How to; Make Kefir
Fermentation is the “transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi and enzymes they produce”. Our world has become largely dependent on refrigeration and we have largely relegated much of our food production to factories. Mass produced food has meant many changes to natural growing and distribution of foods. This has largely changed the make-up, quality and accessibility of nutrients. Take Milk as an example.
Fermenting is a natural phenomenon. Very little is actually understood about the make-up of the starters and how they grow, transform and multiply. Some do it spontaneously and some are seemingly indestructible. The transformative power of fermentation can produce alcohol, preserve our foods and make them more digestible, less toxic and more delicious.
Culture comes from the word cultivate. Many of these foods have come from ancient rituals from the dawn of time, passed down and used by many different cultures and backgrounds. Each variation and even batch of kefir, Kombucha and yoghurt is slightly different. However all basically come from the same principle; harnessing and accessing the vitality and nutrients in our foods. Vibrant is how I tend to describe fermented foods. We would not exist without our bacterial partners. Our digestive systems need them and this system is vital for the procurement, absorption and assimilation of nutrients used to power every other body system. Our immune system depends on it and we could not use or store energy without them. They are amazing!
How to make Kefir
Water/Milk kefir grains are said to be indestructible. They may be sensitive to extreme temperatures so try and bring what you are fermenting and your grains to room temp before combining.
What you will need:
Glass containers (I use Passata bottles washed out after using the Passata of course!)
Thin cotton or muslin cloths and elastic band
Plastic measuring spoons
Liquid to culture (Milk, coconut milk, nut milk, fresh soy milk, or depending on grains coconut water, juice (not from concentrate) or sugar water)
Plastic Measuring jug
Kefir grains- 2tbs grains: 2tbsp coconut sugar/1tbsp maple syrup to 1 Litre liquid. (to taste if too sour reduce if takes too long to ferment increase)
This is what works for me. Everyone seems to have different proportions. I store my grains in the fridge when I am not using them but I try to have my milk/water at room temp before making it- you are supposed to be careful about temperature extremes.
Pour a cup to a litre of milk or sugar water (for water Kefir) into your similar sized glass jar (always leave space at the top) and add grains with plastic measuring spoon (avoid metal as it reacts with the grains- only ever use plastic and glass).
Cover top with cloth and secure with a rubber band. Leave in a warm place for 24-48 hours (as little as 12 sometimes in the summer)- taste your kefir till you like it. Stir periodically (esp. with coconut milk and almond milk). Milk will taste sour and ‘off’ and may smell a little cheesy. The water will smell yeasty and may be a little fizzy.
As the grains live off the sugar during the culturing process- the shorter the time you allow to culture the sweeter the kefir will be. The more you agitate the grains the thicker the mixture will become.
When you are happy, shake the grains vigorously then strain the grains through the sieve or nut bag. It’s ok if some escape into the liquid it just adds to the mix! You may have more grains than when you started.
Use the plastic measuring spoon to move the grains to a clean glass jar. It’s okay if there is a little milk still- you only need to wash them through periodically and if you are not going to use the grains for a while.
Store unused grains and resulting kefir in the fridge. The kefir should last a couple of weeks- you should know by smell if it is really off!
Here is my video on how to make water kefir. Its the same for milk just without the sugar!
If you haven’t already- please check out my ebook- Culture Your Life; Kefir anf Kombucha for Everyday Nourishment. This book includes not only information on the wonders of bacteria, why and how they work. But also 45 recipes that I have developed and use all the time in my own life. From drinks, to foods, ice-creams, cosmetics, and household cleaning products!
If you love fermenting come and check out my collection of inspiration from around the web. Full of drinks, foods and everything bacteria! Let me know if you would like to be a contributor.