Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Dairy kefir has many uses. You may drink or eat it plain; use it in smoothies; use it as your acid medium to soak grains/nuts/seeds; or use it to make ice cream, popsicles, salad dressing, cheese, and so much more, I'm sure. So far, I have really only used mine plain, flavored it with pureed fruit, in smoothies, in salad dressing, and for soaking grains. I have wanted to expand my uses of kefir, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Hopefully I will soon.
2 tablespoons of kefir grains
1 quart of milk
If your kefir grains are dehydrated when you get them, you should follow the directions that come with them to get them hydrated.
It will take your kefir grains some time to become acclimated to your house and your milk. This could take anywhere from a couple of days to a month, according to some sources. You may want to start with only one cup of milk for the first few batches to get your grains acclimated and not waste much milk. Once your grains are fully acclimated, you can use the full quart of milk to make kefir. Make sure you're not using too many grains for the amount of milk you are culturing. You only need about 2 tablespoons for a quart. If you have more, your chances of it separating into curds and whey are higher and the yeast will be in overabundance in the resulting kefir... which does not taste the best.
To make kefir, pour milk into a wide-mouth quart sized jar. Add the dairy kefir grains and stir gently with a wooden or plastic spoon (don't use metal as it does not react well with the grains). Cover with a cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter, and secure with a rubber band... or just loosely place a jar lid on the jar. Leave at room temperature away from other cultures to prevent cross-contamination. Ideal room temperatures are between 65 - 80 degrees. It will take longer to culture/ferment with cooler temperatures (like in the winter) and faster with warmer temperatures (like in the summer). If you have your kefir near a heat source (the stove, oven, crockpot, etc.), keep in mind that it will culture more quickly.
After about 8 or 10 hours, gently stir the culturing kefir. You will see the grains floating on top - the bumpy stuff. Stirring after the milk has partially cultured will help achieve a smooth consistency.
When you've decided the taste and thickness are right for your family, remove the grains with a wooden or plastic spoon, or use a plastic strainer... remember don't use metal! Transfer the kefir grains to a new batch of milk, or store in the refrigerator until you need them again. Do not rinse the grains - you really only want to rinse the grains if you fear cross-contamination, or are switching to a different type of milk.
Cover the finished kefir and refrigerate.
Dairy kefir grains may be stored in the refrigerator in a small amount of milk. This will keep for one or two weeks.
This post is posted as part of the Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.