Getting Started with Milk Kefir

kefirjar

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.

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Shannon

Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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Kefir Eggnog

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image26832775

Eggnog is one of my favorite things about the holidays, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to drink it for years because of the high sugar/preservative/chemical content of commercial eggnog. I recently started making milk kefir again, and I was finding myself overrun with the stuff, so I started looking for things to make with it.

I found this recipe on our site, and was intrigued. Could I really make eggnog from milk kefir without ending up with some horrible-tasting concoction that I’d just end up throwing away?

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A Substitute for Kefir? I Think So!

I have to confess something. I really don’t like kefir. I’ve always wanted to like it, but I’ve never been quite able to get used to the taste or texture. I can understand why so many people like it so much, but I can’t quite bring myself to share that enjoyment. So naturally, since I work with people every day to help solve kefir problems, I got a little frustrated by not being able to enjoy a cultured milk drink of my own.

But the other day, I had an idea. I make my own viili yogurt, and I love it. If I had the time to make enough of it, I would probably eat at least a quart a day. The taste is exactly what I like, and it picks up other flavors really well. So, I thought, what if I blended it?

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Exploding Kefir!

Who knew fermenting some sugar water would be a source of science, health, and entertainment?

It was like any other week in our kitchen. It started a few days prior, with some beautiful little water kefir grains and sugar water. The batch of water kefir had cultured perfectly – the color was lighter than 48 hours prior, and it smelled of that funky, yet alluring, water kefir smell. And like always, we prepared for the second fermentation by removing the kefir grains and adding just a few tablespoons of lime juice to the finished water kefir. The flip top was secured on the bottle, and off to the side it was put to culture for a few more days.

Since we were new to water kefir, the excitement was high and we couldn’t wait for the next two days to go by. A warm week had been predicted, so we looked forward to water kefir chilled by frozen blueberries. But, as life would have it, we neglected the water kefir – in fact, we forgot about it until the middle of Day 3. My poor daughter! Had we known, I surely would have dressed her in rain gear!

My daughter had just grabbed the bottle of water kefir and barely pried the top off when an incredibly loud “Pfffffffoof”was heard, followed by the golden retriever running out of the kitchen just in time for my son to run into the kitchen and watch his sister get drenched as a yellow geyser shot 3 feet (seriously, I kid you not) into the air, spraying my counter, the cupboards above and below, and the tile floor with our beloved probiotic drink. Talk about a mess, but the gasping and giggling were worth it. “Do it again, do it again!” is all I heard the next few minutes as we searched for the flip top lid (it flew off and landed several feet behind us) and mopped up the kefir.

Now, we purposely save a bottle every week just to see if it will explode. That’s where the science comes in…with the fall weather now upon us, it is taking a bit longer for the water kefir to culture to its explosive point. We have to guess when we think that special bottle will be ready to open based on how cool it has been during the last few days, and how long we should let it culture.

Oh, and the dog? He’s definitely more aware of our carbonation experiments. The moment he sees one of us head to the counter, combined with the sound of a bottle being dragged across it, he hastily leaves the room!  Or, if he sees us go to the freezer and pull out the blueberry bag, he runs for cover. Poor guy!

Note to self: Before enjoying the health benefits of water kefir, open with caution, over the sink.

Watch the video of our exploding water kefir here.

Jerri

Jerri

Jerri is a wife and mama. Her culturing adventures began several years ago with other moms who were seeking a healthy way of feeding our families. Together they dabbled in milk kefir, yogurt, sourdough, kombucha and sauerkraut. In the past year she's expanded from sauerkraut to other vegetables, and has grown a passion for water kefir!

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