Kefir is a fermented milk drink with origins in the Caucasus region. It tastes slightly sour but effervescent and has a creamy consistency similar to buttermilk. Kefir is a powerhouse of probiotics with various bacteria and yeasts found in the drink. The makeup of the drink, however, can change from culture to culture and batch to batch.
In order to make Kefir, you need a Kefir “mushroom”, which is actually a symbiosis of yeasts, bacteria, protein, lipids, and sugar. Since making Kefir has become very popular nowadays, you can find the mushrooms for sale on ebay, craigslist and specialized internet retailers. Here is a picture of the kefir mushroom.
Once you have the Kefir mushroom, making the kefir drink is rather easy.
- get a glass of milk (skim, 2%, whole, organic – they all work)
- drop the mushroom into the glass
- after 24 hours (warm ambient temperature) or 36 hours (cold ambient temperature), your kefir is ready to drink
- remove the mushroom from the drink and repeat with some fresh milk
Kefir is probably one of the easiest ferments to get started in the wonderful world of fermentation. However, here are some additional hints to get you on the right track.
- There are top floating and bottom floating mushrooms, the top floaters are easier to remove from the drink
- Your mushroom can be used indefinitely; as a matter of fact, the mushroom will grow and multiply, leaving you with extra to give out to friends and family
- You can freeze and dry mushrooms for back up
- Don’t let the kefir come in prolonged contact with metal, due to the acidity of the drink
- Use glass due to its inertness
- Fermentation time can vary based on the temperature; normal room temperature is generally fine
Here is a video that will teach you the basics of kefir making in under a minute.