How to make kefir
Discover how to make a gut-friendly drink as Liz shows you how to make kefir at home.
Teeming with beneficial probiotics, kefir is an essential food in any good-gut regime. A fermented drink most often made from cow’s milk, it can also be made with coconut milk, coconut water or any other nut ‘milks’. This fermented milk drink is a good store cupboard staple because you can use it in a number of ways – for example, as a base for smoothies or as a splash of ‘milk’ on cereals and in desserts, or even as a naturally ‘live’ skin cleanser!
For something so powerful, it’s surprisingly easy to make your own – a couple of large jars and a few muslin cloths are really all the kit you need, plus a pack of kefir starter grains (freeze-dried or fresh bacteria) to make your first batch. Many people like to use fresh, live grains as they contain more beneficial bacteria, (up to fifty strains of yeasts and bacteria), particularly Lactobacillus. The freeze-dried versions do have a shelf life, so they lose potency over time. However, live kefir grains can last indefinitely if cared for correctly.
Liz’s favourite almost-instant kefir powder sachets come from Nourish and she also uses fresh milk starter grains from The Kefir Company, who also offer excellent water ‘kefir’ starter grains too. Kefir does tend to have the smell and consistency of sour milk – especially if you let if ferment more than a couple of days. You might want to add fruit or raw honey to sweeten the flavour. Don’t forget to make sure your family know not to throw it out – it hasn’t gone off, it’s meant to smell like that!
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- 1 tsp milk kefir grains
- 250ml organic whole (full-fat) milk – look for grass- or pasture-fed
- 40g organic unrefined cane sugar, coconut sugar or jaggery (raw sugar)
- 500ml pure, filtered water
- 2 tbsp kefir grains
- Gently rinse the milk kefir grains with fresh milk or spring water and tip them into a sterilised glass jar. Pour in the milk and stir, using a wooden spoon. Loosely cover with the lid, so the gas that is produced can escape while it ferments, or cover with a cloth.
- Leave it to stand at room temperature for 12–48 hours until it sours to your liking (the longer you leave it, the thicker and creamier it gets) . If you prefer, seal the lid and leave it to ferment in the fridge for a few days, bearing in mind that it will ferment more slowly in a cooler environment.
- Stir the mixture, then pour it through a plastic sieve into a plastic or glass container. This is then ready to drink, or you can leave it to ripen in a sealed bottle for a little longer, either at room temperature or in the fridge, releasing the lid occasionally to allow the gas to escape.
Liz’s tip: If you find the taste too sour, you can flavour it with a little raw honey, maple syrup or some blended fruit.
- Dissolve the sugar in a small amount of hot water in the jar. When it is dissolved add the filtered water, then the kefir grains, and put the lid on.
- Leave for 24–72 hours, stirring regularly to speed up fermentation.
Strain through a plastic sieve, retaining the grains (see Milk Kefir).
- The kefir water is now ready to drink. Drink as it is or add flavourings such as orange or lemon juice, or use as part of a further recipe.
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