, thin towel, or papertowel
  • A rubber band
  • A plastic strainer (metal is not good for kefir grains)
  • Kefir grains
  • Milk (goat, cow, whatever)

Directions

  1. Put kefir grains and milk in a clean glass jar. Put a papertowel (or other towel) over the top to keep bugs out and hold it in place with a large rubberband.
  2. Let kefir grains sit 12-24 hours at room temperature until the mixture thickens to your liking. The longer it sits, the thicker (and more sour) it becomes.
  3. Strain the liquid.
    1. Put the kefir back in the original jar, put a lid on it, and refrigerate or use right away.
    2. Put the grains in a clean jar with fresh milk. You can immediately leave it sit out to make more kefir, or you can put a lid on it and put it in the fridge. If you have enough grains, it may go ahead and turn into kefir in the fridge.
  4. Enjoy! (More tips on this below and in future posts)

How To Store Kefir Grains

If you aren’t going to be using your grains for a while:

  1. Put them in milk in a sealed jar and leave them in the fridge for a week. You can put it in a smaller jar than you use to make kefir on the counter. Strain the kefir (which is safe to drink) about once per week. Giving it fresh milk keeps it alive and healthy.
  2. Dehydrate them in a dehydrator until you need them again.
  3. Freeze them until you need them again.

Notes and Troubleshooting With Kefir

  • It Separated! Don’t worry if it separates. The liquid is still fine.
    • If it looks like there are pockets and layers of liquid, it has separated into curds and whey.
    • Straining it will be harder (Use your finger or a wooden spoon to help rub the thicker liquid through the strainer and get your grains out of it).
    • It will taste more sour. But it is fine. Shake the jar and it will be a unified liquid again.
  • No Metal. Use wooden spoons and plastic strainers. Metal is not best for kefir.
  • Not Too Hot. Don’t put kefir into a hot jar, in direct sunlight, outside in the summer, or in a dehydrator (I accidentally put my kefir with yogurt in the dehydrator on low once…it separated really fast and I thought I killed it. After a few batches of fresh milk, it was happy again.
  • I Prefer Carbonation. If you prefer kefir carbonated, just let it make with a tightly sealed lid. I have over 1/4 cup of grains, so I make it on the counter in a 1/2 gallon jar, but after I strain it, I put the grains in a quart jar for storage in the fridge. The quart of milk always turns into kefir within a couple of days, and that kefir is carbonated! I really like it this way. You might too!
  • I Don’t Like It!  
    • Give yourself time. It can take a person as many as 15 times trying a new food to develop a taste for it.
    • Add honey. My children love it if I add honey.
    • Don’t let it sour as long. If you let it sit 24 hours, try 12 and see if you like it better.
    • Turn it into a “milkshake.” Add frozen fruit. Include a banana or some dates for sweetness. If it’s still not sweet enough, add some honey.
    • Turn it into popsicles.
    • Turn it into sherbet or ice cream (recipes coming soon! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss them.)
  • I Forgot My Grains Longer Than 24 Hours!
    • No worries! The liquid will be separated and might be more sour than you are comfortable drinking. Strain out your grains and put them in fresh milk and try again.
  • Should My Grains Float? Your grains may float on top of the milk or sink to the bottom. I have some that do both in each batch. Either way is fine.
  • Should I Wash My Grains? You don’t need to wash your grains. If you leave them over 24 hours or do something crazy with them (like I did in putting them in the dehydrator to make faster), then you may want to rinse them in filtered water before putting them in fresh milk
  • Should I Break Up the Clumps of Grains? You don’t have to do this. However, if the clumps are quite large, gently breaking them up into smaller clumps will help them have more exposure to fresh milk and will keep them healthy and happy.

Enjoy!

I share recipes in hopes that they will bring a little refreshment, rest, and delight to your day. Kefir has brought a lot of delight to my life. It has been my go-to probiotic rich food and has helped me improve my gut health, be free from seasonal allergies, and deal with indigestion. 

I eat it for breakfast nearly every morning in a shake. My kids love it in a shake with frozen fruit. My mom enjoys it as is.  I hope you find a way to enjoy it as well!

Here are some other resources on kefir and why you might want to drink it (or take some other probiotic):

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