If you are looking for ways to include more cultured foods in your diet, you may want to try milk kefir. Kefir is yogurt’s runnier, drinkable cousin, and is one of the simplest forms of cultured dairy to make at home.
Kefir is made with two simple ingredients: milk and kefir grains. The grains seemed somewhat mysterious and unappealing to me for a long time. Unidentifiable white globs in my milk? No, thank you! However, with a little more research, I was pleased to discover that kefir grains are simply a culture of healthy bacteria and yeasts. They look a bit like a translucent cross between rice and cauliflower. (Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?)
While the milk for kefir is simple enough to obtain, the grains may be more difficult. There are two ways to get kefir grains. You can purchase milk kefir grains through a health website like Cultures for Health, or you may be able to find them at a local health food store. While they may seem a bit pricey upfront, they will quickly pay for themselves.
Or, you can ask your kefir-making friends to give you some grains. (This is how I ultimately got mine.) If you don’t have any of these friends, start hanging out with crunchy, naturally-minded people and you just may find them. Our local health food store doesn’t sell grains, but a willing employee volunteered to bring me some of her personal stock. It never hurts to ask.
HOW TO MAKE MILK KEFIR
Once you have grains, how to make milk kefir is very simple.
1. Put the grains in a jar on the counter and fill the jar with milk. Let it sit out at room temperature for 24-72 hours, or until the milk has thickened and smells pleasantly tangy.
2. Strain the kefir through a colander, reserving the grains. You want the colander to be fine enough that the grains don’t slip through and get lost, but this means that you may need to smack the colander a bit to get the thick kefir to go through. You’ll find the right balance after a little practice.
3. Transfer the strained kefir to a clean jar, and store it in the fridge.
Now you can start a new batch in a clean jar with the reserved grains. If you don’t want to start a new batch right away, simply cover the grains with milk and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to start again.
A COUPLE NOTES ABOUT KEFIR:
I’ve kept my grains in the fridge for a couple weeks at a time without using them and they’ve never gone bad. However, if your kefir has an unpleasant smell, color, or is growing anything, it should be tossed.
Also, kefir is naturally much tangier than milk, or even plain yogurt. It’s a bit of an acquired taste at first. I personally enjoy using kefir in fruit smoothies, sweetened with just a touch of honey or maple syrup. It’s also a nice accompaniment to muffins or other sweet breads. Try your kefir in small amounts at first, and you may be surprised when you begin craving it one day!
How do you like to serve your kefir? Please share with us in the comments. We love to hear new ideas.
Kefir can also be made with water instead of milk. For instructions on how to make water kefir, and use it in other drink recipes, click here.
Abigail is an aspiring homesteader, homeschooler, and music-maker. She lives with her husband and three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.