How to Make Kefir At Home

28 Apr

Last week, in our Digestion Dossier, we talked about a fermented dairy beverage that is particularly effective at improving digestion.

Kefir is a lot like yogurt, but it has even more beneficial bacteria. Yogurt (especially store-bought yogurt) or even probiotic pills can’t compare to kefir in the digestion department. I’ve read that kefir can actually repopulate the intestinal flora and judging from my personal experience with this powerful probiotic, I believe it.

The Ingredients

Kefir isn’t too difficult to make at home. It only requires two ingredients: milk and kefir grains.  While milk might seem to be the easier of the two ingredients to obtain, this is actually the trickier one for me.  When it comes to homemade kefir, the quality of the milk is of utmost importance so farm-fresh is best. Most grocery-store milk is from factory-farmed cows who eat an unnatural diet and receive regular doses of hormones and antibiotics. (If you can’t find farm-fresh milk in your area, at least be careful to avoid milk that says “ultra-pasteurized” on the label, even if it is organic).

Kefir grains are the starter culture used in the fermentation process.  Each time you make kefir, the grains will grow until eventually you’ll have extra to give away. You can obtain kefir grains from a friend who makes kefir or you can order them online from a trusted source (Cultures for Health is a good one).

The Directions

To make kefir, all you have to do is stir the grains into the milk, cover with a cloth, and leave the mixture at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours. Stir it from time to time and sample it for tartness. When it’s to your liking, strain out the kefir grains and use them in your next batch. The kefir can now go into the refrigerator and is ready to drink.

Of course, if you want to really get into kefir-making there is much more you can do with it. You can flavor kefir. You can make water kefir.  Or coconut kefir… My kefir skills are not that advanced yet, but here are a few websites that I like to poke around to get more info (a quick Google search will reveal many more):

Kefir.net from Body Ecology

Dom’s Kefir Site

Here is a video tutorial on how to make kefir at home.

You can also buy kefir pre-made at the store, but it tends to be pricey. Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery makes goat milk kefir in yummy flavors.  (My favorite is the mango pineapple.)

If you have experience making kefir at home, please provide your best tips below. Thanks!

*This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by everyone’s favorite Kitchen Kop and Fight Back Friday hosted at FoodRenegade.

A Cellulite Investigator Update

Thanks for stopping by The Cellulite Investigation.  Things are a little quite around here at the moment.  I’m taking an extended break as I get married and settle into married life and a new home.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

Comments

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Anything Fits A Naked Man says:
4/28/2010

I'm definitely trying this! Thanks so much for the heads-up!!

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Let us know how it goes, Naked Man! (hee hee, I still giggle when I call you that!)

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Melissa B. says:
4/28/2010

Well, thank you, ma'am!

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Ben Leonard says:
4/28/2010

I have started making kefir a while ago. I found that one of the most important things is not too add too many grains at the beginning. When there are too many grains initially the kefir gets very sour without getting too thick. When there are fewer grains the kefir can become quite thick without getting too sour.

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Thanks for the tip, Ben! I need to give more consideration to the grain/milk ratio. That explains why the kefir was so much more tart after I had been making it awhile. I probably should have divided up the grains and given some away.

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Ben Leonard says:
4/29/2010

I am not an expert yet, but every tip helps. I will take a look at those websites you listed.

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As long as your grains are still alive, you're doing better than I am! I killed mine over Christmas when I was traveling for a month and they were totally neglected. Time for a fresh set.

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Anita says:
4/29/2010

Hi,
The Ratio for grains to milk is~ 1:7, but of course, this goes down in summer, & up in winter slightly. Some people say even 1:20 , but I like my kefir thick;) It's good to keep this ratio in mind. I also read you can put a rubber band line at the bottom of the jar where your grains were up to, so you remember to put the same amount of grains back into the jar after straining & refreshing the milk, & any over that mark go into another jar, or are given away.

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Thanks for that info, Anita! It's much more precise than my method of "little bit of grains" and "whole lotta milk." The rubber band tip is a good idea because the grains grow so slowly, it's easy not to realize when they're too big.

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Melodie says:
4/30/2010

I have just started a Vegetarian Foodie Fridays linky and I am hoping that a number of #realfoods folks will link up at it with their veggie-sided nourishing recipes and posts. This would be a fabulous addition.
http://www.breastfeedingmomsunite.com

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Thanks for the invite, Melodie. I will check it out!

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The Local Cook says:
5/1/2010

I really need to do this. I have raw milk and access to the grains, I just can't commit to keeping it alive LOL.

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I know what you mean! But you can always just replace the grains. It's great if you can get a friend to make it too, that way you can go to each other for more if one of you kills them. My sister-in-law gave me my last batch.

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Laurie says:
5/4/2010

I haven't tried dairy kefir grains, but I have been brewing water kefir and making kefir "soda", which is a probiotic the kids will actually drink. They don't care for kombucha. So far the most successful flavors have been root beer and raspberry lemonade, but I've got a batch of lemon lime in the works that tastes quite promising. I just read in "Green Barbarians" that the author is working on curing her toenail fungus by soaking her feet in kefir – yum!

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I've been wanting to try kefir "soda" –so many new foods on my list to check out! I need to write to you about a connection I uncovered between kombucha and cellulite. I think you'll find it intriguing.

So funny about the toenail fungus!

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Jaeny says:
5/21/2011

I’ve always loved yogurt because of the great things it does to my digestion, and I’m even more amazed to hear that there’s something that can beat that. I am not a fan of commercial milk myself and have been “commercial dairy free” for quite a while, I think kefir would be a great thing to try. I’m definitely using farm fresh milk for this.

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Cool! Let us know how it goes. I’m curious to hear how you like it compared to yogurt.

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Pat says:
10/9/2012

Kefir has gotten up to $3 a quart here in N Nevada. So glad to have found this website. Hmmm I wonder how I can find farm fresh milk around here?

Nothing was said about temperature. Any idea what “room temperature” would be? If it’s not too critical, could even mean Kefir is easier to make than yogurt.

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