How to Make Kefir with Raw Milk

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Kefir is one of the most powerful probiotic foods. Today I’m showing how to make kefir with raw milk.

How to make kefir with raw milk

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.

Why kefir?

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.

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How to make kefir with raw milk for a delicious, probiotic, gut healthy beverage. #kefir #rawmilk #probiotic #guthealth

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So easy!

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.

So tasty!

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!

How to make kefir with raw milk healthy probiotic gut health

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.

Vacation time

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 gaps diet

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


  1. Activate milk kefir grains according to package instructions.
  2. Add activated kefir grains to jar of raw milk.
  3. Stir gently.
  4. Top jar with breathable cloth or paper towel secured with rubber band or canning jar ring.
  5. Allow kefir to culture at room temperature until thick.
  6. Strain kefir grains out of kefir using plastic mesh strainer and wooden spoon (no metal).
  7. 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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Kefir grains

Plastic mesh strainer

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Yield: 1 quart

Raw Milk Kefir

How to make kefir with raw milk

Kefir is one of the most powerful probiotic foods. Today I'm showing how to make kefir with raw milk.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes


  • 1 quart raw milk from organically raised, grass fed cows
    , can also make 1 pint at a time
  • Activated milk kefir grains


  1. Activate milk kefir grains according to package instructions.
  2. Add activated kefir grains to jar of raw milk.
  3. Stir gently.
  4. Top jar with breathable cloth or paper towel secured with rubber band or canning jar ring.
  5. Allow kefir to culture at room temperature until thick.
  6. Strain kefir grains out of kefir using plastic mesh strainer and wooden spoon (no metal).
  7. Add kefir grains to new jar of raw milk and repeat process. 

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 Servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 233mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 11g
GAPS™ and Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ are the trademark and copyright of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.




22 thoughts on “How to Make Kefir with Raw Milk”

  1. A family member recently gave me kefir grains that have been stored in the freezer for a few years. Do you think they are still good to use? If so, How should I go about using them?

  2. Hi Marisa,
    We have made it from pasteurized milk for years. We just started trying to make kefir from raw milk. But, when we went to strain the kefir, the grains had disintegrated so they looked like cottage cheese. The kefir tasted great, but the grains appeared ruined. Any advice? Thank you!

  3. So to activate the grains, do you need to use pasteurized milk? I purchased kefir grains and the instructions say not to use raw milk for activation. But then you can switch to raw milk once activated… just curious about the theory behind this.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Yes! The friendly microbes in raw milk can interfere with activation, so that’s why the directions usually say to use pasteurized milk for the activation process, then switch to raw milk once they’re activated 🙂

      • Hello Marisa,
        I am new to milk kefir, need to learn how to make from low fat milk 1%, as I am currently buying grass fed whole milk Kefir from sprout market store.Please contact me, i will need personal consultation, will pay you for your consultation time in milk kefir making, as I want to make kefir using grass fed milk with 1% fat, as I need low saturated fa in my diet, and i would like to learn from an experienced Kefir chef like you. Please contact me :
        [email protected], once i hear from you, i can call you, and set up a time, and then purchase the needed mason jars & kefir
        ingredients with your guidance. Look forward to hearing from you. Location USA.
        Thank you,
        [email protected]

  4. I’ve had IBS for the last 35 years. I finally found something that helps me tremendously – raw goat milk kefir. I’m having a REALLY hard time finding it. I can find pasteurized goat milk kefir but it’s not the same. Any help would be MUCH appreciated. Thank you!

  5. Two questions in one – 1) can I make this with raw goats milk? 2) if I find someone making kefir with cows milk can I transition those same grains to goats milk? ? We are lucky enough to buy raw goats milk from a local lady here. I know this is an “older” post, but I hope I’m able to get an answer. Thanks Marisa!

  6. Hi there,

    Thanks for the kefir tips!

    I live in Canada and unfortunately, raw milk is illegal here! So annoying!!

    I am following the GAPS intro protocol. Do you think using pasteurized whole milk is ok?

    Thank you!


    • You’re welcome! Oh that’s sad! Yes, Dr. Natasha says you can use pasteurized milk if it’s all you can get, and if your body does okay with it. She recommends trying to get vat pasteurized, non homogenized, grass fed milk.


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