DIY - DO IT YOURSELF
What is milk kefir?
Milk kefir is the product of a fermentation process that is triggered by a culture called milk kefir grains. The milk kefir culture feeds on the sugar and breaks down the lactose in the milk. The milk thickens and creates a product that is somewhere between sour milk and yoghurt.
What is the difference between milk kefir & yogurt?
Milk kefir contains different strains of bacteria than yogurt. The consistency and taste also differ. Kefir is more liquid and acidic than many yogurts.
Both are probiotic products. However, most of the yogurts available on the market are pasteurized. This extends the shelf life and also allows a more compact consistency, but lacks valuable bacteria.
How do I use milk kefir grains?
Take a clean glass with a screw cap and pour milk into it. Now put the grains in.
Caution, the grains are "allergic" to some metal products, while stainless steel is fine, rusty metal is poison. It is best to use glass or food-grade plastic.
Leave the glass out at room temperature. Depending on how warm the room is, the milk thickens. The process can take anywhere from 8-36 hours. Shake the glass gently and you can see if the milk has changed its consistency. Don't expect a yogurt-like consistency, however.
Now take a plastic strainer and pour your kefir into a jar. Make sure to catch the grains. These can be used immediately for a new batch of kefir. If you do not manage to find them after straining - rinse what is left in your strainer. If it is not visible - you might want to start straining again with a smaller strainer.
The kefir tastes best chilled, so it is advisable to keep it in the refrigerator before consuming.
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CULTURES / FERMENTS & BOOKS
Recipes with milk kefir
Berry Milk Kefir Smoothie
250g chilled milk kefir
1 handful of berries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp honey
A couple of ice cubes
Milk kefir without grains - mix all ingredients and mix well in a blender / hand blender. Enjoy!
Green smoothie (cabbage and pear kefir)
250g chilled milk kefir
1 teaspoon chlorella algae powder
2 leaves of black cabbage
1 tangerine in total
2 dates / 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 handful of ice cubes
Milk kefir without grains, leaves of black cabbage without the thick stem, pear & mandarin roughly cut, dates pitted. Add seaweed powder & ice cubes & mix vigorously.
Tips & tricks for making milk kefir
How do I care for milk kefir?
Your kefir loves the lactose in milk. As long as there is plenty of it, it will reproduce magnificently and produce a lot of kefir. Especially in warm temperatures, your kefir gets very busy and produces continuously. If you want to take a kefir break, then feed your kefir with fresh milk & just put the glass in the refrigerator. It will work a lot slower. Renew the milk once a week.
How many milk kefir grains do I need?
Size does not matter that much if it comes to ferments. Still - small grains take a little longer, especially with a lot of milk, while large grains will ferment a small amount faster. I do prefer small grains because the often make a more pleasant taste.
Which milk is ideal for milk kefir?
Kefir grains feed on lactose, so any animal milk product that contains lactose is suitable. Therefore, lactose-free milk or "vegan" milk (soy, coconut, almond ...) is not suitable in the long term. Nevertheless, it is possible to make a ferment with a lactose-free product, it is only important that the next fermentation run takes place in a lactose-containing environment. This is the only way to keep the grains active and vital. Pasteurized, homogenized, and even UHT milk work as they all contain lactose. The kefir treatment is actually good for the milk, as it adds more bacterial diversity to it. In the case of dairy products with a low fat content, the kefir is very thin. Cream can also be turned into a kind of sour cream with kefir. For this, however, it is advisable to use a 50:50 mixture of milk & cream.
My grains are huge? What now?!
If your grains have already expanded in volume, you should split it in two. It can be easily separated with your fingers; take the separated part and place it in a glass of milk, which you then store in the refrigerator. However, you should also care for these regularly. (see: How do I care for kefir grains) Alternatively, you can freeze the grains or give it to someone else. However, it should not be stored in a dry place.
What can you make from milk kefir?
Due to the special bacterial composition in kefir, it is a wonderful starter for all lactic acid ferments. Use your kefir, for example, in a pre-dough for bread. Also especially great in waffle or pancake batter. You can also drain your finished kefir through a cloth (gauze or Pasize cloth). Catch the liquid & use as a starter culture for vegetables. The drained mass is a labneh, similar to cream cheese. Mix it with a little oil and herbs. Legumes, e.g. beans or chickpeas, which have to be soaked first, benefit from a tablespoon of kefir in the soaking process. The kefir acidifies the legumes and makes them easier to digest. Kefir is also the ideal starter culture for homemade cheese. I have been making camembert for us at home for years without using any laboratory bacteria. All the necessary bacteria are already contained in the kefir.
Can you eat kefir if you are lactose intolerant?
The lactose is broken down in the course of fermentation, but the finished kefir still contains lactose. The more mature and therefore acidic your kefir, the less lactose it contains. Studies were able to show that kefir can help improve lactose tolerance in people with intolerance. Make sure, however, that your kefir is unpasteurized, only this contains essential lactic acid bacteria.