Kefir (pronounced keh-FEER) is a wonderfully delicious, slightly carbonated fermented milk drink similar to yogurt (or buttermilk). Kefir is simply milk that is fermented at room temperature with kefir grains for around 24 hours until it becomes tangy, and about as thick (and creamy!) as a smoothie.
It’s how kefir is cultured that makes it really fun and unique — instead of heating the milk, adding a culture, and keeping it warm as you do with yogurt, all you need to make kefir is milk and kefir grains. Kefir grains are not really grains at all (don’t worry, gluten-free folks!). These “grains” are actually tiny, rubbery, knobby-looking blobs that are home to the bacteria and yeast that ferment the milk. These grains are the milk kefir equivalent to the SCOBY we used to make kombucha or the salt brine to make sauerkraut.
It’s extremely simple to make. All you need to do is add about a tablespoon of these kefir grains to a cup of milk, cover the glass, and let it sit out at room temperature for about 24 hours. Leave milk out on the bench top you say? Eeeppp won’t it go off? Don’t worry sporty sisters the healthy bacteria’s and yeast in the kefir grains will ferment the milk, preventing it from spoiling while transforming it into kefir. After a day or two the kefir will have thickened to the consistency of buttermilk and taste noticeably tangy, like yogurt. Strain out the grains so you can use them in another batch, and the kefir is ready to drink.
Like yogurt and other cultured and fermented products, kefir milk is full of probiotics, which aids healthy digestion. The fermenting process also changes some of the protein structures in the milk, making it easier to digest (a win for our lactose intolerant sisters). The kefir grains work best with whole-fat animal milk (cow, goat and sheep). You can successfully make kefir with coconut milk, but the kefir grains will lose their vitality after a little while.
Now to get milking!
How To Make Kefir Milk
Fun with Fermenting: How To Make Kefir Milk!
Total Time: Up to 3 Days minutes
Servings: Serves 2
- Kefir Grains
- 500ml Milk (we use raw, organic whole milk but any will work)
- Put your kefir grains into a clean glass jar. How much milk and kefir grains you want to use is up to you – flavour and texture change depending on your ratio of grains to milk. We typically use 3 tablespoons of grains for about 500ml of milk.
- Add your milk.
- Cover with a cloth or something breathable to keep fruit flies and other objects out of your jar. Secure the cloth with a rubber band.
- Leave the jar out at room temperature for about 24 hours. If it’s particularly cold in your kitchen, you may want to keep the jar in the warmest spot you can find. Kefir grains like warmth.
- Check the kefir after 24 hours. It should be thickened and starting to separate into curds and whey. If you don’t think it’s done, leave it out for another 12 to 24 hours until it appears finished.
- When your kefir is finished, stir it up in the jar with a wooden spoon so it’s liquid again, then pour it into a plastic strainer to strain.
- Gently stir the kefir to encourage it to move through the strainer. When you’re finished, all your finished kefir will be in the jar while your grains will be left in the strainer.
- Put the grains into a new jar and add more milk to start a new batch of kefir.
- Store your finished kefir in the fridge. If you want to further reduce the lactose content of your kefir, you can instead store the finished kefir on the counter for a day before transferring to the fridge.
Kefir grains can only be bought online. If you search ‘Buy Kefir Grains’ you can purchase from online stores. As they multiply it’s best to give your extra grains to a friend to carry on the kefir love!