Milk Kefir – Probiotics-loaded dairy drink

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:

  1. Milk kefir grains; and
  2. Full fat milk.

Milk kefir grains

Milk kefir grains are actually a combination of living bacteria and yeast. They are not related in anyway to the grain family

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.

The Milk

Pura fresh milk works well for making my milk kefir. The friend who passed me the milk kefir grains is using Meiji. As long as it is full cream milk, it would work!

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.

Using a pasteurised and homogenised fresh full fat milk for making the milk kefir

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

Setting the milk kefir aside to ferment. The mason jar holds 1 teaspoon of kefir grain and 1 pint of milk. Covered the top with a mesh cloth to prevent insects from getting into the drink

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.

Singapore’s weather is rather hot and humid which makes the ferment a little too fast for my liking. Using a simple insulated bag and reusable ice-packs to cool it down.

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

The milk kefir is about done. Give it a good shake to mix them up.

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

Milk kefir grains are actually a combination of living bacteria and yeast. They are not related in anyway to the grain family

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!


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