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How To Make Kefir Using Kefir Grains
Kefir is by far the most powerful and healing of all fermented foods. It is much better than yogurt. Homemade kefir made with kefir grains and raw organic pastured milk contain up to 56 types of probiotics. Kefir has amazing health benefits.
Making your own kefir is quite simple. The most challenging part can be locating the kefir grains to start the process, but there are many online resources available. I recommend Cultures for Health.
Kefir grains can be easily shared if you know someone who makes their own kefir. Kefir grains grow with each new batch, so that eventually one needs to throw them out.
What Are Kefir Grains
According to Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin, ‘Kefir grains are combinations of yeasts and bacteria living on a substrate made up of a variety of dairy components.’
These live kefir grains look a little bit like cauliflower florets and are somewhat gelatinous in texture.
No other milk culture forms grains, so this makes kefir unique.
The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk. The process continues indefinitely.
Homemade Milk Kefir
Makes 2 cups
2 cups whole milk, nonhomogenized and preferably raw
1 tablespoon kefir grains
Place kefir grains in a fine strainer and rise with filtered water.
Place milk in a clean wide-mouth, quart size mason jar.
Add kefir grains, stir well and cover loosely with a cloth.
Place in a warm place (65-76 F or 18,5-24,5 C degrees) for 12 hours to 2 days.
Stir vigorously occasionally to redistribute the grains. Use only wooden spoon when stirring.
Every time you stir, taste the kefir. When it achieves a tartness to your liking, the kefir is ready. The kefir may also become thick and effervescent, depending on the temperature and incubation time.
Pour the kefir through a strainer into another jar to remove the grains.
Store in refrigerator.
Use the grains to make another batch of kefir, or prepare them for storage by rising them well with water and placing in a small jar with about 1/2 cup filtered water.
They may be stored in refrigerator several weeks or in the freezer for several months. If they are left too long in storage, they will lose their culturing power.
While kefir definitely has a stronger, more sour taste than the milder tasting yogurt, you are guaranteed to not notice the difference if your primary use is for smoothies!
Tips for Making Kefir
Time and temperature are two important factors that determine how thick and tasty your kefir will be.
In the warmer months kefir may be ready to drink in 18 hours. If you let it sit out too long at room temperature, it will become thick and eventually start turning into cheese and whey. If your kefir is “lumpy” and too sour, you are leaving it out too long.
It should be creamy and “drinkable”…a little thicker than milk. At this point, shake it well and place the kefir into your refrigerator. It will thicken slightly since it is continuing to culture, but at a much slower pace.
With each batch you make, adjust the time until you get it just the way you like it.
Precautions When Handling Kefir
- During fermentation, avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
- Cover the lid loosely to allow escape of gas produced during fermentation. Tightly covered jars may lead to explosion.
- When making milk kefir, do not ferment for too long as the mixture will get too sour and separation will be seen as layers of pale yellow liquid is formed which is called whey. This will make straining more difficult.
- Use non metallic utensils as metals destroy the microorganisms found in kefir.
- Use non-chlorinated, filtered water as chemicals present in tap water destroy the good bacteria.
- Do not boil or overheat the kefir. This will also kill the bacteria.
- Do not starve the grains. If you want to store the grains for a longer period, (2 weeks or more), change the milk every few weeks to feed the grains.
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