How to Make Milk Kefir in 5 Easy Steps

 

How To Make Milk Kefir In Just 5 Easy Steps | Jills Home Remedies | Do you know milk kefir has billions of probiotics in just one tablespoon? Learn how to make milk kefir today in just 5 easy steps!

If you hang out at my house for very long, you’ll inevitably hear one of my children asking me to “make a shake, please”. We cannot stand to go a day without our “shake”. I love that they ask for this every day because the base that I use for these shakes is milk kefir!

Kefir is one of the healthiest things you can add to your diet. It’s a probiotic drink and so incredibly good for you. If you do it right, you can feed your family this homemade probiotic drink for a lot less than purchasing probiotics in pill form! (I do keep this probiotic on hand in case one of my girls has a tummy ache and can use some extra probiotics.)

I’m going to show you not only how to make milk kefir in 5 easy steps, but I’m going to share how you can make yours taste so yummy that your kids will be asking you for some too!

What is kefir?

Milk kefir, (there is such a thing as water kefir but we are going to go over milk kefir today) originating from Russia, is a fermented milk drink made with kefir grains. These grains are a bacterial fermentation starter that when added to milk, make a thick, creamy yogurt-type drink. 

How To Make Milk Kefir In Just 5 Easy Steps | Jills Home Remedies | Do you know milk kefir has billions of probiotics in just one tablespoon? Learn how to make milk kefir today in just 5 easy steps! Kefir grains look like cottage cheese or cauliflower to me. They feed on the sugar in the milk, which causes them to multiply themselves at a rate of a 10-15% increase each time they are fed. [2] If you keep your kefir grains well fed with milk, you can have a forever endless supply of inexpensive, homemade probiotics for your family’s good health.

Kefir boasts of high levels of probiotics, calcium, magnesium, vitamins k & b12, biotin, folate, and enzymes. [1] And according to the University of Florida microbiology class, homemade kefir contains a beneficial bacteria colony of 150 billion per tablespoon! [3]

What About Store-Bought Kefir?

While kefir bought at the store does have a lot of good stuff in it, it does not have as much as homemade. Many brands are advertised as having 10 strains, while homemade kefir has as many as 40-60 strains. [2]

And let’s just mention the savings! The savings of making your own kefir is well worth it. Purchasing kefir is around $.12 an ounce, while making it only costs you the price of milk (once you’ve purchased your grains) and averages to being only $.02 an ounce. [2] (This price was based on milk being $2.75 a gallon, so if you purchase milk that is less expensive, you save even more!) 

How To Make Milk Kefir in 5 Easy Steps

Note: When you purchase kefir grains, they will be in a bag of milk. Strain the grains using a plastic strainer and pour a little bit of fresh milk on them to rinse them. This is only necessary when you use them the first time. This helps to activate them and get them going since they’ve been tossed about in the mail and are now in a different environment. Do not rinse with water. 

Ingredients

Kefir grains (buy here)
Milk (raw or whole milk)
Jar
Breathable material like paper towels, dish towel
Rubberband

Directions

  1. Place kefir grains in a jar.
  2. Pour in milk on top of the grains. Use 1 cup of milk per 1 tablespoon of grains. 
  3. Place a breathable cloth on top and secure with a rubber band. I like to use a paper towel folded in half, but a dish towel or something similar would work as well.
  4. Place the jar in a cool, dark place like a cabinet. Let the kefir ferment for 24-48 hours. You will know that it’s ready when you tilt the jar slightly and the kefir is thicker and more gel-like instead of just watery milk.
  5. Strain the kefir in a plastic strainer. (Never use a metal strainer or spoons. The kefir liquid itself can touch metal but the grains cannot as this can “kill” them.)

