Today, we started our morning with homemade blueberry kefir—a beverage that’s becoming something of a staple in our home—creamy and satisfying, sweet and tangy, loaded with good probiotics and convenient to grab on the go.
Even though making our own kefir is something we’ve talked about since before we were married, it’s only been in the last few weeks that we’ve finally ordered live kefir grains online and begun the process of combining them with raw milk and watching them grow. And, just as it is with ice cream in this household, the person behind the process is the one much more knowledgeable about food and nutrition in this marriage, Tim—which is why today’s FAQ-style post is all from him!
Below, he answers questions on how to make kefir, why use live grains, why it’s so good for you and more. Enjoy!
How do you make kefir? What’s the basic process?
Add four tablespoons of kefir grains to one quart of milk and let ferment at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, depending on temperature and consistency desired.
Afterwards, stir gently with a wooden spoon and strain kefir grains out of liquid (i.e., your homemade kefir). Then do it all over again: add the grains to your next batch.
Are the live kefir grains better than the packets at the store?
Yes, the live kefir grains are better, but the packets are a good substitute if you are unable to obtain live grains. Previously I had always made my homemade kefir from the packets and while you do get some healthy viable strains, they are not as strong and do not last as long. Real live kefir grains will last indefinitely if they are taken care of; they just keep growing and growing and can even be eaten themselves for additional benefits!
How does the temperature of a room affect the kefir?
Typically the warmer it is, the quicker the milk will culture. When the grains are regularly being fed, they will keep growing and require more milk. A good rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of kefir grains per cup of milk.
How do I know if it’s working?
If the milk is separating too quickly into curds and whey, then you usually need more milk or less kefir grains. If it is not culturing quickly enough or just turning sour, you need more grains or to reduce the amount of milk per grain.
What should I use to strain the grains?
In general it is best to use non metal objects with kefir (which is why we stir the grains with a wooden spoon) as some of the acids in kefir can react with reactive metals—but stainless steel strainers or sieves are fine (stainless steel is mostly inert).
Why is kefir worth making? How is it good for me?
Kefir is much easier to digest than straight milk. The probiotics and yeast present feed on the lactose (milk sugar); therefore many people who have trouble digesting milk can digest kefir just fine. Kefir’s probiotics help to colonize the gut more than yogurt, and if the milk is from raw grass-fed animals, it has healthy amounts of CLA, omega-3s, all original enzymes and more nutrients than conventional milk. Milk can be acid-forming once digested in the body, depending on the type—but by culturing milk into kefir, it turns it into an alkaline-forming food once digested.
What else can I do with kefir?
After making kefir for a while, you get into a rhythm with it. There are all sorts of things to make with it. Lately, we’ve been making different flavors of kefir by combining the fermented kefir with other ingredients.
OK, I want to make kefir. Where do I get live grains?
Here’s where we ordered ours: KefirLady.com, for $20.
Below is the recipe for our latest favorite: a blueberry version that combines kefir with frozen blueberries and a small amount of Sucanat.
Let us know if you have more questions!
Homemade Blueberry Kefir
Makes four pints or, four servings.
4 cups homemade kefir
1 cup frozen organic wild blueberries
1/4 cup Sucanat (or other sweetener)
*Note that the blueberry kefir will separate in the fridge, so just give jars a little shake before drinking.