Every morning I make kefir for my family. Actually, the kefir grains have been making the kefir for the last 24 hours, but I strain out the kefir grains and start a new batch.
First you must start out with at least 1 cup of LIVE kefir grains. Not powder kefir starter like you can buy in a health food store. Kefir grains cannot be bought at your local healtfood store. These have got to be alive and happily will continue to reproduce forever. You can get live kefir grains for sale on Ebay or GemCultures. There are forums/boards online where you can get them free for just the cost of shipping. After learning of this, that is how I got mine. I did not pay $20 for my grains. Although, they are certainly worth it.
What is kefir?
Everything you could possibly imagine or ask is on this site here: Dom's Kefir Making & Information
One starting hint: it takes about 2 to 3 weeks for your kefir grains to fall in love with you once you get them. They need daily batches made until you get the process down (and tweak your ratios of milk to grains) and time for them to adjust to your schedule of adding new milk. You also MUST use a blender to make a beautiful smooth kefir to drink or use in cereal.
Today I am dividing my grains. I have too many. I have to add too much milk to get the right consistency now because my grains have multiplied. Which is great for someone because they are the blessed recipient of my extras! I will be mailing the extra to a gal in NC. Shipping from Oregon all the way there is no problem because you add some milk to the ziplock and then place a second ziplock over that one to be sure. Then you add extra padding around that packaging to protect them before they get put in a mailer.
Here is my kefir before doing anything to it. I have left it for 48 hours instead of the normal 24, but that is okay. You can see that there is a lot of whey present. That is the yellowish liquid. That is what should happen, but today there is more whey because I let the kefir sit for an extra day.
I gently stir the kefired milk and grains to loosen them from each other just a bit. It makes straining them easier. Straining them requires a slotted spoon. The larger the slots in the spoon, the faster this process is, but the catch is that you will lose more of the tiny grains that are growing. I am really careful to watch for the "babies".
Here are some kefir grains. The are about the size and shape of popcorn.
After sorting through the jar with my spoon for a couple minutes, I am sure I got the majority of the grains. I place them in a glass as I pull them out. Some of the liquid is still in with the grains and fills the bottom of the glass. This entire glass is full of grains! Definitely time to divide my grains!
Now I will pour the remaining kefired milk through my spoon and into my blender. This is to catch any grains or baby grains I missed. Some people just blend the babies in with the kefir for extra health benefits. We do not.
When I blend the kefir, I add 3 tablespoons of sugar and hit "mix" for about 10 seconds. Then the second highest setting for 20-30 seconds. Sometimes I blend for a little longer to get it a bit frothy. At this point in the process, some people add fruit or some extract. We sometimes add frozen blueberries because we have a lot of those on hand. Usually we just drink it with the sugar and love it that way.
After blending, someone is always waiting there by my side asking for some. If we do not drink it all, that is okay. I am putting it all (blender too) in the fridge. I just keep the blender in the fridge so I do not have to wash it so often (daily or more). Kefir keeps for a very long time.
Some people will wash their kefir making jar out that they make the kefir in every day. This is completely not necessary. Even a waste of time. I wash mine out about once a week or so.
When you do wash your jar, rinse it out several times with cold water to cool the jar down before adding the grains.
Now we will start a new batch. I put half of my grains back into the jar and hold back the other half to mail. Otherwise all of it would have gone back into the jar.
Then I pour regular store bought milk straight from the jug into the kefir jar. Whole milk or 2% tastes best, but some people like to use less fat in theirs. I pour to fill my jar to about half full. This is a half gallon jar. You can get these at Walmart. Some room in it is good, as it makes it easier to slosh around a bit once or twice while kefirring. The agitation allows more contact to the milk for the grains- but this is not a necessary step. When I have enough milk in it, I put a square of t-shirt fabric over the jar with a rubberband to keep out fruitflies and to allow the carbon gas to escape. This will sit on my counter or in my pantry until tomorrow morning when I start it all again.
Yay! This is so wonderful... and "free". No more paying $3-$4 for one quart of kefir!