How to Make Kefir

Kefir is a cultured milk beverage. It’s similar to yogurt but the taste is a bit different and it’s more of a drink than something you’d eat out of a bowl. Unlike yogurt, kefir contains beneficial yeast as well as good bacteria. If you can tolerate dairy, kefir is a great probiotic food to incorporate into your diet. Kefir is also incredibly easy to make.

Finding Kefir Grains

If you haven’t made kefir before you’ll first need to acquire some milk kefir grains. The least expensive option is to try to get extra grains from someone who’s already making kefir. I suggest asking members of your local WAPF chapter. Healthy kefir grains usually multiply so people who regularly make kefir often have extra grains to share with others.

If you can’t find any free grains locally you can also order grains online.

How to Make Kefir

Once you have your grains the kefiring process is quite simple, although it may take you a bit of time to get used to it. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments. I’m not exactly a kefir expert but I’ve been making kefir long enough that I’ve figured out what works best for me.

Ingredients:

Kefir grains (find kefir grains here)

Milk (I use raw, organic whole milk but any type of milk will work)

Method:

Put your kefir grains into a clean glass jar. How much milk and kefir grains you want to use is up to you – flavor and texture change depending on your ratio of grains to milk. I typically use 2 to 3 tablespoons of grains for about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of milk.

Add your milk.

Cover with a cloth or something breathable to keep fruit flies and other objects out of your jar. Secure the cloth with a rubber band.

Leave the jar out at room temperature for about 24 hours. If it’s particularly cold in your kitchen, you may want to keep the jar in the warmest spot you can find. Kefir grains like warmth.

Check the kefir after 24 hours. It should be thickened and starting to separate into curds and whey. If you don’t think it’s done, leave it out for another 12 to 24 hours until it appears finished. My kefir is always done after the first 24 hours, but yours could take longer if your kitchen is particularly cold.

When your kefir is finished, stir it up in the jar so it’s liquid again, then pour it into a strainer to strain. I use a small plastic strainer set inside a canning funnel over a glass jar. If your strainer is small like mine you’ll have to pour the kefir into the strainer in batches.

Gently stir the kefir to encourage it to move through the strainer. When you’re finished, all your finished kefir will be in the jar while your grains will be left in the strainer.

Put the grains into a new jar and add more milk to start a new batch of kefir. (I reuse my original jar several times instead of starting with a new jar each time, but I’m not sure whether that’s recommended.)

Store your finished kefir in the fridge. If you want to further reduce the lactose content of your kefir, you can instead store the finished kefir on the counter for a day before transferring to the fridge.

Notes:

Many kefir resources caution against using metal in any stage of the kefir making process. Dom (an online kefir expert), however, argues that this advice originated before the popularity of stainless steel utensils and is thus outdated. When I started making kefir I purchased a special plastic strainer and only used non-metal utensils. Given what I’ve read, however, I would not be concerned about using metal on my kefir grains.

Kefir grains often multiply quickly. If you find yourself with extra grains, give them away to friends, eat them as extra probiotics, or just throw them away in your trash or compost.

If you need to take a break from making kefir, put your kefir grains into a jar with fresh milk as usual then store in the fridge. Dom recommends storing kefir grains for no longer than a week before providing them with fresh milk.

If you only want to drink a small amount of kefir every day, I recommend making a small batch every day rather than making a large batch and then storing the grains in the fridge. Kefir grains thrive best when they are allowed to spend most of their time culturing on the counter.

Dairy-Free?

If you can’t do dairy, consider making water kefir. Like milk kefir, water kefir contains valuable probiotics. It’s also super tasty. We enjoy both milk kefir and water kefir on a regular basis in our home.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Sunday School, Monday Mania , Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Your Green Resource, and Simple Lives Thursday

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111 Responses to How to Make Kefir

  1. So interesting! I’ve pinned it. I found you through Pennywise Platters.
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  2. Terri says:

    Do you think Kefir tastes anything like beer? I asked my husband and he said, “I’ve never tasted beer.” We’re Christians and we don’t drink, but I have tasted beer before and that’s the first thing I thought of when I had my first taste. I didn’t really like it. I’m wondering if I did it right – is that what it’s supposed to taste like? Thanks!

    • Meghan says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Terri! I don’t drink either so I’m not sure how qualified I am to answer your question. :) I’ve had beer a couple of times (I just don’t like the taste) but from what I remember I don’t think my kefir tastes like that. It does have a bit of a yeasty aftertaste so maybe that’s what reminding you of beer.

      I personally don’t like the taste of straight kefir. I put it into a smoothie or drink it with some stevia and orange extract. I know a lot of people like it plain but I just don’t.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that the taste can change based on how much milk and grains you use. You might try playing around with your ratio and see if that makes a difference.

