How to Make Milk Kefir at Home

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How to Make Kefir Yogurt

Have you heard of kefir? You can buy it in stores of course, but would you like to know how to make milk kefir at home on your own? It is so simple that within a week you will be giving a rich probiotic health drink away to friends and family and using it in all your recipes!

In this article, you will learn about what kefir is, how to pronounce it (it might not be what you think), the numerous benefits of drinking kefir, tips for making it, and of course, how to easily make your own milk kefir at home!

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how to make milk kefir at home

What is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is essentially drinkable yogurt made with kefir grains. Kefir contains high levels of probiotics, which are beneficial for gut health. Kefir also contains high levels of calcium and vitamin B12.

Kefir grains are a culture of bacteria and yeast that are used to ferment milk to make kefir. Kefir grains are not actually grains, but they look like grains. Kefir grains can be used over and over again to make more kefir.

You can borrow some from a friend (your kefir grains will grow over time) or you can buy kefir grains or a whole kefir starter kit on Amazon! Easy peasy to get up and go making the most probiotic-rich drink on the planet!

Most of us know that yogurt has a ton of good-for-your-gut probiotic cultures in it. They’ve been talking about it on commercials for decades now.

But did you know that kefir has 200 times more live and active probiotic cultures than regular yogurt?

While most yogurts contain about 50 million CFUs of probiotics, kefir contains up to a whopping 10 billion CFUs.

Those numbers hardly compare. The only other food that contains that high level of probiotics is sauerkraut brine. Which is a bit tougher to take a glass or even a shot of daily.

What are the health benefits of drinking probiotics through kefir?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when ingested in adequate amounts, have health benefits on the host.

The most common probiotic strains belong to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Probiotics can be consumed as supplements, foods, or drinks fortified with probiotics, such as kefir.

Probiotics are beneficial for gut health, and they can also improve other aspects of health, such as skin health, mental well-being, and energy levels.

But the most exciting thing that consuming probiotics can do on a regular basis? Increase your immune system! We now know that up to 70% of the immune system is in the gut.

So drinking kefir will not only aid your digestion, but it will also increase your immune system, and enhance your appearance and mental health as well.

Probiotics are the shining star of the health benefits of milk kefir, but they certainly aren’t the only one.

Kefir is also a great source of other vitamins and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, and vitamin D.

I bet you’re ready to get started learning how to make milk kefir at home right now aren’t you?

Where did Milk Kefir First Originate?

The first people to make milk kefir were the Georgians in the Caucasus Mountains. Specifically in North Caucasus. If you aren’t sure where that is, (No shame, I wasn’t) it’s in Russia.

For many generations, this powerful probiotic drink was known only to Russia, specifically to the tribes in the Caucasus mountains. In a location known to have one of the highest densities of centurians in the world. People who were drinking kefir every day.

It is believed by some that the kefir grains were a gift from Muhammed. Eventually, the secret of kefir spread throughout Russia, through Europe, and now can be found all over the world. (source)

How do you say kefir anyways?

I remember I was drinking kefir for years before I learned the correct way to pronounce it. On one of those travel TV shows, I heard it pronounced “kuh-feer.” I was just astounded I’d been pronouncing it wrong for years.

After further research turns out this amazing probiotic drink, sure enough, is “kuh-feer,” but in America, it is generally said “keef-er” just as I was saying it. I still pronounce it that way usually. In America, you get looked at sideways if you pronounce it correctly, as odd as that may sound.

How to Start Making Milk Kefir at Home

The process of making milk kefir at home is not very difficult. It does take some time but is not time-consuming.

What I mean by it takes time is that making milk kefir at home is something that you will have to add to your schedule to tend to daily. Like a little probiotic culture garden in your kitchen.

Straining off the fresh kefir and replacing it with fresh milk to make a new batch should be done daily.

How to first get started making kefir at home

First, you will want to gather up all the supplies you will need to start making your own kefir. It’s not too much at all and continues growing as long as you tend to it.

So the tiny investment is well worth the money for a virtually endless supply of kefir! Your immune system, your digestion, and even your bones will thank you!

Supplies to make kefir at home:

Every Tip You Need Before Making Kefir at Home

The supplies aren’t numerous, but they are pretty specific.

You will need to buy milk kefir grains or get them from a friend. You can’t grow them like a scoby.

You may have heard that you are not supposed to use metal when making kefir. This is somewhat true. That was the standby rule before stainless steel was created. So as long as the metal (strainer or spoon) you are using is stainless you are totally fine.

Use a glass jar or container to make and store your kefir. The kefir grains are made of yeast and bacteria and can harbor in any small scratch within the plastic. And metal containers will degrade your grains over time and mess with the flavor.

It’s ideal to buy a case of quart-sized jars (and lids) so that you always have a clean one to transfer your kefir to and one to start a new batch.