A Few Notes and Tips

  • Be patient with your grains as they adjust to a new environment. Every household has different temperatures and moisture content so your new grains have to get used to your house. After you make your first batch, the liquid may still be watery and not very thick at all. That’s OK! It doesn’t mean the grains are bad – it only means they need more time to adjust to your environment. Simply strain the kefir grains, place them in a jar, and pour more fresh milk in. The second time around you can add only 1/2 cup and see if it does better starting with that amount. Sometimes it can take 2 or 3 times to get them started well. Once they have a good start and are adjusted to your home’s environment, they will make lots of amazing kefir for years to come!
  • Some people pour up their kefir after 24 hours, but I tend to wait every 48 hours because I have so many grains now that I make 1/2 a gallon at a time and we currently don’t need more than 1/2 a gallon of kefir every 2 days. It also saves on milk money if I wait 2 days. 
  • In the summer and warmer weather, they will ferment faster and the kefir may be ready every day to be strained. The refrigerator slows down fermentation, so I place the jar in the refrigerator if I’m too busy to strain them at the time the kefir is ready or if I want them to ferment more slowly for a few days. (I always ferment in the cabinet first for at least 24 hours before placing them in the fridge.)
  • Don’t throw your grains out if you forget to strain them within 48 hours. Everything is still good, your kefir will just be stronger and more sour, but still usable! If you leave your grains in the basement for a year and forget about them, then yes- throw them out and start over with more grains. (I’ve actually done that in the early days! haha)
  • If you don’t have someone local to you to get kefir grains from, you can buy them online! You do have to be sure you get them from a good source. I had an experience once when I ordered kefir grains and when I opened the package, they smelled like a dead mouse. Needless to say, I threw those away and ordered from Yemoos Nourishing Cultures. I’ve had great success with these grains and their customer service is extremely helpful!
  • Be sure to use raw or whole milk for your kefir grains. Ultra-pasteurized, low-fat, coconut, rice, soy, etc. milk will not work.
  • So what can you do with all these extra kefir grains? As I said, the grains will multiply as you use and feed them. So if you want to make a quart jar at a time, you’ll only need 4 tablespoons of grains for each batch. When your grains become more than that, you can eat them yourself (which I’ve never done personally), blend them with your smoothie (which I have done and that greatly increases the amazing nutritional value!), mix them in your animal’s food, or share with a friend!

How To Make Milk Kefir In Just 5 Easy Steps | Jills Home Remedies | Do you know milk kefir has billions of probiotics in just one tablespoon? Learn how to make milk kefir today in just 5 easy steps!

How To Make Milk Kefir in 5 Easy Steps
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Ingredients
  1. Kefir grains
  2. Milk
  3. Jar
  4. Breathable material like paper towels, dish towel
  5. Rubberband
Instructions
  1. Place kefir grains in a jar.
  2. Pour in milk on top of the grains. For the first batch, add around 1 cup of milk per 1 tablespoon of grains.
  3. Place a breathable cloth on top and secure with a rubber band. I like to use a paper towel folded in half, but a dish towel or something similar would work as well.
  4. Place the jar in a cool, dark place like a cabinet. Let the kefir ferment for 24-48 hours. You will know that it's ready when you tilt the jar slightly and the kefir is thicker and more gel-like instead of just watery milk.
  5. Strain the kefir in a plastic strainer. (Never use metal strainer or spoons. The kefir liquid itself can touch metal but the grains cannot as this can "kill" them.)
Jill's Home Remedies http://jillshomeremedies.com/

How To Make Kefir Taste Yummy

Kefir is similar to yogurt, so flavor it and use it as you would yogurt. Plain kefir is sour, but you can add sugar, honey, berries, etc. to make it taste good. As I mentioned, my favorite way to use it is by making what we call “shakes” (or smoothies).

For every cup of kefir, we add 1 1/2-2 frozen bananas, about 1/4 cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of flax or chia seeds, and any herbs that I wish to add to our diet at the time. (Right now I’m adding 1 teaspoon of turmeric.)  This is our favorite way, but the options are endless! Experiment and have delicious fun!

Do you make your own kefir? What’s your favorite way to drink it?

Resources

  1. 7 Kefir Benefits and Nutrition Facts. (2017, March 28). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://draxe.com/kefir-benefits/
  2. Cultures, Y. N. (n.d.). Commercial Milk Kefir vs Home. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://www.yemoos.com/pages/commercial-milk-kefir-vs-home
  3. Surprising Probiotic Count Of Kefir Revealed. (2016, January 24). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from http://www.nourishingplot.com/2015/10/21/surprising-probiotic-count-of-kefir-revealed/

How To Make Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

How To Make Easy Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar | Jills Home Remedies | Learn how to easily make sauerkraut in a mason jar! Homemade sauerkraut is full of probiotics and is healing for the entire body!

We are huge fans of sauerkraut in my house. In fact, if I don’t have it on hand all the time, at least one of my girls will be asking me over and over to get some made already. I’m so glad they like it so because it is one of the healthiest foods on planet earth. Homemade sauerkraut is full of probiotics and healing nutrition. I’m going to show you how to make easy sauerkraut in a mason jar!

