A glass of blueberry flavored milk kefir, it is fizzy and a little bit tangy. A great afternoon snack to enjoy!
Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite dairy drinks, milk kefir. This is the dairy version of water kefir (check out my post water kefir). It is also a probiotic drink and processes its fermentation step by using kefir grains.
A little story behind my milk kefir searching….
I remember the first time I had probiotic dairy drink when I was about 11 years old. The package looked so different than the soft drinks we usually purchase. As a curious child, I decided to give it a try. Big Surprise, I love the tangy taste and foamy texture. Later when I came to U.S. I was told that the yogurt is a common probiotic dairy product I can find in most grocery stores. However, the yogurt in US definitely taste different than the probiotic dairy drink I had at my hometown. After researching internet, I found out that I can make a probiotic dairy drink called milk kefir using those magic micro-organisms. After the first batch, I was surprised that it tastes just like the probiotic dairy drink I had when I was a kid. Hooray, I found my lost drink.
A glass of original flavored milk kefir.
Why I like milk kefir better than yogurt?
Compared to making yogurt at home, this is much simpler. I don’t need to use an incubator for the fermentation process. Room temperature works just fine. The whole process and utensils you need are similar to making water kefir. Better yet, milk kefir provides more healthy benefits than yogurt (see link http://www.kefir.net/kefir-vs-yogurt/). After the fermentation and separation processes, I can enjoy the original flavored milk kefir. Now let’s make it more interesting. I love to blend some fruits in milk kefir, such as blueberry, strawberry, mango, or banana. The addition of fruit gives the kefir a thicker and foamy texture with outstanding taste. There is another way to enjoy milk kefir. The kefir whey separated from the kefir can be used in making sauerkraut and the left over part is cheese. I like to use the creamy cheese in a cheese cake recipe.
Top Left: Fermentation of milk using kefir grains. Top Right: After 24 hours fermentation at room temperature, clear water can be seen at the bottom of the jar, indicates the end of fermentation process and the kefir is ready for separation from the kefir grains.
Separation milk kefir from kefir grains.
Alive kefir grains, magic micro-organisms, they look like cauliflower.
Here is my typical breakfast: gluten free cereal and milk kefir, a sprinkle of chia seeds or ground flaxseeds on top. It is tasty and healthy. I also gave my baby milk kefir since he was 7 months old. It is a good snack for both adults and children. Do you want to try some blueberry flavored milk kefir now?
- 1 tbs hydrated milk kefir grains
- 2 cups milk (cow, goat, sheep milk, raw unpasteurised or pasteurized whole milk, fat reduced, skim milk. Less fat contains in milk will give you less cheese if you are making kefir cheese).
- Fruits such as berries, mango, or banana (optional)
- Place hydrated milk kefir grains in a glass jar then add milk. After a gentle stirring, cover the jar with paper filter or cheesecloth and keep the jar at room temperature (between 72-78 °F) to ferment for 24 hours or till a very small amount of clear liquid (kefir whey) is showing at the bottom of the jar with thickened curd floating on top. At this point, if the jar is kept at room temperature for a longer period of time, the kefir will be more tangy due to the longer fermentation process produces more lactic acid.
- After this time, the milk kefir is ready to be filtered. Place the mesh type strainer over a large bowl. Use spatula gently working the kefir through the strainer. Save the kefir grains and repeat step 1 for the next batch of kefir. If the fermentation was too long and a large amount of kefir whey was formed, use spatula to stir gently before separation step.
- (optional) Blend in fruits. The kefir will be as thick as a smoothie. Store the fruit milk kefir in refrigerator before serving. For lower glycemic index, leave the fruit milk kefir at room temperature for an extra 18 hours fermentation. Add natural sweeter if necessary. Do not add sugar!
2. Although many resources recommend using a plastic strainer, I personally use a stainless steel one and haven’t noticed any sign of killing my kefir grains.