Kefir originates in the Caucasus mountains where centuries ago, shepherds discovered that every so often their fresh milk would ferment and turn slightly fizzy.
Like many fermented foods and drinks, kefir has a lot of health benefits and is a good source of probiotics (see link for more information of probiotics: https://4pnutrition.com/diet/what-are-probiotics). The best thing with kefir is that it’s incredibly easy to make.
What do you need to make milk kefir or nut milk kefir?
- Live kefir grains (the equivalent of about 2 or 3 tablespoons);
- 250ml Organic whole milk (for the first few batches) or nut milk;
- Glass jar with lid;
- Measuring jar;
- Wooden spoon ;
- Plastic sieve.
Things to know before you start
Firstly, remember a very important thing!! kefir grains don’t like to be in contact with metal so ALWAYS use either glass, plastic and/or wood.
When you first start fermenting the grains, they need a time of adaptation so it’s possible that the initial batches will be too sour in taste and you won’t be able to drink them. Don’t give up as yet because by the 3rd batch the grains will have settled and you will therefore be able to drink your kefir daily.
Milk live kefir grains are usually suitable for all types of milk such as cow, goat and sheep. I strongly recommend that you use organic as the grains can absorb pesticides and other chemicals from non organic milks.
This type of grains is also suitable for nut milk and coconut milk. However, every so often they need to be boosted. In which case, you need to make one or two batches in real milk (of your choice). Once done, you can go back to using alternative milks. I personally find that my grains need a little boost every three weeks.
The hotter it is in the room, the quicker the kefir ferments. This means that at times you might need to let the grains ferment for at least 48 hours and at other times they might ferment just after 24 hours. Usually during cold weather the fermentation takes longer.
Because kefir grains progressively grow, every so often you will find that their amount has doubled. You can then either:
- divide them in two jars if you want to make more kefir;
- give them to a friend who would like to try fermentation;
- eat them or just throw them.
These little grains can be found in health stores or on the internet. Some stores sell them dehydrated. In which case, you will need to rehydrate them before being able to start the fermentation. If you buy those, the instructions for rehydrating them will be on the package.
Pour the live kefir grains in the glass jar and pour 250ml of whole milk (ideally organic).
Stir gently with the wooden tablespoon. Close the lid or put a cloth on top of the jar or glass and let ferment for about 48 hours.
After 48 hours you can collect the fermented milk and start the process all over again. This is so easy. For this you need:
- Plastic sieve
- Wooden spoon
- Empty jar
Set the plastic sieve on top of the empty jar. Pour the fermented milk content in the sieve and gently stir it until you are left with the kefir grains in the sieve and the fermented milk is in the jar.
Place the grains in another jar with the 250ml milk, cover the top and let it ferment for another 48 hours.
The collected fermented milk is now ready to drink. You can use it in smoothies, pour it on top of berries or granola or just drink it from a glass.
How do I retire kefir grains?
Because the grains are alive, they always need feeding. If you leave them unattended they will die. If you want to retire them you can put them in a jar of milk and leave them in the fridge for one week as the fermentation in the fridge is much slower.
If you want to retire for a longer period than a week you can always freeze them in this way:
- Firstly, wash the grains
- Secondly, add some milk
- Finally, freeze in a plastic or glass container (you can also use a plastic bag).
This should retire them for about two months.
Can I reactivate kefir grains?
Yes you can!! To reactivate the grains defrost them at room temperature overnight. Once they are defrosted, remove the excess defrosted milk with a sieve.
Start feeding the kefir grains as usual.
It might take a few batches for them to recover from their hibernation. Be persistant and keep feeding them every 48 hours with organic whole milk.