how to make blueberry kefir

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!

kefir stirring kefir

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!

making kefir

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.

straining kefir

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).

straining kefir grains

kefir grains

strained kefir grains

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.

fresh, raw homemade kefir

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.

homemade blueberry kefir

blueberry kefir in mason jars

refrigerated blueberry kefir

Let us know if you have more questions!

Homemade Blueberry Kefir
Makes four pints or, four servings.

Ingredients:
4 cups homemade kefir
1 cup frozen organic wild blueberries
1/4 cup Sucanat (or other sweetener)

Directions:
Blend ingredients in Vitamix or other high-powered blender until fully combined. Pour into pint-sized mason jars or whatever other containers you’d like, and refrigerate.

*Note that the blueberry kefir will separate in the fridge, so just give jars a little shake before drinking.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 67 Comments

  1. Lan

    two questions:
    if i am reading this correctly, would i be able to drink this even tho i’m lactose intolerant?
    the statement Then do it all over again: add the grains to your next batch = does that mean that the grains just strained are to be used in another batch of milk?

    1. Shannalee

      1. Probably. For sure it would work with raw goat’s milk for you, as that is the easiest to digest… but regarding cow’s milk, most people who can’t handle dairy can handle raw kefir.

      2. Yep. You can keep using the grains basically forever.

      1. Lan

        thank you! there has been talk in the dwelling about making this. next trip to wegmans will have goat milk on the list.

        follow up question: what if you don’t want to make another batch right away? do you wash the grains & keep in fridge?

        1. Shannalee

          Lan, Tim says it’s not necessary to wash the grains. When you can’t use them right away, it is best to keep them in milk in the fridge. The longer they sit, the more milk will need to be added to revive them, but they can be revived. If the grains get left for a little while, the milk you put them in the first few times will not have a great taste (more like soured milk) but it can still be used in smoothies or recipes.

        2. Lan Nguyen

          Sorry I know your questions have been answered but I’ve read hundreds of blog posts and never have I seen someone with the same name as mine!! Hello! :)

    1. Shannalee

      Hi Elizabeth! We’re so excited for your kefir adventures ahead! Regarding veggies in kefir, we’ve never done it—however, we know you can blend just about anything you want with kefir, so you could try that. Also, it’s possible to ferment veggies in kefir because of the good bacteria in it. Have fun!

        1. Shannalee

          Hi Elizabeth, Great question! It’s actually illegal to sell raw milk in the grocery store throughout most of the country, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways around it. Every state is different, but Maryland law, for example, says you can buy a share of a cow and drink the milk. For local distributors, visit http://www.realmilk.com/where.html.

          Otherwise, you can use pasteurized milk, but it’s not ideal as it will have dead bacteria still in it—the kefir grains will still culture it and give you probiotics.

      1. Joanna

        My husband and I have blended lots of veggies, especially greens, with our kefir. As long as we add a banana, mango, or berries (sometimes with a little honey), you should be able to hide greens no problem!

  2. Kasey

    This is so cool! I actually grew up on kefir (though I’m not sure if my mom made it from scratch or not). It’s one of those things I really need to re-introduce into my diet. The addition of blueberries definitely helps ;)

  3. Cookie and Kate

    This is awesome. My little brother is majoring in nutrition in college and he is obsessed with kefir right now (and chia seeds). That boy could talk about kefir all day long! He’s been making it at home but I haven’t sampled it yet. I’ll give it a try the next time he makes some!

    1. Shannalee

      Your little brother sounds like someone Tim and I would love chatting with! : ) (Side note: we’re loving chia seeds, too! have you had chia kombucha? i am obsessed.) Love that he’s making kefir—would love to hear what you think when you get to try it!

  4. Atria

    Hello there,

    I’m first time on your site, but I’m hooked and I’m going to read more of your articles.
    I’ve never did kefir, but I did homemade youghurt ( jogurt ) it’s really easy and a lot of fun. The best thing is that people thinks that it is some kind of magic behind it and that it requiers special skills, while in truth it is really simple and easy. No I’m going to make artisian cheeses at home:)

    Thanks for your blog, greetings from Poland!

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Atria! I’ve only made homemade yogurt once (here’s a way to make it trickier: try to keep the heat as low as possible to preserve as much good bacteria as you can) but you’re right, it was fun!

    1. Tim

      Hi Thomas!
      Good question. It is best to not have the kefir touching the metal lid, so I always make sure not to fill it all the way. Inside the lid it is not really touching the metal as most lids are coated with a polymer that many times contains BPA… so either way you do not want it in constant contact with the lid. Right before drinking, if it needs a quick shake, that is no big deal… it is just longer time of contact between the organic acids and either plastic or metal that will be reactive or leaching.
      Tim

  5. MaryAnn

    This almost seems too easy to be true! I actually think I could handle this :-) I drink a kefir smoothie four or five times a week for breakfast with some fruit and spinach. I have been a little concerned about all of the sugar in the kefir I buy (plus, it’s expensive!) so this just might be what I need to replace it with!

