FTC Disclosure: Delicious Obsessions may receive comissions from purchases made through links in this article. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.Read our full terms and conditions here.
Milk kefir (as opposed to water kefir) is something that I use somewhat regularly in my kitchen. I use milk kefir primarily for making homemade salad dressings, like my Better Than Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, or for adding into smoothies for a probiotic kick. I also give it to the dogs over their food, because our pets need good bacteria in their guts too!
What is Milk Kefir?
Dairy kefir is a probiotic, cultured beverage that is teeming with lactic-acid bacteria, yeasts, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. It originated in the North Caucasus region by shepherds who discovered that if they put fresh milk in their leather pouches, it would ferment into a slightly carbonated beverage1. Nowadays, it is cultured by adding kefir grains to fresh milk. Kefir grains are not actual grains, rather clumps of bacteria and yeasts that could also be called a scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts). The grains themselves look like small clumps of cauliflower or cottage cheese and have a gelatinous texture. See my picture below.
According to the comprehensive list on the Cultures for Health website, milk kefir grains are a combination of a complex community of up to 27 different strains of bacteria and 27 different strains of yeasts. The amounts and presence of these different types of bacteria and yeasts are going to vary from culture to culture and there really is no good way to guarantee what your specific culture contains, short of sending it to a lab for scientific testing. So, unless we want to do that, let’s just say the cultures contain a bunch of good stuff!
Milk kefir is quite popular in Northern and Eastern Europe. Also, it has been widely consumed in Chile for over 100 years and is thought to have been introduced to the region by former Ottoman empire migrants. Because of the spread of information about the drink and its health benefits, it is rapidly gaining popularity in the States, UK, and Australia2.
Milk kefir contains vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, folic acid, nicotinic acid, calcium, iron, iodine3. It is reminiscent of a drinkable yogurt with a similar tartness, and the longer it cultures, the more sour it becomes. One plus of letting your kefir culture longer than 24-48 hours is that the folic acid content increases significantly4. It is also not uncommon to have your milk kefir become slightly effervescent, which makes it a fun drink for the kids (and big kids!).
Another interesting nutrient in kefir is called kefiran. One study showed that kefiran reduces blood pressure and serum cholesterol5. Granted, this study was done on rats, but I have had more than one person mention to me that when they drink kefir regularly, their blood pressure normalizes.
How Do I Make Milk Kefir?
The process of making milk kefir is similar to water kefir, except you use milk and a different strain of grains. There is going to be a difference between the varieties of yeasts and bacteria present in milk kefir grains versus water kefir grains, so you want to make sure you use the correct ones for each cultured beverage.
During the fermentation process, much of the lactose in the milk is turned into lactic acid however, the finished product will still contain anywhere from 20-50% of the lactose. Some people who are sensitive to lactose find that they can tolerate kefir without the normal side effects that they would experience with regular milk. However, this will vary from person to person, so it’s best to avoid, or experiment cautiously, if you are sensitive to dairy and/or lactose.
You can use other non-dairy milk, like coconut milk, but I have never done that before, so I can’t attest to how well it works or tastes. For specific information on how to make non-dairy kefir, check out this Coconut Milk Kefir recipe from Divine Health From the Inside Out.
I make two forms of dairy kefir — milk kefir (using whole milk) and kefired cream (using fresh cream). They are both delicious and can be used in similar ways. Kefired cream makes amazing ice cream and that is probably my favorite way to consume it.
There is no right or wrong way to make kefir, nor is there a standard recipe. It’s more like a set of principles and you can adjust them to work in your specific environment with your ingredients. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever measured my kefir grains, I just “guesstimate” and I am successful each time, so it obviously is not a precise science. One thing to keep in mind is the more grains you have in the milk, the faster it will culture. Also, like water kefir, milk kefir should be done in an anaerobic environment, which is why I an anaerobic fermenting vessel to brew mine.
Milk Kefir “Recipe”
- 1 quart of fresh milk (Raw is best, if you have access, but pasteurized is fine. Never use ultra-pasteurized milk.)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of active, fully hydrated milk kefir grains. If you have brand new dehydrated grains, you’ll want to make sure they are fully hydrated and active before starting big batches of kefir.
- Using a sanitized anaerobic fermenting jar, stir your milk and kefir grains together gently. To sanitize, either wash with hot water and a nontoxic soap, rinse well, and let air dry, or place it in a large pot with water and let it boil for 2-5 minutes. Remove from the hot water and let the jar cool before adding your milk and kefir grains.
