Cynthia blogged her process here: The Art of Kefir Making
Rachel's blog post Kefir includes her always gorgeous pictures, as well as "recommended reading": Real Kefir Grains
In a comment from HOMEGROWNer Deb:
I have only been brewing "milk" kefir for about two months now with grains from two different sources. So far I have had great success and we make about a quart of fresh milk kefir every day.
You said you were just "getting started in the process of making kefir" – not sure exactly what that means or how much you know about making kefir, so I will start at the basics (as I understand them from my own personal experience) –
First, kefir is a living culture – it is a complex system of bacteria and yeasts. This is why you must have kefir grains to make kefir.
Second, there are two types of kefir – water kefir and milk kefir. Both are fermented drinks when brewed.
Water kefir has small transparent grains that ferment sweetened water. This drink can become effervescent. (I personally have not brewed this yet – I have grains coming to me in a few weeks from someone and will start brewing it then – so for now really can’t give any info on this one).
So far I have only brewed milk kefir, so that is the one I can tell you about (from my personal experience) –
Milk kefir has white or cream colored grains that look similar to cauliflower florets that ferment milk. The milk kefir grains ferment the milk and as it does the grains grow creating new grains in the process.
Making kefir is simple – put your grains and milk in a glass jar (I use a quart mason jar) and then let it ferment on your kitchen counter for 12 to 48 hours. Depending on how long you leave it to ferment will determine its taste and thickness. At 12 hours you have a thinner, sweeter kefir, where at 48 hours you will have a thicker and much sourer kefir - the longer you leave it, the sourer it will get. Temperature will also effect how quickly your grains work in your kefir - if your house is warmer (such as summertime) you kefir will ferment faster.
Once you have your kefir to the “taste” you want then strain the kefir liquid into a clean jar and store in the fridge. Next put your kefir grains in a clean jar with fresh milk and repeat the process you did with your first kefir batch, etc . . . Do this for each batch of kefir that you brew.
When using milk kefir grains you can use raw cow or goat milk or canned coconut milk (try to get a brand that does not have sugars and preservatives added). You can also use store-bought milk that is homogenized however DO NOT USE ultra-pasteurized milk as it has been processed with extremely high temps and will not feed your grains properly. You can make kefir with whole or low-fat milk.
When kefir is fermenting many times the grains will float to the top of the milk. To keep things “mixed” I gently swish the mixture in the jar several times throughout the brewing process (no need to open and stir).
When you strain your kefir grains into a new jar they many times will feel “slimy” or coated with a gel-like substance – this is normal and is known as “kefiran”. This is another reason why I swish the jar to help distribute the kefiran in the kefir while it brews.
Two things I was instructed on when making kefir –
1 = Make sure that everything you use with kefir is clean. Remember kefir is a living culture and you don’t want to contaminate it or kill it by not having clean hands or utensils, etc . . .
2 = Use only plastic utensils (no metal). (I did not want to use my plastic pasta strainer as it might have residual oil that would affect the outcome of my kefir.) I went to the “dollar store” and purchased an inexpensive strainer, spoons, measuring cup, and bowl that I use for kefir only.
Here Are A Couple Of Websites That Have Very Good Info On Brewing Kefir –
http://www.theprairiemom.com/index.php?pr=Dairy_Kefir (she also offers free grains – you pay shipping fee)
This Site Has An Instruction Video On Making Coconut Milk Kefir –
These Sites Have Good Info Like Health Benefits, Etc -
http://www.culturesforhealth.com/Kefir-Grains-c37/ (best info with recipes, etc)
http://www.culturesforhealth.com/docs/Kefir_Recipe_eBook.pdf (recipe book)
Again, this is from my own personal experience brewing milk kefir - Hope this helps.
I posted my Kefir process awhile back, too. Here it is
Meet Sutherland, Jr. -My Kefir
Meet my kefir, Sutherland Jr. He has no rack of manly muscles or exquisite, heart-stopping smile. He is not a steaming, good-looking federal agent, roaming the globe in a constant 24 hour rotation of disaster-diverting drama scenarios, saving us all from impending doom. Yet in our home, Sutherland, Jr. is a pretty hot commodity and I firmly believe he is saving us all with his probiotic capabilities, from both an unhealthy breakfast and an unhealthy digestive system. He’s kinda a big deal, after all. Sutherland, Jr. was the milk-love child of my friend Kendra‘s kefir grains (thus the Jr). He’s a pretty prolific guy himself, and has spawned many grains for friends over the past year, creating lots of healthy, happy bellies. What a dude….
Kefir is a cultured milk product with many health benefits. It is most often sold in the health food section of stores in a drinkable yogurt/smoothie style, and it seriously ain’t cheap. Which is why, and I’m sure this isn’t a surprise to anyone who reads me…. I make it myself.
Making my own kefir daily has saved us a ton of money on yogurt and probiotics. While I’m aware that we aren’t getting a full dose as if we were taking daily probiotics, I feel confident that this has been a great addition to our family’s health. And did I mention that it is ridiculously easy and cheap? yes, I’m still talking about the kefir, not the actor. Anyway….We have kefir in our smoothie nearly every morning. Or over granola, or other cereal with a bit of local honey. I even make our ranch dressing with it, and put it on top of soups. Mmmmmm….
It’s easy, once you have acquired your Kefir grains or “starter cultures” whichever you want to call it. I call it grains. The word culture grosses me out a bit when it comes to food. I’ve done too many blood and other medical tests in my life to be ok with it… but call it that if you like.
You place the starter in the bottom of a glass jar, as pictured above. Now pour about 10-4 ounces of milk over it (depending on if your grains have grown, or how thick you like it. You’ll have to try a few times to find your own taste for it.)
I have a pretty napkin and a rubber band that I put over the top. That way it can still get air, but not the dust, fruit fruit flies or just imaginary yuckiness that bothers my psyche at the thought of leaving it uncovered for 24 hours. So then, yes, you leave it out on your counter for 24 hours. Or more if you like it more fermented than that. We do 24 hours because it’s the perfect cycle for making our smoothie every morning.
you need to strain the kefir to keep the grains. I know many people use a slotted spoon which to me sounds like it would take more time
I screw my large sprouting lid onto the canning jar and shake all of the kefir out quickly. Then I dump the grains in a new jar, add milk and cover for the next day.
Like I said, most days it goes into a smoothie for the rowdy bunch to slurp down breakfast, completely unaware that I’ve just given them a dose of healthiness that can protect them from getting sick, keep their bellies balanced and help them grow healthy. Who needs muscles and badges to be a health hero anyway…