Making Kefir!

bcskyeSeptember 15, 2013

I need to know how hard it is to make Kefir and how to go about it. As some of you know, my DH has a lot of medical problems and got a heart transplant eight years ago last month. As a result of that, he has an extremely supressed immune system and there are a lot of problems with what he can have and can't have. About six months ago, or better, he started having some problems and the doctors put him on lots of antibiotics. As a result, he has wound up with a ton of bad bacteria and no good bacteria in his digestive system. He's now suffering from mal absorption and is losing weight. He lost 30 pounds in one month and has now lost another 10. Not good at all.

He's not supposed to take probiotics pills because they aren't regulated by the FDA and the doctors are afraid he could get some contaminated with mold or other things that would kill him. I looked up foods high in probiotics and one of the things I found was Kefir so I bought some as well as some of the other items on the lists and he drank about 8 ounces of the Kefir last night and 8 ounces this morning. This morning he didn't have diarreah - something that has been a huge part of the problems he's been having. He now believes I'm on the right track and we bought more at the grocery today.

I know Grainlady and some others on here make their own Kefir. At the price of it in the stores, I think I'd like making it ourselves. I already make yogurt although I am buying him Greek yogurt right now. Grainlady, can you please give me information on making your own Kefir?

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Did you google some threads? There were some a few months back. The internet in general has some very good threads on the topic.

I started making my own milk kefir last spring when I was experiencing some gastrointestinal issues. The issues are now resolved, but I keep drinking kefir because I'm hooked!

First, you will need to get some grains. I first got some off the internet ( but they proved to be duds. I then looked locally and found several people selling them on Craiglist. I got a couple of tablespoons for $10.00 (they've now grown much beyond this!) Then you will need two glass jars, like mason jars, and milk. You can use any kind of milk you want. I use skim, but I've also tried whole and 2%.

In a jar, pour the milk over the grains and stir gently. Cover the top loosely (I use a scot towel secured by a rubber band). Leave it on the counter top for approximately 8 hours to 2 days. I leave mine 24 hours for the desired results. I then take out the grains with a slotted spoon (or even my hands-works better for me than draining), put them in the clean jar and start a new batch. I refrigerate the kefir and then drink. MIne doesn't get very thick so I sometimes mix in a little yogurt. It does get frothy with that wonderful fermented taste! Enjoy!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 6:18AM
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Oh, my, what a challenge you have ahead! It sounds like you may be headed in a positive direction - let's hope so.....

--You may find potential problems with real kefir grains as well, which is what I use, since it's a "natural" food. Check with your physician/s - although it's unlikely they know anything about real kefir grains and will assume the worst without any real information on the subject. You can read more (and more, and more.....;-) at Dom's Kefir Insite at the link below. There is a Nutritional and Chemical Composition chart at Dom's web site:

--I consider commercial kefir products/drinks little more than "junk food" which has little in common with the real thing - other than the name). Real kefir grains also have more strains of bacteria and work in a synergy that can't be duplicated in commercial food production where only certain strains are added. There are probably things in real kefir grains not yet identified scientifically for how it works. For generations, kefir grains were shared from one person to the next, instead of being commercialized like yogurt was, because it's more than just a few strains of bacteria.

--Be sure to start slowly because the whey in homemade kefir can have a cleansing effect.

--Yogourmet Kefir Starter (powder) has a few strains of bacteria and that may be another option for you and will certainly help keep the cost down over the commercial product.

You can use 1/4-1/3 cup from the first batch (and consecutive batches) to use as a starter for another batch. You can usually get 3-4 quarts from one packet of the kefir starter using this method. These laboratory-developed bacteria die out and you need to renew it periodically, while real kefir grains continue to grow and make more grains. Yogurmet Kefir Starter was how I got started with kefir until I found a source for real grains.

--Kefir is much easier to make than yogurt, and even more important, it's much better for you and easier to digest than yogurt. The curd is smaller and more delicate than yogurt curds, but there are many other reasons kefir is superior to yogurt.