    1. Tim

      Hi MaryAnn!
      Yep, there is much less sugar in this version than the store bought–and being in a more unrefined whole form (sucanat) ensures that the other plant minerals from the sugar cane are still there!

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  8. Carissa

    Hi I have a daughter with ulcerative colitis and have been making yoghurt for 2 years (its delicious!) but have to have to ferment it at what seems quite hot temps for 24hrs, to enable the cultures to consume the milk sugars. In keffir its at room temperature but it has been recommended my concern is that the milk sugars won’t have been consumed enough..any thoughts??
    I’m in Mexico so need to find the kefir grains..fingers crossed!

    1. Tim

      Hi Carissa,
      Thank you for your comment. Kefir is indeed great for restoring healthy flora–even better than yogurt. While yogurt may have 4-6 strains of bacteria, kefir typically has 10-15 strains plus beneficial yeasts. Because it has so much more beneficial bacteria, the milk sugar is consumed very efficiently as all the bacteria feed on the sugar. Also, the milk sugar (lactose) is less of a problem if the milk is raw and from grassfed animals (animals out on pasture and not given grain). The raw milk will have over 60 enzymes, including lactase which helps the digestion of lactose (milk sugar).

      Hope that helps!

    2. Tamatha

      Carissa, it sounds last me your daughter was on SCD diet? That’s what I’m doing and had the same question as you. I see you posted a long time ago. What results did you get using this with your daughter? I hope she is well. I have Crohn’s. Thank you.

      1. Shanna Mallon

        Hi Tamatha, I’m not sure if you already knew this, but I had Crohn’s, too — in a weird way, that is how I met Tim. : ) He recommended I check out ‘The Maker’s Diet,’ written by a guy who had Crohn’s, which started a slew of changes that transformed my health and life. Maybe you’d enjoy it too, if you haven’t already read it?

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    1. Tim

      Hi Grace!
      The freeze dried powder cannot be saved in the same way that the actual grains can be. What you can do though is save about 1/4 of a quart of your made kefir and use that to culture your next quart of milk. The powder does not need to be strained though.

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    1. Tim

      Hi Christina,
      Some of the strains may be damaged or the biofilm that bacteria form may be damaged. However, the milk has already been cultured, most of the milk sugar consumed, and many bacteria are still intact (same with yogurt, just try using the kefir or yogurt to culture after purchasing or blending–it will still work!). So there are still many benefits even while enjoying the blended version! If you wanted you could blend the fruit first and then stir in the kefir.

  12. Debbie

    Hi,
    Awesome info! If I have been using store bought milk for me kefir and would like to switch to raw, is it ok to use the same start? Or would the bad bacteria be best to avoid and i should get a new start?

    1. Tim

      Hi Debbie,
      Yes, you can use the same starter. The good bacteria that culture the store bought milk will also culture the raw milk. One of the main differences is that there are live enzymes and other strains of good bacteria in the raw milk that are not present in the store bought, therefore the texture, consistency, and even taste will be different. The longer raw milk sits the healthier it gets (and more sour : ) as the good bacteria crowd out the bad — the kefir starter will only help protect the milk even more.

      Hope that helps!

  13. joy shuman

    Hi
    Please help me since I have not done this before.
    I have a jar of organic kefir i.e. in organic store bought milk.
    I would like to try to make my own using one cup of it as you have suggested.
    Should I strain that cup first and then add it to one quart of slightly warmed regular milk and then leave that mixture on the counter overnight in a glass container?
    Thanks,
    Joy

    1. Tim

      Hi Joy,
      I am not sure what you are asking. Did you use live kefir grains with store bought milk or did you use a freeze dried kefir packet? Or are you trying to culture the milk with a bottle of kefir?

      The only reason you would strain the kefir is to remove the live kefir grains so that you can use them in your next batch. You do not need to strain if you are using the other two methods mentioned above. Yes, it does help to add the culture to room temperature or slightly warm (not hot!) milk as that will help the cultures be more active.

      Let me know if that helps, and feel free to follow up!

      Tim

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    1. Tim

      Hi Taryn,
      You can make almond milk kefir but every process I have seen does not use kefir grains. Most use probiotic capsules added to the fresh almond milk and let set for 12 hours or so and then strain and enjoy. It is possible that it would be fine to use kefir grains or water kefir grains for almond milk, we just haven’t done it… yet : ) !!

    1. Tim

      You’re welcome! Because the kefir is raw and cultured it should last a good while in the fridge. The fridge slows down the fermentation and so the kefir should keep for weeks or months–however the longer it goes the stronger and more sour it gets. The added fruit will get fermented as well and give off more carbon dioxide. I would recommend for optimal flavor consuming it within the week of making it, but it will last for several weeks.

