How to make dairy kefir

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Kefir (pronounced kuh-feer – though many in the US say key-fur) is a fermented milk product that’s actually very easy to make at home.

It tastes a lot like plain yogurt and the consistency is about half as thick, so it’s a bit runny. It’s made by placing kefir ‘grains’ into a jar of milk to ferment and culture. Now, these aren’t true grains like you’d think by the name. Kefir grains are actually a combination of yeasts and natural bacteria and they look like little heads of cauliflower.

How to Make Dairy Kefir

how to make dairy kefir1. First you have to find someone who has extra kefir grains to get rid of. (you may be able to check at your local health food store, someone there may know how you can get a hold of some) you can also buy them from online retailers like Cultures for Health.

2. In cooler weather I find the milk cultures better if I warm the milk up to room temperature before adding the grains. In warm weather I just place the grains into the milk while it’s still cold.

3. Place 1 Tbsp kefir grains into jar and stir around.

4. Cover lightly with a lid and place in a cupboard overnight. (about 24 hours)

5. Let sit out, stirring or swishing the grains around until slightly thickened, like runny yogurt. Drain kefir grains out of the milk and place newly made kefir into the fridge

6. Start again with fresh milk and the same kefir grains.

The grains will start to expand and grow, so you can either make more kefir each time (1 Tbsp to each 1 cup of milk), or pass them along to someone else. I’ve also frozen a couple of tablespoons of the grains in a bit of milk to have on hand should anything happen to the ones I’m actively using. If you want to take a break from making it for a while, place in a jar of milk and refrigerate for up to a couple of weeks.

Uses for kefir:

  • Some folks like to drink it plain. I do not, as it’s way too sour for me 🙂
  • used as an acidic medium for soaking grains
  • in smoothies!! My favorite is 1/2 cup kefir, 1/2 cup milk, half a banana, and 2 handfuls of frozen blueberries. Makes about 16 ounces.

Health Benefits of Kefir:

  • Easier to digest than milk as the bacteria feed on the lactose in the milk
  • A good source of Vitamin B-12, thiamine (B-1), folic acid, vitamin K, and calcium.
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Also rich in tryptophan (like turkey!) which is an amino acid known for its relaxing effects
  • Helps to balance out the good bacteria in your digestive system
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Dairy Kefir {tutorial}

Course: Fermented Foods
Author: Donielle

Ingredients

  • Kefir grains
  • Milk

Instructions

  • First you have to find someone who has extra kefir grains to get rid of. (you may be able to check at your local health food store, someone there may know how you can get a hold of some) you can also buy them from online retailers like Cultures for Health.
  • In cooler weather I find the milk cultures better if I warm the milk up to room temperature before adding the grains. In warm weather I just place the grains into the milk while it’s still cold.
  • Place 1 Tbsp kefir grains into jar and stir around.
  • Cover lightly with a lid and place in a cupboard overnight. (about 24 hours)
  • Let sit out, stirring or swishing the grains around until slightly thickened, like runny yogurt. Drain kefir grains out of the milk and place newly made kefir into the fridge
  • Start again with fresh milk and the same kefir grains.
  • The grains will start to expand and grow, so you can either make more kefir each time (1 Tbsp to each 1 cup of milk), or pass them along to someone else. I’ve also frozen a couple tablespoons of the grains in a bit of milk to have on hand should anything happen to the ones I’m actively using. If you want to take a break from making it for awhile, place in a jar of milk and refrigerate for up to a couple weeks.

 

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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11 Comments

  1. IJecsMommy

    I’ve seen Kefir in our natural foods market and always wondered what it was and what it tastes like. My kids have asked multiple times if they could try it, and I was always nervous about it. I think I’ll buy some today and we’ll try it!

  2. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness

    Another good place to find kefir grains is through a raw dairy farmer. I got mine through my goats’ milk provider. Unfortunately, I’ve neglected them for a few weeks, so I’ll probably have to get new ones.

