Milk Kefir a fermented yogurt like drink for health.
Milk Kefir is one of those amazing things you can safely & cheaply make in your home & has wonderful health benefits. I have used Kefirs around 8 to 10 years now. I do not get to say enough these days about this wonderful probiotic, that could be because I spent years as a power seller on ebay selling Kombuchas & Kefirs & during that time they were are all I talked about. But Kombucha & Kefirs are still a favorite in my home.
(I sold on ebay for years as Stichingtime)
Below is the very info I printed & sent to all my buyers with the purchases of Milk Kefir grains, I still get weekly requests for these in printed form. I had people willing to pay me just for the pages of info I offered, it took me several years to get it the way I wanted it & make it easy to understand for buyers. (I have more info here & here).
Items you need:
- Plastic strainer
- mall plastic spoon
- Breathable cover
- Glass jars for storage & making kefir
- Distilled white vinegar
- Fresh milk or boiled and cooled jug milk.
- Optional Lid for fermenting jar.
- Do not heat or boil the milk kefir grains!
Step by step recipe:
For 1 to 2 cups of kefir milk:
- 1 QT jar
- 1 to 2 TSP Kefir grains(or 1TBS)
- 1 to 2 cups milk
For 3 to 4 cups of kefir milk
- 1 or 2 jars (do not over fill)
- 1 to 2 TBS Kefir grains
- 3 to 4 cups milk
- Add milk to jar, (please read info on how to prepare milk)
- Only fill jar 3/4 full.
- Add the kefir grains
- Stir or slightly agitate jar (shaking)
- Cover with a coffee filter or paper towel etc (breathable)
- Secure cover with a rubber band
- Put in a dark room temp cupboard or on the back of the counter out of direct sunlight.(works best in the dark)
- Let sit 24 to 48 hours (longer if needed or desired is OK)
- Stir or shake several times during fermentation if desired.
- You can decide how many hours you want the kefir milk to go by your own tastes & desired consistency(check at 12 to 18 hours).
- When kefir milk is ready,
- Stir & then pour milk & grains slowly into a strainer or colander over a bowl
- Gently separate the grains from the kefir milk (or if no strainer remove grains with a plastic spoon).
- Store kefir milk in a glass jar in the fridge
- When eating/drinking add any flavors etc you want,or use in your favorite recipe.
- Repeat steps
Never fill the fermenting jar more than 3/4 full,because sometimes the milk will swell & overflow during fermentation.
Note: finished kefir Milk is a thick milk, like a drinkable yogurt.
Hint:If your kefir milk is separating to fast due to warm temps, you can let the jar go 7 to 10 hours then stir it & then sit the jar in the fridge overnight, in the morning remove/strain out grains as normal.
Ratio of milk to grains:
Depending on your desired tastes of how mild or tart you like your Kefir/Yogurt,you can use anywhere from a 5:1 to a 25:1 ratio of milk to kefir grains. The higher the dilution the milder the taste, or the longer to ferment. the 1/2 TBS per 2 cups of milk for 24 to 48 is the taste we like best.
How do I eat/drink kefir milk?(Variations & Optional ingredients:)-
- You can eat or drink kefir milk fresh, chilled or mixed with flavors or fruits.
- It makes a great smoothie with fresh fruit & ice or sorbet.
- Make a protein shake.
- Mix with apple sauce or your favorite jam & eat.
- Add it to baked potatoes or add to your favorite dip recipe.
- Use it to make bread,biscuits or a sour dough starter.
- Buy an ice cream maker & in frozen recipes.
- Add a TBS to mashed potatoes, gravys & soups.
- It can be used like sour cream.
- Its uses are almost limitless.
- Use your imagination & taste to help you decide your favorite uses.
- I will be doing several future blog posts on adding flavors, making cheese, doing second ferments & more, so stay tuned.
How do I store the grains when I am not using?
