How to Make Kefir
The basics of how to make kefir are very simple, and you'll soon be looking forward to your daily health drink.
There are two ways to make kefir: using a commercial starter culture, or using traditional live kefir grains.
Both methods are easy and produce kefir beverages that are similar in taste. The use of a commercial culture has the benefit of making a single batch when you want it, without the need to make kefir on a continual basis, as is needed to keep and propagate live kefir grains. Commercial kefir cultures are also an easy way to introduce yourself to kefir to see if you like it.
However, it's extremely doubtful that commercial preparations contain all of the health benefits of kefir that live kefir grains provide--though you'll certainly still benefit from the probiotic aspect of the kefir.
Another consideration is that kefir grains are a one-time investment (under $20 US) that will provide years (even generations!) of daily kefir for little cost, versus packets of kefir cultures that must be purchased for each batch.
You can find recommended sources for live grains in the article, Kefir Grains.
How to Make Kefir from Commercial Cultures
Most commercial packets of kefir culture are portioned to culture 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of milk. A detailed set of instructions for using direct set kefir cultures is available on the website of our affiliate, Cultures for Health. You can read the instructions at How to Make Kefir with a Direct-set Starter Culture.
How to Make Kefir from Live Grains
When you purchase kefir grains, you'll normally receive only a small amount, about 1-2 tablespoons. This is because the grains multiply, and you'll soon have more than you will ever be able to use! The bad news is that you'll have to be patient for a few days until the level of production goes up to have as much kefir as you'll be wanting each day.
Add the 1-2 tablespoons of grains to about 2 cups of goat milk in a glass container, and cover loosely to allow fermentation gases to escape. You can use a cheesecloth held on with a rubber band, or a lid that is allowed to sit loosely on top.
Let set for 24 hours at room temperature. Gently shake the container occasionally to keep the contents mixed.
Your fresh kefir is now ready to be strained (with a plastic or stainless steel strainer) into a container and used or refrigerated. Place the grains that were caught in the strainer into another glass container with 2 cups of milk to make tomorrow's batch of kefir. Continue this process daily.
If you prefer, you can continue to let the kefir set at room temperature for another day or two to produce ripened kefir, which will have a more sour taste to it, but will also contain substantially greater quantities of B vitamins.
As the kefir ripens, the whey (clear, yellowish liquid) will begin to separate. Stir or shake to mix before straining, or the large clumps may tend to clog the strainer.
As the quantity of grains increases (after about a week), increase the amount of milk you use. Kefir making is as much an art as science, so experiment until you have the grain to milk ratio that produces the thickness of kefir that you prefer.
When you've reached your maximum desired daily quantity of kefir, begin to divide the grains to give away to friends and family (or course, you'll need to teach them how to make kefir, too!), or simply eat the extra for added health benefits.
You may also want to make kefir cheese. Simply take the freshly made kefir and drain through a cheesecloth placed in a colander and set over a bowl (to catch the whey) for about 24 hours. The resulting thick product can be used similarly to sour cream, though it's a bit more tangy.
In addition to using it in recipes, you can read here how kefir cheese also makes a great homemade facial.
If you need to take a break from making kefir (when you go on vacation, for example), simply place the grains in 1-2 cups of milk and refrigerate. Refrigeration slows the growth and fermentation process. Resume your kefir-making when ready.
How Do I Use It?
If you like plain yogurt or buttermilk, you may enjoy drinking kefir as it is. My favorite way to enjoy it is as a morning citrus drink, in place of orange juice.
Just combine the following in a blender:
- 1 cup fresh kefir
- 1 whole orange, peeled and seeded, or juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 cup ice
- 1-2 Tbsp. sugar, or sweetener of your choice (more for lemon version)
You can increase the ice if you want more of a smoothie-like consistency instead of a drink.
You can also use it in place of yogurt to make a lassi.
For more ideas, click on the banner at the top of the page to find out how to get a free kefir recipe ebook!
Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new information on How to Make Kefir!
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