Making Milk Kefir Is EASY!

First, find a friend who already has kefir grains growing. Ask for about one Tablespoon to get started.

Or, if you do not live near a source, find a reputable vendor online. I used Fusion Teas as recommended by my best friend Jamie.

I could make a video for you, but I like this one from Chrone’s Babe. It’s well done and easy to follow. I pronounce kefir differently though. Not sure which is the right way. I say it like keefir.

Also, fyi, I use regular whole milk from the grocery store, usually off brands like Kroger or Great Value. There is a lot of debate over the quality of kefir based on which milk is used, but in the end, you get super powerful kefir from both kinds of milk. You get the same result, in my opinion. Do what works for you!

I also do a second fermentation, usually with flavor. Look below for some photos of my kefir and some very simple recipes you can make in no time for your family.

Troubleshooting with Kefir 101:

When I first got my grains in the mail, there was a learning curve to making kefir. The grains were working so well that my kefir turned super runny and smelled heavily like sour milk. But I knew from talking to Jamie and doing research that bad bacteria could not grow with the grains. So I drank it while plugging my nose.

The problem was that I had too many grains in a small amount of milk. You want a very thick creamy kefir that after fermentation, has what looks like a thick layer of cream (think Greek yogurt consistency), on top.

Cream Top
Cream Top

To get my grains and kefir on track, I moved the grains to a larger jar, quart sized, added in one cup of heavy cream, and filled it the rest of the way with whole milk.

I covered the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band, put it in my “fermentation basket” covered with a kitchen towel, and waited. 24 hours later, I had silky smooth, thick creamy kefir. After that I did not need to add any more cream.

Before straining into your nylon mesh strainer, give your kefir and grains a vigorous stir to mix everything together. Pop the grains back into the jar, fill it with milk, and put it in your fermentation spot.

At this time, you can pour your finished kefir into a jar and flavor it before doing the optional second fermentation.

Because I make kefir every day, there is always at least 2 jars doing first fermentation, 2 jars in the pantry doing second fermentation, and the nice cold flavored jars in the fridge that we drink.

You’ll learn to know when your kefir is done just by walking by and smelling the kefir. Without lifting the towel, I can usually tell by the strength of the yeasty smell coming from the jars.

If I think “ok, think it’s done” I pull a jar out and look at the bottom for large pockets of whey. When I see them it’s time to strain. This is how we like our kefir. Some like to ferment longer until the whey goes halfway up the jar. It’s entirely up to you.

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy kefir.


 

Flavoring Kefir:

Second fermentation with orange peel.
Second fermentation with orange peel.

My all time favorite flavors are lemon and orange. Simply place a large piece of lemon or orange rind in the jar of kefir. Cap it. Place it in your pantry for about 12 hours.

When it is done it will look something like this with more or less whey forming. Just stir it all up and it’s once again a thick creamy beverage.

Flavored Kefir
At this point, I just stick it in the fridge to cool until the next day. I leave the peel in until we serve it.

 

Gelato Kefir:

Unless we are doing a smoothie, our favorite way to drink kefir is to mix it with fresh lemon or orange juice, liquid stevia, and vanilla extract. I call it Lemon Gelato Kefir.

Lemon Kefir

 

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Our morning servings of Lemon Milk Kefir

I do not eat gelato or ice cream so to me, this concoction tastes like Lemon Gelato. So delicious! Quite a treat.

My one year old will not drink plain milk, only kefir. She loves and I have to put a cup of it in her hand at least 10 minutes after she wakes up.

Vanilla and Stevia
I use Penzey’s Vanilla, but pour it into this retired stevia dropper bottle. It is so much easier to control, not to mention I don’t have to worry about the cap getting sticky.

I prefer to sip mine, whereas Brent likes to chug his down as quickly as possible.


 

Green Kefir Smoothie.

This came from my friend Kathy. We all love this smoothie and it’s the only way my kids will eat spinach.

For one serving, simply place 1 cup kefir, 1 banana, and 1 big handful of raw spinach in your blender. Mix it up and drink it cold. If it’s really thick and won’t blend, you may need to add a liquid like a little almond milk.


 

Kefir Cheese:

Simply place your mesh strainer over a 4c. measuring cup or a bowl big enough to hold your strainer. Place 2 white coffee filters in the strainer. Fill the strainer to the brim with kefir. Cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 24 hours.

When it is done, it has the texture of a thick ricotta. Not quite as thick as cream cheese.

You can eat it plain or use your own seasonings or a dip mix. We like it with Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix. I used about half a packet.

We eat it with carrots, snap peas, and whole wheat crackers.


 

Please let me know if you try it and how it works for you! Or if you already drink it, please chime in with your own flavoring ideas and what kefir has done for you.

How to Make Kombucha and Water Kefir

My kitchen has turned into Fermentation Station. Once week, you will find Poolish, Water Kefir, AND Kombucha going at various places in my kitchen. I keep each one several feet away from the other so no cross-fermentation goes on.

If you are looking to improve your and your family’s health big time, start fermenting one of these wonderful beverages! Click HERE to see a brief description of Water Kefir vs. Kombucha.

just to name  few!
just to name few!

