Full-fat Cow's Milk Kefir

INGREDIENTS & EQUIPMENT

  •  1 qt/1 liter organic full fat cow´s milk

  •  1 large Fido jar (1.5 L capacity or larger)

  •  1 tbsp milk kefir grains

  •  Filtered water

  •  Plastic fine-mesh strainer

  •  Silicon/wooden spatula

  •  Sauce pan

  •  Thermometer

  •  Glass jar/pitcher for storing


DIRECTIONS

  1. Take your milk kefir grains out of the refrigerator, and let the warm up to room temperature.

  2. Heat the milk slowly and gently in a saucepan, and wait until it is about to boil (or until it reaches at least 180ºF/82ºC). Stir frequently to avoid scalding. Once the milk begins to “bubble” lower the heat further, and keep under low heat for 5-10 minutes.

  3. Set aside, and allow the milk cool to 104ºF (40ºC) or lower.

  4. Place your kefir grains in a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse thoroughly under fresh filtered water, while the milk is cooling. Set aside and let them drain.

  5. Pour the milk into a large Fido jar once it has cooled down to the right temperature, and add the rinsed and drained kefir grains. Stir the milk/kefir grains briefly.

  6. Cap the jar loosely and let the milk ferment for at least 24 hours, or up to 5 days (depending on how sour you like it to taste and/or if you want to make sure your kefir is lactose-free). Choose a place where the temperature is relatively warm but not excessively (best between 65ºF-80ºF).

  7. Stir the milk/kefir grains occasionally if you are fermenting for longer than 24 hours, to bring more of the milk in contact with the grains (helpful but not required). Loosen the cap after agitation.

  8. The process is complete when the milk thickens (it should be a pourable liquid rather than an “eat with a spoon” level of thickness). The milk will also have a distinctive sour smell.

  9. When you are ready to harvest, simply place a plastic strainer over a bowl and pour the finished kefir through the stainer. Use a plastic or wooden spatula to gently work the kefir through the strainer.

  10. Transfer the kefir to a glass container and store in the refrigerator immediately. Alternatively, if you want to carbonate your kefir, leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The fermentation continues even without the grains as all the organisms in them are now part of the kefir.

  11. The kefir grains that remained in the strainer need to be rinsed off with fresh filtered water and stored in the refrigerator with enough milk to cover them, until ready to start the next batch. Kefir works best as a continuous rhythm. Keep your batches small so you do not get overwhelmed.

  12. If you need to stop production rinse kefir grains, drain them, pat them dry, seal them in something airtight, and freeze them.

  13. You can enjoy your milk kefir as an amazing probiotic beverage, or you can substitute for milk, yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk in your recipes. Salad dressings, soups, smoothies and baked goods are my favorites.

What are the benefits of this dish?

Kefiran is an exo-polysaccharide produced by Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, which is one of the dominant bacterial strains found in kefir. It contributes to the taste and texture of kefir, as well as the structure of the kefir grains themselves.

Milk kefir is a good source of probiotics, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that support healing and repair of the gut mucosa. Milk kefir is particularly rich in vitamins A, B1, D, K2, folate, B12, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Some of the health benefits attributed to kefir include, protection from gastrointestinal diseases, providing nutrients necessary for optimal bone health and regulating immune function.

Although not as widely popular as other fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, kefir has been consumed and associated with health benefits for 100s of years; originally by communities in the Caucasian mountains.

Kefir is traditionally made with cow’s milk but it can be made with milk from other sources such as goat, sheep, buffalo, or coconut milk.