Fermenting: making kefir

I’ve been interested for a while in all things fermented, so when oldest son and daughter-out-law offered me some milk kefir grains earlier in the summer, of course I couldn’t refuse.  I had a wee taste first, and to be honest I found it overly sour, but I decided to give it a go anyway.

I’ve managed to keep it going since then, and the taste has definitely grown on me.  I’ve experimented with several ways of making it /taking it, and all of them have something to recommend them.

But the best thing of all is that this is SO DARN EASY!  I don’t (yet?) know how you could go wrong with it.*

What they do, is they make it in a large kilner-type jar, with a cotton gauze cover, and let it do its thing in the fridge.  What I do, is I use one of the small (1970s?) Tupperware jugs I bought at a charity shop in Germany, and make a small amount at a time.  Sometimes I let it do its thing in the fridge, sometimes I leave it at room temperature.  Both seem to work fine – the fridge just slows the fermentation down, so the taste is less strong; when I leave it at room temperature it’s quite strong and sometimes a little effervescent.  I happen to like it like that.

All the equipment I needed (espresso cup, jugs, tea strainer)

The only thing you need to acquire for this is some of the keffir grains to start with.  To be honest, I have no idea how you would go about this other than to be given some by someone already making it.  Mine came from my son and his partner; they got it from her mother.  I will be very happy to pass some of mine on to any reader who is in or near Bath, just let me know if you’d like some.  Like sourdough, it’s one of those things that multiplies over time, so no purchase needed, just giving.

When I was at school in our chemistry lessons we had to follow a precise way of recording our experiments.  Write out the name, the method, the equipment needed, and the results.  I’ve kind of done it upside-down here, with the results first.  But I’m sure you’ll indulge me.  Which I think is more than my chemistry teacher did – I was told that my propensity to shatter glass equipment gave her migraines (whilst it simply made me more anxious and thus more likely to shatter equipment).  And look, I’m mixing up the method, the ingredients and the results all in a mush.  My blog, my rules.

Method / ingredients / equipment / results

Put the kefir grains in a container, and add some milk to cover and more.  Stir, put on a lid, leave it for a day or two, depending on the ambient temperature (ie longer in the winter, less time in the summer).  If you want to slow down fermentation, put it in the fridge.

Kefir grains in a jug

I use whatever milk I have to hand (usually semi-skimmed homogenised cows milk).  I know that using whole milk gives a creamier result.

What it looks like when it’s ready to use

When you come back to it a day or two later (or a up to a week or so if in the fridge), stir and strain.  I don’t make much at a time, so I strain in a tea strainer.  If you make more, you’ll need a sieve, or improvise with some muslin and a colander.  Or whatever you think of.

Straining the grains

Once the grains have been strained, they can go into a clean jug for the next batch

Drink, or mix with fruit, or use it however you like it.  Personally I like it plan, and I make a small amount at a time (enough for it to fill an espresso coffee cup) and just drink it.  Occasionally I mix in some crushed berries (raspberries at the moment, as I have lots on the allotment).

Ready to drink. Usually I make more than this (simply add more milk at the start)

You can adjust how you make it so it comes out how you like it.  Or play around and experiment a bit.


No-one told me this, but I discovered afterwards (by personal experience), that some people experience a slightly disturbed stomach when they first try kefir.  I felt a bit queasy for a few days, and then it passed off.  Now it doesn’t affect me adversely at all.  I assume my gut flora have adjusted to accommodate it.

*when I went away on holiday for just over a week, I left it in the fridge, and it was still fine.  If I was going away for longer, I might strain and freeze some grains to hedge my bets.

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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