      I have also read that an unpleasant tasting kefir can mean that your grains are out of balance. If you let them sit in yogurt for a day that can reset the bacteria/yeast so the taste improves again.

      • Alex says:

        If you “refresh” your kefir bacteria keeping it in yogurt for a day, wouldn’t you kefir bacteria mix with the yogurt bacteria (the process of making yogurt is the same as kefir, just the bacteria used in plain yogurt is different then the kefir bacteria)? In time, after few “refreshes” you might end up with more yogurt than kefir in your final product.

        Just a logic thought…

        • Meghan says:

          I don’t know, Alex. I’ve just read multiple times that the yogurt trick can help “reset” grains that have started to taste “off.” I’ve never done it more than once myself so I can’t comment on what happens over time. Kefir grains are pretty hardy, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re able to maintain their integrity somehow.

        • Terri says:

          Kefir grains contain yeasts and bacteria, whereas yogurt contains ONLY bacteria and no yeast. Also, I have heard it described that kefir has so-called “left hand” bacteria and yogurt has “right hand” bacteria (or vice-verse, I can’t remember) Anyway, they are not the same.

    • I have read that if you let your kefir ferment for too long it can become increasingly alcoholic and eventually turn to vinegar. If your kefir is tasting alcoholic you might want to make sure to drink/use it sooner.

      General ratios for good kefir are 10:1 (10 parts milk, 1 part grains), let it go for 24 hours at room temperature then strain out the grains. Feed the grains again and continue the process. Refrigerate unused kefir and weigh your grains every week or so to make sure that your ratios are still appropriate.

      You can also make dairy free kefir using coconut milk and milk kefir grains or coconut milk and water kefir grains.

    • jason says:

      NO. Kefir doesn’t taste like beer. However u can make REAL ginger Ale out of water kefir which is awesome. Your probably just tasting some of the yeast however i wouldn’t compare it to beer at all.

  3. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-february-28-2012/

  4. Jer Marie says:

    Very interesting. But I don’t think I would like the taste of it. I’m also not a drinker.
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  5. Adrienne says:

    From my experience with store-bought kefir, it tastes very much like watery sour cream. Don’t know how different the homemade stuff is.

    • Meghan says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Adrienne. I don’t know if I would describe my kefir as tasting like sour cream, but it certainly does have a very sour flavor to it. Luckily it goes well in smoothies.

  6. Ruth says:

    My friend gave me half her Kefir grains & the first few times (sitting in milk for 24hrs in kitchen) the end product was like a combination between butter milk & yogurt, thickish & slightly fizzy (which was fine by me). Since then the flavour isn’t as fermented, texture is not as thick & my kefir is not increasing in quantity. It has gotten colder here (Perth Hills, WA), so to compensate I don’t put a lid on the jar just paper towel to allow it to breath, but this has made very little difference. So I have two Q. 1. Is the rule of thumb the more fermented or the more increase of kefir growth, the better the effect/benefits ? And if yes, how do I make it more fermented? Is fizzy good, bad or irrelevant? Thank you for your time. If you can’t answer these Q can u direct me towards a site that can?

    • Meghan says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Ruth. Let me take a stab at your questions. From what I understand, fully fermented kefir will have more probioitics than underfermented kefir. I am not sure whether the probiotic content continues to increase if you let the kefir continue to ferment. Does your kefir separate when fermenting? My kefir gets pockets of whey in it towards the end of fermenting and that’s one sign that I use to know that it’s done. If I were you I’d aim for fully fermented kefir but not overfermented. Overfermenting can hurt the grains over time because they’re being deprived of food for a while.

      Is your kitchen particularly cold? Heat can play a big role in how fast your kefir ferments and how quickly your grains grow. I would try keeping your kefir in the warmest part of your kitchen. I used to keep mine in a cabinet above my toaster oven. If that doesn’t make a difference, you could also experiment with heating devices. My mother-in-law keeps her kefir on top of a little heating pad meant for heating an aquarium. She was having a lot of trouble getting her grains to grow but since she started using the heating pad they have become very prolific.

      My kefir is rarely fizzy. I think fizziness is mainly a product of culturing in an airtight (or more airtight) container. It makes sense that the fizziness would’ve gone away when you switched to covering with a paper towel. I think fizzy or non-fizzy are both fine.

      Please write again if you have more questions! I’d also be interested to hear whether these suggestions help you troubleshoot.

