How to Make Kefir

kefir_grainsKefir is a fermented milk product that originated in the north Caucasus Mountains around 3,000 BC. History has it that goat-herding people placed milk and kefir grains in skin bags to keep their milk from spoiling. I’ve previously highlighted the benefits of eating fermented food, and kefir is a great place to begin, as it’s so easy to make. By adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi to your diet, you provide your body with a wide spectrum of probiotic organisms that positively impact the gut microbiota, strengthen the tight junctions between the epithelial cells in the intestine, and boost immunity.

Why Kefir?

  • Improves lactose digestion and tolerance (1).
  • Contains a wide-spectrum of probiotics (2,3).
  • A rich source of many vitamins, amino acids, and minerals.
  • Possesses antimicrobial, hypocholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and anticarcinogenic properties (4,5,6,7)

Although the scientific literature shows that kefir consumption is associated with several improvements in health, my experience is that it’s no miracle drink. It’s simply a healthy addition to a nutrient-rich diet.

Kefir is really simple to make at home

This morning I made a new batch of kefir, and these are the steps I follow…

Step 1: Gather the necessary equipment and ingredients

kefir_equipment
Clean jar: Glass jars are typically used for fermenting Kefir. If you already have a batch of kefir ready, you can use the same jar again and again by straining the kefir, cleaning the jar, and then putting grains and fresh milk back in.
Plastic strainer, bowl and spoon: It’s best to avoid reactive metals when making kefir.
Milk: I typically use full-fat milk or coconut milk. If you’re using non-dairy products, it’s advisable to return the grains to dairy milk every week or so. Bear in mind that it often takes a couple of batches for kefir grains to adjust to new types of milk.
Kefir grains: Kefir grains are not really grains at all, but a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. Grains for making kefir can be obtained online and will last forever as long as you take good care of them!

Step 2: Strain the latest batch of kefir, and store the fermented beverage in the fridge (or room temperature for a short time)

kefir_straining
If you’ve just gotten your kefir grains, this step naturally doesn’t apply to you.

Step 3: Put kefir grains in the clean jar

kefir_grain

Step 4: Add milk, stir and cover

kefir

The ratio of grains-to-milk should be about 1 part grains to 5-10 parts milk by volume. It typically takes between 24 to 48 hours until the kefir is ready, but the exact time depends on temperature, grains-to-milk ratio and how acidic you like the end product to be. Use a plastic spoon to stir the kefir every now and then.

So, as you can see, making kefir is extremely easy, but it does require you to strain and add new milk every other day. If you’d like to take a break, you can keep kefir grains in the fridge, submerged in milk for about 1-2 weeks. Kefir is great as a refreshing drink on its own, but can also be used as part of smoothies and salad dressings!

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