How to; Make Kefir

How to; Make Kefir

How to make Kefir Loula Natural

 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

Plastic strainer/sieve

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

Glass jar

Ratio

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.

Directions:

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! 

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 How To Make Kefir Loula Natural pin

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.

Follow Loula Natural’s board +Loula Natural’s Fermenting Inspiration+ on Pinterest.

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk Loula Natural fb I love coconut. I love making coconut yoghurt, milk and butter from the meat and drinking the water and making coconut water kefir. The recipes couldn’t be simpler.

The results from making them fresh and from home are so beyond what you can buy in cartons, cans and jars! Mostly however because the natural bacteria are still present in the fresh meat and water and this greatly enhances the health giving properties. I use Young Thai coconuts, they are my favourite tasting ones. They also have a good amount of soft meat and water to make a delicious coconut milk that does not need straining. Have a look at my post to see how to easily open them

There are also several methods of making coconut milk from dried coconut too. In the tropics we have these in abundance of fresh coconuts in the supermarkets and after using the water and meat they are a bargain. Now I just need some ideas on how to use the husks- I hate waste and live on the 27th floor! (update- we now live in a house and I am planning to use them as planters for some seedlings.)

The easiest way to make coconut milk is to use the contents of one coconut (meat and water- topping up with filtered water if necessary) and blend- however if you want to make more than one glass then follow this recipe.

Fresh Coconut Milk
A delicious vibrant milk which is far superior to cows milk in taste, nutrient content and nutrient availability.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 Cups of Coconut water (about the contents of 1 coconut)
  2. 1 1/2 Cups of filtered Water
  3. 1 cup of coconut meat (normally 2-3 coconuts worth)
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients into a high speed blender
  2. Blend until thick and creamy.
  3. No need to strain
Notes
  1. This will keep in the fridge for at least a week but it is normally used up way before then.
  2. I have also made Coconut milk Kefir from this also. Just add the milk grains and leave with a muslin cover for 12-24 hours- to taste!
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Coconut Milk Loula Natural pin

Kefir FAQ

 

Water Grains on the Left, Milk Grains on the Right
Water Grains on the Left, Milk Grains on the Right

 

Most cultures have some kind of fermented food in their food history. Most cultures still include a fermented food/drink within their daily meals. Kefir, Kombucha, sauerkraut, pickling (see here and here for recipes) and making yoghurt has become very popular again. It is not a coincidence that there is also an increased interest in using natural methods to help combat the increase in digestive weakness and immunity issues coming up in our own health and that of our children. Fermenting is a key way to help re-balance and re-build the body’s strength and health. Here is an insight to my journey, using fermentation to heal.

Bacteria is not something to be feared. It is natural and all forms (even Candida and Helicobacter Pylori) are essential to health and for optimum performance for the body. As we will see, with any ferment- the ingredients (what the bacteria feeds on) and the environment (ph, temperature and contact with oxygen) are very important to get fermenting right. Our bodies now more than ever are becoming more acidic with our diets containing more processed, sugar laden and dead (pasteurised and containing non natural ingredients) foods. These two factors will contribute the imbalance of our gut bacteria alone without adding in overuse of anti-bio tics and over sterilisation of our environments with chemical cleaning products.

However we are turning around from it in a big way and wanting to become food producers and using natural methods more and more. Every small step will have a big impact; Kefir is a little step that is relatively easy to take.

When I first got my Water and Milk grains off of someone I had no idea what to do. All the instructions I could find (and there are a lot of internet sites out there!) were different. It seemed very confusing and a little over my head. Until one day I thought- oh well let’s just try it and see what happens. I now teach courses on how to make it (and Kombucha- that is a whole other FAQ!) and I strive to make it accessible and exciting to get others to build communities in order to share and learn together. In that way I decided to put together a FAQ to try and encourage others to take that first step! These are a list of all the questions I am commonly asked and my answers.

 

Q. What is Kefir?

A.  Kefir is a blend of yeast in bacteria living harmoniously. It is a natural pro-biotic. Kefir grains, whether water or milk, are essentially cultured beneficial bacteria and at the essence the same.

 

Q. So why is one called Milk Kefir and the other Water Kefir?

A. When the liquid is fermented, the grain will take on some of the liquid and will also change colour and consistency. So while the bacterial properties of the milk and water kefir are the same they potentially look different. However I have used water kefir grains to produce milk Kefir and vice versa. It sometimes takes a couple of batches and maybe a little rinsing to get the product back to tasting exactly the same as before- what I end up with is still Kefir.

 

Q. What do I need to make Kefir?

 

Basic Tools
Basic Tools

 

A. You need the grains, a liquid to ferment (any milk or water, juice or sweet liquid), vessel to ferment in (normally glass jars or jugs) a cloth to cover the top (to keep out dust and bugs) a plastic strainer and spoons. Metal and Kefir do not mix well so everything should be plastic or glass that comes in contact with the kefir.

 

Q. Why are my grains not multiplying like everyone elses?

A. Kefir is alive and every grain is different. I have used the same grains (albeit passed on many times) for over a year now and no two batches of Kefir have turned out the same. I have used different milks, ratios of liquid to grains and even tried to change them from milk to water and vice versa. Every time I get kefir, sometimes I get a lot of grains other times I don’t! You just have to remember that the grains need food (sugar), temperature (body temp) and they like agitation (so stirring them can also have an effect). Try using a UHT if you are normally using fresh or vice versa. Try adding some sugar or changing the time you ferment for to see if any of that has an effect. If you have a few grains then start with a smaller amount of liquid to let them grow, then add the amount as the grains multiply. I started with 1tsp grains:1 cup liquid. Failing that get some grains off someone in the community!