- Close the lid, add your airlock, and let sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours (I stick mine in a cupboard). The reason for this wide range of fermentation time is because each environment differs, especially the temperature of the house. If your house is cool, it might take the full 24 hours, but if it’s super hot (like mine right now), it might only take 8-12 hours.
- The kefir is done when the milk has thickened and it has a slightly sour (but not unpleasant) and yeasty smell. If it cultures for too long, it will separate into curds and whey, but that is OK if that happens. It just means it went a little too long. Make a note of the duration and check it a little sooner the next time around. But, it is completely edible and it is easy to get it to reconstitute.
- When the kefir has thickened, take a plastic colander or strainer and place it in a glass bowl or big measuring cup. Pour the finished kefir in there. The kefir will filter down through the strainer and leave the kefir grains in the strainer. You want to always use plastic, as metal can react negatively with the kefir grains. You can use a spatula or plastic spoon, and gently move the kefir around and let it strain into the bowl below. Careful not to use a lot of pressure, because you can smash the kefir grains. Sometimes I just pick up the colander and gently tap it up and down and let the kefir strain that way.
- When you’ve filtered out your kefir grains, just place them in another jar of milk and repeat the process. Since this is a fast acting ferment, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed with kefir! If this happens, just place your kefir grains in a small glass jar in the fridge with a little milk. Change out the milk every week if you’re not going to be making full batches regularly.
- If you want to take it a step further, do a second ferment of your milk kefir. This is similar to how you do a second ferment with water kefir or kombucha. A second ferment on the milk kefir yields a much more mild and delicious kefir. You can add all sorts of flavorings — I personally love orange and lemon peels, sliced peaches, or a couple cinnamon sticks. You could also use savory herbs if you were using the kefir for salad dressings, etc. To do the second ferment, just put your finished milk kefir (without the grains) in a clean anaerobic jar with whatever flavorings you want. Close the lid and let it sit out for another 8-24 hours. Keep an eye on it if your house is really warm, as it will ferment very quickly.
Kefired Cream “Recipe”
Again, like milk kefir, there really is no set recipe for this. It’s all about proportion. The more grains you add to the cream, the faster it will ferment, and vice versa. It’s really just like milk kefir, except you use heavy cream instead.
- 1 quart of fresh heavy cream (Raw is best, if you have access, but pasteurized is fine. Never use ultra-pasteurized cream.)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of active, fully hydrated milk kefir grains
- Follow the same instructions for the regular milk kefir.
- The kefired cream will be much thicker and richer than plain milk kefir. Perfect for making kefir ice cream, butter, sour cream, crème fraîche, and more.
So, tell me. Do you make milk kefir? Have you made kefired cream before? How about using the Fido-jars? I would love to hear your experiences, so leave me a comment below!
- “Kefir“. Wikipedia. 6/29/12
I make two quarts of raw milk kefir a week for smoothies (I pour the cream off the milk first). In this warm weather my kitchen is 80 and each quart takes 8 hours or less. I store the grains in the refrigerator in low temperature pasturized milk, not raw milk. I have stored them as long as three weeks and had them come back to working well after a couple of days on the counter, changing the milk every day. I use a flora danica culture for cultured cream because I have a hard enough time separating the grains from the kefir with milk, it is harder with cream.
Hi Pam – Thank you for your comments! It’s always great to get tips and tricks from readers to know how they do certain things. One thing that I forgot to put in my post is that it is sometimes easier to keep two separate batches of grains – one for milk and one for cream. This makes it easier to keep batches going without having to switch back and forth. However, that really only works if you’re making and using a lot of kefir. I never am making enough to keep two separate batches. I just strain out my milk grains as well as I can and add them to the cream and vice versa. So far so good! 🙂
I have started making milk kefir about almost 2 months ago and I love adding it to smoothies too. It is so tasty. But I have noticed my grains aren’t multiplying like my wk grains are. Are they slower to multiply or could I be doing something wrong?
You know, I have always had a hard time getting my grains (both milk and WK) to multiply. I really don’t think you are doing anything wrong, especially if they are producing good tasting kefir. I think sometimes they just don’t reproduce as fast, or at all. What kind of vessel do you ferment in? I have had people tell me that since they started fermenting in the Fido-style jars, their kefir grains multiple more quickly. Does that help at all? 🙂
I moved them to a fido jar last week. I hope this helps. My wk grains are multiplying out of control, I keep trying to give them away to anyone who will take them!
I wish you lived around me as I’d take wk grains any day!
I’ve only been making milk kefir for about 10 days so far and I think I’m doing it okay. I’ve never had kefir before so I’m just going off what I’ve read and the stuff smells fine. It’s been turning to curds and whey though so I’m shrinking the amount of time and increasing the amount of milk I’m putting in. Thanks for the advice and ideas!
