Kefir – A Manual For Kefir Fermentation And Preparation
Kefir Home Brewing –
How to Produce a Delicious Kefir Drink by Yourself
All you need for the production (of 500ml Kefir drink) is:
- 1 TBSP Kefir grains (also known as Kefir fungus or Tibetan mushroom)
- 500ml of milk (preferably UHT milk or briefly heated fresh milk)
- 1 lockable fermentation container for at least 500ml (e.g. screw top jar)
- 1 plastic strainer, 1 plastic spoon
- 1 bottle or glass for storing the finished Kefir drink in your fridge
Kefir Making - DIY Video
Kefir Quick Starter Guide:
- Give 500ml of milk (room temperature) into your fermentation container.
- Add the Kefir grains (but no finished Kefir drink) to the milk.
- Seal the fermentation container tightly (screw down to the first stop).
- Store your culture at room temperature (16 to 22 degrees) in a place protected from light.
- Pour the finished Kefir drink through a plastic strainer into a bottle or glass.
- Carefully rinse your Kefir grains under cold or lukewarm water.
- Clean the fermentation container thoroughly. You are now ready to start all over again with point 1.
IMPORTANT! Please never let your Kefir grains get into touch with metal of any kind. Metal will harm your grains seriously. Therefore, use only plastic strainers and plastic spoons.
IMPORTANT! In the event of your finished Kefir drink smelling musty or showing a strange behavior at any stage please throw it away as a precaution. Take out the grains and thoroughly clean them in a plastic strainer under running water and start all over again with a new culture
Workplace Hygiene and Cleanliness for Your Handling of Kefir Grains
- All devices that get into contact with the grains or the culture medium have to be cleaned thoroughly up-front. Please use hot water and dish detergent for cleaning. Finally, rinse off all detergent residues very carefully and make sure that all your devices are totally clean. The Kefir grains are very sensitive to chemicals and metals.
- Your hands also need to be clean and free of any soap before touching the grains although it is better not to touch them anyway - you should rather use plastic spoons whenever possible. This way, you can prevent contamination with other germs very effectively.
Detailed Instructions with Many Tips and Tricks
1. Fill 500ml of milk into your fermentation container. You may use cow, goat or sheep’s milk for the production of Milk Kefir howbeit UHT milk would be the best choice.
- Caution! Hence Kefir grains rely on real milk and its ingredients they may not being cultured with soy milk, almond milk, oat drinks and the like for more than two times in a row. After two times the latest, you should give them into real milk for convalescence and invigoration purposes. As a general rule for all experiments you may consider having one glass of a regular fermentation ready in the background as a security deposit in case your experiment fails.
- Regardless of that not heated raw milk may be of more value than UHT milk due to its untouched natural ingredients, Kefir is rather based on the products given by the grains. Agreeably, you should therefore also heat up raw milk in any case for your own safety. Besides, Kefir is only consumed in small amounts anyway (150 to 200ml), just leave aside that the “Tibetan mushroom” is being produced with raw milk in some distant regions like the Caucasus or in Bulgaria as well.
- The fat rate (1.5 or 3.5% in milk) has no impact on the quality except for that your Kefir tastes creamier when using milk with 3.5% fat.
- Our recommendation is to use organic UHT milk with 3.5% fat for your production of Kefir because of its healthy ingredients (i.a. more omega-3 fatty acids).
2. Add your Kefir grains (without the finished Kefir drink).
- Add Kefir grains without the finished Kefir drink to your cooled milk. Our finished Kefir drink from Wellness-Drinks serves only as a protection and transportation means for the grains whilst delivery. And since the Kefir grains are stressed from delivery, they should be better rinsed off and cleaned only when you start your next culture.
- The Kefir medium box from Wellness-Drinks (with about one level TBSP of Kefir grains) is sufficient enough for a culture with 500ml of milk in the beginning. Usually the grains are doubling within about 4 weeks. Over time, you may add more Kefir grains per starter culture; this will also speed up the production. In case the grains get too many (more than 1 part grains to 5 parts milk), just split the culture or dispose the excess.
3. Seal the fermentation container tightly (screw down to the first stop).
- Your Kefir culture does not require any oxygen for its fermentation. Too much air would rather trouble the process. The fermentation process produces carbon dioxide and it is better to seal the container (only) up to the first stop. This way, excess carbon dioxide may still escape sufficiently.