      Oh, and here are two webpages that very helpful for kefir: http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html
      and http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefir-faq.html

    • phil Dolin says:

      Hi there,

      I live in the hills too (darlington) and cant seem to find kefir grains. Would it be possible to exchange some kefir grains for a kombucha scoby (of which I have in abundance aswell as fresh navel oranges)…

      thanks

      Phil

  7. Pandora says:

    Hello – i’ve just started making kefir. I was given some grains from a friend last week. The first couple of batches didn’t thicken and smelt like off milk so i through them away and started again. The last two batches have thickened (i usually stop the process after about 24hrs) and look like the right sort of consistency but the kefir still smells like off milk…and doesn’t taste very nice. Should it smell/taste like that?! Having never made it before i’m not sure if this is ‘normal’ or not! I used it in a smoothie this morning to mask the flavour but i’m not sure if there is something wrong with it or not!
    Could you please advise!
    Thanks
    Pandora

    • Meghan says:

      Hmm… I should start out by saying that I am by no means a kefir expert. So take all this with a grain of salt. For what it’s worth, though, I don’t like the taste or smell of my kefir. I always drink it either in a smoothie or with some stevia and orange extract to mask the flavor. So I wouldn’t necessarily take the smell/taste as evidence that you’re doing something wrong.

      Personally, I let my kefir go until it at least starts to separate a bit. Usually this is 24 hours but occasionally it will take longer than that. If my kefir separates while culturing and my grains are consistently multiplying, I take this to mean I’m doing it right. I don’t know if this helps you at all, but good luck with your kefiring adventures!

      • Pandora says:

        Hi Meghan – thanks for that. Well, that sounds like things are ok….i hope! Today was the first day when it actually smelt a little more ‘normal’ so maybe it just needed a few days to settle into its new home!

        • Meghan says:

          Glad to hear things are going better! I have read that kefir grains can need some time to adjust to changes in the milk so it seems entirely possible that they just needed some time to settle into their new place.

  8. Darcy says:

    Hi, I just recieved my first batch of kefir grains, one batch of water kefir grains, and one of milk kefir-I apologise if the question seems silly, but I am quite confused as to whether or not I should leave it out on the counter, or whether I should store it in the fridge? I live in the Middle East and the weather borders between 30 – 40 degrees. And I noticed some people cover their kefir completely, while others use cheesecloth? When am I supposed to use cheesecloth, and for how long, and when should I cover it, and for how long?
    Also, once I have drained the kefir grains, how long is the milk kefir, or water kefir good for?
    And should it then be stored on the counter or in the fridge?

    • Meghan says:

      Hi Darcy,
      That is a lot of questions! I’ll do my best at answering them.
      When making kefir you always want to leave it out on the counter. You can put your kefir grains in the fridge if you want to take a break from taking kefir, though, as the cold temperature of the fridge will dramatically slow down the culturing process. Store your finished milk kefir in the fridge. You can also store finished water kefir in the fridge, but I always store mine on the counter as I usually don’t have a lot of extra fridge space.
      The milk kefir will last quite a while in the fridge since the culturing process naturally preserves it. I’m not sure of an exact amount of time, but I personally have drank kefir that’s more than a month old. I usually use it up within a week, though. If it smells and looks fine it’s probably fine to drink.
      As for water kefir, I don’t store mine in the fridge so I’m not sure how long it will last like that. We usually drink ours within four to six days, as it tends to get more and more sour the longer your leave it. I’m not sure when it really goes “bad” but it doesn’t taste very good after a while. I would guess that water kefir stored in the fridge would last quite a while.
      I used to always use old t-shirts to cover my kefirs. Now, though, I’ve been reading about how both water kefir and milk kefir ideally need an anaerobic environment so I’ve started making them in airtight jars with an airlock. If you want to just use a breathable cover, though, I would just make sure that it will keep out the bugs. Fruit flies really go after kefir. You should keep both kefirs covered the entire time that they are culturing on your counter.

      Hope this helps!

      • Mary says:

        I’ve only been making kefir a short time, so am still struggling through it. :) But, I put a coffee filter over my kefir in a mason jar and secure it with a rubber band. I always have coffee filters on hand. :)

  9. Darcy says:

    Thanks a mill! Just made my first batch :))

  10. elizabeth says:

    is there a way to store kefir for longer periods ? like if you are going on vacation? also, can you use goats milk,almond milk and coconut milk? you said something about ”less lactose” so can people with lactose intolerance have kefir?
    thank you

    • Meghan says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      How long of a period are you talking about? Kefir should keep for a very long time just in the fridge. I have left mine for weeks and not had a problem. This site says that kefir can keep in the fridge for more than a year. I don’t think I would try leaving it for that long but I wouldn’t worry about it if you are just going away for a few weeks.

      You can definitely use goat’s milk for kefir. You can also use coconut milk, but you have to kefir the grains in dairy milk every couple batches or otherwise the grains will die. I have not tried almond milk but I’d research it if I were you.