I have been making milk kefir for quite some time, there are a couple of things I have noticed that seem to increase the amount of grains I have.
1. Don’t rinse your jar. Those little clots in the jar that stick to the sides, guess what might be hiding in there? Every time you rinse, you might be washing super small babies down the drain.
2. Make sure you use a fine mesh strainer. I strain and then whatever is leftover in the strainer I scoop up and put back into the unwashed fermenting jar. I use a spoon to scrap up the small bits and try to get it all back in. I’ve noticed that when I rinse out the strainer (even after scooping as much back in that I could), I find tiny little grains still in there. (I don’t put them back in, unfortunately, my tap water is Chlorinated.)
I think the reason some people notice less growth is just because the growth is being unknowingly tossed out. These guys start out incredibly small and if you aren’t super careful about making sure they get back in fresh milk to grow larger, there is a good chance they will just wind up in your drain!
Great tips! Thank you!
I have been making milk kefir for about 4 years. I have used mason jars with coffee filter for a lid to keep out dust and insects; I have used airlock style jars. My favorite taste is with the aerobic ferment using the coffee filter and rubber band lid. But with so much talk in the past few months I have decided to go back to the airlock system. I am addicted to it; can’t live without it. I drink 3 cups a day of plane 48 hour ferment.
I wish I were patient enough to skim the cream off my milk so I could also have kefir cream. But no, it just goes in with the rest of the kefir… though I have been known to lick some of the kefired cream off the spatula as I take it out of the jar. 🙂
I would never have the patience for that either! I sadly have to buy cream at the store, but it will suffice. Nothing like it. If I would let myself, I’d probably just drink big glasses of cream — I do love it so! 🙂
I was making my milk kefir strictly for my dog because I just didn’t like it. Since I drink so much water kefir and kombucha and I make my own yogurt, I didn’t worry about it. I got my grains out when I got my fido jars and it is a world of difference! I love my milk kefir now. I do first ferment for 24 hrs and second ferment with something yummy for 12 hours then stick in fridge and have it for breakfast the next morning. My favorite right now is to chop a little crystallized ginger and a T of maple syrup and stir it into a pint for the second ferment. I do the same flavor for my yogurt too. Mine have started multiplying also since I am doing them in a fido.
Just wondering if you need to open the fido jar at some time during the fermenting process to let out some of the CO2, or is it fine just leaving it locked down the whole time? Also, what is the safe level to fill it?
Hi Marilyn – The airlock will allow all the excess gas to escape. If you are not using a anaerobic jar with a airlock, then you may need to burp the jar a time or two, though it really depends on what you are fermenting. You never want to fill the jar higher than the shoulder (that would be about 1-1.5 inches below the very top).
I buy kefir at Wegman’s food store and I love the taste and the different flavors. I knew it was healthy for us but didn’t realize how healthy….
I’VE BEEN ON MILK KEFIR SINCE MAY OF THIS YEAR, I HAVE NOTICED ALOT OF BENEFITS, MOST IMPORTANTLY I AM 50 AND JUST HAD STARTED HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT TIME LEGS CRAMPS AND POOR SLEEPING HABITS. I MAKE A SMOOTHIE IN THE AM
WITH A BANANA, HANDFUL OF BLUEBERRIES, 2 TBLE HONEY AND A DASH OF VANILLA EXTRACT. IT SEEMS THAT MY PERI-MENOPAUSE SYMTOMS HAVE REALLY SUBSIDED AND MY MOOD IS REALLY QUITE GOOD. IS THIS FROM KEFIR, HAS ANYONE ELSE NOTICED THIS?
Yep – same here. My mood is much better and I sleep better too. I sip on mine throughout the day and finish it at night before bed.
I have a hard time in separating the kefir grains from my kefir cream.Please let me know how to address this issue
Hi Susana – This is always tricky! I have a hard time too. Whenever I am separating the cream from the grains, it’s a slow process. I filter the cream through a colander, either by picking up and tapping the colander on the bowl below, or very, very gently stirring the cream to force it through the colander. Once you get all of the cream through the colander, you will be left with little clumps of the grains in the bottom of the colander. The other thing you can do, which makes it a lot easier, is to get a little fabric spice bag and put your grains in that and then place that whole thing in the kefir cream. This is what I am talking about: http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-195958/Regency-Natural-Spice-Bags. Does that help?
You can just add a bit of kefir in cream instead of grains and culture it for 24 hours. This way you don’t need to separate the grains
For some reason my grains keep on dying on me. They produce nice kefir for maybe a week, then they start to make kefir in just a few hours and it is nasty! Then they just die….
