I like to make kefir at home. You can find a lot of resources that teach you how to make kefir, but I know of a way to make it that is a little different. This article assumes that you at least know the basics of making kefir. I’ll walk you through how I make it, but I guess you know how long it takes to ferment it and what a properly fermented batch looks like.
Several years ago when I started making kefir my kefir grains multiplied to the point that I could ferment a gallon of milk at a time. The problem here is that since I was the only one who really drank it at the time, and it only took 24-48 hours to ferment, I couldn’t drink it fast enough. The other problem I had came in the summer. Kefir ferments much faster when hot. I lived in an apartment where it easily reached 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, and I usually went to my parents’ lake house on summer weekends, so I didn’t want to leave a gallon of explosively fermenting milk. in the kitchen. We actually turned off the window air conditioners when we left for the weekend and it was a second floor apartment so the temperatures were actually going a lot higher. I decided to try a cold ferment. The colder the temperature, the slower the fermentation. Now you can mix this as you want. You can start it at room temperature to get it to work, then put it in the fridge when it has reached the proper ‘doneness’ and leave it where it will continue to ferment but at a much slower rate. You can take your time to make it happen and not have to worry about it exploding or turning into cheese.
Let’s review the first part of the ferment, which are the basics of making kefir. Please wash your hands well before continuing.
First you need kefir grains, which are small pieces of white chewy texture that look like cauliflower florets. No one has been able to determine where the first came from or by what mechanism they were created. They grow bigger and fall off little for the most part, then these parts in turn grow bigger in the milk until they have lumps that fall and grow and it goes on and on. As far as is known, all kefir grains on earth came from the earliest batches of the Russo-Georgian Caucasian mountain range where Muslim tribes viewed them as a gift from God as the manna that fed the ancient Israelites in the desert even before that. .
You also need milk. You can use any type of mammalian milk, but cow, goat, and sheep are the most commonly used. I have personally made kefir with cow and goat milk. I prefer the taste of goat’s milk to cow’s milk and I also like goat kefir better, but I make it in small amounts due to the high cost of goat’s milk. To make a gallon, just use cow’s milk as long as it’s convenient for you and there are no allergies to bovine mammary secretions (milk). Where I live I am fortunate to be able to get organic, grass-fed, I presume, non-homogenized creamy milk from Jersey cows, which is MUCH creamier and fatter than the more commonly available and more liquid milk. Holstein cows. Unfortunately for most people, they’re stuck with Holstein milk mixed with BGH and homogenized from grain-fed cows. Hey, you use what you got. Kefir will even make this milk fit to drink, but if you can opt for organic milk from grass-fed cows.
You will need bowls and tools. I prefer the Pyrex style glass bowls and the plastic ladle and colander. You need plastic, not metal, tools for all of this. Also, try using glass bowls, measuring cups, etc. I also use a Pyrex style quartz pouring container with a handle. I put down some paper towels to catch any drip page, but it’s not necessary. You want all of your things to be clean. You also need containers to store the filtered kefir. I use old cleaned plastic mayonnaise jars. They are made of food grade plastic. Use food grade plastic or glass. This one is optional but really adds to the ability to drink. A kitchen blender or a hand-held electric blender. You should also have at least two full-size glass jars with the lids that snap on and rubber gaskets. This is what I use. You can use any food grade glass jar or plastic jar. I recommend a large one to keep all your milk and cereal in one container, but I guess you can split everything into two smaller ones if the large one is for some reason too unwieldy. You will also need a large funnel with a wide mouth. This is also optional, but we’ll see where it helps later.
Arrange all your things. This is all assuming that you already have enough kefir grains to make this large amount and that it was already fermenting at least once to make a batch. You should have put everything together and fermented it and then chilled it in the fridge to slow it down or start it at room temperature, then put it in the cold for a longer period of time to allow your consumption to catch up. your fermentation or maybe you just wanted to take a break from making and consuming kefir for a while.
Take the jug out of the cold-fermented refrigerator and, carefully on a napkin spread out on a counter, gently shake it or turn it to mix in the curd, whey, and fat that may have separated a bit. You want it to flow as freely as possible to pour it into the colander.