      Kefir is allowed on the GAPS diet, which deliberately avoids lactose, so I can only assume that people with lactose intolerance could drink kefir. If you leave your finished kefir out at room temperature for an extra day after straining it will also reduce the lactose content even further.

  11. Reyna says:

    I am wondering about the kefir. This is my first experience with it. Is the sugar that’s in it in the grocery store natural? I heard that I should make it myself and that will be healthier. Is it just as good in a mason jar? I was told to purchase a $30 jar online. I guess those might be more for fermenting vegetables?

    • Meghan says:

      Hi Reyna,

      I’ve never bought kefir in a store so I don’t know if the sugar in it is natural.

      I would really consider making kefir yourself. You will most likely save money and will have complete control over the ingredients. If you have raw milk, you can make raw kefir, which you can’t even buy in most states. I think homemade kefir is also usually more potent because it tends to be fermented longer than the store-bought kind.

      I recently switched to making kefir in an airtight jar, which I’m guessing is what you’re referring to with the $30 jar. I personally don’t know if it’s necessary, but I’ve read that it can make your ferments (both kefir and vegetables) more effective so I decided to try it. I can tell you that you definitely can make kefir (and get your grains to grow) in just a mason jar. I did that for more than two years before getting this new jar.

      If I were you, I would probably try it out in the mason jar first, to make sure that you want to have it in your diet, before you consider upgrading to a more expensive jar setup.

  12. Al says:

    I have seen my health food store sells kefir in the bottle can I use that as my grain to make more kefir at home.

  13. Meg says:

    I have now made two batches of Kefir from grains I got from a friend, one of them with coconut milk, the other with lactose free milk (I’m lactose intolerant, and this is what I had handy). The coconut milk batch took almost 48 hours to separate, and once I put it in the fridge, it has separated, with a creamy kefir on the top, a clear-ish liquid in the middle, and a milky liquid on the bottom. Is this normal? Is Kefir supposed to separate after you finish it and remove the grains and put in the fridge? I thought this might be a problem so I made my next batch with milk, and it also looks like it is separating in the fridge. Are we supposed to stir it before drinking?
    Thanks!

    • Meghan says:

      Hi Meg,

      My kefir always separates in the fridge. For milk kefir, it’s just the whey separating out and is absolutely not a problem. I always stir it before drinking; otherwise you will have some that’s really thin and other parts that are really thick. For your coconut kefir, I suspect that the separation was mostly the fact that coconut milk tends to separate in the fridge, regardless of whether it’s been kefired or not. Again, that’s not a problem; just stir it before drinking.

      I wanted to mention a couple of other things. I have not made coconut milk kefir in a long time, but I don’t remember letting it kefir for more than 24 hours. Have you read about how to make coconut milk kefir? I don’t know that I would necessarily use separation as a way of telling whether it’s done or not, since I would assume that coconut milk has a different composition than dairy milk.

      What are your plans for what kind of milk to use going forward? I’ve never heard of making kefir with lactose-free milk, but my guess would be that that wouldn’t work long-term, since the kefir grains actually eat lactose. I think (though I’m not sure) that kefiring regular milk would work for you even with your lactose intolerance, since the kefir grains consume most of the lactose during the culturing process.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  14. Alex says:

    We leave in Canada, Toronto area where the cultural diversity is very big. Kefir is a know if not popular drink in my origin country and we are very used with the taste of kefir. We have here stores were we can find kefir (even Costco) made of plain milk (the ingredients are just milk and kefir bacteria). Because we grew with the taste of kefir we really like it, it’s a good morning drink for us. It’s not cheap to buy it from the store but I would really want to try making it at home. For me will be very easy to figure out if I got the wright kefir or not.

    My question is: did anyone used those yogurt kits to make kefir (or yogurt)? I remember once gave it a thought to buy and make home made yogurt but then I abandoned the idea. The kits included a 6 little jars were you add the warm milk and the yogurt bacteria and the jars are immersed in a warm water bath device that keeps the water at a constant temperature to otimize the growth of bacteria. It seemed to me a better way to control the environment.
    if you used the device, are you happy, does it worth or not?

  15. Meghan says:

    Hi Alex,

    I’ve never used kefir or yogurt kits. In my opinion, over the long-term it’s more cost effective to buy kefir grains rather than a kit. If you take care of your kefir grains they will last forever. You’ll also constantly produce extra grains that you can give away to friends/relatives/etc.

    I don’t know much about those yogurt kits. I do know that there are a lot of ways to make yogurt that don’t involve a kit. Unlike kefir, you do need to keep your yogurt warm while it’s culturing but there are a lot of ways to do that. I just wrote about how I make yogurt in my dehydrator. I know that you can also do it in a cooler with hot water, with a heating pad, in a slow cooker, etc.