Q. My water Kefir grains are not working as well and my kefir is thick like syrup, is it ok to drink?

A. I find it can help by using a combination of switching environments, adding acidity (sometimes ie lemon juice) rinsing and resting. If you have alkaline water lemon juice works well as does adding egg shells. If you have distilled water or a filter which may take away minerals an egg shell or a pince of salt can sometimes revive grains. I have been using a mix of sugars- coconut sugar, molasses, maple syrup or dates. I sometimes use a combination of all of the above. Sometimes adding a bit of ready made water Kefir to the mix works nicely too when they are a bit tired. Lastly rinsing the grains in plain water overnight can also help, simple strain and add to sugar water in the morning.

Use your senses to decide whether it is safe to drink. Smell, taste as well as sight are very important in anything to decide what is right for you and your body. Then when you have tasted some, what is your gut instinct, act on that it is more reliable than what I can tell you from here!

Q My milk grains seem to have disappeared or are reducing in number?

A I have found that in this temperature the grains seem to be producing a thicker kefir quicker but straining them is becoming difficult. I am now keeping more of a yoghurt starter to make my kefir. When the temperature cools down the grains will be easier to detect and will look more like a cottage cheese. See above also to get your grains to multiply.

 

Q How do you know if it has gone off?

A Kefir in milk has a slightly cheesy scent (like off milk) and a sour taste. It is down to preference. If there is visible green or black mould then normally I would say to dump the kefir and start again- or scrape off the mould and use the remaining kefir in the bath. The water will taste fizzy and a little sour. It will have a vague sulfur-y smell. If it smells really sulfur-y then either leave with the lid off for a while and taste it, otherwise pour it down the sink and re-populate our environment with some good bacteria!

 

Q My milk kefir has separated is it off?

A. Not necessarily, just stir it up it is fine to use as long as it doesn’t smell like rotten eggs etc as above. It is really up to you what you consume. Cheese is mouldy and relies on bacteria so the worst that will happen is it becomes like a blue cheese! Start to use your power of smell and taste agin and rely on instinct. Ferment to taste and take it further and further each time. The worst that can happen is diarrhoea.

 

Q I really don’t like the taste. What can I do?

A. Either mix in a little with other things for example mix a little into a smoothie or dilute with some coconut water or other real fruit juice. Add some fizzy water or play with second ferments. Add fruit or herbal teas, flavourings and a little extra sugar to try and educate your palate again. 2 weeks of tasting things can change your taste buds.

 

Q. How do I get my kids to drink it

 

How do I get my Kids to drink Kefir?
How do I get my Kids to drink Kefir?

 

A. Same as above- however kids are more likely to want what you are having- so lead my example and don’t ask a child to try and eat anything you are not willing to try or have yourself! (actually same goes for wanting kids to stop eating things too!)

 

Q. What is the difference between Kefir and probiotics as I am happy taking my capsules?

A. They are cheaper to use then bottled probiotics. They are also alive and not freeze dried like in the capsules so are ready to inhabit and balance the bacteria in your digestive system. Safe for everyone Kefir can be taken while pregnant and is great for babies (not the milk kefir before the age of one) Capsules will help promote good bacteria but will not take up residence like Kefir does (source) Also Kefir has 35 strains of alive bacteria working together in symbiosis. How many strains are listed on the back of your probiotic capsules? Check out this report

 

Q If it is so simple why would I take a course to learn how to do it?

A My course is designed to help give you confidence. To learn how to make Kefir and to taste all the different types to find one type that you and your family will like. To understand what to do with it, how to do a second ferment and to leave with ideas motivation and a group of people you can share recipes, disasters, triumphs and brainstorm with. It is to return to fermenting roots, rituals and to use food as a community builder.

 

Hope this helps and get in touch if there are any other questions you have or want to find out where to get some grains to get going with. Or you can buy the book here;

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DO you have any favourite Kefir Recipes?

 

Lychee Coconut Water Kefir

 Lychee coconut water Kefir Loula Natural

The Summer is on its way and that means in the tropics we have Lychee’s in abundance! However since it is still only spring I have also used tinned and dried lychees to make this. It comes close!

One of my favourite Kefir’s is Coconut water Kefir. I prefer to use the fresh coconut water (open a coconut here) but carton coconut water is better absorbed after it has been fermented. After 12-24 hours and I have strain the grains (see how to make Kefir) I then add ripe plump Lychee’s to the jug. About 5-10. I then leave that out for another 12-24 hours and you get a beautiful tart, sweet sharp Kefir which is lovely on its own, diluted with some sparking water, in your Green Juice’s, in my Watermelon Cooler or with a dash of vodka and a squeeze of lime!

As featured in my book;

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 What is your favourite Water Kefir?

Find 45 more Kefir and Kombucha recipes in Culture Your Life

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Lychee coconut water Kefir Loula Natural pin

Morning Smoothie

Morning smoothie

 

I like to get as much nutrition into my kids as possible. I also like to give them and myself a really good start to the day. They have this smoothie or a variation of it and then they have homemade museli or chia porridge and coconut yoghurt. My son can have it and when he turns one (in a couple of weeks- where did that time go!) we will add in nut butters and raw honey again.

I also would have these as a snack in the first few months of breastfeeding with a protein powder. On days I feel I need an extra boost (or the kids do- esp during those growing phases) I will add a vegan protein as i am not a whey or soy fan. I like the multi source sprouted varieties un-flavoured as I don’t want any sugar or sweeteners in it. I tend to prefer a creamier smoothie in the mornings and a green fruitier one in the afternoon at 4ish. What do you like? Share some recipes in the comments for everyone to try.

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