    By the way, what does warming up the milk do? I’ve never read about doing that before. I just used cold milk and popped the jar into my cabinet for 24 to 48 hours, then drained and repeated. Does warming the milk make the kefir thicker?

    • Giugi

      @Alison @ Wholesome Goodness,

      If you heat kefir you will kill all the good bacterias…..always drink it cold or at room temperture

      It’s a wonderful food…..

  3. Donielle

    Alison, I also got ours from our raw milk farmer! We drink goat milk but she had these in cow milk, so I’ve just kept using cow milk for it so as not to have a few batches that tasted kind of blah.

    With the cow milk I’ve had it turn to cheese right away instead of kefir so now I just warm it to room temp first (about 65-75 degrees) and it seems to work better. And warming it to only room temp in a bowl of hot water shouldn’t be damaging any of the healthy benefits of the raw milk so I don’t worry about that. I don’t know if it’s the fact that it’s not naturally homogenized, like the goat milk is, or if I just had a few weird batches and was doing it wrong, but I haven’t had any issues since.

  4. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness

    Donielle,

    Oh, good point about the homogenization. I’ve only used goats’ milk so far. That will change soon, as I can no longer afford the $15/gallon price tag for goats’ milk with all of my other grocery expenses going up. When we have children, I’ll reconsider because the goats’ milk is so much easier for them to digest, but for now, I’m going to start buying only raw cows’ milk. I’m curious now to see how the kefir-making goes with it.

  5. Donielle

    Alison – yikes! $15.00 a gallon! Definite ouch. When I had to buy pasteurized goat milk at the store before I could find it at a local farm we had to pay 16.00 a gallon. Now I only pay $7.00. Raw cow milk is $5.00 a gallon for me so I use it to make kefir and such cause it’s cheaper, but not for my kiddo to drink as he can’t tolerate digesting the proteins in it. Let me know how the kefir goes, maybe I’m totally doing something wrong! 🙂

  6. Candace @ A Garden of Blessings

    Hi Donielle,
    Here via Frugal Granola.
    I have been making kefir for about 2 years now.
    I have never heated my milk up, in fact, kefir does not like heat.
    I keep it on the counter for a day and then into the fridge for a day and it is nice and creamy.
    I have never rinsed my grains (or put them in water), I was told not to by the lady who gave them to me.
    I have left them in a good amount of milk in the fridge for several weeks at a time and they are fine when I feed them again. The kefir that is produced is very sour though, and I give it to my dog.
    A lot of people do it differently and I think the only thing you can do wrong is use heat or metal on the grains.
    Your blog is great!

  7. Donielle

    Candace, while I do understand the concept that heat is bad, mine will absolutely not turn out unless it is warmed to room temp first. Seriously – every time I tossed the grains into cold milk, it turns to cream cheese and whey, definitely not kefir. So I found a recommendation to warm the milk (only to room temp – I guess really I could just let it sit out for an hour first huh? But alas I never think that far ahead. And I never warm it with the kefir grains in it, just the milk.)
    I’ve recently let my grains sit way to long, so when I’m able to get new ones, I’m gonna try it with the cold milk again. My thinking is now that it’s colder in the house maybe….I don’t know – we’ll see!

    And I have noticed I do not like it as sour as it gets when I leave the grains unwashed each time. 🙂

    Thanks for your comment!

  8. Wendy

    Thanks for all the great information, the blog and comments. I am going to make my first batch of kefir from raw cows’ milk. I don’t want to heat it, but I am also not using kefir grains, but kefir starter by yogourmet. It wants me to heat to 180 — but that would ruin my raw milk. I had a friend say only heat to 90 degrees, but I think I am going to do room temperature. Very excited here in St. Louis, MO!!

  9. Katie

    I can’t find kefir grains around here anyone know where I can get some?

    • donielle

      @Katie, I got my original ones from http://www.CulturesforHealth.com , though you might check with a local Weston A Price chapter (they have listings on their website) to see if any local folks have some that you can get.