Sorry, this isn’t the best picture. Only one I’ve got right now. That’s the kefir, covered in its cloth, on the right, next to some lacto-fermented pickles and a green-bean/cabbage/nasturtium-leaf kraut.
Basic Kefir Recipe:
1 wide-mouth quart jar
Approximately 3 cups fresh organic, 100% pasture-raised, whole-fat milk (preferably raw)
Approximately 1/2 cup fresh organic pasture-raised raw cream (or good-quality organic) Approximately 2 T kefir grains (available here, or here, if you don’t have a friend who can give you some–also try your local chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation [find here] for possible free sources)
Place kefir grains in the jar. Pour milk and cream over them, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2-inch space at the top. Place a dishcloth over the jar (cheese-cloth is too loosely woven. You want something thick enough that bugs can’t get through it, but loose enough that the kefir can “breathe.”). Secure the cloth with a rubber band. Leave jar to sit for between 24 and 48 hours. How long it takes to kefir will depend on the temperature of the room (around 70 degrees F is ideal for about 24 hours). The warmer it is, the faster it will kefir. In the summer, I’ve had kefir happen in 8 hours or so. How long you let it sit will also depend on how sour you like your kefir. In the old days, people used to make kefir in goat-skin sacks. They would just add new milk all the time, and scoop out as much as they wanted, only occasionally taking the grains out and placing them in a new sack.
I know my kefir is “done” to my liking when I see the kefir start to thicken up, cream rise to the top, almost start to separate. When it gets to this point, I stir it up, then pour it through a fine-meshed strainer into another quart jar, removing the grains with a fork as I go, placing them in yet another quart jar to start a new batch (or a pint jar for storage–more about that in a moment). I then place the lid on the quart jar and store in the fridge. It lasts indefinitely. We usually use it up within a week or two, or sometimes a few days, but I’d guess it would last a long time, maybe just get more sour. It’s so full of good yeasts and bacteria that I can’t imagine it would mold. If it did, you’d notice it immediately, as mold would be on the top, where there is oxygen, but I’ve never yet met anyone who’s had their kefir mold.
Some kefir purists say to never touch the kefir with metal, however I have been using a stainless steel strainer for years to strain it, and never had a problem. I use a bamboo or wood fork for stirring it and separating out the grains, and only store grains or finished kefir in glass.
To store grains:place them in a glass jar with a cup or so of milk and store in fridge. Some people say that you compromise the health of the grains if you store them this way for more than a week, but I’ve stored them for up to almost a month this way, and they were fine. I dumped out the milk I’d stored them in, and the first batch took 36 hours to kefir, so they were a bit sluggish, but the kefir was fine, and the next batch happened in 18 hours, and they were completely back to normal after that. I regularly store them for about 2 weeks (after making at least 3 or 4 batches of kefir with them between storage times.)
Your grains will multiply pretty rapidly over time. I keep giving some to friends. I also eat them in smoothies, etc., or compost them.
You can add all kinds of things to kefir to make different delicious drinks. (See Recipes page eventually…)
For really comprehensive info on anything you could ever want to know about kefir and kefiring, go here.