Milk kefir is an easy sell for anyone who loves yogurt, which I most definitely do. Kefir is tangy, about as thick (and creamy!) as a smoothie, and full of those good-for-you probiotics we hear so much about. Think of milk kefir as drinkable, pourable yogurt. Even better, you can skip the grocery store and make it yourself right on your kitchen counter.
What Is Milk Kefir?
Milk kefir is a fermented dairy product similar in many ways to yogurt and buttermilk. It’s how kefir is cultured that makes it really unique — instead of heating the milk, adding a culture, and keeping it warm as you do with yogurt, all you need to make milk kefir are kefir grains.
Kefir grains are not really grains at all (don’t worry, gluten-free folks!). These “grains” are actually tiny, rubbery, knobby-looking cell structures that are home to the bacteria and yeast that ferment the kefir.
How Does It Work?
It’s extremely simple. Add about a teaspoon of these kefir grains to a cup of milk, cover the glass, and let it sit out at room temperature for about 24 hours. During this time, the healthy bacterias and yeast in the kefir grains will ferment the milk, preventing it from spoiling while transforming it into kefir.
When done, the kefir will have thickened to the consistency of buttermilk and taste noticeably tangy, like yogurt. Strain out the grains so you can use them in another batch, and the kefir is ready to drink.
Oh, that’s another thing! As long as they stay healthy, you can reuse kefir grains indefinitely to make batch after batch of kefir. And the best way to keep them healthy is to keep making kefir! You can make a new batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours (the temperature of your kitchen can affect the exact time) just by putting the kefir grains in a fresh cup of milk. Over time, the grains will multiply and you can either discard the extra or share it with friends. You can also take a break from making kefir by putting the grains in a new cup of milk and storing this in the fridge.