Recently, I came across a fellow food swapper who had milk kefir grains, and was in search of water kefir grains. I had water kefir grains, and was excited to try milk kefir. A happy swap was born!
Like water kefir, milk kefir is fermented at room temperature, so it is easier to make than other fermented foods that need to be heated like yogurt. In addition, swapping homemade milk kefir for store-bought yogurt saves money. Milk kefir grains, which look like tiny heads of cauliflower, feed on the lactose in milk.
Milk kefir is actually easier to make than water kefir, provided you have milk in your fridge.
DIY PROJECT: MILK KEFIR
The process for making milk kefir is as follows:
- In a glass jar, combine one pint of milk and one tablespoon of milk kefir grains. You can use any kind of milk you want, though I like to use organic or local milk that I know won’t contain growth hormones or antibiotics. Whole milk is recommended, as skim milk can weaken the grains over time, though I have had success with skim milk as well.
- Cover the jar with a paper towel and rubber band, and leave the grains at room temperature for roughly 24-48 hours (the optimal time will depend on your kitchen temperature, humidity, and grains to milk ratio). The kefir should be strained before the curds and whey begin to separate if you want it to be thick but still slightly sweet. This can be tricky, as the ferment time can vary each time you make it. I keep an eye out for the beginning of separation at the bottom of my jar, and I strain the kefir then.
- Strain the kefir using a plastic strainer (you may have to help the kefir through by stirring, as it will be thick), and place the kefir grains in a new glass jar with fresh milk. The grains do not need to be washed.
- Place the strained kefir into a glass jar with a tightened lid, and store it in the fridge. I like to add a tablespoon or so of maple syrup to sweeten the kefir and drink it as is. It can also be added to fruit smoothies, or used as you would plain yogurt or buttermilk in recipes. I find that the kefir gets a bite to it (sour and fizzy) after a few days, so I try to use it in less than a week. Once your grains have multiplied (milk grains do this quicker than water grains), share them with a friend!
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Cultures for Health is a good source for more information about milk kefir.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WATER KEFIR, SEE MY FEBRUARY POST!