  16. [...] This great guide on how to make kefir [...]

  17. [...] can learn how to make your own kefir – it’s a delicious and nutritious [...]

  18. [...] been more adventurous in my kitchen. I learned how to make kefir and did so for the first time. I’m excited  to learn how to make a sourdough starter. [...]

  19. [...] And do you know what I love even more? The idea of making it myself, so I can’t wait to make homemade kefir [...]

  20. heidi says:

    I want to make kefir in one litre batches. How many grains do I need?
    Many thanks!

    • Meghan says:

      It depends a lot on your preference, but I’d try somewhere between 2 to 4 tablespoons of grains. You’ll know if you have to little or too much over time as your kefir will culture too quickly or too slowly.

  21. [...] Natural Life will show you how to make kefir with a photo [...]

  22. Julie says:

    Hi Meghan,

    My dietician friend gave me Kefir grains in a glass jar with a metal screw-on lid and I went ahead and made my first batch (we were missionaries in Russia for 10 years and got used to kefir there, but it’s expensive in Canada). Since I’ve been making my own yogurt for at least 3 yrs (using the oven light for warmth) making kefir is not so intimidating. Thanks for all the help here on your site! One question I still have is why the cloth on top as opposed to a lid? What are the advantages? Conversely, if using a lid why is a regular screw-on lid or sealer lid & ring not sufficient?

    • I’m not sure, Julie. I think it may be to avoid an explosion that could potentially occur with an airtight lid. That is just the way that I learned how to do it when I started out! :) These days I actually use an airlock rather than the cloth.

    • For kefir, it is OK to use either type of lid (breathable or non) because the kefir grains don’t need oxygen but they also don’t need to be out of oxygen. So either way works fine.

      Some people have noticed a flavor difference in kefir they have made that is allowed access to air versus covered kefir. There are people that like it one way and people who like it the other way, it’s really up to you to experiment and see what you like.

      Another reason to cover your kefir tightly is to keep other ferments from infiltrating. Some people have noticed oddities when fermenting yogurt or Kombucha near their kefir (SCOBYs growing on the kefir, the kefir becoming the same consistency as the yogurt, etc). So again, depends on your environment and your preferences. See what works, I have done both covered and uncovered (now that I am doing Kombucha near) and have not noticed a marked difference between the kefirs.

  23. Samantha says:

    Hi Meghan,

    I really liked this post, and wanted to buy my starters by clicking on your link to Cultures for Health so I could get you the commission, but I looked several times and couldn’t find the link! So I thought I’d pass that tid-bit along, in case you wanted to make the link more obvious.

    Thanks for this great blog,
    Samantha
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  24. quilly says:

    Greetings Meghan: I made a batch of milk kefir using Yogourmet culture and standard Dutchman Dairy milk. It seems to have worked well, but when I strained the solution it didn’t yield the distinct cauliflowerette-like grains that will perpetuate kefir making. Would you know why that is? I really enjoy taking the kefir, just as it is, and feel it is good for my GI tract. Should I try a different kind of milk; a different culture/grain brand, or try to find someone in the community who may have an excess of kefir grains? Thanks Meghan. Quilly

    • Quilly, was the Yogourmet culture powdered? If so, that’s probably your issue. You can make kefir from a powdered culture, but it will never produce kefir grains. If you want to make kefir long-term, I recommend investing in some kefir grains, as they will allow you to make kefir indefinitely as long as you take good care of them.

  25. [...] vegetables are far from the only food that may be fermented. Raw milk may be fermented into yogurt, kefir, cultured cheese, creme fraiche, and more. Before refrigeration, meats were preserved through [...]

  26. [...] now, we are in business! Several days, several instructional web sites, and several botched batches later, we have a consistent supply of kefir coming out of our pantry. [...]

  27. Lesley says:

    Hi Meghan, I made my first batch of kefir the other day with the powdered form and 2 cans of organic coconut milk. I used two packs instead of one because I used two cans. I let it sit for 24 hours and now it tastes like sour milk. I’m scared if I drink this, it will make me sick as I’m not sure if this is how it should taste. How do I know if I did this right? I would hate to throw it away if its actually good but I’m scared that I somehow messed it up and it just went sour with bad bacteria instead of good.

    • Hmm. I’m not sure what to tell you. I haven’t made coconut milk kefir for a long time, but from what I remember it definitely has a distinct sour taste. I don’t know if it tastes like sour milk, as I’ve never actually drank sour milk so don’t know what it would taste like. My guess would be that your kefir is fine, but that said, when it comes to fermented foods a good rule is not to ever eat/drink anything that smells or tastes bad. So really, you have to decide for yourself. Sorry I couldn’t be more help…

    • Coconut milk kefir tastes like sour coconut milk and smells like sour coconut milk.