-Just put them in a jar covered with milk & sit them in the fridge, Change out the milk every 1 to 2 weeks.only store with this method for 2 weeks or so, & only when necessary.(some have stored longer with good success)It’s best to keep grains in normal use to keep them healthy. after storing rinse the grains in distilled white vinegar before reusing.
Can I freeze Kefir grains?
-I do not recommend freezing. If you do freeze them wash real good & dry off leaving no wetness, Put in a ziplock bag add dry powder milk to cover then seal & freeze.will last up to 2 months in freezer.(Again I do not recommend doing this, but some do have success doing it)
What to buy needed supplies (on Amazon)
If you received your grains in the mail:
On your first batch-
Add all contents from baggie with the kefir grains & milk in it, do the 1st batch with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk so as to reactivate the grains.You might not want to drink the first batch of kefir milk you make.It may take several batches for grains to reactivate, but its safe to drink the kefir milk while they are reactivating,You just might want to stay to smaller batches at first.
To get the milk kefir grains out of the bag use a plastic spoon.
To reactivate grains:
When you get your grains they may not be as active due to the shock of mailing.On the first batch you may need to use less milk to reactivate the grains,you may need to do this for several batches. After the grains reactivate you will notice that if you don’t make the kefir to milk ratio right the kefir will sour the milk to soon.
(if you order milk kefir online) After the Kefir grains arrive in your mail, they might smell kinda soured, But that is OK. Use it just the way it comes in the bag for first batch,don’t wash it!
What to do with your kefir grains on arrival.
Un-pack as soon as possible. Read over all the direction & info provided here,have all supplies before starting. If you are not going to make the Kefir in 24 hrs or under, just take the bag & put it into the fridge. If it will be longer than 1 day before you are going to prepare the kefir grains, put them in a clear glass jar & Sit safely in the fridge.Keep covered with milk.Milk kefir really should be started ASAP,its best to never store the grains for more than 72 hours ever.
Milk kefir grains, Water kefir crystals and a Kombucha mushrooms are all called SCOBY.this stands for: S.C.O.B.Y.: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast . They are all cultures.
Reproducing kefir grains:-
Even though they reproduce themselves, Kefir reproduces at a slower rate than kombucha.You may not notice any growth for a while, then suddenly it will happen, Or you may notice gradual multiplying/growth.
Storing the resulting kefir milk-
after fermentation when you have separated the kefir milk & kefir grains, keep the kefir milk under refrigeration. If you don’t, it will continue to ferment.Storing in clear glass is best,But if you need to use plastic only use food grade.
Never store in Milk or water jugs.
Try to drink within a few days or freeze,Can be thawed & used later(only freeze for 30 days) kefir milk is a drinkable yogurt so will only be like thick milk in most cases depending on milk used.
With milk Kefir grains-
cold causes semi-dormant to dormant, & warmth causes activity.
Never-use apple cider vinegar on or near the kefir grains, Use Distilled white vinegar as needed.Most of the other fermented vinegars may contain mold or yeast spores, Distilled white vinegar is a germ fighter, antibacterial, anti-fungal,& will rinse soap residue off.
Can I eat the milk kefir grains?:
They are perfectly fine to consume if so desired, You can eat them for more probiotic benefits.
Never -touch kefir grains with any metal, Including utensils,strainers,lids & jewelry.Plastic spoons work great to eat with, but the resulting kefir milk can be eaten with metal if desired (stainless is best).
Jar-Only use a clear glass.You can use any jar,such as an empty coffee jar, mayo jar, applesauce jar, pickle jar, etc. Rinse all jars with distilled white vinegar after washing before you use, you can allow the vinegar to dry if you want.(Note: make sure the breathable cover is secure on the jar, If gnats/bugs get in they may lay eggs in the milk kefir causing larvae to hatch, This will ruin the kefir milk).
