24 Oct

Brooklyn Alewife has numerous recipes for tibicos, aka water kefir, but as of now I haven’t written about the better known kefir, made with milk.  It has fallen under my radar until now since it’s so straightforward.  Some sources suggest that you can try to convert milk kefir into water kefir granules.  Just looking at the two cultures, they seem so vastly different to me that I think it’s a bad idea to consider them interchangeable or convertable.  Here’s a picture comparison:

water and milk kefir

Milk kefir granules on top, tibicos on bottom.

The hardest part of making milk kefir is obtaining the SCOBY.  A company called Yogourmet sells freeze-dried culture that you can use for one batch, but once you use the freeze dried stuff, it’s gone.  Kefir is not like yogurt, where you can take some of your last batch to inoculate the new one.  If you obtain live milk kefir granules, you can use them over and over.  I got mine from my milk club.  You can also get them through certain CSAs or potentially at a vendor at the farmer’s market who sells kefir.  They probably won’t sell the grains regularly, but you can get all buddy-buddy and ask for them. sells them also.  If you continuously make milk kefir, your grains will reproduce readily.  If you are like me and make a batch every two weeks to a month, then your culture will be lying dormant most of the time, and your grains will grow much more slowly.  That being said:  no, I don’t have enough kefir to share, sorry.

Like kombucha or tibicos, kefir granules can corrode metal.  My display above is on stainless steel spoons– I’ve heard people say that any contact with metal is deleterious to the culture, but I haven’t noticed a marked effect over my last three years or so of making the kefir:  mainly, you want to wash metal utensils immediately after they handle the kefir so that they don’t get destroyed, and certainly don’t store your kefir in metal containers.  Brief contact is okay.

The recipe for milk kefir is:

Put milk in a glass jar— I usually do a pint at a time and add about a Tbsp of kefir grains.   Mix it up.  Cover the jar loosely with the jar lid.  Let it sit for 24-48 hours, stirring 2-3 times if you remember.   The consistency will change when the kefir is ready.  If you leave it a little too long, the curds will separate from the whey.  It’s still drinkable.  Strain  the kefir through a sieve to make it homogenous again– which you will want to do anyway to extract your grains from the drink.  Once you’ve filtered out your grains, start again, or store the grains in a little bit of milk or water in the fridge.  They keep well for at least a month.  Change the liquid they are resting in periodically.

Notice the new consistency of the milk-turned- kefir.  You can see here by the stuff sticking to the top of the jar.

Once the kefir is fermented, you can  drink it plain or on cereal.   My favorite method of consumption is to make a simple smoothie out of it.  Dump some frozen berries and honey or maple syrup to taste into your kefir and blend it.  The last batch I made was strawberries with honey.  Mmm, pink drink!


2 Responses to “Kefir”

  1. Wendy September 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    I live in Queens, NY. Can I pickup the kefir grains instead of having it shipped?

    • Adele September 10, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

      Hi Wendy,

      I am currently on a fermentation hiatus, as I have not wanted anything fermented nor had the energy to do it during my pregnancy. That means I have no fresh grains to offer you right now. Otherwise, you could pick them up! Thanks for asking.

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