Homemade Kefir Milk
Updated: Jan 23
Kefir milk has amazing health benefits! What is kefir milk? It is a cultured, fermented drink, using cow's milk or goats milk. It's made by adding kefir grains to the milk. These "grains", like colonies, are made up of beneficial bacteria and yeast. They ferment the milk sugar, turning it into kefir.
It is rich in probiotics (beneficial bacteria) which are needed for your intestinal health. Kefir encourages the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. A healthy "gut" is also related to a healthy mind. Did you know that your mental health is related to your gut health? It's called the "brain-gut connection." Kefir milk is also high in calcium, K2, protein, vitamin D and A, potassium, phosphorus, minerals and enzymes. Which are great for your bone, skin, digestive and immune health!
Kefir grains look like gelatinous, pearly, rubbery, irregular shaped cottage cheese curds. All kefir grains contain numerous strains of probiotics and can vary depending on the culture location and conditions from where you have bought them. I bought my organic kefir grains from Fusion Teas.
So what does fermentation mean? Where milk is concerned, it is when the bacteria and yeast in the grains partially digest the milk, making the milk easier for you to digest. When the kefir grains are added to the milk, they breakdown the milk sugar, or the lactose. The end result is the fermented milk, which is easier to tolerate for those who are lactose intolerant. In other words, the beneficial bacteria in the grains, turn the milk's lactose into lactic acid. The end result is a thick, rich, creamy, tangy beverage. The more you keep feeding the grains, you will have a continuous production of kefir. You can use your kefir grains indefinitely, as long as you keep them healthy.
I use organic, grass fed milk whole milk. You can use raw or pasteurized milk, but avoid UHT (ultra high pasteurized) milk. The grains will multiply, and you will see this when you get them established. I like to keep my grains at a tablespoon per 2 cups of milk. I compost the leftovers, give them to friends, or you can throw them away. You can take a break from making kefir by just feeding them and placing them in the fridge. I have kept mine in the fridge for up to two weeks, then take them out, refresh them by straining them and replenishing them with fresh milk. Then back into the fridge they go until I need them again. I do this a lot in the summer months when I am busy with the garden. You can also keep them in the fridge for up to a month. It just might take a couple of feedings to revive them.
The higher the fat content of the milk, the thicker the kefir will be. I use whole milk, for the increased nutrition, creamier consistency, and more options with baking and cooking with the thicker kefir. Besides, it tastes better when it is creamier. You can drink kefir straight up or make smoothies, ice cream, and salad dressings with kefir. I replace all recipes that require buttermilk and yogurt with my kefir. It makes the best fluffy pancakes and waffles. There are also numerous bread and muffin recipes that incorporate kefir milk into them.
How do you make milk Kefir? So when you have your grains, they will come with instructions. Just follow those. Have your milk on hand, and at least four or more
quart sized wide mouth mason jars, a plastic or nylon strainer, small plastic spoon, coffee filters, cloth or cheese cloth and rubber bands. I use wide mouth jars, because they are easier for me to get my hands into to clean. You can make little cloth covers for the tops of your fermenting jar, or use coffee filters or a cheese cloth.
people place a plastic lid over their fermenting jar, but I prefer not to do that. I want the natural yeast and bacteria from the air to help ferment the milk, and then the grains are able to breath better. I also don't want the risk of carbonation to build up in the jar.
Now, if you are like me, and you bake with sourdough or have other cultures going on in your home, you must keep your other ferments away from each other. It will depend on the research that you do, but from my standpoint, I keep my other ferments at least six feet apart. You will also need to consider the temperature of your home. Kefir grains work best at temps from 60-90 degrees and away from direct sunlight. In the winter time, I have to keep my grains closer to the cook oven. Our house is cooler since we heat with a wood stove, so I have had to wrap my kefir in a kitchen towel to keep it warm.
It is also important to note, that you should keep your kefir grains in a glass jar and try not to use metal when straining the grains. Kefir grains react to metal and it can weaken them when exposed to it. You make the kefir right on
your kitchen counter. No preheating is needed. During the first 24 hours of the fermentation process, the healthy bacteria and yeast will ferment, preventing the milk from spoiling, while transferring it into kefir. The end product will be that think and creamy yogurt like drink.
Pour 2 cups of your fresh milk over the grains in one quart jar. Cover with a cloth or a coffee filter, and let sit on the counter for 24 hours. If your house runs
on the warmer side, it might ferment sooner than that, so you will need to judge for yourself if you need to strain it sooner.
At the end of that time, you will see the milk separating. Gently stir the milk to reincorporate the cream and the whey, then strain and drain them into a clean glass jar.
Save 1-2 tablespoons of the grains (depending on how much kefir you want to make, I keep mine at 1 tablespoon, which gives me two cups a day) and place the strained grains into another clean glass jar and fill with fresh milk. Repeat and enjoy!
I am not a doctor, nor do I diagnose or treat people. While I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and natural remedies that I use, remember that using herbs and natural remedies are a personal choice. The information that I share on my blogs are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. All things on these blogs are my opinions and shared knowledge, based on my research or the research of others. Also, if you have a medical condition, are taking pharmaceutical drugs, or are pregnant, please consult with your physician prior to taking herbs or attempting natural remedies.
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