Preparing homemade kefir with probiotics is as simple as making yogurt. The batch below turned out better than expected as I tested a cheaper starter.
Homemade kefir contains different probiotic bacteria and yeast than yogurt. Of the two, kefir is a winner for gut health.
It takes about one day to prepare a batch of kefir
Two ingredients to make kefir
- Full-fat milk. Try raw milk as I do here. Commercial goat or cow milk is also fine. The milk used here contains 4.3% fat for a creamier kefir.
- A culture starter (like kefir grains). There are many starters around and this time I tested an inexpensive starter called Yogourmet Kefir Starter. The kefir turned out nicely. I normally use Body Ecology 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: Clean all instruments thoroughly in hot water before you start.
Warming the milk goes fast so don’ leave the pan even for a short while.
Avoid heating milk in a microwave oven as it’s very hard to control the temperature.
Step 2: Pour the milk into a bowl and mix the culture starter with the milk. Raw milk contains natural bacteria and ferments without a starter. But a starter adds more beneficial microorganisms which improves quality and taste of the kefir.
This time I added more starter – 10 grams to 1.5 quarts of milk (1.5 liters). The result was better as the kefir turned thicker and creamier.
More on starter cultures.
Step 3: Dissolve the starter by gently whisking the milk until there are no more lumps.
Step 4: Put the bowl aside for 18 to 24 hours, depending on the room temperature. Bacteria and yeast in the starter will start consuming milk sugar.
Step 5: After 24 hours refrigerate the Kefir. Cooling the Kefir will calm down the fermentation process. Now taste your batch.
Kefir contains friendly microorganisms 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. These organisms help balance the intestinal flora.
Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria may provide more value than yogurt by supporting digestion and by keeping the colon environment clean. The curd size of Kefir is smaller than yogurt making it easier to digest.
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 kefir be kept in the fridge?
Five to seven days. Keep the kefir air-tight to prevent it from being affected by other strong-smelling food. 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 some starters (it’s harder when fermenting vegetables). Try using around 6 tablespoons of the old batch and mix it with the new one. Let it stand at room temperature for 18-24 hours, then refrigerate.
What problems can occur when using the previous batch?
Some have complained of a poor taste. Please remember that this is not rocket science. Dealing with live culture and controlling all factors involved in fermentation requires being careful. Many problems occur because of neglect. Here are two examples:
- Transferring too much kefir from the old batch risk accelerating fermentation too much and can make the kefir taste too sour.
- Keeping the kefir too long at room temperature can ruin the batch. The higher the temperature, the faster it ferments. Waiting too long can turn it 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 are no such limitations, but you can make homemade kefir with probiotics for years.