Are you a Kefir avid drinker as I am? Do you enjoy it for breakfast, plain, rather than with some cereals, fresh fruit, honey or anything else? Are you just generally curious or eager to know ways to make some really healty and tasty product economically in the confort of your home?
Well, whatever is the reason that has brough you here, just stick a bit longer and let me introduce you a very easy way to make probiotics rich kefir on your own! There are mainly two ways to self-produce some delicious kefir. This article focus on the simplest method, that is starting from a store-bought kefir.
INTRODUCTION TO COMMERCIAL KEFIR
There are several brands of kefir available. Nowadays it is so widely available that you can find at least one version in every grocery store or supermarket. Here I would like to make a little remark. Although all manufacturers report on the packaging that lactic ferments, therefore probiotics, are present inside, we must pay attention to this detail that seems to create a bit of confusion. The cultures of lactic ferments presents must be active and lively.
Yogurt and kefir are such thanks to the action of some species of lactic ferments, which differ from each other in the case of yogurt and kefir. So, surely, these lactic ferments were introduced, at some point, into the milk to transform it into the final product.
The question is whether these cultures, these lactic ferments, are still “alive and well” within the product on the shelves. Yes indeed, How are they doing?
This is what we are most interested in knowing if we want to consume the product not only for its taste, but also for its properties, and more importantly, if we want to use this commercial bought kefir to produce our homemade version.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT COMMERCIAL KEFIR TO BEGIN WITH?
The success and quality of your homemade kefir will depend on the quality and characteristics of the chosen product you use to begin your production, therefore the commercial kefir you pick in the grocery store.
The packaging of commercial kefir must clearly state that contains active cultures of lactic ferments, and must not have been pasteurized. Pasteurization allows the product to last longer, sure, but at the same time degrades the lactic ferments, these probiotic bacteria essential for our success.
I can tell you that many commercial kefirs are subjected to partial pasteurization, which does not completely kill the lactic ferments, but certainly degrades them. To start our kefir multiplication we need to find the best starter product available!
LET’S TEST THE KEFIR
Our palate help us to identify which kefir contains the best culture of lactic ferments inside. If the Kefir is slightly sparkling on the palate, this is an excellent sign. This means that, inside the kefir, there are cultures of active lactic ferments in good percentages, so probably the product has not been partially pasteurized. This is the product we were looking for!
If it doesn’t slightly pinch on the tongue, not a good hint. We can use it anyway, it still contains lactic ferments, probably just not active and in high concentrations as we wish for.
So, let’s try some brands, choose the one that has the highest concentration of active lactic ferments among those easily available to us. When we buy it, we give priority to packages with the farther expiration date.
WHICH MILK TO USE TO MAKE KEFIR?
Any type of milk can be made into kefir, certainly some are better than others.
The best milk we can use without doubts is fresh whole milk. For those who live in large towns, may be difficult to find fresh milk, so pasteurized whole milk at low temperatures will be just as fine.
In order of preference, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk can also be used, while I would avoid using high-temperature and long-life pasteurized milk, although with this type of milk we will still be able to make kefir.
WHAT WE NEED TO MAKE KEFIR:
- 1/4 cup commercial milk kefir to use as a starter culture
- 1 Liter/4 cups of whole milk
- wooden spoon
- 2-3 sanitized glass jars
- coffee filters or cloth
- rubber bands
Let’s heat out milk without boiling it, around a temperature of 80ºC/ 175ºF will be fine. We wait for it to cool down to a temperature between 21º-26 ºC (70 º/79 ºF) before adding 1/4 cup or 4-5 tablespoons of the purchased kefir.
We mix gently with a wooden spoon. Metal tools could have a negative interaction and interfere with lactic ferments. Then pour the contents into the jars that we have previously santized and washed with boiling water.
We cover the jars with a coffee filter or cloth with a rubber band, and let them ferment and thicken in a dry and cozy place away from direct sunlight. A corner near the stove rather than near a radiator if we are in winter. Otherwise, you could use rags soaked in hot water or any way you can think of , to try to keep the temperature inside the jars between the optimal values of 21º-26 ºC, for about 12-18 hours.
By keeping lactic ferments at this temperature they will proliferate more rapidly. If you were using a yoghurt maker capable of maintaining the constant set temperature, the process would clearly be simpler and faster. I personally think purchasing a yogurt maker is well worth if you are going to produce often yogurt or kefir in this case, but is not mandatory at all.
When the milk has thickened, our kefir will be ready. We put the lid on the jars and transfer them to the fridge where they will mantein for up to a week. From now on, will be enough to keep saving 1/4 of the previous batch to use it to make the next, and our kefir multiplication will continue as long as we wish to.
I hope you enjoy this tutorial on how to make milk kefir at home from commercially bought kefir. The self-production of yogurt and kefir is really advantageous in several aspects. Quality products are local niche products that generally have higher costs for those who produce them, and consequently for those who buy them.
Two ingredients and a few glass jars may be enough to prepare excellent kefir. The quality will be superior in terms of taste and organoleptic properties, without forgetting the economic aspect that I believe interests us all.