Making Kefir, The Easy Way..
aka. "How I Do It".
There is a LOT of detail here, but the system itself is super-simple.
The detail covers all those wide-eyed "small questions" that people have when you hand them a bag of Kefir grains.
Swirl and cover the jar with a clean cloth sealed with elastic band (the idea is to let air in, keep bugs out).
Wrap a in towel and place somewhere room-temperature to slightly warmer. I have a system for wrapping the towel!
Swirl occasionally3 or leave it completely alone; works either way, but the odd swirl and examination is more fun (once every other day - between "harvests" - is fine).
After two days or less4 your Kefir is ready!
Whisk all around slowly but firmly with a PLASTIC or RUBBER-coated whisk5. You want disperse any lumps but keep the grains intact.
- Strain the Kefir into a jug6 with the aid of a big plastic spoon.
You now have a lovely jug of Kefir!
Pour the contents of the jug (carefully!) into a big clean plastic milk carton and keep in the door of the fridge7.
Kefir reproduces and grows! Put extra grains (perhaps a teaspoon per batch!) into a jar with some organic whole milk - keep this jar at the bottom of the fridge. In time, you are going to need a bigger jar! Give grains away to friends and family. Spread the love!8
You now have the original amount (1 rounded TBSP) of grains9 left in the sieve to gently spoon out and repeat the whole process with another Litre of organic whole milk in your Kefir-making jar (there's no need to wash the jar unless it starts to smell).
After you do it a few times it all starts to make sense and it's a three-minute job every couple of days.
1. Although you can buy Kefir grains online these days, it's best to be given some, if possible. 2. Large pickle jars work well - the necks are narrower, easy to seal and less likely to spill on swirling, but still large enough to get a whisk in. 1.25L would be ideal, filled to where the neck starts to taper being 1L exactly. 3. Traditionally, Kefir was made in skin bag hung on the door of the kitchen and lovingly kicked and thumped by all family members as they passed. This keeps everything beautifully mixed-up. 4. I find the point just as the Kefir is starting to separate into curds and whey at the bottom of the jar is the perfect time to harvest my fresh Kefir. You may prefer a milder or stronger (and eventually lumpier!) product. 5. NO METAL! Use plastic utensils (Sieve, Big spoon) and glass or plastic vessels (Jug, Jar) for Everything Kefir. Having said that, I'd wager modern stainless steel would be okay too, in a push. Don't use tarnished hardware on your precious grains. Stainless steel sieves tend to stay stainless for five minutes! 6. Swirl and then pour the Kefir vigourously into a PLASTIC sieve sitting on a large glass jug (wide Pyrex type is ideal, a plastic jug is fine - ideally the sieve fits snugly and securely itself onto the top of the jug, or else you will have to hold it, which is awkward) to almost filling the sieve. Get a big plastic spoon (slatted is ideal) and gently work the top edge of the spoon blade vertically back and forth across the inside of the sieve, straining the fresh Kefir into the jug.
Finish by scraping the last of the Kefir off the underside of the sieve and into the jug with the edge of the spoon (edge UP this time!).7. It should stay fresh for a long time, being topped-up every two days and shook often (whenever used). I usually give the carton a clean-out every few weeks, some time when it's empty which, as everyone in the house discovers uses for it, is a lot! 8. Every couple of months, strain them, add fresh milk and take them out into somewhere warm for a couple of days for some exercise. Then strain, add fresh milk and back in the fridge. The grains keep indefinitely. 9. You don't need to rinse the grains at any point. If you ever felt the need, a gentle pour of milk might be okay.
Note: To get Kefir faster use more grains and/or warmer temperatures - not too warm though - 30C would be the limit, my gut tells me.
Same if you want to make more at once, just use more milk with more grains. Your family will soon get through it when they discover how delicious those juice+Kefir drinks are - simply whisk & serve! I like one part strong juice to two parts Kefir. That Lidl "Vitafit" multi-fruit juice works beautifully.
There is so much good stuff to say about Kefir, I could literally write all day about it, all week even! Google it if you haven't! Here are a couple of highlights..
Pour some fresh Kefir into a cheesecloth and suspend in a clean jar (close the lid over the top of the cheesecloth sock to keep the it off the bottom of the jar) for a day or two somewhere cool to let the whey drip out, then gently squeeze out the last of the whey. The curds left in the cloth is a fine soft cheese! Mix with chopped herbs/garlic/whatever and serve!
Kefir "good" bacteria are powerful. Not only can they survive the human digestive process, get this.. Human faecal matter (poop!) was mixed into some Kefir (scientists, eh!). In a couple of days they tested the Kefir - all faecal bacteria had been eliminated!
You can mix your extra grains directly into smoothies for a super-powerful bacterial boost!