Milk kefir, like the kombucha and water kefir, are loaded with probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals beneficial to the body. It is a cultured dairy drink that you can easily make at home with basic utensils, milk and milk kefir grains. I managed to do mine so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you.
How does it taste like?
The milk kefir tastes like a tangy yogurt with a consistency somewhat between plain milk and yogurt. Blend it with some fresh fruits and you get yourself a nice cup of fruity smoothie.
The consistency or thickness of the milk kefir depends on the fermentation time, temperature and choice of milk. The acid from the fermentation process curds the milk solids, giving it a thicker consistency while the amount of milk solids depends on the composition of the milk.
Getting the ingredients
The milk kefir is made up of just two ingredients:
- Milk kefir grains; and
- Full fat milk.
Milk kefir grains
You can get milk kefir grains from your local community (for free) or buy them online from sellers on eBay or Amazon. As for the local community option, do a search on Facebook for groups that actively discuss about kefirs (i.e. milk kefir, water kefir) and it is very likely that the members have some kefir grains to donate. Milk kefirs multiply over time and mine have grown from a tablespoon to a couple of tablespoons after a few rounds of fermentation.
Milk kefir grains are actually a living combination of bacterial and yeast. These grains have a gelatinous feel and look like cauliflower. It may look yucky to some at first but, trust me, it is because it is unfamiliar to you.
Any pasteurized full cream milk is great for making milk kefir. Do avoid those low-fat milk as the milk kefir need a decent amount of fat to work.
According to the local milk kefir making group, the milk kefir tastes great when made with milk that has higher fat contents. They recommend Hokkaido 3.6 milk. The “3.6” refers to fat content of 3.6% which makes it tastier and slightly fattier than regular full cream milk or whole milk.
Making milk kefir
If you are unable to attend to your milk kefir for a few days. Leave it in your fridge. It will lengthen the ferment time to somewhere between 2 to 3 days.
The preparation to make milk kefir is easier than kombucha. It is simply adding half a teaspoon of milk kefir grains to 400 ml of full fat milk, covering the bottle’s opening with kitchen towel, then setting it aside on the counter top away from direct sunlight and trash to ferment for around 24 to 36 hours. The fermentation time varies due to fluctuation in the ambient temperature.
So how do you know when it is done? Simply do a visual check.
To slow down the ferment, I placed the mason jar in a cooler bag filled with reusable ice-packs. This keeps it chilled below 30°C (degree Celsius) which is the optimum temperature for making milk kefir.
Harvesting your first batch of milk kefir
After 24 (to 36) hours, the milk should have thickened to become a runny yogurt. If you see them slightly separated like the above, it is fine too. This is an indication that the milk kefir is ready for harvesting.
Before you harvest your ferment, give it a good shake or stir (with a non-metallic spoon) to mix them all up again. It will help in sieving out the milk kefir grains.
Harvesting the milk kefir
You can blend the milk kefir drink with some fruits and freeze them into ice-cream full of probiotics goodness!
Simply pass your prized mixture through the plastic sieve again to separate the milk kefir from the milk kefir grains. The milk kefir grains are now ready for your next batch of milk kefir!
As for your milk kefir drink, simply bottle them up and chill them in the fridge before drinking. They should be good for one to two weeks.
Cheers to a great drink full of probiotics goodness!