I have tried store bought milk, raw cow, raw goat (they were doing the best there), all same, they just die, esp in raw cow. i have no idea why:(
I sometimes had a hard time with my milk kefir grains too. It was very frustrating. Mine would last a few weeks, and then start becoming unhappy. I could never get them to reproduce either. Thankfully, I had plenty of friends who always had some on hand, so I just kept getting replacements. I have no idea what it was that would make them turn against me!
I make kefir from raw cow’s milk, and leave it on my counter for 48 hours, covered with a linen napkin secured with a rubber band. After removing the grains, I put it in the fridge. I *LOVE* the taste of it when it’s cold, although I admit it’s pretty tart. I also love that the health benefits increase with the longer ferment.
I haven’t tried the Fido-type jars, and my kefir isn’t effervescent, but it’s smooth and delicious. I get plenty of effervescence from my homemade kombucha (in the second ferment), which I also drink every day.
I’d like to try the kefir cream and ice cream, so that’s on my list of things to do as well as try a second ferment with kefir. But every time I think of adding my kefir to a smoothie or changing it with a second ferment, I balk – because I love it the way it is right now, just plain and tart, every day!
Thanks for posting and sharing your expertise.
annie in montanie
I forgot to add that my apartment stays at about 70*, and the grains multiply beautifully; I’m thankful to have had such tremendous success with them.
Also, when the kefir is ready, I stir it well (but gently) with a slotted wooden spoon, then strain the grains out of the kefir the same way you do in the picture above – with a plastic strainer into my 4-cup measure – and pour the kefir into a clean jar to refrigerate. I rarely wash my fermenting vessel. I doubt the traditional peoples washed their vessels every day. My research says you don’t have to; if you’re having trouble with grains dying off, try *not* washing your vessel (and NEVER wash/rinse your grains; they need that bacteria covering that builds up to stay healthy).
My jar gets a dried crusty residue near the top, so every week or two I put the grains in a clean jar so I can wash the old one. When I use a clean jar, I add just a tiny bit of the current batch of kefir with the grains. Then add the milk.
I wish I could get raw milk & cream – there is none to be had anywhere near me. I use a lot of half & half – never tried it for kefir – but I would rather use cream because I could make half & half with milk & cream. Unfortunately, the only cream my store carries is ultra-pasteurized so I only use it if the recipe absolutely needs it.
For a while I was able to get some cream that wasn’t ideal but a better choice, however now the store (part of a chain) says they can’t get it from the warehouse anymore.
Anyway, when I first started making kefir I was told to ferment 24 hours, strain & ferment the kefir 24 more hours until it separates into curds & whey. That worked well for a while, but now my grains ferment so fast that sometimes the separation has happened before 8 hours, so I don’t do the extra ferment time. lol
I used to make more of it, but dh & ds both said it upset their tummies, so I am the only one who uses it. I have noticed that I get sick less & whien I do get sick it is milder.
I have heard that you can make water kefire with milk grains, but you have to refresh them in milk frequently – I haven’t tried it yet. Also, if the grains start making the kefir too sour soaking them in spring or mineral water (not tap water) for 24 hours can help reduce the sourness. This should only be done if necessary and only to grains that have been on fresh milk every 24 hours for 3 weeks. I haven’t tried it.
Once I stored them in the frig in unfermented milk longer than intended (don’t remember how long) and was afraid I lost them. But I put them on a smaller quantity of milk each day and they came back. Even though they were making kefir they didn’t seem to be growing much if any for quite awhile, but now they are growing again.
That’s great! I have had similar experiences where I was certain I had killed them (leaving in the fridge for 6+ months), but I put them in some fresh milk and they came back to life! SO cool! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Shalom, and sharing your experiences! Milk kefir has always been a tricky one for me. Some times it’s slow to ferment, other times it’s super fast! The last batch of grains died on me and I have not replaced them, but I have been craving homemade kefir. YUM! The milk kefir grains and water kefir grains contain different types of bacteria and yeasts and their sugar needs are different — milk kefir grains need milk sugars to survive. I have never tried using them interchangeably, but everyone I have spoken to who has tried says it doesn’t work.
Hi Annie – Thanks for stopping by! I love the second ferment on milk kefir! I think it takes the flavor to a whole new level, but I do think it’s good on the first ferment too. YUM! I’m happy to hear you have such success with your milk kefir grains — sometimes they can be finicky! 🙂
I think i like the no bubbly type & a bit thick like store bought kefir plain smoothee. Is it the cloth cover fermenting or refrig ferment or both thatake good flavor. The tight seal makes strong yeasty horrible bad
can kefir be made without the grains just like yogurt??
