Want to try a yogurt-like beverage that was once thought to have magical powers? Milk kefir has an interesting and mysterious history and really does have magical healing properties. This creamy fermented beverage is one of the easiest things to make and is full of beneficial probiotics and nutrients. I’m going to show you how to brew kefir at home so that you can experience these benefits for yourself.
What is Milk Kefir
Milk kefir is a creamy beverage that you culture with kefir grains. Kefir grains are not actual grain, but a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). They are called grains because of their small grain-like size. Kefir has a taste similar to yogurt, but it is not as thick and is slightly effervescent.
The Story of Milk Kefir
Milk kefir was introduced to the people of the Caucasus Mountains in Russia by the prophet Mohammed. He gifted the gains to the people and showed them how to brew the milk kefir themselves. They were known as “The Grains of the Prophet”.
The Caucaus people would brew the milk kefir with cows, goats, or sheep’s milk in leather bags hung by the door of their home.
The tradition of milk kefir was that anyone who passed through the door was expected to hit or massage the bag on their way through. This aided in mixing the kefir as it fermented. Milk kefir was fermented on a never-ending steady rotation, where fresh milk was added after each batch had finished and the cycle continued for many years. The kefir grains were passed down as an heirloom in families with enough status and wealth to possess the treasures.
The people believed that sharing the secret of kefir would strip the grains of their magical powers. Although many had heard tales of the mysterious drink, it was not shared with other regions until the 1900s.
Where to Get Milk Kefir Grains
I was gifted kefir grains by a friend of mine, and I have cherished these lovely cultures since. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who makes kefir, then ask them if they can give you some of their grains. Most people who have cultures on hand are happy to give them out, because kefir grains multiply like crazy, and it’s also fun to watch your friends get into fermentation.
If you do not know anyone who has kefir grains, you can order them online or pick some up at your local health food store. I have ordered water kefir cultures from Yemoos (not an affiliate link) and they never disappoint. I’m sure their milk kefir grains are just as hardy.
How to Brew Milk Kefir
Brewing milk kefir is extremely simple, and anyone can do it. Here are the items you need to get started:
- Milk (you can use cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk) I personally prefer to use grass-fed cow’s milk so that I can also get some additional omega 3’s into my diet.
- Kefir grains
- A jar or container
- A clean kitchen towel, or coffee filter
- Rubber band (optional)
Step 1: Pour your milk into your jar or other container, and add your kefir grains.
Step 2: Place a clean kitchen towel or coffee filter over the top of jar and secure with a rubber band.
Step 3: Store the jar on the counter or in your pantry at room temperature, and allow it to ferment for 24-48 hours. You will know when your kefir is ready because the milk will thicken to the texture of runny yogurt. It will also have a sour smell, similar to yogurt, and be slightly effervescent.
Step 4: When fermentation is complete, pour the kefir over a strainer or through some cheesecloth over a bowl or another jar to strain out the kefir grains.
Step 5: Rinse your kefir grains, and start the process again with fresh milk.
Step 6: Store your kefir in the refrigerator and drink plain, or add vanilla, fruit puree, or other flavors.
Ways to Enjoy Milk Kefir
There are an endless amount of ways you can enjoy your milk kefir. Here are a few ideas as inspiration:
- Add to smoothies or protein shakes
- Blend with fruit and make into popsicles
- Homemade ice cream
- Kefir tzatziki sauce to pair with your favorite Greek dish
- Creamy salad dressing
- Use it to make a dip for your vegetables
How to Store Your Kefir Grains When You Are Not Using Them
If you want to give your kefir grains a break, or give yourself a break from brewing, you can store your grains. There are a few different ways to do this:
Store them in the Refrigerator:
Place your grains in a jar or airtight container with about 1/2 cup of fresh milk. Refrigeration slows fermentation way down, and this is a good option if you want to take a break for a couple of weeks.
If you want to store your kefir grains in the refrigerator for a longer period, strain your grains, and change out the milk every two weeks or so.
Dehydration is a really good option if you want to store your grains long-term. You can store them for up to a year this way. As you make kefir, your grains will multiply, and this is a good way to create a stockpile of them for later or to share with friends in the future. It’s also nice to have a backup supply of grains in case you accidentally kill the ones you are using.
To dehydrate your grains, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread your grains in a thin, spaced-out layer. Set in an area that gets a lot of air flow for 3-5 days. Each day, flip them over so that all sides get air exposure and dry evenly.
After dehydrating, store them in an airtight container, Zip-lock bag, or vacuum seal them. You can store them at room temperature.
You can also freeze your kefir grains for up to a year. All you need to do is place them in a Zip-lock bag or vacuum seal them and place them in the freezer. Freezing them does not harm them, but puts them to sleep for a while.
Milk kefir is one of the best things you can have in your fermented food apothecary, and really does have magical healing powers. Especially when it comes to gut health. Kefir grains are easy to find, and milk kefir is one of the easiest ferments to make and store.
I hope you found this post helpful, and that you enjoy making this amazing beverage as much as I do.
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How to Brew Milk Kefir
Milk kefir is a milk beverage that has been cultured with kefir grains. Kefir grains are not actual grain, but a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). They are called grains because of their small grain like size. It has a taste similar to yogurt, but it is not as thick and is slightly effervescent.
- 3 C Milk (cows milk, goats milk, or sheep's milk)
- 1 Tbsp Milk Kefir Grains
Pour your milk into your jar or another container, and add your kefir grains.
Place a clean kitchen towel or coffee filter over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band.
Place the jar on the counter or in your pantry at room temperature, and allow it to ferment for 24-48 hours. You will know when your kefir is ready because the milk will thicken to the texture of runny yogurt. It will also have a sour smell, similar to yogurt, and be slightly effervescent.
When fermentation is complete, pour the kefir over a strainer or through some cheesecloth over a bowl or another jar to strain out the kefir grains.
Rinse your kefir grains, and start the process again with fresh milk.
Store your kefir in the refrigerator and drink plain, or add vanilla, fruit puree, or other flavors.
Plant-based milk will not work for kefir. Kefir grains need lactose to thrive.