      If everything was clean when you started then the kefir bacteria is what would should have colonized not something else.

      Kefir is actually really good at getting rid of the bad guys and infiltrating with the good guys which is why some people get a “die off” response when first starting something like kefir. The good bacteria get into your gut and start killing off the bad guys resulting in sickness for some people.

  28. making kefir says:

    [...] Everything I seem to find has about the same instructions. http://wholenaturallife.com/2012/02/…to-make-kefir/ I'm really not sure where to buy the kefir, but this one one amazon has a lot of good ratings. [...]

  29. Shirly says:

    Thank you for all the questions and answers, Meghan! You have such a pleasant manner in your writing, so tolerant and inviting of questions. My only question is, When buying raw milk, if indeed it can be found, how do you ensure that the milk will not cause illness for you, as is so often warned by health authorities?
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  30. Mary Hartman says:

    When you start do you need to let the milk warm up before pouring it over the grains? Will cold milk kill the grains?

    I just started drinking kefir and I love it. It would be cheaper for me to be able to make my own.

  31. Chris says:

    Straining kefir is too hard, takes too long, and requires cleanup. The grains are firm. I simply fish them out with a wooden fork and transfer them to the new batch.

    • Glad to hear that works for you, Chris! My kefir grains seem to be constantly growing new baby grains–which I don’t like the texture of when they end up in my finished kefir–so I prefer straining.

  32. Ryan says:

    Hey Meghan,

    As a recovering alcoholic, would I have any concerns about the alcohol content if my friend and I went with the 12 hour fermenting kefir? I usually don’t think alcohol in food is a big deal but any site that I have read about making kefir points out the alcohol which means there has been thought put into mentioning it.

    Many sites state the less time you ferment the better and it wouldn’t be any moe alcohol then you would find in common foods such as vinegar but I was wondering if you have an opinion on this.

    Thanks!

    • Ryan, I don’t have any experience with alcoholism so can’t comment on this. I do know that for me personally I don’t have any concerns about potential alcohol–and I wouldn’t hesitate to feed kefir to children. But I don’t know how sensitive you might be.

  33. Martha says:

    Hi Meghan I really liked your website!
    I was just given some kefir grains and I have a question for you….I was told that once the kefir is ready and after draining the grains that I need it to rinse the kefir grains with water!
    so do I neeed to do this everytime a batch is ready ? I hope not:)
    thank you !

    • No, do not rinse your grains between batches. Rinsing can throw off the good balance of beneficial bacteria. Just strain your grains and put them into your new batch of milk!

      • Martha says:

        Thank you so much for your help ! I wont rinse my kefir grains anymore! I made some smoothies with my homemade kefir and they were yummy!

  34. [...] like a loose yogurt.  I’ve not yet had water kefir.  Whole Natural Life is going to show us how to make Kefir, and I know you’ll find this interesting.  I drink milk Kefir once per day for it’s [...]

  35. [...] Whole life shares how to make kefir.  I make kefir every couple of days with local, raw milk.  So much better than [...]

  36. Rex says:

    I use powdered milk which works pretty well and is a lot cheaper than regular.

    The climate is quite cool up here in northern Maine.

    After straining my kefir’s smooth, creamy texture turns into something resembling curdled milk. I’ve tried varying the time with similar results.

    At one point my grains were growing quite slowly and I found a couple that had turned yellowish. Of course, I immediately discarded them and the rest began to grow like mad.

    How can I get that wonderful creamy texture to stay?

  37. [...] milk may be fermented into yogurt, kefir, cultured cheese, creme fraiche, and more. (Source for yogurt and kefir [...]

  38. Jessica says:

    Hi! I just got live grains in the mail Saturday. I immediately put them in milk, and began the process of reactivating them. The directions that came with them said the kefir should be ready in about 3 days. It smells close, and when I tried a sip it tasted close, but after sitting in the fridge all night, it simply tasted like sour milk the next morning. I have been following all the directions to the “t”…..what am I doing wrong? Thanks:)

    • I am confused. Were your grains dried? Live grains are not dried, and there should be no need to reactivate them. What did your directions say to do, exactly? If you can clarify these issues I can try to help you more.

      • Jessica says:

        Ok, my grains were live. The directions didn’t say they needed to be “reactivated” that was my wordage….they did say to add 1/2 cp of whole milk with the grains, and let set for 24 hours before straining grains and repeating this process. They said it could take up to 3 days before the grains were back to normal strength. The directions also say that the kefir should separate. It smells closer to kefir than it did say, Monday, but it isn’t separating at all, and doesn’t appear to be cultured.