To make kefir: Place the gelatinous "grains" (which look a little like small cauliflowers and are the source for bacteria) into milk (or coconut milk for a nice treat occasionally) - you can also get water kefir grains (see: Cultures For Health -

I use 2-3 cups milk in a quart jar (you need to leave some head-space for the fermenting gases), 1/4-1/3 c. grains, put the plastic lid on tightly (which increases the effervescence) and ferment 12-24-hours. Less time when the ambient temperature is warm, and more time when the ambient temperature is cooler - or until it's the consistency you like/want.

I personally prefer the long, cool fermentation in the cooler months, but I make it all year. I've used my grains for over 10-years and they continue to grow and make more because it's a living food. When they reach about the size of a quarter, I pull them apart into 2-3 pieces.

I make 1-2 quarts per week:
-consume some daily in our morning smoothie
-use the liquid kefir as a substitute for buttermilk
-use the whey from drained kefir curd in lemonade or limeade + water or coconut water, and maybe some chia seeds (better for you than sports drinks, quenching thirst and replacing electrolites)
-use the drained curd as a substitute for plain yogurt, sour cream or cream cheese

--You may want to switch to PLAIN Stonyfield Farm Yogurt because they use six live, active cultures in their yogurt, while others only use two strains. When I make yogurt, which isn't very often these days since using kefir grains, I use plain whole milk Stonyfield Farm Yogurt as the starter because of the additional strains of bacteria in it. I'll place 1-T. in each space of an ice cube tray and freeze it, pop the yogurt "cubes" out of the tray and store them in the freezer to use when I make yogurt (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using as a starter for homemade yogurt). I usually use 3 T. yogurt for 1-quart liquid. So you can make your own yogurt using Stonyfield Farm Yogurt as the starter to save money.

--Another source for good bacteria is in other live-cultured and lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut (and other fermented fruits/vegetables). Make your own. Don't kill the bacteria in fermented by heat processing it by canning it. It's best eaten fresh and raw. Freeze it if you can't get it used in 2-3 weeks.

--Don't forget to add PREbiotics to your diet.

"While probiotic-foods contain live bacteria, prebiotic foods feed the good bacteria already living in your digestive system. You can find prebiotics in foods such as asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal, red wine, honey, maple syrup, and legumes. Consider eating prebiotic foods on their own or with probiotic foods to perhaps give the probiotics a boost."

I add 100% pure Inulin Powder (NOW brand) to beverages, foods and baked goods as a prebiotic that helps stimulate the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria.

--I'd also suggest sprouting legumes to help make them easier to digest. Pre-digested foods make a lot of sense after a coarse of destructive antibiotics.

Some sources for more information:

Wild Fermentation - by Sandor Ellix Katz

Jordan Rubin - Garden of Life (supplements & information)


Here is a link that might be useful: Dom's Kefir Insite

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Madonna, I'm of no help as I don't care for kefir (or yogurt either, really, although I make it to use in baking and in salad dressing). I do hope your husband improves and is healthy soon.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Thank you so much for your responses. Sorry I'm so late in getting back on this, but my mentor and unofficial adopted father and my niece's husband died within two days of each other. I'd been my niece's "Mom" through the twenty-four days of her husband's deteriorating in the hospital.

Now for another bummer. The Transplant Team Cardiologist told my husband he is to use no type of probiotics, period. He is not to eat any yogurt or anything else with live cultures. We do think they would help him, but will abide with his doctor's orders. The only good part of this is I have two bottles of kefir and some Greek yogurt that are all mine.

Thank you, Annie, for your good wishes for my husband. I already consider myself lucky for having him so long. When he had his five by-passes in 1987 they said they could only say the life expectancy after that was around seven years. Well, he made it through to eight years ago and was fortunate to only be on the transplant list for a year and a half before they found a viable heart for him. He's outlived the expectancy of a heart recipient with no rejection so far and we both feel we are very blessed.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:11PM
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