Hi Alexandra – No, the grains are what make kefir, well, kefir. They are very unique and special strains of bacteria that are much different from yogurt. So, without them, you won’t be able to make true kefir. Hope that helps. 🙂
I’ve been making raw milk kefir for about 4 months now and love it. I ferment mine for 48 hours to make sure most of the lactose in the milk is eaten up because I am lactose intolerant.
I love the idea of a second ferment with citrus fruit but I am concerned that the citrus might kill off some of the good bacteria. Any thoughts on this?
Hi Caroline – I don’t think there is a need to worry about the citrus killing off any of the good bacteria. The second ferment is pretty short. I learned this technique from Donna Schwenk at Cultured Food Life. She’s a kefir expert, so I trust that she knows what she’s doing when it comes to cultivating our good little bacteria friends! That said, the only way to really know is to do some scientific looks at the kefir pre- and post- second ferment, but I don’t have the tools or know-how to do that! She may have something on her site that discusses this and I just don’t know about it. Hope that helps! 🙂
I started making Kefir about 6 years ago when I became very ill with a parasite(s) for about 4 months. After months of antibiotics I was left with a bad case of Colitis which they wanted to give me yet more powerful drugs for. My white blood cells were attacking my own tissues and had obviously gone haywire!
Instead of taking the drugs, I started making Kefir, drank 4 cups a day, and was cured in practically no time. At first I started with Organic milk from the grocer, and then I was able to find a local farmer which makes drop offs here in the Atlanta area weekly, and so then I switched to raw whole Jersey milk. I have seen how much happier the Kefir grains become with the real milk!
I have made Kefir Cream, and Kefir cheese, and thick sour cream as well. All are delicious! I have started sourdough cultures and made kefir bread, kefir muffins,..and much more! Basically you can use it in place of any recipe that calls for buttermilk.
One thing that I have always done in spite of the warnings, is used a fine mesh stainless strainer. I have read conflicting info on the web about this. Some say never, some say stainless is ok. I think my healthy grains can vouch for that!
Another thing that I do is that I push against the grains with a rubber spatula when I’m straining, in sort of a push and turn fashion until all the slimy stuff is basically off of them. This also breaks them up and keeps them smaller so that they never get big. This has resulted in much creamier, nicer kefir for me! I read that some people have even given them a short whirl in a blender to break them up, which results in more surface area being exposed to milk.
Sorry for writing a book here! Happy kefir making and good health to all!
Hi Mona – SO happy to hear about your healing journey with kefir! I love hearing stories like this! Thanks for taking the time to share your tips and tricks! I appreciate it and I know other readers will too. I too have heard conflicting things on metal strainers, but yours seem happy, so I would say non-reactive metals would probably be fine. It’s not like the grains are in there for a long time. Have a great night! 🙂 P.S. Raw whole Jersey milk? That must be pure heaven! 🙂
Yes the raw Jersey whole milk tastes heavenly! I only hope that someday “they” don’t make it illegal for my farmer to sell it. As of now it must be labeled “For Pet Consumption Only.” A few years back they tried to pass a law that stated the milk had to be died gray. Thankfully it did not go through, but I think some other states may have passed it. It’s really a shame! I truly believe the chances of getting sick are much greater with commercial milk but you still have to find a good farmer with sanitary practices who does their own testing.
You might find one in your area if you go to realmilk.com where they list local farmers selling raw milk in each state 🙂 That’s where I found my farmer. He also brings pastured eggs, grass fed beef, lamb,..veggies, etc. All wonderful stuff! Support your local farmer if you can!
Hi Mona – Yes, the FDA is doing all it can to take away our food freedom, that’s for sure. Raw milk is only available in CO through a cow share. At one point, we did look into it, but it was too cost prohibitive (upwards of $12-$15 a gallon). As of Aug 2011, I am 100% dairy free for health reasons. Some day, I am hoping that I might be able to re-introduce raw milk and see how I tolerate it, but that day is far, far away. Enjoy a big glass for me! 🙂
Hello all from Cape Town. I have been culturing kefir for about a month now. I have done a lot of research on the web and follow numerous kefir forums. Although I am happy with my kefir, I am unable to make a thick and creamy kefir as I have seen on some of the YouTube clips. I am using full cream organic cows milk. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Warm regards
Hi Brian! Thanks for stopping by! I have a couple friends who live in Cape Town. This is my friend Wardeh and she addresses this very question: http://gnowfglins.com/2012/01/27/video-qa-2-thicker-kefir/ Hope that helps! 🙂
Hi Jessica, thanks for the link and the prompt reply. I will certainly try some of the tips given. Looking forward to a creamier kefir. Brgs, Brian
I have been culturing kefir for 3-4 years. I culture every day and drink kefir every day–about 1/2 – 3/4 of a liter a day. I use local whole milk that is from cows that are grazed not corn fed, pasteurized, but not homogenized. I like my kefir full fat. (btw, I am 58 years old, 5’8″ and about 150lbs. the idea that eating fat makes you fat is mythology.)
