Dr Kaye Gersch PhD
- Always keep your utensils and containers very clean. Soak in a bicarb solution or rinse with cleaning vinegar if in doubt. Rinse well. This applies to all the fermentation processes.
- Use the very best quality milk you can find. The quality of the milk makes a huge difference to the quality of the kefir. Ideally, raw organic or biodynamic milk, non pasteurized and nonhomogenized is the best. Use the best the is available to you. It is better to make the kefir with less than ideal milk, rather than not do it at all.
- You can make kefir with coconut milk or almond milk, but cows milk is the best. If you use nut milks you will need to have spare culture in the fridge, as it loses its potency, and you will need to start again, possibly every second time.
- Climatic conditions, temperature and quality of ingredients make a big difference to how the process works. Be very observant about what works for you, rather than what someone else says. For instance, a batch of milk kefir will be ready within 6 hours in hot climates, and might take 24 in cool climates.
- Get your kefir culture from someone for whom the process is working well - this means the culture is healthy.
- Put some already made kefir in a glass jar - about 10% of the volume you want to make, then fill with milk, cover with muslin or a clean teatowel, and set aside on the bench.
- The longer you leave the culture, the stronger the taste. It is at its peak when the curd is set, but not entirely separated from the watery part, the whey.
- Put in the fridge at this point - it will continue to ferment, but much more slowly. Use in smoothies, dips and recipes where yogurt is required. It is preferable not to cook the kefir, as this will destroy the probiotics. You can strain the whey from the curds, using muslin or a fine mesh strainer, and use the solid part as cultured labne – delicious with a bit of salt and a few herbs or spices added.
- To keep the culture fresh, make a batch at least twice weekly, even if you need to discard it because you don’t need it at the time. If you go away, and you leave a batch in the fridge, when you return you might need to make several successive batches from it before the flavour returns to a peak condition.
Bacteria Strains Common to Milk Kefir Grains
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis
Lactobacillus keﬁranofaciens subsp. keﬁranofaciens
Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei
Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. dextranicum
Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides
Yeast Strains Common to Milk Kefir Grains
Use the highest quality, freshest milk that you can find.