What You Will Need
You only need a few essential items to make kefir, some of which will be available at your local store or supermarket, and the others, easily purchased online.
First off, you will of course need some living breathing kefir grains of your own . Our grains come alive and kicking for the very best results, so we hope you will look no further .
Our grains are available in 25 gr. are enough to start producing between 250ml to 500ml of kefir every 24 to 48 hours (depending on the ambient temperature in your home).
However, your grains will grow a little with each batch you ferment, so you can start out brewing small quantities , and work your way up to bigger amounts as your grains grow.
Kefir grains thrive in both cow and goat’s fresh milk . They do tend to get used to one particular type of milk though, so it’s not ideal to frequently switch sources .
Lactose free milk is a definite non-starter because lactose is the main food that kefir grains feed on – no lactose, no kefir !
UHT (Ultra High Tension) milk is not ideal for making kefir, as the flora present in fresh milk do play a part in the natural kefir fermentation process. Essentially, any milk that is not sold out of the fridge will be UHT. Among other names for the process are ultra-heat treatment and ultra-pasteurization
Homogenization is a process by which the fat in the milk is emulsified , with the result that the cream does not separate out and rise to the top of the bottle / container as it does with more traditional, non-homogenized milk.
Ideally, kefir should be made with non-homogenized milk .
Non-homogenized milk can be a little more challenging to find, but will still usually be available. Look to premium quality brands, more often than not sold in a traditional glass bottle.
Manufacturers generally do need to state on the product when the milk is homogenized – but often won’t explicitly say non-homogenized when it isn’t. So you might be looking for a product that simply does not say homogenized on the label.
All milk sold in a standard supermarket has been pasteurized , which means it has been heat-treated to kill off potentially harmful bacteria, but to a lower temperature than with UHT. Some people like to make kefir in raw milk , with raw meaning milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. It is thought that goat’s milk is preferable to cow’s in this regard. However, we make no assertions whatsoever as to the safety of using unpasteurized milk .
Although reducing fat intake is a critical issue for many people, kefir does taste better cultured with a higher fat content milk . Kefir grains will be happier and grow at a faster missed in higher fat content milk also. Ideally , the fat content should be 2.8%, up to 3.5% , or even higher if you feel so inclined. You can also add a little cream (but not sour cream) to boost your grains and make your finished kefir more creamy.
This does not mean you cannot use lower fat milk to make kefir , but in this case, we recommend you feed your kefir at least every third batch with a higher fat milk (discarding that batch if you choose) to preserve the constitution of your grains.
This is largely a matter of preference , but many people report that they have less digestive difficulty consuming Goat’s milk.
Also known as Le Parfait, Fido or Kilner jars (after manufacturers famous for producing them), they have flip top lids that clamp shut , creating a hermetic seal.
Clamp locking jars are perfect for making kefir, as they help reduce the risk of the propagation of potentially harmful microbes in your kefir . Not only by limiting the introduction of air-born microbes from the outside air, but also because oxygen levels in the jar will become reduced, which is good news because most of the harmful pathogens that might feasibly take hold (especially in the earlier stages of fermentation) typically thrive more in an oxygen rich environment than one richer in carbon dioxide.
On the other hand, these jars readily allow gases to vent past the rubber sealing ring as pressure builds up during fermentation, making jar breakage highly unlikely.
You will need at least two of these to begin with, and perhaps more as you work out your preferred methods of storage and preferences for any secondary fermentation.
Your kefir should not fill more than 80% of your jar as it ferments, so the size of jar you need should be at the very least 20% larger than the maximum amount of kefir you will cultivate per batch.
Don’t forget that your stock of grains and batch size may increase as you culture more kefir , so you might like to plan on getting jars large enough for the quantities you ultimately intend to brew .
To serve the needs of a typical family, many settle on fermenting one liter of milk at a time, adding 100 gms of kefir grains under ideal conditions. In this case, a 1.5 to 2 liter jar would be ideal.
Once the first fermentation period is over, you will need to separate your precious kefir grains from the cultured kefir . Enter your strainer (and straining bowl).
The strainer needs to sit securely on top of your straining bowl , because you will need two hands on your jar when you come to carry out the straining. It should be big enough to pour in at least a quarter of a liter of kefir at a time, and otherwise, the larger the better .
To complicate things, your average household strainers generally come in one of two mesh types, single mesh and double mesh. Double mesh strainers make the task of separating your kefir from the grains much more difficult that it needs to be, as the curds tend to clog the fine gaps in the mesh .
If you are going to use a metal strainer , it absolutely must be stainless steel , nothing else. Alternatively, a plastic strainer with a mesh that is not too fine for the job will also work .
You will need a largish jug or container to strain your kefir into. The key things with this are that your strainer will be a good fit so that it sits securely on top of the jug , and it should be deep enough to hold a reasonable amount of strained kefir at a time .
A couple of measuring bowls will come in very handy. For transferring your grains to once they are strained out from your finished primary fermentation and for weighing them before and after fermentation.
Our preference is for Pyrex , but food grade plastic will do the job just as well.
A set of digital kitchen scales are a must for precise control over the quantity (and ratio) of grains to milk you use for a batch. They will also help you keep track of the weight of your grains as they grow.
Last, but certainly not least, you will need a trusty spatula . It will come in handy for scrapping every last drop of kefir out of your jars , and is perfect for stirring you kefir as you encourage it through your strainer .
Here’s your kefir making shopping list!
- At least 20 gr. live kefir grains
- Fresh, full-fat milk, non-homogenized
- Two clamp locking jars (1.5 liter)
- A single mesh strainer
- A large straining jug
- Measuring bowls
- A scale
- A spatula