Kefir is a traditional fermented food made from milk, full of beneficial probiotic bacteria and yeast. It’s similar to yogurt, but usually more tangy, and sometimes slightly effervescent. Kefir is not only far more beneficial than yogurt, but much easier to make. Unlike yogurt, kefir can actually colonize your gut with the beneficial micro-organisms you need to have a healthy immune system and well-functioning digestive system. While high-quality yogurt contains a few of the beneficial gut bacteria, kefir contains a much larger number of beneficial bacteria, as well as beneficial yeasts.
Kefir is great eaten by itself or with fruit, in smoothies, on muesli and granola, in salad dressings, made into cheese or even tasty fruit flavored popsicles that kids will love. You can buy fresh kefir grains here.
1 cup milk (raw, organic milk is the best if you can get it. Check out the Organic Consumers Association for finding raw milk in your area)
1 tablespoon fresh kefir grains * see below for where to source kefir grains
These instructions may look long and involved, but kefir is one of the quickest, simplest and easiest of all the fermented foods to make. Like many things though, explaining how to do it may require a lot of words. But trust me, once you do it the first time and get the hang of it you’ll see, it’s very easy.
You can make any amount of kefir you like per batch, but the ratio of 1 cup milk to 1 tablespoon of kefir grains is a good rule of thumb for fermenting a batch in 24-48 hours. So if you have 4 tablespoons of grains you can make 1 litre (1 quart) of kefir in 24-48 hours. The amount of time you ferment the milk for depends on the temperature and how tart you like your kefir to be. So be prepared to experiment and taste test to see what works best for you.
Put the kefir grains and milk into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and fasten the lid on.
Using a lid will increase the slight effervescent quality of the kefir. There is an alternative you can try if you don’t like that slight effervescence or you don’t have a jar with a lid available. Just use a clean piece of muslin, or other clean cloth, in place of the lid to keep out foreign objects and curious insects. Make sure the cloth is large enough to completely cover the opening of the jar, and then some. Use a rubber band or piece of string to fasten the cloth into place over the opening of the jar.
Leave to ferment 24-48 hours
Leave the jar with the milk and kefir grains out on your kitchen counter top for 24-48 hours. Just make sure it’s not in direct sunlight. I like keeping my batch of fermenting kefir on top of the fridge. Every time I go to the fridge to get something out I see the jar of fermenting kefir and remember to give it a gentle shake. Gently shake or rock the jar throughout the day wherever you think about it. Once the kefir starts fermenting the milk you may notice your ‘brew’ separating into curds and whey. This is normal. Just give the jar a gentle shake to mix everything back together.