Milk kefir is a mesophilic culture, meaning it does not require the warmer temperature range, 100-115 degrees, that many yogurt cultures require. That said, temperature is a consideration in kefir-making.
The other big consideration is just how long you should allow your kefir to culture. You can achieve different flavors and viscosity depending on how long you allow it to culture. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first lets talk temperature.
A temperature of 65 – 85 degrees is ideal for must cultures, including kefir. Wild temperature swings should be avoided, so if temperature control is an issue in your home then you may want to consider insulating your culturing vessel with a towel or by some other means.
When we were first beginning to consume kefir I wanted to slowly ease us into it. In talking with a friend who had been making kefir for some time she recommended a 12 hour culturing period. Those 12 hours produced a thin, mild-flavored kefir.
As we have grown to love kefir, I have continued to increase the duration of the culturing period for a few reasons. A longer culturing period:
- Produces a thicker kefir, more akin to yogurt.
- Produces a nearly lactose-free kefir for those who need it.
- Produces a larger number of beneficial bacteria.
- Gives me a day to not have to think about it :).
That said, do consider the kefir grains when you are choosing how long to culture yours. I generally only culture mine for 24 hours simply so that the kefir grains do not run out of food.
If you’re just introducing kefir to skeptics, however, I would recommend the shorter culturing time which will produce a thin drinkable kefir great for smoothies.
Next time we’ll discuss growing more kefir grains!
What is your preferred warm location & culturing time for milk kefir?