Put on your plastic strainer, which should have holes large enough to allow the fatty mixture to pass through but not large enough to lose too many of your small grains in the kefir. If the holes are too small, you’ll stand there with a colander full of kefir that never drains. You might want to experiment with a few, but they should be plastic, not metal. The strainer should also be large enough so that the edge of the strainer fits just above the rim of the bowl, so that you don’t have to constantly hold it and there is enough space under the strainer. so that filtered milk can accumulate there.
Open the fermented jar carefully as there is carbon dioxide that will want to escape. Hold the large pot of fermented kefir in both hands and slowly pour as much as you can into the colander so that it is full. There may be some splashing and plopping when the cereal and lumpy milk hits the lumpy milk. It’s normal. Put down the jar and take the strainer by the handle and gently shake or move the strainer back and forth to stimulate movement and the straining process. If all goes well, you should have a colander full of grain and a bowl full of kefir. Empty the beans from the colander into the other bowl, or just keep them in the colander, but for now, place the colander in that other bowl to keep everything straight and tidy.
The next part is optional, but if you don’t your kefir will be lumpy and the lumpy lumpy texture will turn off a lot of people, especially children. Also, this step will slow down or stop the tendency of the chilled filtered kefir to separate into curds and whey. All you need to do to mix them is to shake them lightly or turn the container a few times, but still.
You can pour the filtered kefir into a blender, but I prefer one of these handy things to the electric hand mixer. Get a clean plate to put on between uses, as I’m assuming all of the filtering up to this point needs to be repeated at least once and drip. Simply insert the hand mixer into the bowl of filtered kefir and give it a few mixes by pressing or pressing the button. You can move the mixing tip around to make sure you get everything, but keep it submerged well enough or you’ll end up with kefir all over the place. I know this from experience. Now your kefir will have a delicious creamy and silky texture. You can add mango nectar or other fruit juice or something at this time to flavor it if you don’t like the taste of regular tangy sour kefir. You can mix each container and fill it with a different flavor. If you don’t fill it too much with kefir and leave enough room for the flavor component AND the end of the blender. Also, if you are mixing in a bowl or plastic container, be careful not to touch or rub the bottom with the mixing end. You don’t want plastic shavings in your kefir. That’s why I prefer to mix it in a glass bowl.
I want to take a little tangent here regarding the aroma. Once at an Indian restaurant with an Indian colleague, we had delicious Mango Lassi, an Indian fermented milk drink. It was pale yellow and delicious. It was scented with mango. One day at the supermarket, I found some Goya mango nectar. It comes in glass jars and is quite reasonable. It’s of Spanish origin and unless they make a distinction, the added sweetness component is sugar, not the toxic high fructose corn syrup that’s plagued by sugary drinks made in America. The light bulb came on and I remembered the tasty mango lassi from the Indian restaurant. I bought a few bottles and took them home and mixed some in the kefir until I found the right strength for my taste. It also had the terrific side effect of making my 9 year old son drink the healthy kefir drink, which he wouldn’t touch plain. Chocolate syrup (organic from an organic market) is also a popular flavor for kids for kefir.
Well, after filling the jars with kefir and the filtered bowl is empty or almost empty, repeat the pouring, filtering and mixing process for that batch. Once your jars are full, you can now finish. I have two large gallon jugs, one that was cleaned last time and the one that I just emptied. If you’re only using one, now is the time to clean the jug well and dry it with paper towels. Your regular towels may contain germs and you want to get the chlorinated water out of the tap. Then you place the wide-mouthed funnel on top and use the ladle to remove your large bunch of kefir grains from the colander and put them in the jug. When this is done, pour a gallon of fresh milk over it, seal it, shake it a few times to inoculate the milk well, then place it on the counter to start the new ferment. In about 24 hours, put it back in the back of the refrigerator for a week to several months if needed.
There you go, delicious cold-fermented kefir. It’s also interesting that a lot of times when I do it this way it’s loaded with tiny carbon bubbles that really make it the champagne of milks!