Milk kefir grains are probiotic grains that grow in milk. You soak them in fresh milk and drain them daily to get fresh, thick milk that’s reminiscent of buttermilk and packed-full of healthy probiotics.
Drinking kefir is great for anyone who has stomach issues as this promotes healthy bacteria that should help calm these reactions. I actually started drinking it after ordering the grains for my dad who has a very sensitive stomach 😦 Thankfully, he’s been very happy with his recent decision to take up kefir drinking once more. 🙂
Since I LOVE buttermilk, I got curious about kefir and, even though I initially found it very ‘salty’ tasting, it quickly grew on me. Yes, it is something you have to ‘treat’ daily, but it’s quick and literally only takes a few minutes to prep for the next day. I’m definitely glad to have started drinking it because I’ve seen some positive results and I’m hooked. 🙂
^Yup they sure do sorta look like cottage cheese LOL 🙂
Some things I’ve noticed
–Increased energy. I literally sleep less and don’t feel tired. I’m not really a morning person and I now love drinking this as my breakfast after doing my oil pulling routine.
–Regular, healthy bowel movements. This wasn’t a concern for me, but I know that people with constipation are likely to experience positive changes in that area.
–Possible shedding of stomach fat. I’m not sure if it’s my safflower oil pulling OR the kefir OR a combo of both, but I did read that apparently kefir contains fat-blasting CLA, which is responsible for blasting belly fat. Either way, I’m down!
–Suppresses hunger… Or basically fills you up so much that it feels like a meal on its own. Depending on your meal, you could also drink kefir with it on the side.
The kefir grain growing process
To ‘freeze’ the grains (stop them from growing), put them in the fridge or, for longer periods of time, freeze them (basically the cold is what stunts their growth).
What you need
–Ideally: glass jar (to culture the grains and milk in) and additional jars to store the cultured milk. It’s also optional if and how you want to use the lid: if you do use the lid, lay it on top but don’t screw it shut because of the pressure it will cause!! I recently rinsed a (badly made?) jar that had some kefir and water in it and the bottom was literally ripped off LOL So that gives you an idea of how much the pressure can build up in there. So I just use a coffee filter and wrap it at the top to make a ‘breathable lid’ and secure it with a rubber band
–Spatula / wooden spoon. DO NOT use any metal: contact with metal kills the grains!!
–Non-metal drainer (plastic?)
A good place to start would be with 1 /4 cup of kefir grains. A good amount of milk to add for that would be 1 cup of milk to start. Within a few days, you’ll notice that the grains are growing and therefore, you’ll add more milk. With time, you’ll get a good feel for how much milk to add and may even be able to eyeball it (that’s what I do). But basically, if you add lots of milk and there aren’t lots of grains, the milk will be more watery and therefore more likely to just taste ‘regular.’ So it’s all about getting that right mix of grain and milk to create the thick kefir milk 🙂
What to do
Put the grains and the milk in your jar and leave it outside to cure (not in the fridge)—anywhere like a kitchen counter, table, etc. I do believe they grow faster in warm temperature This is where the lid part comes into play. If you use the lid, be careful not to close it tightly (or even at all really) because it will create pressure and could cause the jar to break. The coffee filter is also an option.
Let sit for 24 hours. You can also leave it in for 48 hours at most. At that point the taste and smell will be significantly stronger due to extended fermentation. It might be worth experiment and seeing if you prefer 24 or 48 hour culturing.
After 24 (or 48) hours, it’s time to drain the grains. Remove the lid and you may want to use your spatula to gently stir and mix the kefir that’s now coated in the milk it cured overnight (lol). Get the non-metal bowl and drainer, and put drainer in the bowl. Get your jar with kefir grains and pour the contents into the drainer. Shake the drainer and watch the milk content gather in the bowl.
Your grains are now drained, so you can put them back in the jar, and start the process again. Some may choose to rinse the jar but from my experience it’s not necessary to do so. Add 1 cup of milk and let sit again overnight.
You now have your cultured kefir milk in the bowl which you can pour for yourself in another jar or basically however you want to drink it. As a suggestion, mason jars work great, and can be bought many places, including Target and the Dollar Store. Put your milk in the fridge and enjoy it cold whenever. 🙂
Soon, you’ll see your grain content grow, which just means you’ll have to add more milk as you go. In the event that you don’t see them growing (or it seems like nothing’s happening), this is likely a sign that the grains are no good and should be discarded. It’s both fascinating and weirdly cool the way the grains grow into massive ‘blobs’ LOL! Sometimes they also look like popcorn when they’re still small, and in pictures they often look like cottage cheese (see photo above). Technically, you could also eat them but they are relatively tasteless. I’ve swallowed small pieces and they’re just kinda chewy (haha).
You can also rinse your grains, but it’s not something you need to do often or even at all. After all, it is kinda like a self-regulating bacteria 😉
If you ever decide you don’t need / want to keep up the daily routine, you can pass some along to your health-conscious, curious friends… and/or, since they’re tough little guys, you can freeze the grains. It’s best to store them in glass jars, and add a bit of milk before sealing and placing in the freezer. As a note, it can take a while to defrost, so it might help to keep that in mind if you plan to use them at a certain time.
Where to buy
You can get milk kefir grains from many places such as health food stores and eBay.
I can’t recommend it highly enough for people to try drinking milk kefir. It’s an easy, super affordable, and beneficial way of incorporating a health-conscious habit into your diet and life. The taste may take some getting used to, but as with most things, if you’re happy with the results it’ll be something that you quickly overcome and look forward to!