Kefir is one of the most powerful probiotic foods. Today I’m showing how to make kefir with raw milk.
Rebuilding and maintaining a healthy gut is one of the most important things we can do for our health. One of the best ways to do this is to consume plenty of probiotic foods on a regular basis.
In a recent blog post, I shared how to make raw milk yogurt, and you can read that recipe here. If we have yogurt to eat, why would we want to make kefir?
Well, kefir is much more aggressive at rebuilding the balance of friendly bacteria in our gut. Yogurt is more gentle.
If you’re following a healing protocol like the GAPS diet, you’ll probably do best with yogurt at first, and will want to add kefir a bit later. Everyone is different, though! Some do well with kefir right away.
Wherever you are in your health journey, you’ll want to make it a goal to start adding this delicious probiotic beverage into your diet. Raw milk kefir is a wonderful thing to consume on a regular basis, because it does a wonderful job of restoring and painting a healthy balance of friendly gut bacteria.
Another great reason to make kefir is that is really simple to make. It doesn’t require any special fermenting equipment at all. Unlike yogurt, which needs a very specific temperature to culture, kefir easily cultures at room temperature.
Kefir is also pretty forgiving. It can sit on the counter and wait until you’re ready to strain it. There’s no need to stick to strict culturing schedules. You just have to check on it once in a while, and when you see it’s thick enough, strain it. You can use it right away, or store it in the fridge.
Once you’ve restored a healthy balance of gut bacteria, you’ll enjoy drinking kefir straight. It’s also delicious made into smoothies.
We like to make kefir smoothies with some coconut oil, grass fed beef collagen powder, and frozen fruit. If you use frozen bananas, the smoothie will often be a thick, soft serve ice cream consistency. And that’s actually what my kids call it – ice cream. They love it! And I love how healthy it is for them. Win!
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Getting started learning how to make kefir with raw milk
To make kefir with raw milk, you’ll need some activated kefir grains. These “grains” are not really grains, like wheat is a grain. They’re just called that. Kefir grains are actually little bundles of probiotic bacteria. These bacteria are what culture the milk into kefir.
You can buy dehydrated kefir grains, like the ones I have, here. Or, if you know a fellow real food enthusiast, they are often happy to share with you. Kefir grains multiply over time, and anybody with extra can easily share them. Your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter is a wonderful place to connect with other real food fans. Find your local chapter here.
If you start with dehydrated kefir grains, you’ll have to activate them before they can make kefir. Just follow the directions on the package, and you should be good to go.
Things to know
Kefir grains don’t like metal, so you’ll have to avoid that. You’ll want to use plastic, wood and glass when you work with your kefir. I like to use glass mason jars and pitchers, wooden spoons, and a plastic mesh strainer, like this one.
The temperature of your kitchen will determine how quickly the kefir cultures. The warmer the room, the more quickly the kefir with culture and thicken. In my experience, this can happen as quickly as 8-12 hours in warm weather. At cooler temperatures, it takes longer. In the wintertime I often have to let my kefir sit out for 2-3 days before it’s ready. Basically, you just have to check on it periodically. When it’s nice and thick, it’s ready to strain and use.
If you let kefir sit out too long, it will start to separate into thick kefir and liquid whey. This isn’t usually a problem if it doesn’t happen too often. Just hurry and get those grains strained and into new milk, and they’ll be happy. The strained kefir from that “mature” batch will be fine to use, too. You’ll probably just notice it is more tart, but that’s okay.
Healthy, regularly used kefir grains will multiply. You only need about spoonful to culture a jar of milk. When you have too many, you can compost them, feed them to chickens, or share them with friends.
If your kefir isn’t thickening when you think it should, just let it sit out on the counter longer. More than likely, it just needs more time.
For best results, make sure you’re using very fresh raw milk. Keeping your jars of raw milk in the back of the refrigerator will slow down their development of their own bacteria and keep the milk fresh longer. If raw milk is allowed to get warm, its own bacteria developing could interfere with the kefir culturing.
I haven’t personally experienced this, but I have heard that some kefir grains don’t like to be shocked with cold milk. If you’re having trouble getting your kefir to turn out well, you could try letting the jar of milk you want to culture warm up at room temperature a little before adding the kefir grains.
If you need a break from making kefir, no problem. Just put your kefir grains in a clean jar of fresh raw milk, top with a secure lid (like a metal or plastic mason jar lid) and store them in the fridge. They can be kept dormant like this for several weeks.
Once you’re ready to make kefir again, just strain them and put them into fresh milk, and they should start working again pretty soon. If they’ve been kept dormant for a long while, it may take a batch or two of milk before they start to culture and thicken the milk properly, just like when you first activated new kefir grains.
How to make kefir with raw milk directions
- 1 pint or 1 quart raw milk from organically raised, grass fed cows
- Activated milk kefir grains
- Activate milk kefir grains according to package instructions.
- Add activated kefir grains to jar of raw milk.
- Stir gently.
- Top jar with breathable cloth or paper towel secured with rubber band or canning jar ring.
- Allow kefir to culture at room temperature until thick.
- Strain kefir grains out of kefir using plastic mesh strainer and wooden spoon (no metal).
- Add kefir grains to new jar of raw milk and repeat process.
How to make kefir with raw milk video
Have you tried kefir yet?
Have you tried making it yourself? How did you like it? Share your experience in the comments below!
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, can also make 1 pint at a time