If you would like to make kefir at home, but you are not sure how to grow the grains, here is a handy guide to help you get started. Before you do get started, always ensure that you are working on a clean and hygienic surface and that your utensils are clean and sanitized to avoid contaminating your kefir.
What You Will Need:
The grains look a lot like florets of cauliflower. When the weather is warm, or when the grains are clumped inside a glass jar they often look like shreds of flat ribbons. The color can vary from a creamy off-white to white. Make sure you purchase your kefir grains from a reliable and organic source.
Whole Organic Milk
Kefir grains need lactose from milk in order to multiply and grow. If you prefer not to use cow’s milk, other popular alternatives include coconut or almond milk, half-and-half cream, or sweet whey powder.
You will need a strainer so that you can separate the grains from your fermented kefir. It is better to use a nylon mesh or plastic strainer. Metal can interfere with the process of fermentation. Avoid using a strainer with a fine mesh so that the curds can pass through.
You will need a bowl to hold the strained kefir. Like the strainer, rather use a bowl made out of plastic rather than a metal bowl. Make sure you use a bowl that is big enough to hold the fermented kefir. Rather use a shallow bowl which will allow you to see whether any grains have passed through. You can now pour the fermented kefir in a glass jar.
Use a plastic spatula to stir the kefir when working the fermented liquid through your strainer. Since the kefir grains act adversely to any type of metal, rather use a plastic or silicone spatula.
The better choice to culture kefir is inside a jar made from glass. Glass is free from any chemicals such as BPA. You can also choose a container made from ceramic, yet it must have a food-grade glazing to protect the kefir from exposure to lead. You can also use food-grade porcelain to ferment your kefir grains.
It is best to use 2 jars for the fermentation process. The first jar will be used to ferment your kefir grains with your choice of milk, while the second jar will be used to store your finished kefir.
When covering the kefir while in the process of fermenting, you need a material that will allow the cultures to breathe. You can use a towel or tight-weave fabric. Other alternatives include paper towel or a coffee filter.
To protect your kefir from pests such as fruit flies and ants, use an elastic band to secure the cover in place.
To make your kefir grains multiply and grow, here is a step-by-step guide to follow:
Mix the Kefir Grains With Milk
Combine 1 to 2 teaspoons of kefir grains to 1 quart of liquid (milk). In the warmer months, the kefir grains will ferment faster, so you will only need 1 teaspoon. When pouring the grains into your milk, make sure you do so gently.
Cover and Ferment
Cover your glass jar with a cloth or tight-weave fabric. Ensure that air can pass through to ensure the kefir remains ventilated. Secure the cover in place using your elastic band to protect the kefir from pests. Store the jar on a countertop away from direct sunlight. Leave the jar to stand for 8 to 12 hours. If you prefer a thicker consistency, allow the mixture to stand for 24 hours or more.
Stir and Strain
Once the product has undergone the process of fermentation you may notice that your kefir has curdled. Before you strain the mixture, stir it and shake it. Now strain the mixture into a shallow bowl.
If the consistency is very thick, use a spatula or plastic spoon to stir the mixture so that it can pass through the strainer. The grains should stay inside the strainer while the curds should pass into the bowl. From here transfer the liquid into a clean and dry glass jar. Store the fermented kefir in your fridge until you are ready to use it.
You can now use the grains that are left in the strainer to make your next batch, followed by repeating steps 1 to 3. After several batches, the grains will start multiplying and growing.
If you start to produce more grains than you need, you can freeze them and use them again later. Some people like to feed the leftover grains to their pets or give a few away to family and friends.