When making sauerkraut, I highly recommend fermenting and not canning. I love the taste of canned sauerkraut but you will lose a lot of nutrition that way. When you ferment the cabbage, you don’t just have plain ol’ sauerkraut, you have miracle food in a jar. Not only is it a wonderful source of probiotics, it also heals the digestive tract, and acts as a healing medicine in the body. Try a few sips of the sauerkraut juice the next time you’re sick and see how well you improve! You will also likely find that you don’t get sick as often if you are eating it on a regular basis.

Fermented foods are preserved by a process called lactofermentation. This is a process in which bacteria feeds on the sugar and starch in food, creating beneficial vitamins, enzymes, Omega-3 fatty acids, and several different strains of probiotics. Food fermentation is something cultures have practiced from all over the world for hundreds of years. Besides delivering top nutrients, fermentation also breaks food down in an easily digestible form. This greatly improves a person’s digestion, gut health, and overall well-being.

There are 3 different ways to ferment vegetables:

  • With whey
  • With a culture starter packet
  • With salt

I have only used the salt method so that’s what I’ll be sharing today.  

There are a few different containers you can use for fermenting vegetables:

  • Crock or container with clamp-down lid
  • A jar with an airlock lid
  • A mason jar with a tight lid 

While I have had great results making sauerkraut with a plain canning lid, I’ve also had a few times that it didn’t turn out so well. This is likely due to the temperature changes in the house and oxygen seeping into the ferment. Oxygen is the enemy of fermentation and sometimes the canning lids don’t keep the air out so well.

I highly recommend using a fermenting lid which will create the perfect environment in the jar for fermenting  for more consistent results. I use Kraut Kaps here. You can experiment yourself and see what works for you!

Another great optional tool is a fermentation weight. I have made lots of sauerkraut without any weights, but they are very convenient to keep the cabbage under the liquid so it doesn’t turn brown or mold. You can buy glass weight here and plastic weights here. You just simply place them on top of the cabbage before you screw the lid on!

How To Make Easy Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar | Jills Home Remedies | Learn how to easily make sauerkraut in a mason jar! Homemade sauerkraut is full of probiotics and is healing for the entire body!

How To Make Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

This recipe makes a half gallon of sauerkraut. Simply cut the recipe down if you wish to make smaller amounts.

Ingredients 

1 large head cabbage (about 3 or 4 pounds)
3 tablespoons of Real Sea Salt (buy here)
Filtered Water
1/2 gallon Mason Jar, wide-mouth (buy here)
Fermenting Lid, optional (buy here)
Fermenting Weights, optional (buy here)

Directions

  • Finely chop/shred the cabbage. To make it super fast and easy, chop it in a food processor (like this one)!
  • Toss salt and shredded cabbage in a bowl until well combined. 
  • Pack cabbage into a jar.
  • Pour water into the jar until the cabbage is well covered. Leave at least a 2 inch head-space for cabbage to expand.
  • Cover with lid.
  • Set in cool dark cabinet for 7 days.
  • Refrigerate
  • Keeps in refrigerator for 9 months. 

How To Make Easy Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar | Jills Home Remedies | Learn how to easily make sauerkraut in a mason jar! Homemade sauerkraut is full of probiotics and is healing for the entire body!

When you remove the lid, you should find it nice and bubbly.  This jar below was the bubbliest I’ve ever made.  If any of the vegetables have risen above the water/salt mixture {also known as brine}, they will likely be discolored.  Just scoop out the top layer and throw it away.  

How To Make Easy Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar | Jills Home Remedies | Learn how to easily make sauerkraut in a mason jar! Homemade sauerkraut is full of probiotics and is healing for the entire body!

 

Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 large head cabbage (about 3 or 4 pounds)
  2. 3 tablespoons of Real Sea Salt
  3. Filtered Water
  4. 1/2 gallon Mason Jar, wide-mouth
  5. Fermenting Lid, optional
  6. Fermenting Weights, optional
Instructions
  1. Finely chop/shred the cabbage. To make it fast and easy, shred it in a food processor if you have one!
  2. Toss salt and shredded cabbage in a bowl until well combined.
  3. Pack cabbage into a jar.
  4. Pour water into the jar until the cabbage is well covered. Leave at least a 2 inch head-space for cabbage to expand.
  5. Cover with lid.
  6. Set in cool dark cabinet for 7 days.
  7. Refrigerate.
  8. Keeps in refrigerator for 9 months.
Adapted from Cultured Food Life
Jill's Home Remedies http://jillshomeremedies.com/

Have you ever made sauerkraut?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

RESOURCES

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods – Wellness Mama. (2011, April 7). Retrieved April 10, 2015, from http://wellnessmama.com/2245/health-benefits-fermented-foods/