I’ve done it! I’ve successfully started culturing my own kefir! So here’s a short Q & A on the basics of kefir….
- What is kefir? It’s a fermented milk drink full of very healthy probiotics.
- Why not just eat yogurt if you want healthy probiotics? Because kefir contains many additional probiotics, not found in yogurt.
- Why do people want to ingest probiotics anyway? Probiotics are excellent for immune health and particularly for me, they help keep my digestive system working properly. This is particularly important for folks like me with diverticulosis – we do NOT want diverticulosis turning into diverticulitis!
- What does it look like? I’ll post pictures below, but milk kefir looks like somewhat thickened milk.
- What does it taste like? I drink my milk kefir plain because I enjoy the slightly tangy taste. It also tastes a tiny bit “yeasty” and you can feel a bit of effervescence in it as well. Many people like to disguise the flavor by adding fruit and making a smoothie. Since I like it plain, I don’t, but I won’t rule out the possibility for the future!
- Why do you keep saying “milk kefir”? Because there is also “water kefir”. Water kefir is cultured slightly differently – I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to. It makes a fruity, almost soda-like probiotic beverage.
- Why did you start making milk kefir? Couldn’t you buy it at the store? Yes, most stores carry kefir (plain and flavored) in the natural foods section of the store…. I’d heard it was easy to do at home, and so now, just for the price of milk, I’m making my own. Also, I started with milk kefir because it’s the easiest to do!
- How long does it take? It takes approximately 24 hours for about 1.5 cups of milk to culture into kefir. It sits out on the kitchen counter the entire time. If your kitchen is warmer it might culture faster, cooler may take a bit longer.
So here we go, let’s make some kefir! First off, the photo below shows the kefir “grains”. They are not acutally made of grain, just for the record. They are a culture of bacteria and yeast. I got mine from a company called Cultures for Health and they came to me in dehydrated form. I rehydrated them in milk over a period of about 3 days. The kefir grains grow, the more kefir you make, so pretty soon you have MORE than you probably need – or you can start culturing more milk at a time.
In the next photo, you can see the cultured milk that is now kefir on the left. I’m about to strain those precious kefir grains out of the kefir, so I can start another batch. The jars are pint size, although they look more like quart size in the pic. The strainer is made of plastic, including the mesh. Apparently you should never touch your culture with metal of any kind.
Below, you can see that I’ve begun the straining process, carefully saving the kefir grains for the next batch.
Here is the strained kefir, in a clean jar, covered with a plastic lid, ready to go into the fridge. I think it tastes better cool or cold, so I don’t normally drink the room temperature stuff. Although one could if one desired to!
And here we have the next batch beginning. The kefir grains have been added to milk to begin the culturing process. I use a paper coffee filter over the top, secured with a rubber band. This way the kefir can “breathe”. The instructions made it clear that the top needs to be left open while culturing.
I’m pretty excited about this little project. It’s good for me, and saves me money, and the kefir grains supposedly last a year (or longer) if cared for properly. When I feel like I’ve got enough for a few days, I can put my kefir grains “to sleep” in the fridge in some milk for up to two weeks. I’m still in the process of learning to make cultured and fermented foods, so there will probably be more on this subject as the year progresses!
Just a reminder — my 2016 book reviews are now at the top of the blog, under the heading “BOOKS 2016”. 🙂