If you don’t have big texture issues, I have a tip for straining kefir. Stop doing it. I was straining it every morning and got tired of the clean-up. NOw, I just use a slotted spoon with not too giant slots. I can pull out most of the kefir grains. Of course, the smaller ones are left behind in the kefir, but if you don’t have texture issues, who cares. The kefir propagates fast enough that I am always giving away grains. I take out one of my kefir brewing jars. Fish the kefir grains out of the just brewed kefir and dump them into the new jar. I add milk and set it on top of the fridge until brewed. That’s it. The only clean-up is the spoon. It is much faster and easier than straining. I actually don’t mind catching the occasional rogue kefir grain in my drink. My kids don’t like that, but they blend their kefir with fruit, so they don’t notice them either.
Great tips Kelly! Thank you for stopping by and sharing!! 🙂 P.S. I agree on the whole “fat makes you fat” thing! 🙂
I have been kefiring for about a year and half. The first grains I ordered were dehydrated when I got them and after 2 months they never got bigger than a tablespoon full. I bought other grains from http://www.yemoos.com/ that were grown in goat milk and have been using them for 16 months . They multiply pretty fast and always are fat and sassy! I drink about 1/2 gallon of kefir a day and so does my DH. I ferment my fresh squeezed goat milk for about 36 hours. I usually have three – 1/2 gallon jugs on my counter kefiring. With the third jar, I use the kefir for making cheese or I make a ranch style dressing or as a fill in when either one of us runs low. I have also used it in icecream, and it makes it kind of fluffy . About every two weeks I have 1 cup of extra kefir grains and if I cant find anyone to give them too, I feed them to my chickens.. they love them! I pretty much like drinking my kefir in the plain, but have been know to put some home grown concord grape juice in it, all I can say is WOW! I put kefir in any recipe that calls for milk.
Thanks for your great website!
Awesome! Thank you for sharing! It sounds like your grains are super happy, so keep up the good work! I miss my dairy kefir. Coconut milk kefir just doesn’t cut it for me! 🙂
I just started making my own for a few days and Im loving it!
One thing ive been curious though is, you talk about the 2nd fermentation after straining it lowers the lactose level. Is there a difference in the probiotics and the health benefits of keeping the grains in there for 48 hours and eating them as the thick yogurt as opposed to doing the 2nd fermentation?
Thanks for the great post!
Hi Mark – There should be no problem leaving the grains in there, but most people don’t like to do that, because (a) the kefir gets SUPER tart, and (b) the kefir will separate once it has gone past it’s “ideal” fermentation mark. If you don’t mind it super tart, then you definitely could leave the grains in there longer. And, if it separates, you can always throw it in a blender to recombine. Keep in mind that because kefir is a pretty fast ferment, if you let it go too long, the grains will run out of food and start dying. I would probably not do much more than 48 hours with the grains in the kefir. Have fun! 🙂
I’ve been culturing my own milk kefir for about 3-4 years now. I just thawed out some I had frozen for 6 months and I can’t believe how fast they recuperated. It’s nice to know you don’t have culture all the time and can take a long break from it if need be. I basically boil a large pot of water and let cool to room temperature, then gently rinse my grains well with the sterilized water, suppose you could use distilled water too, then I lay them on a clean white towel and take paper towels and gently pat them to get excess water off of them, let then sit a short while to let them air dry a bit, then I take a large zip lock baggie and dry powdered milk (Carnation) and toss some of this into the bottom of the baggie then add my rinsed and dried grains and pour more powdered milk on top of the grains making sure to coat the grains very well. Use the dry powdered milk liberally. This prevents freezer burn. Then I try to get all the air out of the bag and seal it and place them on the top shelf of my freezer in the door where nothing gets thrown on top of them. I did 2 separate batches like this. This was in November 2013. I just a week or so ago took them out, set the bag in a bowl of cool water to start to thaw, then dumped the powdered milk coated grains into my strainer and ran cool water over them and gently with my fingers got all of the powdered milk residue off of them. Then I started the culture but with less milk than normal, about half less, until they started to ferment. It only took 2 days and I gradually increased the milk. The amount I usually culture at one time is 4-5 tablespoons of grains to 4 cups of whole milk. I’m sitting here sipping kefir while I write this. I do make smoothies, my favorite being simply banana and orange, but I’ve developed the taste for plain kefir milk, I enjoy the slight carbonation of the drink and I try to make sure I get at least a high-ball sized glass a day. Oh, I strain the whey sometimes too from my jars that are sitting under closed lid in the fridge for 48 hours to “ripen” before consumption after straining from grains. I set up a large mason jar and rubber-band a coffee filter to the top of the jar and take my gravy ladle and go sraight down on top of one of my jars of kefir milk to try to get just the whey and ladle it into the coffee filter to strain any milk kefir that does get into the ladle. Usually the whey has risen to the top of the jars of kefir milk that I have ripening in my fridge and that’s why I try to go straight down with the gravy ladle. Using large jars helps 🙂 The whey itself is great for fighting toenail fungus in the hot summer months down here in Louisiana; just take an medicine dropper of whey after clipping toenails short and drop it directly onto toenails. It’s also a great scalp rinse for someone who has scalp psoriasis, leave it in for 20 minutes and put a plastic grocery bag over hair with a clip to hold in place then rinse out. This fights inflammation and itching of psoriasis. There are multiple other health benefits from the clear whey. I keep mine in a cobalt blue bottle with cap screwed on in my fridge.
