A quick glance at a bunch of white lumpy kernels isn’t much to impress anyone, but the kefir grains (seen above) that combine with milk to make kefir are powerful and yield an incredibly healthy and surprisingly delicious beverage.
The main difference between kefir and yogurt is that kefir contains three times the amount of probiotics as yogurt. The milk used to make kefir is fermented with a combination of 10 to 20 different types of probiotic bacteria and yeast, but the milk used to make yogurt is only fermented with a few.
[Written by Rebecca. She will be joining me here occasionally with health-related topics for women and young mothers.]
Impressive Health Benefits of Kefir
Taken from “9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Kefir“, here is why you should consider drinking or making kefir!
1. Kefir Is a Fantastic Source of Many Nutrients 
2. Kefir Is a More Powerful Probiotic Than Yogurt (contain up to 61 strains) [1,2]
3. Kefir Has Potent Antibacterial Properties [1,2,3]
4. Kefir Can Improve Bone Health and Lower the Risk of Osteoporosis , is high in Vit. K 
5. Kefir May Be Protective Against Cancer [1,2,3]
6. The Probiotics in It May Help With Various Digestive Problems [1,2,3,4,5,6]
7. Kefir Is Low in Lactose 
8. Kefir May Improve Allergy and Asthma Symptoms [1,2]
9. Kefir Is Easy to Make at Home
To read more on the studies here.
Kefir has been around for perhaps thousands of years, and many rumors surround it, but we do know that it originated near the Caucasus Mountains and has been a staple of the shepherds living there for centuries. Even Marco Polo mentioned it in his travels in the East.
When I was a young girl, I was given kefir grains by a friend and thus began my kefir making journey. Even though I was raised on a farm with a lot of animals I was responsible for, it was fun for me as a 14 year old to have responsibility for a living thing that wasn’t a pet.
This living thing was my colony of kefir grains. But don’t let me intimidate you. Making kefir is really quite simple and fun.
How to Make Kefir
You have 2 options:
- order kefir grains
- or find fresh grains (ask around in your circles of friends if anyone makes kefir and could give you a fresh start)
Kefir grains multiply rapidly, so if you have even one friend who makes kefir, they will soon have grains to give away. That is how I got started.
If you buy kefir grains online, just follow the instructions that come with the grains to activate them.
What Milk is Best to Use?
Avoid ultra-pasteurized milk as it is not suitable for culturing due to the high temps to which it has been heated. You can also use lowfat milk, but I don’t recommend it as it can stop fermenting the kefir properly. If you do use lowfat milk and you think it’s not working properly, you can refresh your grains by storing them in whole milk for a few days to refresh them.
Read more about the types of milk you can use to make kefir here.
Gather Your Supplies to Make Milk Kefir
- a glass quart jar
- cheesecloth, muslin, or a coffee filter to cover the jar (my favorite is cheesecloth)
- a rubber band or metal ring to secure the cover in place
- a plastic spoon or spatula (but do not store food in plastic!)
- a fine-mesh strainer (I used a stainless strainer for years and my kefir tasted wonderful, but I’ve heard the plastic mesh strainer yields the best results)
If you ordered kefir grains, have activated them (simple directions above), and have collected your supplies, you are ready to make kefir!
Easy Milk Kefir Directions
- Milk kefir is very easy to make. Simply add 1 tablespoon of living milk kefir grains to 2 cups of whole milk. You can easily double it.
- Cover with a cloth or lid and store at room temperature best between 68-80° F.
- Allow the kefir to culture until the milk is thicker and your jar gives off a pleasant fermented aroma. Most of the time, this is 24 hours. This time will vary, depending on temperature.
- I will address what to do if you accidentally leave it out too long in “troubleshooting” below (as a teenager making kefir, this often happened to me!).
- Use your plastic mesh strainer and a plastic spoon or spatula to strain out the kefir grains and placing the grains back in another 2 cups of fresh milk to start the process all over again.
- If the kefir is too thick to quickly flow through the strainer, gently scrape the surface of the strainer until all that is left in your strainer are the kefir grains.
Milk Kefir Troubleshooting:
-If you accidentally leave your kefir out on the counter too long, it can become over-fermented. Don’t worry- as long as it wasn’t days on end, it will still be fine to drink, just not as pleasant. You’ll notice that the whey has separated from the milk. Just stir it up and strain as usual. It may be strong, but it will make fabulous pancakes like buttermilk!
-If you’re unable to drink 2 cups of kefir each day, you can “rest” your kefir grains. Just cover with fresh milk, cap, and let sit in the refrigerator. Make sure the grains are always covered with milk. The suggested length of storing your grains is no longer than 3 weeks. After a longer storage period, the grains may need “rejuvenating“. You can also dry your grains. Culturesforhealth.com is a great resource for all things kefir, and their article on drying grains is very helpful. Check it out.
-As your grains grow, you’ll want to keep an eye on how quickly they are multiplying and perhaps give away some or store some in the fridge for giving away in the future. The more grains you have, the faster your kefir will culture. You can eat them for a boost in gut probiotics, feed them to your pet or throw excess in your compost!
The temperature at which your kefir is cultured will dramatically impact the time it takes. If your kefir is sitting in the sun on your kitchen counter on an 85 degree day, it will culture in just a few hours. Or if it’s on a cold stone countertop and your house is at 65 in the winter, it will culture very slowly.
Here’s a breakdown of the calories in different types of homemade plain, unsweetened milk kefir.
1 Cup of Milk yields this breakdown:
Milk Calories; Kefir Calories; Total Fat (g); Sugars (g); Protein (g)
Skim Milk –90 –46 –0 –1 –8
1% Milk –103 –59 –2.5 –1 –8
2% Milk –124 –80 –4.9 –1 –8
Whole Milk –148 –104 –8.0 –1 –8
Raw Milk –150 –106 –8.5 –1 –8
Goat Milk –168 –128 –10 –1 –9
-You can puree fruits to add to your kefir. Make extra healthful smoothies or use in place of buttermilk!
Rebecca enjoys exploring her new home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and new baby daughter. She enjoys serving her church, spending time with friends and family, cooking and baking, creating, and making their tiny home a beautiful and wholesome place.