Preparing homemade kefir with probiotics is simple. Below I show how I prepared a batch of kefir turned out better than expected because tried a cheap, simple starter.
Homemade kefir contains probiotics and yeast that have a beneficial effect on the gut. Yogurt and kefir are similar but contain different strains of bacteria and yeast. Of the two, kefir is a clear winner.
It takes 15 minutes to prepare a batch that turns into kefir
Two ingredients to make kefir
- Milk. Raw milk is a good choice (as I do here) But commercial goats or cows milk can also be used. The raw milk here contains 4.3% fat making the kefir creamier.
- A culture starter (like kefir grains). There are many culture starters around. The one I wanted to try here is an inexpensive starter called Yogourmet Kefir Starter. But a better alternative is Body Ecology as they make really good culture starters.
Step 1: Warm the milk slowly in a pan until it reaches skin temperature. It means that when dipping your (clean) knuckle or finger into the milk, it should not feel warm or cold.
NOTE: Don’t overheat the milk and use only instruments thoroughly cleaned in hot water.
Stir gently with a clean instrument. It will take just a few minutes until the milk reaches skin temperature.
Tip: Avoid heating raw milk in the microwave oven as it’s really hard to control the temperature.
Step 2: Pour the milk into a bowl and empty the culture starter into the milk. Raw milk contains natural bacteria and will ferment without a culture starter. But a starter adds more bacteria and yeast and this raises the quality and taste of the kefir.
The starter culture instructions recommend using 5 grams of Kefir starter for one quart of milk (one liter). When I tried this earlier the result was Okay. But I still felt something was wanting and therefore, this time, I added 10 grams of Kefir starter to about 1.5 quarts of milk (1.5 liters). The result was much better; the kefir became thicker and creamier.
Tip: This kefir starter was not the best one I’ve tried, but it was the cheapest. More on starter cultures.
Step 3: Stir the milk gently to dissolve the culture starter. The bacteria will wake up, become active, and start consuming sugars in the milk (lactose). This initiates the fermentation process.
Dissolve the starter completely by gently whisking the milk until there are no lumps left.
Step 4: Put the bowl aside for 18 to 24 hours, depending on the room temperature.
Step 5: After 24 hours refrigerate the Kefir. Cooling the Kefir will calm down the fermentation process. Now taste your batch.
- Kefir contains friendly bacteria not found in yogurt
For example Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces Kefir and Torula Kefir, which help balance the intestinal flora, including promotion of beneficial yeast in the body by penetrating the mucosal lining.
These bacteria and yeast form a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and helps strengthen the intestines. Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria may provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. The curd size of Kefir is smaller than yogurt, so it’s also easier to digest, making it an ideal food for babies, the elderly, and anyone with digestive health concerns.
Homemade kefir FAQ
Which microorganisms are found in kefir?
Bacteria species in kefir grains include acidophilus, bulgaricus, lactobacillus Caucasus, leuconostoc, acetobacter, and streptococcus. Yeasts strains include saccharomyces, kluyveromyces, kazachstania.
How long to can you keep Kefir in the fridge?
Five to seven days. Keep the kefir air-tight to prevent it from being affected by other strong-smelling food. In addition, it helps to keep a lower temperature in the fridge.
Can I make a new batch using an earlier batch?
Yes, this works well with kefir grains and yogurt but is harder with vegetables. Use about 6 tablespoons of the old batch and mix it with the new one. After this the process is the same as above — let it stand at room temperature for 18-24 hours, then refrigerate.
What problems can occur when making kefir from earlier batches?
Some have complained that end product has a poor taste. Please remember that this is not an exact rocket science. Dealing with live culture and controlling all factors involved in fermentation requires being careful. Most problems occur because of neglect.
- Transferring too much kefir from the old batch risk accelerating fermentation too much and the kefir tastes too sour.
- Keeping the kefir too long at room temperature can ruin the batch. The higher the temperature, the faster it will be ready. Waiting too long might turn it too sour and lumpy.
Kefir should be a little thicker than milk which takes 18-24 hours depending on room temperature.
Done correctly, up to seven “transfers” from an old batch is possible. However, with kefir grains there is no limit. Homemade kefir is a clear winner.