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Homemade Kefir

April 24, 2009

kefir-grains

Well. Just what is that? It looks like cottage cheese. Or…cauliflower? But it’s not.

That, my friends, or rather, those, are kefir grains. By now, I think a lot of Americans have become familiar with kefir—it’s that stuff that started appearing in bottles in the refrigerated section a few years back, next to the yogurt. Some people call it liquid yogurt, but it’s not quite that.

For one thing, kefir is far easier to make than yogurt, and that’s saying something, because making yogurt isn’t hard. But all I had to do to have fresh kefir for my smoothie today was pour milk into the jar you see there, put a lid on it, stick it on top of my fridge, and wait. Voila. Today, beautiful, creamy, sweet-sour kefir.

Kefir trounces yogurt when it comes to probiotic content. It contains several potent strains of beneficial bacteria that can implant themselves in your intestinal lining and balance your flora, improving your digestion and increasing the efficiency of your immune responses. Kefir also contains beneficial yeasts that will help overtake the bad yeasts (Candida albicans! Dun dun dun!) If you have digestive problems or are coming off a round of antibiotics, kefir is the drink for you.

The origins of kefir are shrouded in mystery. You can’t make kefir grains from scratch, you can only grow them from other kefir grains. They replicate themselves. How did they come to be in the first place? No one knows exactly. All we know is that they originate in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. Legend has it that they were a magical gift given to pious Muslims by Mohammed. Who can say?

Wherever they came from, they are beautiful and strange. They have an extremely pungent odor, so much so that when I first took off the lid of the jar and was hit by the smell I thought Gross! but quickly realized that it’s just the sour, fermenty smell of yogurt times ten. The grains glisten. They seem alive, and they are.

The kefir I woke up to this morning tastes better than any store-bought kefir or yogurt I’ve ever had, and for just the price of milk—which, if you’re familiar with the cost of various dairy products, you know is far less than the price of anything made out of milk. If you can get your hands on some grains, you really have no excuse not to make your own kefir. It’s too economical, too easy, too delicious, and too healthy. Scope out Craigslist, buy a couple of mason jars and a bottle of milk, and ferment yourself away.

A few tablespoons kefir grains
A quart of milk
About 24 hours

You can use any kind of milk you like for this project: I use raw cow’s milk, but you can use pasteurized milk, or goat’s milk, or even soy milk or almond milk or rice milk or coconut milk. Some people say that kefir grains won’t reproduce in non-mammalian milk, but they will still make your milk into kefir.

Plop the kefir grains into the bottom of a quart-sized glass jar. Fill the jar with milk. Cover with something. Cloth, waxed paper, glass, or non-reactive metal are all fine.

Put your jar somewhere out of the way. Wait. Stir the milk and the grains up together occasionally, if you think of it.

After about 24 hours, strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a strainer. Put the kefir grains back in the jar, top it off with milk, and repeat the process. Store your finished kefir in the refrigerator. Or drink it right away. It’s tasty with honey, or in a smoothie.

After a while, you’ll notice you had more kefir grains than you used to. Give some away, so that others can experience the wonder of kefir. Or feed them to your pet. Or fertilize your plants with them.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2009 8:53 pm

    dude… i learned a LOT today. very informational entry… i love learning the history of things, and as soon as you started talking about kefir i had a lot of questions and you just rattled off answers.
    also heard about the school thing… congratulations! now you will join me in a week of no sleep because finals are due! wooohoooo!

  2. May 2, 2009 4:55 pm

    Although I studied about preparing kefir, I never tried it. You have neatly explained the procedure and it will definitely inspire me to prepare it one day.

  3. Tina permalink
    May 16, 2009 12:43 pm

    HI, i really like your blog and this entry is very informative. I was wondering about kefir and here you are with a full lesson on it :) Thank you, btw I found you on tastespotting.com with the ghee recipe.

  4. cc smith permalink
    June 30, 2009 11:35 pm

    cc

    Hey, thanks for the info. Finally some one who just makes “doing things themselves” easy !
    I’ll get started first thing tomorrow. I’m so happy now !!

  5. Nouran permalink
    February 14, 2010 6:06 pm

    Hi there. Your blog is amazing. i used Kefir 4 years ago and re-using it now. i am not so sure of its benefit but i like the taste, and if didnt help me it wouldnt hurt me :)

    just a quick note: i am a muslim, and no Kefir didnt come from Mohammad (PBUH). i am not sure where did you get that info from.

    thank you for your benefitial blog..

  6. October 8, 2010 10:43 am

    My compliments to you – beautiful clean-looking blog. I too make my own kefir at home. http://cuceesprouts.com/2010/10/fermenting-experimenting/

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