        • So you are giving the grains fresh milk every day, right? Hmm. I know this a comment is a few days old, so I’d be curious to know whether they still are not culturing. If the grains really should only take 3 days to start kefiring again, then it’s possible that those grains died before they got to you.

          Are you culturing them in a particularly cold spot? That’s another possibility. You could try putting them somewhere warmer and see if that makes a difference. Heat really affects kefir grains.

  39. Drina Baker. says:

    Hi Meghan: I have just started making Kefir. I think the finish product does have a little sour taste.( pucker power)’ What I do is add Torani Flavoring syrup it. You can find this at Walmart in different flavors.About 2 tablespoons.This seems to kill the sour taste.

  40. Cyril says:

    Hi, what do you do with the grains after you are done? do you store them in the refrigerator? If I buy the grains, how long do they last?

  41. georgina says:

    It tastes much better if it is fermented anaerobically. It’s also suppose to be much healthier for you. I will not go back to making kefir any other way….

  42. […] How to Make Kefir […]

  43. […] I haven’t made them yet so can’t give any tips on the process. Why I Love Kefir How to Make Kefir How to Make […]

  44. […] on kefir: How to make kefir? and Over 80+ kefir […]

  45. Kat says:

    Oops. I just made some kefir but I didn’t use a breathable top for it. I sealed it with a lid for 24 hours. Will this be a problem?

  46. Charity says:

    Do you skim the thick cream off the raw milk before leaving the kefir to process?

  47. Charity says:

    Do you skim the heavy cream off the raw milk before making the kefir?

  48. tony goult says:

    when is the best time to drink kefir

  49. Zuzanna says:

    Hi, I saw in the article to change the milk your grains are in once a week. I didn’t know that before and my grains have been sitting in the same milk for a good 2 almost 3 weeks if not more. Do I need to toss the grains? TIA

    • They may be okay, depending on how much milk you gave them initially. The best way to know is to just put them in fresh milk and try to make kefir again. If it doesn’t become kefir, you’ll know your grains are dead and you need to toss them!

  50. […] coconut milk can also be used to make coconut milk kefir. The instructions are the same as making regular milk kefir  only you will have to soak the kefir grains in dairy milk in between batches of coconut milk […]

  51. Debbie says:

    Received my kefir grains from a friend late Saturday and put them in a mason jar Sunday morning with it full of raw whole milk. It’s been a little over 32 hours and I can’t see much happening in the jar. My kitchen hasn’t been very warm.

  52. Kim says:

    akk! my beautiful, healthy curds were accidentally heated on my stovetop…not boiling, but with visible steam. Have I killed them?

    • Do you mean your kefir grains? I’m not sure, although I would guess yes? The sure fire way to tell would be to try to make some kefir with them. If it doesn’t make kefir, I guess it’s time to get some new grains. :(

  53. Kim says:

    Hi and thanks for all the info. Maybe I missed this answer, so I’ll answer ask anyway. I have only made this twice and now on my third try. I got some grains from a friend, made kefir. It came out perfectly separated, delicious! Reused the grains and it didn’t separate. I thought it was v
    Because I used whole organic milk instead of a low fat. I made it again with low fat and it still hasn’t separated after 48 hours. My kitchen is cold so I keep it in the oven with the pilot light . No one has turned the oven on and it is very thick. Is it done? Is it OK? Why didn’t it separate? Thanks in advance for your help!
    Kim

    • Does it still smell like kefir? If it’s thick it’s probably kefiring just fine. As to why it separated the first time but not later, I don’t know. Temperature can make a big difference, so maybe it was just somewhat warmer that first time?

  54. Skye says:

    I just got my kefir grains, probably a half a cup of them, and was told to throw out the first 3-4 batches, so they can adjust to the new milk. The former owner used raw milk and I am using 2% organic milk which has been pastuerized. I have been working with them in a quart jar, really running through a lot of milk and have gotten to the point of being able to keep my batches. It seems like I have an abundance of grains and not a lot of kefir, when I’m done with a batch. Straining over cheesecloth, a bit is thick and then what drops to the clean jar is thin and watery. Is this how it is supposed to be? Today I moved the grains to a gallon jar and added significantly more milk, thinking maybe I’m just not giving them enough milk for so many grains. I’m not clear if you are supposed to be separating the kefir from the thin whey or just remove the grains and use the rest. Also, my grains were sort of yellowish when I received them, but they are big and puffy and seem to be working. I am wondering why mine have the yellowish color instead of the white cottage cheesy appearance in your photo. Are my grains healthy? Thanks for any info. Trying to learn about this new art.

