OK, so my husband kindly fed my kefir grains to the dog and photobucket kindly ate the pictures that were in this post. What’s a girl to do? I’m going to direct you to another awesome blog with terrific pictures of the process to help you on your kefir making journey, that’s what! And feel free to read on here about my first kefir making adventure. But sadly, without pictures.
I have for the longest time wanted kefir grains. I used to make kefir using the powder which made a lovely kefir, but knowing there was something out there that would keep the culture going forever without having to buy more, well, let’s just say it annoyed me.
So I finally splurged.
And apparently, my excitement over finally having kefir grains was contagious.
But I had no experience with kefir grains and the first week I spent with them were frustrating. My first batch turned to curds and whey. And my second batch. And my third. I started paying more attention to my kefir than I do to my pets. As soon as the milk started to thicken around the grains, I strained it, thinking it would finish thickening in the refrigerator.
At least that is what one person on YouTube said should happen. But not for me.
Then I threatened it. “If you do not start giving me kefir, I am so feeding you all to the dogs.” I even tossed some to the dogs, just to emphasize my point.
And 24 hours later, I had kefir. And realized that my problem all along had been that I didn’t quite know what to watch for. So here is my pictorial guide to making kefir for all those people out there like me who need it to be harder than, “Put the grains in milk and leave it for 24 hours.”
Because that didn’t really work so well for me.
Put it in a jar and fill it with milk. They say approximately one tablespoon to 8 ounces, but that varies depending on so many different things. You’ll figure it out, but that is a good place to start.
Watch it. You won’t need to do this so much later, but at first, close observation will help you to know when it is ready later. Within a couple hours, the grains will mostly be floating at the surface and the milk will thicken around them.
Then it will get really thick . . .
And the whole mass will start to rise up to float on top of the milk.
You can stir it at this point. It helps the culture, but if you stir it very much or very briskly, the kefir will be more sour.
This is where your judgment and taste buds come in. Strain it too soon, and you have odd tasting milk that will never thicken. Strain it too late, and you have curds and whey. Just watch that layer that looks like water under your floating mass. It will get lower and lower as your milk turns to kefir. When it reaches the bottom, you are ready for step three. Also, especially in the beginning, taste it. A lot. You can taste when it is going from an odd tasting milk to a tangy tasting kefir. Once you have that kefir taste, you can strain it. The longer you let it culture, the stronger it will be.
Stir the kefir and strain through a plastic or stainless steel strainer. If it is too thick to go through the holes, you can thin it with a little milk.
If you leave your jar too long, that thin layer of what looks like water won’t look like water anymore. It will take on a yellowish hue and look like whey. Because that is what it is.
And when you stir and strain it, you won’t get kefir. At least not much. You will get a bowl full of whey and a strainer full of this stuff.
But never fear. All is not wasted. After you finish sorting through that to reclaim as many of your kefir grains as you can find, you can pack the rest of that into some cheese cloth and hang it over a bowl.
Then you can measure your whey and add equal parts whey and flour to make the most wonderful sourdough starter. In 24 hours, it will be ready to make your first batch of bread. It makes wonderful bread from the start, but the characteristic sourdough flavor will develop over several days.
And then you can take down your ball of curds which is now a sort of kefir cheese. It tastes very good on that sourdough bread.
Even my kids think so.
And if you think you might like to try raising your own kefir grains, let me know. I will be selling off my extras now and again for $10 (which includes the shipping). And all of that, excepting what the post office takes, will go to Tiggy’s House.