Lesson Two: Milk Kefir
Kefir is currently having a moment in the spotlight. If you haven’t tried it or heard of it, it is a fermented milk that is packed with dozens of different LABs and has been shown to be beneficial to gut health. There is also some evidence its main culture, Lactobacillus kefiri, can inhibit the growth of other more harmful bacteria like salmonella.
Kefir can be used in the same way as yoghurt for smoothies and baking and you can also make cheese (similar to lebneh), but it is a bit easier to make as you don’t have to control the temperature. However, like a sourdough starter, you do need to feed them regularly.
Kefir does work best with whole fat animal milk, however coconut milk (the stuff that comes in tins) is an excellent substitute though if fermentation starts to slow down, you may need to occasionally use an animal milk ferment to refresh them.
Basic Kefir Recipe
5g Kefir grains
Note: you can adapt this recipe proportionally, so more grains = more milk to ferment. If you find your milk is separating after 24 hours with the grains, you may need to add more milk to the next ferment.
Mix the milk and grains in a jar
Cover loosely with a lid and leave in a warm place for 24 hours. Taste it. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it's read
Strain out the grains, saving the cultured milk for use.
Repeat steps 1 &2 to reculture.
Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Taking a Break from Making Kefir: To take a break from making kefir, transfer the grains into a fresh container of milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a month.
What to Do if Your Kefir Separates: Sometimes kefir will separate into a solid layer and milky layer if left too long. This is fine! Shake the jar or whisk the kefir to recombine and carry on. Or scoop out the thick layer and use it like sour cream.
Using your Kefir:
Use it in place of yoghurt in a smoothy
Add rennet for a feta-like cheese.
Culture cream instead for making butter, ice cream or sour cream.