Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Experimenting With Milk Kefir

After the first batch of ginger beer (second batch is now bottled) and a lot of internet searching I accidentally came across some information on Kefir.  Kefir grains (as they are called) will turn your milk into a yogurt like product which is much higher in probiotics that normal yogurt.  The process is exceptionally easy and the little Kefir grains are self propagating so in no time at all you will have enough to pawn off on your neighbours and friends.  Kefer grains look like little bits of cauliflower and the heaping tablespoon I started with is enough to produce about 1 1/2 cups of milk Kefir each day.  To start the process all you do is rinse the Kefir grains in cool water and drop them into a clean glass or plastic container filled with milk, (2% or whole milk seems to give the nicest texture) cover with something breathable like a cheese cloth secured with an elastic band.  You let this sit over night away from direct sunlight (in a corner or up in a cupboard) and the next day........your milk will be Kefired.  It will be thickened and very much in flavour like plain yogurt, but it also has a slightly fizzy taste as well.  You now stir the jar to distribute any cream that has risen to the top and strain out your Kefir grains and rinse them with cool water to start the process again with a fresh jar of milk.  The strained milk Kefir can be consumed straight away, or it can be ripened by leaving to sit a little longer.  It will thicken more as it ripens.  I have been using the milk Kefir to make fruit smoothies with, which I think is probably quite common.  Others drink the milk Kefir as is, right away or sweetened with a spoon of molasses or sugar.  If having to deal with fresh milk Kefir each day is a little more that you'd like....you can slow the process by keeping the container in the fridge instead of at room temperature.  The process in the fridge will take about 5 days rather than over night.  I have been using the milk Kefir in recipes calling for buttermilk and find it to be a handy substitution especially in my butter milk pancakes.  Ripened (thickened Kefir) can be used to substitute for sour cream.  When you are too busy to deal with the Kefir or are going to be away on holiday......you can just let the Kefir grains sit in a small amount of milk and leave it the fridge for quite a few weeks.  If you'd like to find some Kefir grains to play with there are free sources available....maybe even in your neighbourhood.

7 comments:

Felicity said...

I want to try this! I love yogurt and kefir!! Not quite ambitious enough to make my own yogurt yet, but kefir sounds easy. : )

LittleRed said...

It has been easy so far. Now I need to try ripening some to see how it thickens up.

Mama Ash said...

I love Kefir, as it is big in most slavic households.
My bubba used to give it to me and now I give it to my tot. I love adding fresh, organic fruit purees to it :)

Crafty_Witchy_Girl said...

Yum! Kefir is really nice! I have tried it once. It really looks and tastes like yogurt... Make good use of it! ; )

LittleRed said...

We have been enjoying our little kefir experiment so far! We've liked it place of buttermilk for pancakes and the smoothies have been a big hit. I will soon have no frozen berries left from last summer:)

Felicity said...

Little Red- I just scored some Kefir grains from someone about a 5 minute drive from my house. I'm so excited!! Thanks again for posting this!!

LittleRed said...

I'm glad you found some so close to you:) We've been finding it pretty easy to keep up with using the Kefir so far and have been enjoying the experimenting! I hope you have fun with it:)