Kefir: What Is It, Why Do I Want It, and How Do I Make It?

I recently had lunch with Kirsten from Cheerfully Imperfect and she brought goodies! She gave me some kefir grains! There’s really not much that is more exciting to a natural lifestyle blogger than getting free probiotics. This is my first time to have kefir grains and boy-oh-boy is it easy to make your own kefir. Really, really easy. So what is kefir, how do you make kefir, and why do you want to drink kefir everyday (yep, you want it everyday!)?

How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com

What is Kefir?

Kefir is very similar to yogurt. Both are fermented milk products. They can be interchanged in most recipes. Both are great for you and have lots of probiotics.

KefirYogurt
Thinner consistencyThicker consistency
Up to 35 strains of beneficial bacteria & yeast1-5 Strains of beneficial bacteria
Up to 40 billion probiotic organisms per 1/2 cupUp to 1 billion probiotic organisms per 1/2 cup
Made by adding kefir grains to milkMade by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk
Smaller curd sizeLarger curd size
Can colonize in the intestinal tractCan not colonize the intestinal tract
Unflavored is tart and has a yeast tasteUnflavored is tart and creamy

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods - thecrunchymoose.com

What are Probiotics?

The world is made up of good bacteria and bad bacteria. If you have more good bacteria than bad, then the good is winning and you don’t get sick. Probiotics are the good bacteria. They boost your immunity to, well, everything. Probiotics can:

  • Help cure allergies (including lactose intolerance – it’s working for my son!)
  • Prevent food poisoning
  • Infections
  • Skin irritations
  • Diarrhea
  • Improve Digestion
  • Kidney Stones
  • Cholesterol
  • Improves Brain Function
  • Anti-Inflammatory

If you have food allergies, seasonal allergies, indigestion, headaches, or cramps, it is very likely that your intestinal flora & bacteria are out of balance. Those are all symptoms of bad bacteria taking over. By increasing the amount of good bacteria (probiotics) you ingest, you can nip all of that in the bud.  Read more about pro-, pre-, and antibiotics here.

 How Do I Make Kefir?

Easy! You need kefir grains. I am super lucky to know Kirsten from Cheerfully Imperfect and she shared her grains. But if you don’t know anyone with plenty of grains to share, don’t worry! You can buy them here. There are milk kefir grains and water kefir grains. I have milk kefir grains. The grains look like little pieces of cauliflower.

  • STEP 1: First and most important step, read Kirsten’s milk kefir article. Super important step!
  • STEP 2: Put your grains in a glass mason jar (Experiment with how much grains you use. Kirsten uses about a tablespoon of grains per half gallon of milk. I currently have about a teaspoon of grains and added that to a quart of milk.). I use these quart size jars and these half gallon jars.
  • STEP 3: Add milk (I use raw milk)
  • STEP 4: Put the lid on your jar. Set the jar on your counter and leave it there for 12-36 hours (warmer conditions = faster fermentation; more grains = faster fermentation).
  • STEP 5: Strain your kefir. The grains will be clumped together. Remove them
  • STEP 6: Repeat from step 2 using a clean jar.

After you strain your kefir, it’s ready to consume! But it can be stored in the fridge until you are ready for it. Here is a great list of trouble shooting questions should you run into problems.

How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com

Caring for Your Kefir Grains

If properly cared for, your grains will never die! Here’s what you need to know:

  • In between batches, you can hibernate your grains in the fridge. I put them in a mason jar with just enough milk to cover them. They can hibernate for about a month. It may take 2-3 batches for them to fully wake up after hibernation.
  • If you need them to hibernate for longer than a month, you can dehydrate them.
  • You do not need to rinse your grains between batches. I don’t rinse them. If you do, use super clean, filtered, not chlorinated water. Contaminated water will kill your precious grains.
  • They will grow & multiply! By my 3rd batch, my teaspoon of grains almost doubled.
  • You can share! Just like my friend Kristen did. When your grains have grown, you can split them and share them with friends and family!

Proceed With Caution

If you do not currently consume fermented foods regularly or take a probiotics supplement, you will want to start slowly. Start by drinking just a few sips a day and work up to a couple cups a day. Your body (ummm…..digestive system) will take a little bit of adjusting. All of these natural probiotics are quite powerful and very detoxifying. It won’t take long for your body to adjust, but there is an adjustment period.

What Do I Do With All This Kefir?

In a matter of days, you will have A LOT of kefir. The very first thing I made with my first batch of kefir was this peanut butter and jelly smoothie & it was yummy!

How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com

I pour a few tablespoons in my 16 month old son’s sippy cup (mixed with raw milk) everyday. Here are some of my other favorite ways to use this magical goodness.

Read more about kefir here:

How to make kefir and what is kefir - thecrunchymoose.com

To learn more about fermented foods, the benefits, & how to get started, click here.

The truth about fermented food & how to get started - thecrunchymoose.com

 
My Favorite Things DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust.
Ashlee, MBA, is a stay at home mom who is passionate about whole food and the local environment. She started her natural journey several years ago after 3 years of back surgeries. Making some simple changes in her life stopped the seemingly endless back surgery cycle immediately and she is now stronger and healthier than the doctors said was possible. She recently sold her retail store to spend time with her growing family. Her son was adopted in 2012. She also volunteers at a local, organic farm. She grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and now lives with her husband & son in the suburbs of Dallas.

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