I finally got my Kefir grains from Cultures for Health and I have been spending the last few days acclimating them to my raw goats milk. I am very excited about these little bundles of bacteria and am hopeful to be able to make an actual batch of kefir next week.
For those of you unfamiliar with the stuff, kefir is a fermented milk beverage. It has a sour flavor similar to yogurt, but the texture is very different allowing you to drink it. Said to originate in Russia and the Caucasus, kefir has many health benefits, not the least of which the introduction of beneficial bacteria to the intestinal floura. It is for this reason alone that I have been wanting to start my own kefir culture. More information about the history (real and legendary) and the health benefits of kefir can be found here.
The grains themselves came packed in a small amount of powdered milk which I just added to my raw goats milk. The instructions said to let the grains sit at room temperature in the milk for 24 hours, at which point you strain them and add them to fresh milk and repeat the process.
Apparently in 4 – 7 days you should have a product that smells slightly sour, possibly yeasty, and not at all off. Today is day 5 for me and I suspect I may need another day simply because my milk is raw and the kefir is working with a much higher load of existing bacteria than if I were using pasteurized milk. It also looks as though my grains are already multiplying! I am very excited about this for a variety of reasons. First, it means that they are healthy and working, secondly it means I can share them if people are interested! Very exciting indeed.
With that success in mind, one of the things I have struggled with is whether to rinse the kefir grains when I change the milk, as there is nothing about this on the instructions from Cultures for Health. I have simply been adding any accumulated cream/curd back into the fresh milk, rather than rinse the cultures with water. It turns out this is absolutely right! I was doing some research and found a great site with a ton of information about kefir grains. Not only did it clarify the process a bit for me, but it also provides some ideas about how to store the grains if they are not being used, as well as giving a few ideas on kefir variations (such as refrigerator kefir or a double fermentation method).
The irony of all of this is of course it is very near the end of milking season and I am running extremely low on my goat milk. Goats typically only lactate for 9 months and I am pushing the issue with my Nubian so that I can have milk until my other girl delivers (expected late March). I am milking my girl every other day in an effort to dry her off slowly and as a result, only have about a quart every two days. Given that I have had to use 2 cups from each milking for the kefir I don’t have a lot left over! Not the best planning in the world!
In either case, I am hopeful that by this weekend I will have a nice batch of birthday kefir (my B-day is Friday!) and when I have managed to get a successful batch, I will post about it here. Until then, Happy Eating…and drinking!
This post has been my contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s, hosted this week by Cheeseslave.