About the Milk Kefir culture/grains-
Milk Kefir is a living culture, a complex symbiosis of more than 30 micro-flora that form grains or small curd-like structures (sometimes called plants) in the milk. As the cultures ferment the milk these small cultures create new grains in the process sometimes gradually sometimes in spurts. Real milk kefir from live cultures is an endlessly self-propagating process.You will never need to replace kefir grains & will have a lifetime of Kefir if you care for the grains/cultures properly. Don’t store in the fridge for to long without changing the milk out.The best way to care for Kefir is to continually keep them working making milk kefir.
You can make kefir milk by using the kefir grains to ferment milk to a nice thick milk consistency. The temperature at which kefir milk is cultured will change the taste & texture.While kefir will culture at temps as low as 32 degrees, you will get a more full-bodied, less tart tasting kefir using a temperature around 80 degrees(68 to 86 degrees is the optimal temp) But you can do what works best for you.
What Kind of milk do I use?-
It’s best to use quality fresh milks,either cold or room temp: fresh/raw whole: Cow or goat milks etc. Or you can heat & use store-bought Organic or regular jugs of whole cow,Soy,Rice,Goat milks etc.
You must use the heating method for pasteurized &/or homogenized milks–never use ultra pasteurized milk ever.
- At low heat, bring the milk to almost boiling (just starting to simmer),
- stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat & cool to room temp.
The reason for heating the milk is to eliminate the competing microorganisms.(the heating method is for milk that has been Homogenized & or Pasteurized like from your Grocery store,etc but can also be used for other milks if so desired)
Only use Whole milk never low-fat,skim,1%,2% etc.
Mammal milks versus other milks will each have varying results.
Should I rinse the kefir grains in water?-
Be careful of water with chlorine &/or Fluoride in it they can kill or can cause problems w/the kefir grains.You can rinse the grains with distilled white vinegar in a bowl,then strain with plastic strainer.doing this can help get the PH back in balance if it gets out of whack. But you do not need to rinse after every batch or even frequently.I may rinse once every other month with the distilled white vinegar. It’s not necessary to rinse normal batches that the grains have not been stored.
What should I avoid having near the kefir grains that can kill or cause problems?-
Don’t touch the grains with any form of metal Including Strainers,utensils,lids,jewelry, Don’t have near or in the same room with: harsh chemicals/cleaners,bug sprays,or where a lot of grease is cooked. No smoking,No chlorine water.(alternatives to cleaners is distilled white vinegar, It kills 99% of bad germs/bacteria)
Never-use sugar or sweeteners in the milk that touches the grains!
My Milk Kefir grains are not curdling the milk after 24 hours,Why?-
Sometimes cooler weather/temps can cause the batch to need to go longer than 48 hours, sometimes it just happens for no reason.& sometimes the first couple batches after getting the grains in the mail may not do right, You can cut the amount of milk in 1/2 that you use in batches until they reactivate.Tasting each batch after straining will help you know if the milk is sour enough or not for your taste,adjust the milk in the next batch accordingly.
What is Milk Kefir?
Milk Kefir is a fermented milk drink. The word kefir is said to have originated from the Turkish word “Keif” which means “good feeling”. Kefir grains dates back many centuries to the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains who carried milk stored in leather pouches where it would ferment into fizzy sour yogurt.
The Milk Kefir culture/grains:Milk Kefir grains are a living culture, a complex symbiosis of more than 30 microflora that form grains or cauliflower-like structures (sometimes called plants) in the milk. As the cultures ferments the milk creating kefir milk these structures grow, creating new grains in the process. Real milk kefir from live culture is an endlessly self-propagating process.
Milk Kefir and Health:Kefir milk has many reputed health benefits. In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir milk contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Particularly calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, B2 and B12, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin D. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir milk, is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir milk also has an abundance of calcium and magnesium, also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir milk in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves. The abundance of enzymes brings more health benefits, especially to lactose intolerant people, many of whom can tolerate kefir milk without difficulty, as long as the kefir milk is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the enzymes).
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