Our family loves milk kefir for various reasons. My husband and children love it for the tangy, yeasty flavor that they’ve grown accustomed to and the good feeling it leaves them with. I love it for those reasons too, but just as importantly: milk kefir is so simple to make.
We love yogurt too, but for a cultured dairy product that is simple to make and versatile I choose milk kefir. There are no incubators or temperatures to worry about so it works in our hectic, off-grid kitchen.
And of course I’m happy to get those good cultures into the bellies of my three little ones.
If you’re just starting out with kefir it might be just a bit intimidating. Working with kefir grains can be both nerve-wracking and overwhelming, given the fear that you might “kill” them at any moment.
Not to worry, though, with a few simple considerations you can get your milk kefir grains supplying you with fresh cultured dairy on a daily basis – no fear or loathing necessary.
Always Remember When Making Milk Kefir:
1. Rehydrate your grains with patience. When you get your Cultures for Health kefir grains they will come in a little silver packet inside of a slightly less small green box. You will open them up and find hardened yellowish smallish granules surrounded by powdered milk.
Place those kefir grains in about a cup of fresh milk and leave for 12 hours. Repeat for 4-7 days until they are plump and your milk is beginning to smell tangy and “kefirish”, it tastes like yeasty sour yogurt, or it begins to thicken to a “drinkable yogurt” consistency.
Giving those grains frequent milk feedings and the time necessary to fully hydrate and activate them can really help your milk kefir-making in the future.
2. Feed your grains (and harvest your kefir) often. Kefir grains need milk to nourish them. Once your milk has turned to kefir, those grains no longer have food available to them. This leads to stress.
Be sure to feed them every 12-24 hours, which will also be when you harvest your fresh milk kefir. They will withstand up to 48 hours, but only occasionally and it is best to keep it short and sweet.
3. Do your best to give it a consistently warm temperature. All cultured foods vary in length of culturing time and end product depending on the temperature it is exposed to while culturing. An ideal temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Any cooler than that and it takes much longer to culture, any warmer than that and it cultures too fast and can be “off” in flavor.
Do your best to find a warm space like atop a refrigerator, in a pilot-lit oven, or close to a wood stove.
Having said all of that, try not to worry too much about creating the “perfect” environment for your kefir grains. While we should try to feed them and care for them to the best of our abilities, we must
also remember that kefir, like most cultured foods, was made for a very long time without refrigeration or room temperature-control.
Just add milk, rotate often, and treat your milk kefir grains the way you would want to be treated – minus the swimming in milk part.