Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tutorial: How to Make Kefir


A fermented milk product that has great probiotic properties.  Kefir is easy to make and has many uses, all you need to get started are the grains.

I have mentioned and used kefir a few times in recipes on this blog such as in Pull Apart Pumpkin Bread or Brats in a Blanket.  I like to use kefir instead of buttermilk in any recipe, and it is also great as a beverage on it's own or in a smoothie. 

Kefir is said to contain more probiotics than yogurt and the fermenting process makes it more easily digestible for some people with lactose sensitivity.  Kefir can be made using any type of milk (goats, sheeps, cows, even coconut).  I use regular store bought skim milk and my kefir grains are alive and well.  So here is what you do.

First you need to obtain kefir grains.  I bought mine online and they were shipped to me, but if you know of anyone who makes kefir they can give you some (as kefir grains readily grow and multiply with each feeding).  Place the kefir grains into a clean glass jar and cover with milk. 

Then cover the jar with a towel or piece of cloth (to keep bugs away) and let sit at room temperature for 12-48 hours.  I let my kefir sit out over night and my room temperature is about 70-80 degrees, sometimes a little higher.  But if your temperature drops in the wintertime, that is okay.  You just may need to let the kefir sit longer or if it is warmer it might not need to sit as long.

When the kefir is ready, this is up to you experiment with different times to see what you prefer, the grains need to be separated from the kefir.  This is easily done using a strainer.  I strain my kefir into a clean plastic bowl with a pour spout so I can then transfer the kefir to a 2 liter jug that I keep in my refrigerator.

The strained kefir grains are ready to be reused, rinse out the glass jar and drop the grains back inside and cover with milk.  The process is ready to start again.  If you do not want to bother with your kefir grains for a while you can put them in the refrigerator.  As long as the grains are covered with milk I have kept them unused for up to 1 week, then I pull them out, strain them and pour in some fresh milk.

The kefir grains will grow and multiply as they are regularly fed.  I keep my kefir grains to about the size of a tablespoon.  As they grow you can give some to a friend or add some into a smoothie, or even eat some of the grains.  They are very nutritious and it is sad to just throw them away.

The strained kefir has many uses.  I try to make a fruit smoothie daily where I just blend kefir and frozen fruit together, I prefer it better than yogurt, and it is better for you than regular milk.  I also use kefir in any recipe that uses butter milk, and the kefir can even be used to make sour cream and cheeses, it is not exactly the same but it works. 

If you are interested in making kefir there are many sources online to learn more about the process.  One of my favorites is Dom's Kefir Site.  I hope that this tutorial has gotten you interested in making kefir.  Enjoy.

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