How To Make Kefir
Healing the gut
A few years ago I read a book that stressed the importance of the healing properties of probiotics (healing the gut for example) which I didn’t know much about. I never even heard the word “kefir” before. The topic of probiotics has been picking up a head of steam in recent years, but there’s a lot of different directions that a person can go towards implementing them into their diet.  It can get a little bit confusing and/or time consuming learning how to make fermented creations, concoctions that are loaded with these probiotic microorganisms. Buying them from the store can get expensive and if you’re buying pills, they’re likely not as potent as what you can make at home anyways. 
Making kefir is easy!
After doing some research on what’s easiest to make as a greenhorn, I discovered that making kefir was the way to go. Kefir is a fermented milk beverage produced by the action of bacteria and yeasts that exist in symbiotic association in kefir grains  with its roots being traced back to the people of the Caucasus Mountains. You can also make water kefir  but my focus for this article is making dairy kefir. (Animal milks aren’t the only option however, as we’ll discuss shortly)
There’s a number of health benefits of kefir, which will be discussed in a forthcoming article, but if you’re impatient like I am, here’s a site that discusses some of them. I got my grains–the name “grains” is really a misnomer, they’re actually yeast cultures—from a person in a group on Facebook but you can purchase some from Amazon, albeit at a premium. That’s all you need to make kefir: the grains and a dairy of your choice! It’s a very simple endeavor; great for those who don’t have much time to babysit more complex fermentation projects.
What you need to do
Put 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains into a mason jar with milk, raw dairy works best but you can also use almond, coconut milk etc  and let it sit out in a warm area, not in direct sunlight though, for 24-48 hours. Make sure that you use a metal lid–keep the lid loose so the jar can burp i. e. release the gases made in the fermentation process–or a cheesecloth with a rubber band to secure it.
I have found that plastic lids get moldy. Yikes! (I’ve been told that plastic words work just fine, but I’ve had issues using them, as aforementioned) When it starts to get clumpy and you see the separation of the curds and the whey/water (picture below) then it’s ready to be strained. Once you have strained it, put it in the fridge for storage. Here’s to helping your immune system!
- It’s best for newbies to consume only small amounts to build up a tolerance for it. (About a half cup or less to start)
- You can make yogurt, cheese etc from the curds that you strained.
- Blend your kefir with fruit and/or honey for a tasty delight. (The taste will still be tangy)
- Only 24/48 hours is needed usually for the fermentation process but the longer it ferments the stronger it will be. Don’t ferment more than 5 days or so.
- Don’t wash your grains with tap water, but rather spring/filtered water.
- Sometimes the grains need a break–and don’t produce as much–so store them in the fridge with enough milk in the jar to cover them.
- The kefir will last for a number of months in the fridge but to be on the safe side, drink it sooner than later.
- The grains will multiply in time, so split them up for use in a variety of milks to maximize your production.
- You can store the grains in the freezer for a backup.
- Instead of regular milk in your post workout shake, try using kefir. I love kefir in my green smoothies too.
(Assessed 10-18-15)  Perhaps I’ll write about making water kefir in another article but admittedly I’m not really good at it, nor am I sure that I like it, yet.
 Just make sure that if you use non animal milks that there’s enough sugar for your grains to feed off of, which causes the fermentation process to happen. (The almond milk I’m using right now has 15 grams of sugar per serving–a cup, it makes kefir just fine) The lactose in the milk is the sugar that the grains eat; non animal milks have a lower sugar content and no lactose of course, you might need to add a little sugar if the magic ain’t happening.
Have you made kefir before? Please share below!