Thanks for sharing Leslie!!! Good tips!
I spent a lot of time researching this since at first I was skeptical, but I have to admit that I started making milk kefir about almost a month ago now and have noticed a lot of benefits! I have even been adding it to smoothies as a few comments suggested here and also to fruit. Very tasty and also healthy.
Recently I even started giving it to my pets! I found out that kefir for dogs is also really beneficial and there are a number of different articles online which back this up. They love the taste so it’s not a chore to ensure they eat it like some vitamin or supplements either. Thankyou for the article, very informative and helpful!
Hi Harriett – Thanks for stopping by and commenting. My dogs LOVE milk kefir! It is super good for them too. So glad yours like it as well. Happy fermenting! 🙂
Hi, I live in France and bought a sachet of ferment to make milk kefir. I mixed it with milk and left it for 24 hours as it said. The mill has gone thick and smells vaguely yogurty, but when I strained it there are no grains or anything formed….could someone give me a hint or two? Maybe when you buy this ‘ferment’ in France it just doesn’t make grains, or maybe I am doing something wrong…. the ‘ferment’ islike a powder when you buy it here.
Thanks for any help anyone can give….I am very successful with water kefir, but just beginning with milk.
Su – It sounds like you got a powdered kefir culture, which doesn’t typically form grains (in my experience). I can’t sway 100% since I am not sure exactly what you got, but I would just follow the instructions on the package and go from there. If there were actual milk kefir grains, you would see them. And, it sounds like your milk did ferment, so I think it must just be a different type of starter culture. Sorry I can’t be of more help!
Hi there I’ve been having Kefir for about two years now, and have never forgotten to put the milk back in to the jar after I’ve strained it . Yesterday morning I forgot to put it in! The kefir at the bottom of the jar is still moist, but on top it’s a bit smelly and a little dry . I’ve separated the dry from the moist and put milk back into the moist but I’m concerned that I’ve ruined it still
Hi Hayley – Sorry for the delay in responding! I would go by your nose. If it smells off, then it may not be good to consume. One thing every fermentation expert has told me is to follow your nose. You’ll always know if something is bad. 🙂
I want to thank in advance anyone who takes the time to respond to my question 🙂
I am a newbie in making milk kefir and so far so good. My question is I put some frozen fruit in my milk kefir after the grains are strained out and then leave the kefir in the fridge. Do I need to strain out the fruit after a certain period of time?
Hi Yumei – Thanks for stopping by! Welcome to the culturing family! 🙂 I have added frozen fruit to my strained kefir before and it works fine. It will separate some due to the water in the fruit, but you can shake it or blend it back together. I mainly used my milk kefir in smoothies so it didn’t really matter if it separated. Once you add the fruit, I’d use it up within a few days. Hope that helps! 🙂
I have just started making milk kefir and we love it, especially with some thawed frozen orange juice mixed in. Seemed like I did everything wrong getting the grains activated but they activated nicely in spite of me and we have no problem using a quart a day of milk kefir a day. I’ve made overnight oatmeal with it. I made a cream cheese out of one quart and then used it to make peanut butter fat bombs. I saved the whey for smoothies or other fermented foods. I know salt is supposed to be the best way to ferment but the foods taste too salty to me so maybe a combination of salt and whey will work better.
Hi Karen! I also used to love milk kefir with orange juice! Great minds! 🙂 Kefir grains are so awesome in that they really can do a large amount of kefir very quickly if super healthy and happy. Sounds like yours are! So glad you found a process that works well for you! Happy fermenting!!