Soon I will be making Milk Kefir which is more potent than water kefir as far as getting loaded with Vitamin B and killing bad candida in our bodies. I’m sure you will be seeing a blog post devoted to Milk Kefir in the near future. Right now I am having fun fermenting kombucha and water kefir and watching my kids drink up their homemade brew.

Kombucha

Today, let’s talk BUCH (pronounced booch). For starters, let me say I wish I had known about this delightfully fizzy healing tonic YEARS AGO!

Gather your supplies. You will need:

  1. 1 gallon glass jar – my Wal-Mart has gallon jars for $6.
  2. Generic black tea bags. I used the Aldi equivalent of Lipton tea bags.
  3. A Scoby which is the live culture. I bought mine on Amazon HERE and have found the sellers very helpful.
  4. 1 Cup of Sugar. I’ve been using plain white non-organic sugar, but you can use organic sugar or organic cane sugar. I normally do not eat sugar, but this is safe! The culture eats the sugar. You can get it as tangy as you like.
  5. 1 store bought 16oz bottle of Kombucha made with black tea. I used GT’s Enlightened Organic black tea Kombucha.
  6. Flavors such as fruit juices. Or you can drink it straight up after the first fermentation. Again, do not worry about the sugar. It gets eaten up, leaving you with a cold fizzy, slightly sweet beverage.
  7. Lots and lots of smaller jars. Start saving jars!!!!! Wash them in the dish washer to sanitize.
  8. Water free of fluoride and chlorine. I’m lucky I can use my tap water as we are on a well. It is lovely water full of minerals.
  9. Coffee filters and rubber bands

The total cost for everything I got was around $20. And so far I’m on my fourth gallon! TASTE the savings! If you buy Kombucha, you will spend close to $3 for every16oz of Kombucha. If you buy those though, save the jars!!

Kombucha DIY in Eight Easy Steps.

STEP ONE: Boil water for a large pot of tea. Do NOT try to brew your tea in the big glass jar. I was an idiot and tried it and my jar cracked the instant the boiling water hit the base. DUH. Use at least 3 tea bags in your pot of tea. You may need to make two pots. You can always dilute the teat later.

STEP TWO: Pour one cup of sugar in the tea while it is still warm. Stir to dissolve.

STEP THREE: When the tea in the pot/s is cooled down, pour it into your ultra clean gallon glass jar. Dilute it with cool water until it looks like sun tea, leaving enough room at the top for ONE CUP of premade Kombucha and your Scoby.

STEP FOUR: When your sweet tea feels room temperature (feel it with the tip of your clean finger), pour in 8oz of Kombucha Tea and your Scoby with the juice it arrived in. **Please have your supplies assembled BEFORE your Scoby arrives in the mail. You will want to get it soaking up the sugar in your home brew as soon as possible!

STEP FIVE: Cover the jar with a coffee filter and seal with a rubber band. This lets air escape but keeps out bugs and dirt. FERMENT for up to 7 days. I found 7 days to be just right, but did one batch for 5 and it still came out great. The longer it rests, the more tart it becomes. But rest easy and know that this is very low on the Glycemic Index, very safe if your body does not like sugar.

My very first batches of Kombucha and Water Kefir
My very first batches of Kombucha and Water Kefir

STEP SIX: Gather smaller jars or two half gallon jars that have been sanitized, and their lids. Fill each jar about 1/5th with flavoring. My kids love White Grape Juice because they pretend they are drinking their own sparkling wine. I have also used Knudsen’s Cranberry Raspberry and their Hibiscus juice.

STEP SEVEN: Gently scoop out your Scoby with a large spoon and place it in a glass bowl with 1 Cup of the Kombucha tea. Then pour the rest of your Buch into the smaller jars.

STEP EIGHT: Tightly cap the flavored Kombucha and let them ferment at room temp for another 5-7 days. Now the drink is getting nice and fizzy and oh so lovely! After 5-7 days, place the jars in the fridge. They are ready to enjoy. Drink 4-8oz a day for the maximum benefits.

I like to label my jars with little sticky notes. I write the flavor and the day I poured it into the smaller jar.
I like to label my jars with little sticky notes. I write the flavor and the day I poured it into the smaller jar.

BEGIN again! Start at STEP ONE to begin a new batch. The only difference is instead of using store bought Buch, you now use your Scoby and the Kombucha from the previous batch.

Warnings:

  • Scoby is a scary looking dude. I would advise making your buch when your husband and children are sleeping or away! My husband has seen it and now chokes it down as if it is Witch’s Brew! All the while, my kids beg for more “BUCHA!”
  • In the rare event your Scoby molds, THROW it out and get a new one.
  • Brown slimy strings are normal. It’s all good, do not freak out. You can rinse your Scoby now and then. You can also throw those brown strings out between batches.
  • Write if you have brewing questions. A few weeks ago, I was in your shoes!
Gross, right? It's all raw probiotic goodness, I promise!
Gross, right? It’s all raw probiotic goodness, I promise!

 

The end result is a fizzy golden colored drink, best served chilled! My oldest daughter likes to have hers in a wine glass and pretends she is drinking Champagne. My son says “cheers” or “BUCHA!” and drinks it up in a hurry, then asks for more. I’d drink a quart a day because it is such a treat after drinking mostly water day in and day out, but 4-8oz a day is plenty. BOTTOMS UP!