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Milk kefir is a fermented milk drink that is usually made with goat’s milk or cow’s milk that is incredibly good for you. The best way to describe milk kefir is that it’s kind of like a drinkable yogurt, it tastes tangy and a little sour. It is much easier to make than yogurt. Homemade yogurt and kefir are staples in our kitchen, I make them on a weekly basis.
What’s the big deal about milk kefir?
Kefir is considered a probiotic super food. It contains up to 30 strains of probiotics, which a lot more than yogurt! If that isn’t enough, kefir is also a good source of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2 and folate to name a few. Basically, it’s darn good for you!
Making milk kefir is very inexpensive. The kefir grains that are used to make kefir will reproduce. If you take care of your kefir grains, they will last for years! I have had my kefir grains for nearly 10 years now, have shared the grains with friends and family and it’s still growing and making excellent kefir. You can find kefir grains online if you don’t know of anyone that can share with you.
How to make Kefir
Making milk kefir at home is incredibly easy. The most important thing that you need are some kefir “grains”, which are not actual grains at all, but the starter for the kefir. These grains look similar to a cauliflower floret and are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria.
What you’ll need:
- kefir grains
- mason jar ( a quart jar, or a 1/2 gallon jar)
- rubber spatula
- milk (2% or whole)
- First, pour fresh, milk into the jar, leaving about an inch of room at the top of the jar. I prefer to use raw milk, but any milk will do.
- Next, place 1-2 Tablespoons of kefir grains into a clean quart jar. If you are using the 1/2 gallon jar like I do, place 4 Tablespoons of kefir grains into the jar. Note: These measurements are approximate as the kefir grains are in a clump and there is no need to break them up.
- Now put the lid on the jar and set it on the counter for 24-48 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Do not put in the fridge! You will know when it’s ready when it becomes thick and clumpy. If the kefir separates into curds and whey, you really know it’s ready.
- Then use a rubber spatula and carefully stir the kefir until you have located the kefir grains. They hold together in a big clump, so they are easy to find. Take them out of your finished kefir. Store your finished kefir in the fridge.
- Now you can do 1 of 2 things with the kefir grains. Start another batch of kefir, or place the grains in a pint sized jar, fill with milk and store in the fridge. The kefir grains will still ferment, but being in the fridge will slow the process down. You can store your grains in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Some people say that you should rinse your kefir grains before you start the next batch. I rarely rinse off my kefir grains, I haven’t seen much of a need to. The only time I did was when I wanted to make kefir out of goat’s milk for a friend that doesn’t tolerate cow’s milk. That worked well and she didn’t have any problems with the kefir. But if you are making kefir regularly, rinsing isn’t necessary.
Uses for milk Kefir
How do you use this probiotic rich milk kefir? You can drink kefir plain, but I find it too tart for my taste. My favorite way to use it is as a smoothie base or in place of buttermilk in recipes, like our gluten free cornbread recipe.
I often have a kefir smoothie in the morning for breakfast. Strawberry Banana is one of my favorites, but you can mix in whatever frozen fruit that sounds good! A banana is enough to sweeten my smoothies, which cuts down on refined sugar, but feel free to use maple syrup or honey to sweeten your smoothie if it isn’t quite to your liking.
- A ripe banana, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 cup dairy kefir
- 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
- Place all of the ingredients into the blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.
- If you find that your smoothie is not sweet enough, add a tablespoon of maple syrup and mix.