I I’m just started making kefir with raw milk from a farm. I was making so much, and it is multiplying so quickly, that I left some that is still on my counter and it’s been there for 6 days. Should I throw it away as it has been sitting out for 6 days fermenting or what should I do. I don’t want to get sick. I have some kefir grains in the fridge that I rent stop and put a little milk over them and I need to change the milk. I don’t want to throw away what has been sitting in the jar if it won’t cause me to get sick. Help I am so new at this I don’t know what to do but would like to learn a lot more.
Hi Linda – Thanks for stopping by! All fermenting experts that I have spoken with say to always go with your sense of smell. If it smells off, then it is off. Honestly, I can’t tell you what to do in this case since I am not there and don’t want to be liable for making you sick by giving you the wrong info. Just go with what your gut says and if you are super concerned about it, I would err on the side of caution and toss it.
I am an adult with PANDAS disorder that was never diagnosed as a child. Pediatric Autoimmune
Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated With Streptococcal Infections is the long name.
Any strain of streptococcus induces tics in me that are hard to control.So Streptococcus Thermophilus does the same thing to me. I would love to have kefir but I have not been able to find any data from any suppliers on what bacteria are actually in their cultures.
I find that a little off putting in and of itself just because I would like to know what is in my kefir culture. Also of course I would want to know due to the PANDAS.
Can anyone help me? I love kefir.
Hi Rosie! Thanks for stopping by! I am not well-versed in the areas you are dealing with so hopefully, some other readers can chime in with some insight! As far as suppliers go, you will likely need to call them directly and ask to speak to someone who can give you a full list of all the present strains in their products. Wishing you all the best on your journey! <3
Could u offer some names of reputable suppliers?
Hi Rosie – There are links in the post above to the brands I love. Right now they are Cultures for Health: http://amzn.to/2vGwQ1w and Kombucha Kamp: https://www.deliciousobsessions.com/KombuchaKamp. Hope that helps! 🙂
been trying get my new reusable kefir grains to produce taste & thickness of store bought Kefir smoothee, plain. Kept getting yeasty, strong unpleasant taste. Tried adding cream, yogurt, part of store bought… refrigeration fermenting, still too thin & cud not drink. Finally gave up & took break, but fed grains milk & few tblspoons powdered milk & left in frig . After forgetting batch for few mnths, pulled out & was thick, almost mix between sour cream & buttermilk , delicious flavor, like store bought. Is it the sugars in powder milk, ??
Hi Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by and sharing about that. I always find it so fascinating what works for other people. Honestly, I’m not sure why yours created such a delicious batch, but that is a very good guess that it could be the sugars in the powdered milk. Whatever you did, try it again and see if it works the same way. If it does, you’ve mastered your secret method. 🙂
Hi I often use UHT milk with making Kefir and it still is fine and seeds grow.
I’m now on Keto and having read that up to 50 percent of sugar ?? Still remains will now change to pure whipping cream by the looks
As Keto is no sugar
Hi Julie-Anne – Thanks for stopping by. That is really crazy that you’ve been able to use UHT milk with no issues. I’ve never been able to do that. The final sugar reading should be way less than 50%, especially if you’re using whole milk or cream (which has less sugar and more fat) and you’re not adding in any fruit or sweeteners. I’m not sure what the final would be, but it might be comparable to some brands that you find in the store. You could check labels that way and get a rough idea. Make sure to look at the type of milk used, as that will make a difference in the sugar content of final product (i.e. low-fat milk vs whole), as well as any added sugar or sweeteners. Hope that helps!
I have read that you should get your milk kefir grains tested regularly at a Public Health Laboratory to check for contamination. Do you think this is necessary as mine is miles away!
Hi Dawn – Thanks for stopping by. That’s interesting, as I have never heard that before and I’ve been in the fermenting world for a decade now. Where did you read that if you happen to remember? In my experience, you’ll know when your grains are contaminated or spoiled. The smell is atrocious and you wouldn’t want to drink the final product. My advice would be to do what you feel is best for you and your needs. Some people might find more comfort and confidence with obtaining information like that, while others may not give it a second thought. Happy fermenting!
Hi I just got my kefir grains and am sick at home can’t go to the store yet and was wondering if I can mixed water with my heavy cream for the first culture as I know that will have to be thrown out ? Will that work ? I have well water and 40 percent heavy cream . Plus I am on the keto diet Thank you
Hi Donna – I would not mix water in with your cream. I would just place the grains directly in your cream without the added water. Hope that helps and you’re feeling better!