Kefir, the fermented milk drink, has been around for at least 5000 years. It is now enjoying a surge in popularity in the western world because it is just about the best probiotic you can get. Compared to yogurt it contains many more strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast and slowly but surely the scientific evidence is coming in showing the potential health benefits. Once you get hold of the cauliflower like kefir grains the rest is surprisingly easy. While you have to maintain a certain temperature when cultivating yogurt, kefir is perfectly happy doing its business at room temperature. The only downside is that you have to keep your kefir going everyday. The amount of kefir grains will grow steadily each time you ferment milk. With these extra grains you can start making even more kefir, or share them with friends. You can also add the extra grains to a smoothie or eat them as they are for a mega probiotic boost.
Making the perfect kefir for yourself is a matter of personal preference. Some will like it lightly fermented, so it is thick, mild and creamy. Other will want to ferment for longer so the kefir gets more sour and noticeably carbonated. You can experiment with how you like it by adjusting one of three components of the fermentation. The first is how much grains you are using in relation to the milk. More grains means more and a quicker fermentation. A good place to start is 1 part of grains in volume to 10 parts of milk. The other component is temperature, the warmer it is the quicker it ferments. The grains do their jobs best at a cozy room temperature but you can slow down or speed up the process by placing it in a cooler or warmer part of the house. The third component is time, people like to ferment kefir somewhere between 12 and 48 hours. 24 is the sweet spot for many, so you can have your daily beverage. So if your kefir has not thickened in 24 hours, up the proportional amount of grains or the temperature. Has it gone too sour for you liking, decrease the grains or your temperature.
To make a batch place the grains in a clean container. The yeast in the kefir grains will produce gasses so make sure the container has at least a third extra space to prevent hilarious explosions. Pour you milk onto the grains and close the container. You can use any kind of milk, even non dairy, to make kefir. Just know that the grains may need a period of adjustment if you change the milk you are using. If you use a glass container, which is especially handy to keep an eye on the grain growth, cover it with foil or a towel to keep the light out, this protects the vitamins in the milk. Now simply leave it alone for a whole day.
Now dump the contents of your fermentation container into a plastic sieve. You can use stainless steel but no other metals. It may look really solid but give the sieve a couple of shakes to separate the kefir from the grains. The grains are now ready to start of the new batch, there is no need to clean the grains between batches. The kefir can now be stored in the fridge for up to 21 days.
You can naturally drink the kefir plain, but it is also delicious mixed with a splash of fresh orange juice. It is also a perfect smoothie ingredient. Blending the kefir grains makes them smooth and undetectable and is a fantastic way to keep your growing colony under control. You can use the kefir and the grains in any smoothie recipe that calls for yogurt or buttermilk. Paired with that other smoothie champion, frozen berries, this is a quick and super healthy start to your day. Serves 3.
- 500 ml of fresh kefir
- 2 tablespoons of fresh kefir grains
- 1 cup of frozen berries
- half a banana
- half a cup of fresh orange juice
Simply blend and drink. This smoothie will live happily in your fridge for another day or so, just give it a good shake or stir before drinking.