Our kefir adventure, or A pictorial guide to making kefir

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.

Step One:

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.

 

Step Two:

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.

Step Three:

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.

Note:

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.

0 thoughts on “Our kefir adventure, or A pictorial guide to making kefir

  1. Patty D says:

    Yumm. I grew up in Poland and Kefir was a regular thing and we loved it. I have a question though, what type of milk do you use, raw or regular store bought. B/c we use raw I wonder if it will have the same effect.

  2. I just used regular store bought milk, but the lady I got the grains from used whole raw milk. I’m guessing the texture of whole raw milk would be a little thicker, but I know lots of people use that so it should still be wonderful. 🙂

  3. Awesome, thanks for the pictorial. I am Patty’s sister-in-law… and I think the reason she was asking about if you use raw or regular was that i got some grains from my aunt in Czech republic last summer and when we brought it here, they died after few weeks of us using it with raw milk. My aunt thought it was because of the raw milk we used… so since then we thought we will be out of luck. But maybe there is hope! I need to go do some research!

  4. Interesting. Were you rinsing them by chance? They’re usually pretty hardy, but they don’t like being agitated much, and the choline in tap water can hurt them.

    Or maybe the shipping was just too much for them? If you would like to try it again, I’ll have more in a couple days. I ship them priority mail so they get there quickly.

    I hope you are able to try again. Kefir is soooo yummy!

  5. We were rinsing them and I think it was in our usual tap water which might have done it. I would definitely want to try again. I brought them in my luggage straight from Czech and they were good, working for couple of weeks. I will for sure give it another try.

  6. Jeff says:

    Oh! So it is normal for the kefir grains to float to the top of the milk?! I thought I was doing something wrong! Thanks for this info. I also noticed that it was making kefir at the top third of the glass of milk only, and now I realize that I need to be more patient and allow it to make kefir all the way down. There was a band of whey at the bottom of the top layer of kefir, and now I realize I need to just wait and allow that band of whey keep moving down until it is at the bottom of the glass of milk.

    The next time I need milk kefir grains, I would like to give yours a try. How would I order some. I probably won’t be doing it until the fall, because I’m going to be traveling a lot this summer.

  7. Excellent! I hope your kefir starts turning out wonderful for you! Whenever you need some, you can email me or try the “buy now” button at the top of this post. By fall, I may have my kefir page put together and it will be more obvious how to order.

    Good luck! We love our kefir. Getting ready to pour some over granola for breakfast!

  8. Michelle says:

    I love the pictorial! I was wondering if you can explain how you separate the grains from the curds when you’ve over fermented? I keep winding up with curds and whey and cannot for the life of me distinguish the grains… TIA!

    • I never found a good way to separate that, but it doesn’t last that long. For one, you get better at it. 🙂 I just sort of squished it with my fingers. The curds will mush between your fingers and the kefir grains feel harder and more, well, more mucousy.

      Make sure to always keep the biggest ones and just let them keep growing. I now just have two large grains. I pull them out with a fork and plop them in a new jar for the next batch of kefir and when they get too big, I cut them in half and do whatever with the extra.
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