4. Store your culture at room temperature (16 to 22 degrees) in a place protected from light.
- The perfect temperature for the production of Kefir is 12 to 22 degrees although Kefir is usually produced at room temperature in households. The fermentation of yeasts dominates at lower temperatures: Your finished Kefir drink then contains more carbon dioxide and alcohol and tastes more yeasty. At higher temperatures, the acid lactic fermentation will prevail making your finished Kefir drink contain less alcohol and giving it a more sour taste (just like yoghurt). Moreover, it is best to store your Kefir in a cooler place in the house when it is summer.
- Compared to Kombucha and Water Kefir which start to work best when it is warm, Milk Kefir likes it a bit cooler in general. Therefore we may give you a tip that proved valuable: When you set up your new culture, make sure to use cooled milk from the fridge as for 50% of your new culture medium so that it will have 10-15 degrees right from the start. It is good for the Kefir to work a bit cooler for some hours and it also serves a more balanced taste. It is not necessary though, if it doesn’t get hotter in your home than 23-24 degrees at midsummer anyway.
- Your culture does not necessarily need to be in the dark but please make sure it is protected from light. A kitchen towel as cover sheet for example is fine, it keeps away most of the light. Kefir cultures do not like sun because it harms them.
5. Pour the finished Kefir drink through a plastic strainer into a bottle or glass.
- The exact time of fermentation depends on the amount and size of your Kefir grains (bigger grains shorten the process accordingly) as well as the ambient temperature (the warmer, the faster) and also your personal taste. After the first day, your Kefir will be very mild; more sour and intense after the second. Likewise, alcohol volume increases from 0.2 to about 2% maximum. The effect of Kefir depends on its time of fermentation. This also applies to its lactose level. If you prefer your Kefir lactose-free, you should let it ferment for about two days (48 hours).
- In case you prefer a rather thick Kefir drink, stir the culture well after one day of rest and it will be much creamier the next day.
- You should do this as well before you pour out the Kefir because it gently breaks off the hard (casein) components of the milk from the Kefir grains.
- The finished Milk Kefir drink stays fresh in your fridge for several days. And it tastes especially delicious when served cool.
- Please also try out your Kefir a little bit salty or mixed with fresh herbs (parsley, dill) or some cayenne pepper and lemon juice or even with freshly grated ginger root. Moreover, it is good as a feature of a sauce or a dressing as well – there are many delicious recipes on our Kefir recipes page.
- If your first Milk Kefir drink tastes odd, you better dispose it because now and then it needs some time to customize to other types of milk, temperature and so on. Just keep going, the second or third try should be finally your success.
- If there is too much watery whey at the bottom of your culture, then there are too many grains in your culture or the temperature is too high. You may encounter this in particular in summer time. In order to correct, reduce the amount of grains and store the container in a cooler place.
6. Carefully rinse your Kefir grains with cold or lukewarm water. Then, clean the fermentation container thoroughly with hot water. You are now ready to start all over again with point 1.
- Clean Kefir grains look like a pretty mini cauliflower. Rinse off thoroughly all hard casein formations from the grains. They are white and firm as quark. If you do not clean your Kefir grains they will suffocate from the casein accumulated.
- Whether you should really rinse off your Kefir grains every time is not fully clear but it remains for sure the most secure way in terms of hygiene. Unfortunately this stressed them a bit and they often lose their stability and become stringy. This is no sign of bad quality but shows that the culture needs to struggle for a living. That is why a lot of Kefir friends rinse their grains only about after every 3rd or 4th fermentation (like once a week). For Germany and Central Europe this may be ok because the tap water is not chlorinated but you should therefore avoid rinsing with tap water in other countries. The water quality is just not good enough.
- Our “Tibetan mushroom” grows well over time and branches off by itself. Most cultures become the size of a walnut; some people even report much bigger ones. And since the grains are doubling about every 4 weeks, your possible amount of Milk Kefir production increases accordingly.
- Milk Kefir withstands a vacation of yours best in your fridge. On that account, please cover your grains with a mix of milk and milk sugar (lactose). Cover them up loosely. When you want to start a new culture, pour away the old milk and start anew. Bear in mind that it might take a few rounds of fermentation before your culture is as fit enough as it was before.
- Many Kefir friends even freeze their grains or dry them when they go on holidays. Be cautious, this may be risky because your culture might revive very slowly if at all.
Our Service for You:Making Milk Kefir: Instructions with many tips and tricks / pdf download (450.1 KiB)
Note: All information and tips on our website have been selected and verified by us with great care. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee for the currency, completeness and validity of the given data. We assume no liability for any damage and or accidents.
When following our recommendations, tips, and notes, please also use your own personal judgment and experience in the proper and safe handling of food.