When I embarked on making Kefir at home, I expected it to be an extension of our long-established habit of making our own yogurt. However, incorporating this fermented food into my diet took a little trial and error. In honor of Farmer's Daughter's Green Moms Carnival this month on preserving food, I'll describe lessons I learned making kefir, so that you might find your ideal routine more quickly than I did.
While kefir and yogurt both ferment milk, the process and our resulting routine are very different:
- Unlike yogurt, making kefir with live cultures does not involve heating and cooling the milk.
- Kefir ferments at room temperature (or lower, as I discovered) and does not require being kept warm over night.
- Kefir continues to culture until it is consumed, even if the grains are removed, so must be eaten quickly. (The same is true of yogurt, but the process is much slower.)
There are many websites with instructions for making kefir, and some of them make the process seem very complicated and involved. It doesn't have to be. My kefir routine involves just a tiny bit of planning and adds only a few minutes to my smoothie routine every couple of days.
Standard Homemade Kefir Instructions
- Put your grains into a clean glass jar.
- Add milk.
- Cover jar with a clean towel, not a lid (it carbonates), and store at room temperature.
- 24 hours later, or when the kefir reaches the desired sourness, strain kefir grains.
- Drink kefir.
- Go back to step 1.
That system didn't work for me in the warm climate of Washington, DC, mostly because I found I was making a quart of kefir every 12 hours. Even when I reduced the amount of grains in the jar, I simply couldn't keep up. I had to figure out a way to slow production, and since I had been storing extra grains in the refrigerator, where they still fermented the milk in which they were stored, I decided to try putting the whole process in there.