Milk Kefir Recipe
Milk kefir grains have been cultivated for hundreds if not thousands of years in the mountainous region of the Balkans, and the milk kefir recipe has been handed down for generations. Rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and healthy acids, this tangy treat is held in high esteem for its unique “feel good” qualities. “Keif,” the root of the word kefir means “to feel good” in Turkish and it is little wonder that generation after generation of families were known to hand down these cauliflower shaped grains as part of the woman’s dowry. No home would be complete without its pet beneficial “bugs”!
The more science continues uncovering the vast ecosystem of bacteria and yeast that play a crucial role in our digestive and immune systems, the more obvious it becomes that our ancestors were “Trusting their guts” all along! Fermentation isn’t simply a means of preserving food for leaner times, it is a crucial nutritional strategy to diversify gut bacteria. As bactosapiens with over 500 organisms living inside of and on our bodies, we really are “bacteria powered!”
The milk kefir recipe for most commercial versions are full of sweeteners and thickening agents in order to create a uniform product. Commercially mass produced kefirs and yogurts often have less diversity of microbial culture than homemade due to manufacturing limitations, so convenience comes at a cost. High quality commercial brands may be accessible to you in the form of small or local brands. But why not just make it yourself? At home, it is easy to make a fresh pint of milk kefir a day – more or less – with kefir grains and your favorite dairy or non-diary milk. Perfecting your personal milk kefir recipe not only ensures the best nutrition for you and your family but also connects you to our deeper human heritage.
What does milk kefir taste like?
As with all fermented foods, it has a pleasant tang. Many say it has a cheesy or yogurty flavor but neither of these totally captures the dynamic, lightly effervescent savoriness of kefir. So much depends on how your milk kefir recipe matches with the brewing environment, type of milk and so much more. Also called the champagne of milk, it has myriad uses beyond just a morning smoothie.
Milk Kefir also serves as a good substitute for buttermilk. It will naturally separate into protein-rich whey (like whey powder, except in living liquid form!) and kefir cheese. From this, we can make out own versions of sour cream, yogurt and cream cheese.
Many enjoy their milk kefir recipe by the cup with or without a spot of honey or other sweetener. We like to flavor it and use it in smoothies with other nutrient dense foods to whip up energizing concoctions.
What are Milk Kefir Grains?
Milk kefir grains are not technically grains at all! Like many fermentation starters, the name is suggestive of another food that is similar in shape. In this case, the cauliflower shape of the polysaccharide is created by the symbiosis of bacteria and yeast and was thought to resemble grains of wheat. Many stories say the grains were a gift from Allah, others think they might be the manna referred to in the Bible. With such divine mystery surrounding them determining from whence they came is difficult to pinpoint, but we have our own theory of their origin (see more below).
A Grain by any other name…
kephir, kiaphur, kefyr, knapon, kepi and kippe
What do you know Milk Kefir as? Drop us an email! ~ Hannah
Bonus fact: Kefir likely first came into being when milk was stored in “leather” bags made from sheep stomachs. The bacteria naturally present in the stomach walls populated the milk and turned it into a delicious drink.
Easy Milk Kefir Recipe Instructions
This milk kefir recipe is as easy to make as placing the grains in milk and simply waiting 12-36 hours (depending on taste preference and brewing conditions), strain & repeat! Mellow the tangy flavor by adding fruit, honey and spices, whatever you decide your flavored milk kefir recipe should be. Plus it whips into a satisfying smoothie – check out the recipes below but first, here’s how to make milk kefir at home. The following kefir recipe is for a ratio of 1 tablespoon of grains per 2 cups of milk. Scale up or down as needed.
– Yield: about 1 Pint
– Calories per 8oz Serving: about 90
– Prep Time: 5 minutes
– Cook Time: 24 hours
– Total Time: 24 hours 5 minutes
- 1 Tablespoon hydrated Milk Kefir Grains
- 2 cups dairy milk (non dairy milks covered below)
- Half Gallon Glass Jar or One Gallon Glass Jar
- Mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Cloth with rubber band, Fermentation Cap, or plastic lid
- Spoon, measuring cup and funnel
- Bottles or jars for finished kefir
- Add 2 cups of fresh milk to the jar.
- Add 1 TB of kefir grains to the milk.
- Cover with a plastic lid, cloth cover or Fermentation Cap.
- Let sit for 24-48 hours – no longer than 72 hours or the grains will begin to disintegrate.
The texture of milk kefir varies from thin to thick depending on cream content, type of milk, brewing conditions and the like. Taste frequently throughout the process to determine the flavor you prefer best, then strain the kefir through a strainer or cheesecloth to recapture the grains. Agitate the jar from time to time to ensure even fermentation of the the milk. If a clear layer appears at the bottom of the jar, that is whey. Most prefer to harvest milk kefir prior to this separation, or you can simply give it a stir and then flavor. After removing the grains, you may add flavors for a second fermentation or drink straight.
Repeat & enjoy!
Milk Kefir vs Water Kefir
- Nutrient dense! Milk kefir has more nutritional value than water kefir due to the quality of the substrate – in this case milk. The fermentation process makes the calcium, magnesium and other elements easier to absorb and digest, plus its a great source of protein.
- Its diverse! Milk kefir may have 40+ types of organisms that repopulate the gut and boost immunity.
- Its filling! Kefir smoothies are a terrific meal replacement especially when enhanced with boosters such as raw cacao, raw honey or bee pollen, maca root powder, green powder and the like.
- Its a low-cost substitute for other highly processed dairy products! When strained through cheesecloth, the resulting kefir “cheese” serves as great replacement for yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese.
Receive a FREE COPY of the Lacto-Fermented Sodas Guide when you purchase Milk or Water Kefir grains from KKamp!
Milk Kefir Recipe Brewing Tips
Living Grains Need to Micro-Adapt to New Substrate