        1. Tim

          Hi Sarah,
          That is a good question. I am not really sure since I have not made coconut kefir, however, since it is cultured with beneficial bacteria it should continue to be safe and only grow more potent over time–so I would lean toward yes, it should last several weeks. It just might not taste as good : ). Hope that helps!

  15. Darlene

    Can you use fresh blueberries? This is my first time making my own, drink it all of the time. Excited to make my own. I got kefir from a friend, added to 2 cups of raw cows milk, to about 5 tbs. of kefir, sitting in a room temp. 65 degrees or less.
    So the next step is to strain next day?
    Then what do I do after straining, add the blueberries?
    And the stuff that is left in the strainer is the kefir grains right?
    And then start over by adding to milk again?
    How much do you drink per day?
    Thanks for your help and dedication to us kefirers! hehehehe

    1. Tim

      Hi Darlene,
      Yes, you can use fresh blueberries!

      Yep, strain it the next day when it has the consistency and taste that you like. If you have kefir grains, they will be left and the kefir will have passed through the strainer (if you used the freeze dried packet of starter then you will not have grains and will have to buy more eventually–see the post about the differences). Yes, once you have strained, add the blueberries and blend and enjoy! Add more milk to the grains that are left and repeat for the next day. Drink however much you like or that your body feels comfortable with. Hope that helps and have a great day,
      Tim

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  17. Amy

    I just bought some kefir grains and am excited to make kefir for the first time! I’ve made yogurt many times, so culturing isn’t entirely new to me, but kefir clearly has its differences. One question that I can’t seem to find an answer to: if you culture your kefir to the point that the curds and whey have separated, how can you tell the difference between the curds you’ve made and the kefir grains that you want to strain for your next batch? The pictures of the curds and the pictures of the grains all look the same to me. Thanks for any help you can offer!

    1. Tim

      Hi Amy!
      I have done that a few times as well (cultured so long that the curds separate from the whey). The curds have a different texture and feel–so the best I can tell you is to touch and them, ha! The kefir grains are more shiny and slimey than the curds. Also, if they have just begun to separate and you put them through a strainer it will help to see the difference and sometimes the curds will break up even smaller and go through a strainer, while the kefir grains will not. So the best I can tell you is that the curds will have a cheesy texture and the grains a slimey one, and also that the grains have more defined folds and “florets” like cauliflower than the curds : ) Hope that helps some!

  18. J

    Hello Tim and Shanna, I just wanted to thank you for your helpful information about kefir. I just received my portions of milk and water kefir today, and they are now fermenting as I type! I used raw goats milk, because my body is a bit sensitive to cows milk sadly. I hope kefir might make a difference though, so soon I’ll be trying to make it with cows milk. I was just wondering what kind of health benefits you’ve noticed when you started drinking kefir? I can’t wait to see what it does for me, I am very excited haha. It feels like my own little science project :-) Hurray for kefir! -Jami

    1. Tim

      Hi Jami,
      You’re welcome! That’s great to hear that your fermenting is underway. We really like goats milk as well! I think we have both noticed that kefir helps our digestion and also gives us an immune boost (or what we perceive as an immune boost). It definitely can help repopulate the gut with good bacteria, which is especially needed in today’s environment. Hooray for kefir, indeed!

  19. Yolanda Hayes

    I am confused i think i have killed off my good bacteria .I am having a real bad fugus problem and i am broken out in rashes on my feet and arms. so, i am trying to increase my friendly count as east as I can . Should I start with Yogurt Or Kefir first. Isn’t Kefir a fungus too?

    1. Tim

      Hi Yolanda,
      Kefir is indeed a great way to populate your gut with friendly bacteria. Kefir itself is not a fungus, but it does contain fungus. In my opinion, not all fungus is bad and many are beneficial. Hope that helps!

  20. Susan Waugh

    Although I am lactose intolerant, I drink a cup of kefir every day. I’ve never had a problem with drinking kefir even though eating or drinking regular milk products, even a small amount, sends my digestive system into revolt.

  21. Grannymore

    I have a couple of question on kefir. 1st I don’t seem to get big kefir chunks mine or more like cottage cheese so am I just using sour milk or kefir? 2nd sometimes mine will separate and leave a clear water on top so have I let it sit to long?

    1. Tim

      Hi Grannymore,
      The first question I have for you is: are you using kefir grains or kefir powder? The grains are what give us the “chunks”. Typically if you are getting a more cottage cheese texture and it is separating, then you might be letting it go too long and it is culturing quickly. You can check the temperature of your room and ideally it will be in the 70′s and it should take approximately 10 hours (give or take a couple hours). So it sounds like you are getting kefir, but you might be letting it sit too long and/or if you are using the powder, you may need to start a fresh batch.

      Hope that helps!

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