Probiotics are all the rage lately – just look at the ever-growing rows of kombucha and kefir options at your local Whole Foods. But, as we’ve mentioned before, not all probiotics are necessarily good for your health.
One that generally does have a wide variety of health benefits, though, is kefir – a fermented milk drink from the Caucasus region. Unfortunately, some commercial brands contain sugar and preservatives.
That’s why you should make your own kefir, which is filled with probiotics, contains 50 strains of healthy bacteria, and has three times as many live cultures as yogurt.
- 1/2 teaspoon live Kefir grains
- 1 pint whole or reduced-fat milk, raw, or pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), and preferably organic. (It won’t work with nonfat milk, but feel free to use other forms of dairy like goat or sheep milk).
- 1 Place a 1/2 tsp of grains into a pint-sized mason jar of milk.
- 2 Cover it with a plastic lid, coffee filter or a tight (woven) cloth like a tea towel secured with a rubber band around the lip of the jar.
- 3 Set on a counter away from the light. The ideal room temperature is 75 degrees, If it’s colder it will take longer to ferment. It will take 12-36 hours depending on the grains’ strength, temperature, and your personal taste. It is usually ready within 24 hours. Keep an eye on it because if you let it go too long, it will get very thick and the milk will separate, creating a layer of whey at the bottom of the jar. At that point, you will be halfway between milk kefir and cheese kefir.
- 4 Strain the Kefir through a fine meshed strainer into a mason jar, cover with a lid, and store in the refrigerator. It is ready to drink or use. Reserve the kefir grains.
- 5 You can use the strained grains to start the same process over again to make the next batch of Kefir. If you need to take a break from Kefir-making, place the grains in a small mason jar, fully cover grains with milk, and seal it with the mason jar lid. Label your jar and store it in the refrigerator. It will last for about 6-10 days before you’ll have to reactivate.
- 6 For longer term storage, follow the steps through #5 but place grains in the freezer. It will take longer to activate them but with little effort, your grains will be as good as new.