If you love yogurt as much I as I do you will definitely love milk kefir. It has a similar flavor to greek yogurt and can be used in smoothies, dressings, ice cream and anywhere you might use yogurt or buttermilk in a recipe. Why Kefir? It’s very beneficial for your digestive system as it’s a great source of probiotics. And kefir in particular has more beneficial bacteria than other fermented foods from what I’ve read. For example if you’re lactose intolerant you shouldn’t have any problems consuming milk kefir since it has the proper enzymes for digestion. And honestly heath benefits or not, I love this stuff!
Keep in mind this is similar to making a sour dough starter, once you start you’ll need to keep feeding it. If you’ll be going away you can put it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Here’s “How to take a break from making milk kefir” which also has instructions on how to dry them for up to six months.
We ordered the grains from Amazon, it’s a nice little kit with easy instructions which I’ve outlined below. And if cared for they will last indefinitely.
- 1 packet of dehydrated milk kefir grains
- 1 cup milk, preferably organic, avoid ultra-pasteurized (plus more for each day)
Equipment: Glass jar, strainer, cheesecloth or coffee filter, rubber band, storage jar (all equipment/jars should be completely clean)
Activating Kefir grains
Empty packet of dehydrated milk kefir grains into 1 cup fresh pasteurized milk in glass jar, then stir. Cover with coffee filter or cloth and secure with rubber band. Allow to sit in warm spot 68°-85°F.
Keep an eye on the thickening over the next 8-24 hrs. If it has thickened or changed in texture then strain out the grains, discarding the milk, then put the grains in a 1 1/2 cups fresh milk. If it’s been 24 hours with no change, follow the steps to strain and place cultures in fresh milk. Follow these steps over the next 3-7 days, checking daily, and straining daily, increasing the amount of milk by 1/2 cup each time until you’ve reached 4 cups. At this point you’re milk kefir will be ready to drink and store in the refrigerator (it might be ready before you reach 4 cups, smell and taste, if it looks good you can start drinking it rather than tossing it.) When it’s ready it will be thick and have a tangy aroma and flavor much like yogurt.
Making Milk Kefir
Each day strain the kefir grains, store your new milk kefir, then place kefir grains into 2-4 cups of fresh milk, storing at room temp. If you use 2 cups it will probably culture faster than 4 cups. You can also place the kefir in the refrigerator to slow it down if you’re going to be away. Always use sterile clean jars and equipment.
Strawberry Kefir Smoothie
- 2 cups milk kefir
- 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or sweeten to taste)
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.