In my last post, I wrote what milk kefir is and why it’s so fabulous.
It remains a mystery to me why you cannot buy it in regular grocery shops in Ireland. So, if you want to drink milk kefir and haven’t got into a habit of shopping in Eastern European stores yet, you have to make it yourself.
I know three methods for making milk kefir.
1. The ancient Caucasian method.
All you need is a skin bag and unpasteurized milk.
Pour the milk into the bag, hang it in a warm place and wait until it gets sour. It is important to shake the bag frequently to mix the milk well. The ancient Armenians solved this by hanging kefir bags right by the door, so they were punched every time someone went through.
The sour milk was taken out of the bag and replaced with fresh milk. The crucial thing was not to wash the bag. After some time (nobody now has an idea how long), beautiful kefir grains grew on the inside walls of it, and the sour milk was replaced with kefir.
The kefir grains were treasured and passed on from generation to generation. Eventually, they got into the hands of other nations and became popular in the rest of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
If you happen to live in a place like Ireland, the first question to pop into your mind would be ‘how do you find a warm place’.
However, you should rather worry how to buy unpasteurized milk as it is illegal to sell in Europe. I doubt it’s still easy to buy even in Armenia.
Also, getting a Caucasian skin bag can present itself as a bit of a challenge I guess.
All in all, you have to rely rather on two other methods
2. The lazy method.
Buy regular full-fat Irish milk (not UHT) and a tub of Polish or Lithuanian kefir. Boil the milk and cool it down to about 40˚C. Mix 4 parts of milk with 1 part of kefir in a ceramic, stone, wooden (yes, wooden) or glass container (e.g. big jar). Cover it with a cloth, paper towel, coffee filter or another breathable lid and leave in a warm place (18-24˚C) for 1-3 days or until it gets thick and yummy.
After that, place the container with kefir in the fridge. When half of the kefir is eaten, mix the leftovers with new milk (boiled and cooled down), leave in a warm place till ready and start the process again. Do not do it perpetually, though. After about a week (or when you stop enjoying the smell) use or discard the whole kefir, wash the container and start again from the very beginning.
3. The ambitious, and probably the best method.
Buy fresh Irish milk (not UHT) and milk kefir grains. Add grains to the milk keeping in mind that the ideal ratio is one teaspoon of grains to 1 cup of milk. Stir well, cover with a breathable lid (e.g. paper towel) and leave in a warm place until ready (usually 1-3 days).
Then strain the kefir through a plastic strainer or cheesecloth. Place the strained kefir in the fridge and drink when chilled or leave it on the counter for more defined taste and creamier texture.
What’s left on the strainer are the kefir grains. I wrote in the original version of this post that you should rinse the grains with filtered water. However, now, I think that it is ridiculous as there are a lot of probiotics on the surface of the grains. So, I recommend you to just put strained grains to fresh milk and start the process all over again. This is how I make it and the kefir is delicious.
Note, that the grains have reproduced, and now you have twice as much or so. Give half of them to a friend or just make twice as much kefir.
Have fun! ☺
There is loads of information on the Internet about milk kefir. I found the following websites exceptionally interesting:
There is also a Kindle book. I haven’t read it, but I have seen a credible recommendation.
6 thoughts on “How to Make Milk Kefir?”
This is great! I use the lazy method, but really want to find the kefir grains so I can start to make the ‘real’ stuff! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
That’s what I call dedication!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you! A dear friend gave me some kefir grains. I have made it several times – but not for several months. How long can you keep kefir grains in the fridge without using them? Will they still work? The good news I now have a way, thanks to this blog, to find some more grains and start again.
I love the Armenian story of punching the bag as you go out. What is the skin bag made of? Is it a thin leather?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for the comment, Elisabeth! I have never seen the Caucasian bags, but I imagine them to be made of very thick skin. Would be great to go to Caucasus and see it in a museum or somewhere.
As far as I know, you can store milk kefir grains in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. To be honest, I have never bothered to do it; usually, I buy kefir in a shop. However, I keep some WATER kefir grains in my fridge; I dehydrated them and hope they will last for ages.