You can use almost any type of animal milk to make kefir. Whole cow’s milk is usually recommended. But you can also use 2% and 1% or even goat milk!

Unfortunately, milk kefir cannot be made in most plant-based milk. However, you CAN use coconut milk but only for a few days. At that point, you will need to make kefir with animal milk for a day or two before switching back to coconut milk. This will replenish the kefir grains. (I picked up this trick from two peas and their pod. I’m so psyched I did because though my family drinks cow’s milk daily, I typically only drink plant-based milk.)

How to Make Milk Kefir at Home

Now that you have all your supplies lined up:

Let’s go over the steps to make this delicious probiotic drink that is rich in so many vitamins and minerals.

  1. Make sure everything is clean and disinfected. Everything that will touch your milk kefir. Your hands of course, but also the jars, lid, spoons, etc. You don’t want any bacteria entering the concoction other than the good bacteria that is going to turn the milk into kefir.
milk kefir grains for homemade kefir

2. Add about 1 tablespoon of kefir grains to the jar. More is ok too, but not necessary. Over time your kefir grains will grow. At that point, you can split them into multiple batches or share them with family and friends.

3. Add 3-4 cups of cold or room temperature milk on top of the kefir grains into the glass jar. You really only want to make this in glass. The good bacteria can be damaged and the flavor can be changed by metal over time, and they can get into plastic. Glass is the way to go! Quart jars work great. Smaller ones are just fine too, you don’t have to make that much at once. I don’t always since I am making milk kefir daily.

add fresh milk to your kefir grains

4. Cover the mouth of the jar with either a paper towel, coffee filter, or a clean thin cloth. This will allow the excess gas from the fermentation to go into the air, preventing any possible explosion of your jar.

cover your homemade kefir

5. Secure the cover with a rubber band or tie.

6. Place the jar of milk kefir grains and milk out of the sunlight on the counter. Room temperature is ideal.

curdled milk kefir at home

7. After 12-48 hours you will strain your milk and kefir into another clean glass jar. If you leave it longer it will thicken more and be more tart, but if you leave it too long it will get a yellowish whey at the bottom. You will find the right length of fermentation time for your desired taste, house temperature, and type of milk with a few tries.

separating milk kefir from kefir grains

8. Use a slotted spoon (wood is ideal but plastic or stainless even are fine) to move the kefir around in the sieve until all the kefir has drained out and you are left with the kefir grains looking somewhat like cottage cheese mixed with tapioca pudding).

9. You can rinse out the jar that you just made the kefir in to start a new batch by adding back the kefir grains and refilling the milk. Add a fresh or clean cloth to the top. Or you can also start your next batch in a fresh clean jar.

10. Seal the jar of fresh kefir with its lid and store it in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks.

What to do with you fresh kefir?

You can drink your kefir plain, flavor it, or use it in your recipes! Cooking the kefir will kill the healthy bacteria you just grew in your milk. But you can use it in any cold recipe you want or even heated ones if you have a surplus of kefir. (Which is very likely as you will be making it daily.

My favorite way to use my kefir is in smoothies. Simply dropping a half cup of kefir into my family’s daily smoothies has replaced the probiotic pills we used to take for our immune systems.

You can flavor your kefir with fresh fruit like berries, bananas, mangos, etc. You can leave the fruit whole or blend it up first. Might sound weird, but puree baby foods are great added to flavor kefir. (Total mom hack right?)

You can also sweeten your kefir in a healthy way using stevia, monk fruit, or xylitol. That way you get all the immune system boosting benefits of the probiotics without the added sugar that weakens your immune system.

Cocoa powder, vanilla extract, or other extracts are fun ways to flavor your kefir as well.

What if I want to stop making kefir every day?

finished milk kefir yogurt at home

If you have a surplus of kefir, are taking a trip, or just want a break from tending to it, you can slow the process of fermentation.

After creating a batch of kefir, add the kefir grains into a fresh jar of milk (smaller is just fine) and instead of putting it on the counter, add it into the fridge. It will last like this up to a week before you need to strain it out (discard that milk) and can resume making kefir!

If you want to take a longer break than that you can always learn to dry out your grains for later. I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve heard it smells horrible! However when we move I will be trying it out.

Wrapping Up How to Make Milk Kefir at Home

Milk kefir is a nutrient-dense drink rich in probiotics that can aid your digestion and improve your immune system when consumed regularly. Making milk kefir is a bit of a commitment, but it’s also a commitment to your health.

I love sneaking it into smoothies the best, but I am a complete smoothie addict anyways! What type of recipe do you add kefir into?

I’m curious what your favorite way to flavor your kefir is? Blueberry, stevia, and monk fruit seems to be the popular choice around here. Share yours in the comments below.

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