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!)?
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.
Thinner consistency;;;Thicker consistency;nn;
Up to 35 strains of beneficial bacteria & yeast;;;1-5 Strains of beneficial bacteria;nn;
Up to 40 billion probiotic organisms per 1/2 cup;;;Up to 1 billion probiotic organisms per 1/2 cup;nn;
Made by adding kefir grains to milk;;;Made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk;nn;
Smaller curd size;;;Larger curd size;nn;
Can colonize in the intestinal tract;;;Can not colonize the intestinal tract;nn;
Unflavored is tart and has a yeast taste;;;Unflavored is tart and creamy;nn;
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
- Skin irritations
- Improve Digestion
- Kidney Stones
- Improves Brain Function
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.
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!
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:
- Why I Love Kefir – Homemade Mommy
- How To Make Kefir – Natural Family Today
- 5 Reasons to Make Kefir – Loula Natural
- Learning to Make Kefir – Butter Believer
- A Simple Guide to Making Kefir – Weed ’em & Reap
- Why Homemade is Better Than Store Bought – Whistle Pig Hollow
- What is Kefir – Life From the Ground Up
To learn more about fermented foods, the benefits, & how to get started, click here.