Monday, February 25, 2013

Homemade Kefir

Homemade blueberry kefir

Have you had kefir before?  It’s pretty easy to find at the grocery store, it’s usually right next to the yogurt.  And if you buy it from the store, that is what it tastes like…sort of a thin yogurt.  But if you make it yourself, it is a totally different animal.

First of all if you Google kefir you will find that it is an amazing food that does practically everything except paint your house for you.  It is filled with beneficial bacteria.  While store-bought kefirs usually contain around 6-7 probiotics, homemade kefir can contain 30+ probiotics.

Milk kefir grains 

The first thing you need to do is get some milk kefir grains.  I got mine from Cultures for Health.  Since I am loathe to purchase one little thing when online ordering, I also purchased a San Francisco sourdough starter.  And speaking of sourdough starters, if you’ve made sourdough bread  before the concept of a kefir starter will be familiar to you. 

I am not going to get all scientific on you and explain the whole process in detail, because that’s not how this blog rolls.  You can Google and find much better explanations, I’m just here to touch on the basics, because this is not difficult at all.  Plus your kefir grains will come with instructions.

Straining homemade kefir

Basically what you do is first rehydrate your kefir grains by some initial soaks in milk.  Once it has rehydrated, it will begin making kefir.  To make the kefir, you spoon the grains (do not use metal utensils) into a jar, add a cup or two of milk (within a week, I am up to using two cups, as my grains grow, I’ll move on to a quart), cover lightly (I use a coffee filter and a band from a canning lid), and sit it on a counter to ferment.  Start checking in 12 hours.  Depending on how warm your house is, it can take anywhere from 12-24 hours to make kefir.  Since the counter I sit it on is near a heating vent, mine usually thickens up in about 12 hours.  I use a rich local dairy milk that is not ultra-pasteurized, so I actually get a creamy layer on top.

Once the milk thickens, you might even see some separation at the bottom of your jar (the whey), lightly stir your kefir and then strain it into another jar, trapping the grains in the strainer.  The grains then go into either a new jar or the old jar (I use mine a couple of times before washing), with a new batch of fresh milk and the process starts all over again.  Sometimes if I’m not going to need any new kefir for a couple of days, I will let the grains and milk rest in the fridge and then bring it back out onto the counter when I’m ready to make more kefir.

The kefir that you made can be sweetened and flavored with fruit. 

Homemade kefir in the fridge

For the blueberry version I added some frozen blueberries and a little agave nectar in the jar, pureed it with my immersion blender and then strained the kefir into it, stirred it and total yum!  For the plain version, I added a little agave nectar and a splash of vanilla extract. 

Do not expect homemade kefir to taste like store-bought kefir, it is a totally different thing.  The store-bought kefir tastes like thin yogurt.  Homemade kefir tastes like yogurt, but with a fizzy yeastiness on top.  I really can’t explain it, but when you smell it, it will remind you of bread dough, with a hint of sourness.

If this sounds even remotely interesting to you, I encourage you to try it.  It is really, really easy and even though I don’t believe every single one of the magic claims coming from kefir aficionados, I do agree that since I started drinking this, I do feel pretty darn fabulous.

7 comments:

Kim said...

Very interesting! Enjoyed reading about something new.

Sarah said...

Fermenting is all the rage now. I have a friend who is going to give me some kefir starter. Can hardly wait.

a good yarn said...

Exotic! You really have some interesting culinary tricks up your sleeve.

Joanne said...

I was just talking yesterday about how I've never had kefir and here you are with this! Awesome!

Kat said...

I tried it, found out I am allergic to it.

grace said...

this is brand new science to me, pam--thanks for the how-to! the blueberry version looks lovely!

Pirate Jeni said...

I adore my little kefir grains. I got mine in a food swap. I had them YEARS ago and let them die.. (sad)...

I'm back to making it again, not just for me, but for my dog as well. It has done wonders for her digestion and her willingess to eat.