    • It sounds like you’re just straining out the whey, rather than all of the kefir. You definitely only want to remove the grains–everything else you want to drink. I think your cheesecloth is too fine. Do you have a strainer that you can use? I also find that I need to stir my kefir while I’m straining it to ensure that only the grains remain in the strainer.

  55. Teresa says:

    Hi. Just a question: If I use raw milk from my cow, do I need to “pasturize” it first?

    • I assume that you normally drink raw milk from your cow? (I.e., the cow is fed/cared for in such a way that the milk is safe to drink raw, etc.) If so, then pasteurization is absolutely not necessary. Personally I think that kefir made from raw milk is the best, most nutritious option, and it’s how I make my own kefir.

  56. beni says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the descriptive post! A quick question: I have some kefir grains that I bought online. They arrived two days ago and I popped them straight into some organic milk (pasturised b/c that’s what I had on hand) in a ball mason jar, but they appear to have done nothing after 48 hours. I just strained them (metal strainer!) and they look really small like bread crumbs almost, not plump and healthy like your photo above. The ratio I used what 2tsp grain to 2 cups milk…I would be grateful for any advice! Thank you again for your lovely blog.

  57. Charlotte says:

    Just made my first batch of kefir. Mistakenly let the 1/2 c, raw milk and kefir grains ferment for 6 days instead of changing the milk each day. (oops!, but the kitchen is cold and wasn’t sure of when it was done.) Just strained it and see that the grains are much bigger, kind of gelatinous, and have scooped them into a pint of raw milk to set overnight. I’ve mixed the strained kefir into my Vitamix with a wedge of pineapple and a small unpeeled, cored apple and enough coconut milk to rinse the remnant kefir into the mixture. It’s quite tasty. Thank you for the idea of using it in a smoothie. Couldn’t you use the discarded liquid in pancakes or biscuits in the place of buttermilk? Thanks for your help, and all of you who contribute!

  58. Jennifer says:

    Trying to troubleshoot my 1st batch of kefir. I put a little over 1 tablespoon of kefir grains into 1 quart of milk….. It has been about 32 hours and it is still runny and smells sour…Any thoughts? Thanks!

  59. kayvee says:

    Great post!

    If you are lactose intolerant make the kefir with goats milk. You can get that at the farmers market

  60. Eli Shao says:

    Hello,

    I’ve got about two tablespoons of kefir grains and tried making kefir first using only about half a glass of milk (not raw, 3.25%). I was successful first time. Second time I added more milk and after 24 hours it was still watery just like a regular milk. I left for another 12 hours and it was still watery and didn’t smell that good.
    I threw it out and started a new batch with only half glass of milk and it worked again.
    Long story short, it seems that every time I use more than half a glass of milk I don’t get kefir.
    It’s not getting completely thick even after 48 hours.
    In your blog you said you used 2 tablespoons of kefir for 2, 2 1/2 cups of milk. What am I doing wrong?
    Can it be that the milk I’m using is not suitable for making kefir? Maybe too much preservative?
    Or do I simply need more grains?

    Thank you
    Eli

  61. […] While there are some excellent commercial versions of Kefir, you might want to try making some of your own. Here is an excellent source for kefir making. […]

  62. Kellie says:

    Thank you for all your tips and directions to making homemade Kefir. I have been buying organic lactose free Kefir with organic blueberry, pomegranate and acai. It is delish! I will be making it from scratch from now on, as it is too spendy to buy as much as I consume. I’m thinking I will add the organic fruit (i.e. blueberries or raspberries, etc.) after the fermenting process. Do you know if adding the fruit will change the PH and/or change the fermenting process? Thanks for your help!

  63. Paul Weddle says:

    You have links on your page for sourcing kefir grains but they point to a site that only sells culture starter powder, not grains.
    http://wholenaturallife.com/starters

  64. Uli says:

    /I received my live milk grains and started the culturing process. But, failed to retrieve them within the first 24 hrs. Instead, they sat for about 41 hours, and had developed this yellow-orange skin to it. As I have a cooler kitchen , I was fermenting on an old electric heating pad. I strained out the grains and scooped the spoilage out and threw it away. I then added fresh milk to the original jar. The directions that came with the grains suggested that I shouldn’t rinse the original jar.

    I also did not shake the strainer to remove excess liquid, but I’m thinking maybe I will go back and do this, as well to make sure the healthier grains were not contaminated, with the spoilage.

    Or should I really inspect the whole batch, or just wait 24 hrs to see what turns up? I feel like I’ve let my grains down.

  65. Uli says:

    Hi Meghan,

    After reading through some more of this thread, I decided to start over and strain my little angels properly, then added fresh whole milk. I also will be more mindful of the 24 hour time window. I am hopeful!

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