Making Kefir

August 12, 2013

When I finished chemotherapy last April I began taking probiotics tablets to help with restoring my body to balanced good health. Chemotherapy is rough on your digestive system and I felt that a couple of bottles of probiotics tablets probably wouldn’t be enough. Fermented foods are frequently mentioned as a way to bring helpful bacteria to your gut – eating sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir. You can buy a product called Yakult in the dairy case here but it is non-organic and although many people use and love it, I wasn’t sold. Kimchi usually has fish sauce in it, so that wasn’t for me either. I did eat a bit of sauerkraut but was very interested in trying kefir.

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Here in Mazatlán we can’t just run out to Whole Foods and pick up some kefir. Thankfully a friend of mine offered to share some of her kefir grains with me and to teach me what to do. It’s really easy. To start, you’ll need:

1. Two one quart glass jars with lids

2. A plastic strainer

3. A plastic spoon

4. A small glass jar for keeping the grains after fermentation is over

5. A bottle of organic milk

6. the kefir grains

kefir3

At the top of this post you see one of my glass jars that is fermenting the kefir. Here’s what you do:

1. Take the kefir grains and put them in the glass jar. Add about two or three cups of milk. Leave it on the counter for between 12 and 24 hours. Here in my 85 degree kitchen it will ferment in about 10 hours. You’ll see the top of the milk getting all crinkly looking and you can see the grains all built up in the bottom of the jar.

2. Get out your second jar, the strainer, the little glass jar, and the spoon.

3. Put the strainer over the clean jar and spill some of the kefir into it. Using the plastic spoon scrape/stir until the liquid has passed through but the grains remain. Put the grains in the small jar. Keep doing that until the kefir has been filtered. Put the used jar in the sink

4. Put the lid on the kefir and put it in the fridge. I like it cold.

5. If you’re going to start a new kefir, wash the big jar and put the kefir grains in it and do #1 again. At this time I put a bit of milk on top of the kefir grains in the small jar and save them in the fridge for tomorrow…. which is when I start over at #1

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I have been drinking about a half cup in the morning and at night. In the morning I put it in my smoothie and at night I just drink it down fast. I don’t like the taste but I like what it’s doing for me.

I have a lot to learn about this but it is a commitment to manage it and keep it alive that’s not for everyone. I understand that at some point the grains keep accumulating and I’ll have enough to share with someone, like my friend did with me. I bought this milk at Mega.

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If you’re in the US or Canada I suggest you buy some kefir grains at a health food store or online to get going. There’s lots of information online.

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

15 Comments
    1. I am so pleased to hear that you are giving this a try. I’ve been so curious and actually hoped to get some kefir grains on my next trip NOB. Have you read anything about making kefir water from the grains? Also, have you made the kombucha tea?
      All of these traditional and healthy sources of probiotics are very interesting to me.

      1. Barbara, This is the only thing I’ve made… I am curious about making it with coconut water but I understand the grains won’t grow so eventually it is “spent.”

        Perry, That’s funny! I did stir some jam into it a few times but I down it so fast I figures why bother. I’ve never had it NOB, I’ll have to try it on my next visit.

    1. Coincidentally, I was drinking Kefir as I was reading your blog!
      I’m NOB, so I bought mine.
      Thank you for sharing the recipe.

      Would it help you if you incorporated fruit in yours, like the
      kind you can buy here?

    1. Thanks for the push, I have been making kombucha at home and was going to try either yogurt or kefir. Reading your story will now push me to try that. We have lots of raw milk from our cows so cheese has been plentiful, but anything with probiotics is well needed also.
      thanks again.

      1. Tancho, I am so interested in kombucha, I’d love it if you’d write about ti. I think if I get enough kefir grains I could convert some of them to water kefir which is very like kombucha. I am such a newbie at all this, such a lot to learn. And I had no idea you had cows, too! How cool. We are thinking of a drive this fall, maybe if we come your way you could give us a tour of the homestead? Interesting how similar it all is to sourdoughstarter management, is’t it?

    1. Went to the Yakult site and clicked on the nutrition section. Sugar and more sugar! You are right to make your own. I have found that it is difficult/impossible to buy yogurt or kefir in Mexico without sugar or artificial sweetener added. I bought a yogurt maker to bring with me when I move later this year. Guess I will get some kefir grains too.

      1. Linda, I am not a fan of milk so this is a stretch for me… but I’m convinced it is good for me and I like that it’s all natural.

        Theresa, That’s neat that you can get kefir in Merida! And I am a big fan of chia, green tea, guanabana and some other stuff for its anti cancer properties. I use chia as an egg replacement when I need a binder too, just grinding some chia and adding water. Thanks for the link, it will be a good read.

    1. Fermented food are great for gut health. I’ve made kimchee and I don’t remember using fish sauce. I will check my recipes and get back to you.

      I keep meaning to order the water kefir grains and have someone bring them back for us. They are not the same as milk kefir grains. We used to make kefir in California and we can buy it here at Monique DuVall’s bakery.

      Here is some info regarding kefir, chia oil and their cancer fighting properties. I bought chia oil at the the Chedraui Selecto but I’ve seen it elsewhere, however I think straight chia seed is more palatable

      I love your new hair style on you. It looks fresh and vibrant.

      regards,
      Theresa

    1. Kefir. Interesting. I’ve never tried it, but maybe I’ll give it a whirl.

      I hope it works wonders for you.

      Saludos,

      Kim G
      Boston, MA
      Where we do occasionally take probiotic tablets.

      1. Kim G, Enjoy your walk to Whole Foods…

        Dana, I don’t drink milk, actually hate it. So this kefir venture is a big change for me. I would rather have ultra pasturized organic than fresh non-organic, at least for what I’m doing. I’d suggest you check with the organic market that had a stand at the farmer’s market and also at Naturalia. I might stop by Naturalia today, if I find it I’ll let you know here in another comment.

    1. Hi there! Question, do you know if there’s a place here in Maz to buy fresher milk and/or organic milk that’s not boxed? I’ve noticed that boxed milk is ultra-pasteurized, which heats it high enough to destroy the vitamins. We usually buy 1/2 gallons of regular pasteurized milk, but it seems to go sour within 2-3 days of opening it (no matter the carton date). I have 2 young children and have just not found a good source of milk that I’m comfortable with. They don’t care for almond milk, though I put it in their smoothies. I’m also looking for organic, grass-fed beef that is humanely raised and slaughtered in a sanitary way. I know… not likely, but I keep hoping there’s some random farmer that someone knows!

    1. thanks!! if you ever find yourself with an overabundance of kefir grains, let me know. 🙂 do you know anyone with sourdough starter?

    1. This is a very interesting post Nancy. I didn’t realize that there is so much sugar in Yakult. Do you think you could get kefir grains in a health food store here?

      1. Dana, I wrote you a separate email, good luck with the sourdough!

        Shannon, It’s been years since I’ve been to San Miguel but I’d check with the health food stores or even put a message on your local message board that you’re looking for grains. It helps if there’s a group of people growing kefir in an area so if you go away for some weeks or something someone else can get you started again. You might check with Tancho in Patzcuaro, it sounds like he might be getting some kefir started for himself…

        1. I haven’t found fresh organic milk yet… but Naturalia on Zaragoza has kombucha!

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