Kefir is incredibly healthy and I enjoy drinking it. Kefir contains more types of probiotic cultures than yogurt and is a great alternative to those who are lactose intolerant, have weak immune systems, or those with a leaky gut. You can read many articles on the benefits of kefir.
The trouble is kefir is so damn expensive. In the store, a 32oz bottle of kefir will be about $3-$4. You can get a gallon of milk (128oz) for about the same. I knew kefir was made from milk, but I did not realize how ridiculously easy it is to make until I looked up recipes. It is a simple 3 step process:
1) Warm up the milk to a near-boil
2) Cool down milk then add kefir cultures
3) Wait for it to become kefir
That’s it. With a little patience, you can have your own kefir. Not to mention you can have it milder or stronger taste (depending on how long you let it ferment).
Let’s talk about the steps in a little more detail. What you will need is:
– 1 gallon of milk (organic, non-organic, coconut, almond, goat, whatever)
– kefir cultures (either freeze-dried or from your last batch)
– giant pickle jar (mmmm pickles)
Step 1 is to bring the milk to a near-boil. On my induction cooker, this comes to a setting of 250F even though milk’s boiling point is 212F. We want to kill off the other bacteria living in the milk. You don’t necessarily need to use the whole gallon for this, and most of the time I leave a little extra for the next day’s breakfast (eg: pancakes, cereal, etc.).
Next step is to allow the milk to cool before adding in the kefir cultures. I pour the milk into my big jar so that I only have to wait for the milk to cool not the pot. You know it’s cool enough if you can hold your wrist on the side of the jar. I put a paper towel on top to keep the bacteria and other stuff in the house from getting into the milk. Do not use plastic wrap! You want the kefir to be able to release the gas that is created in the fermentation process. Once cooled, I sprinkle the kefir in and put the towel back on. No stirring necessary.
After a day of sitting at room temperature, the milk will thicken up. I will then gently stir the milk so the cultures will get dispersed and all the milk will get “converted”. In another day, it will look like this:
Stirring the kefir is important because, at the top, the kefir will form a thick layer which will no longer allow the gas to escape and thus you will have a kefir overflow. It’s not a fun mess to clean up. Stirring allows the yellowish liquid to rise to the top with the gases. I pour the yellowish liquid gently down the drain and put the rest of the kefir through a funnel back into an empty plastic gallon milk jug. I will pour some into a small container that goes in the freezer (as seen in the first picture) for when I make the next batch. I can then thaw it while I’m warming and cooling the milk.
You can add flavoring (ex: vanilla extract or blended fruits) to the gallon jug of kefir. I put the cap on the gallon jug while squeezing the jug so it will have room to expand. The kefir will still ferment in the fridge but at a slower rate.
Before pouring some for my morning smoothie, I shake it up as it will again separate into a clear liquid and kefir. Ever notice that kefir always comes in an opaque bottle? My guess is that people would get weirded out by how it separates in the fridge.