Milk kefir is a cultured, bio-live milk drink, packed with live gut-friendly bacteria. You can get hold of it ready-made (Bio-tiful make an incredible-tasting organic kefir) or you can make it yourself at home really easily; here’s a guide.
Photography: Natalé Towell
What is milk kefir?
Smooth, creamy and slightly tart, kefir is similar to natural yoghurt. It’s packed with health properties and is becoming a hugely popular fermented drink. Admittedly, kefir when drunk straight-up can divide opinions due to its slightly sour flavour. Whether you like it as a straight drink or not, it’s also a wonderful kitchen ingredient in its own right. Try adding it to smoothies or pancakes, as a buttermilk-replacement in soda bread or for a tangy dip. Here are some great milk kefir recipe ideas to get you started.
What are kefir grains and where can I get them?
Milk kefir is made by soaking kefir grains in milk for about 48 hours. These grains (different to water kefir grains) are a living starter culture made of the beneficial bacteria that convert the natural sugars in milk into lactic acid. This is what turns your milk into a tangy, gut-boosting drink. They work in a very similar way to the SCOBY you use to make kombucha.
Milk kefir grains are a living starter culture of gut-loving bacteria
You can get milk kefir grains very easily online. Alternatively, ask among any kefir-loving friends who are willing to share their extra supply. You’ll notice that once you’ve made your first brew, the grains will start to multiply. The more you have, the more kefir you can make. They will continue to multiply and you may end up with an excess that you can then give away.
It’s also worth pointing out that kefir grains are living organisms and can be sensitive creatures that need to adjust to their environment, especially during the colder winter months. If you notice that your kefir is a bit watery or thin, this is a sign that your grains are adjusting. When you first receive them, do the first brew in a small amount of milk (about 250ml). Also make sure your grains steer clear of metal at all times. Avoid using a metal sieve or any metal spoons during the process.
What kind of milk is best to make kefir?
Kefir grains work best when added to full-fat cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk. You’ll find that semi-skimmed or skimmed will not produce the thick, tangy kefir that you’re looking for. It goes without saying that the better the quality of your milk, the better the kefir so go organic and local if you can. We love making our kefir with full-fat organic Jersey milk.
Make your own milk kefir with this step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Gather your ingredients and equipment. You’ll need 1 teaspoon of active kefir grains, 250ml of whole milk, a clean jar to ferment your kefir in, a non-metal sieve and a bottle for storing your finished kefir.
Step 2: Add your kefir grains to your clean jar and add 250ml of quality, whole milk. Cover loosely with a lid – don’t secure it tightly as this will stop oxygen from getting in and fermenting your kefir. Leave it in a warm place for 24 to 48 hours, until it thickens, bubbles appear on the surface and it tastes slightly sour.
Step 3. Strain the liquid through a non-metal sieve into a bottle or a jug and store in the fridge. You can now place your strained grains in a new batch of milk to make more kefir. Enjoy your homemade milk kefir with granola for breakfast, drink it just as it is or try it in your morning pancakes.
Like kefir? Read more on why buttermilk is the magic ingredient you need in your kitchen.
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