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You'll need the following items
- Jar large enough to hold one litre of milk or water kefir
- Stainless steel pot on the stove (or glass jug if planning to heat the milk in a microwave)
- Dairy thermometer: inoculation temperature can be critical. Too hot and you kill the culture; too cold and the texture changes
- Tight weave cloth and a string or rubber band to secure the cloth over the rim of the jar
- One litre of dairy milk, lactose free milk, coconut milk, coconut water, water or juice
- 1 tablespoon of sugar to feed the culture when using non-dairy or lactose free milks, or when making water kefir
- 1 dose of Maintenance Free Kefir Culture
How Much Culture to Use
While the culture must be stored in the freezer, please allow the culture to come to room temperature before opening and handling! Culture readily absorbs moisture from the air. Keep the culture closed as much as possible.
The two jar storage and dosing method will help you get the most out of your culture.
- Place all of the culture in one of the two sterile jars we supply.
- Estimate 1/10th of the contents and place into the second jar. This becomes your "working supply".
- Label both jars and store in the freezer.
Your "working supply" being approximately 1/10th of the original supply of culture, will inoculate 10 litres of milk or yoghurt.
Estimation is acceptable - too much can’t hurt and too little will just slow the process.
Note: you can increase or decrease this recipe as neccessary to make larger or smaller batches of kefir.
You can use pasteurised and homogenised milk, ultra heat treated (UHT) long life milk, non-homogenised milk or lactose free dairy milks to make milk kefir. You can also make non-dairy milk kefirs and water kefirs.
Water kefir can be made using fruit juices, coconut water, mineral water or simply filtered water with added natural sugars. Avoid using waters or juices with preservatives if possible, as preservatives may impact the kefir culture’s ability to grow and ferment the juice or water. Follow the same directions as you would for making milk kefir, then you can add an optional second fermentation step. Do this by capping your jar and fermenting for a further 12 to 24 hours to add natural carbonation to your water kefir. Be careful not to let too much pressure build up inside the jar as it may make weaker glass jars explode if left to over pressurise. It is recommended that high quality flip-top glass jars, or flexible plastic jars are used.
- Wash and dry your hands. Clean and rinse all items to be used in kefir making. Using boiling water, scald off all metal and plastic items. Glass items should be rinsed in hot but not boiling water.
- Gently warm your dairy milk, lactose free milk, non-dairy milk, fruit juice, filtered sugar water, or coconut water to 30°C. Avoid scalding the milk when using diary milks.
- Place warmed milk into a large glass jar or food grade plastic bottle, leaving approximately 3 cm empty space in the top of your jar for air.
- Sprinkle one dose of Maintenance Free Kefir into your milk, juice or water and gently whisk until well combined.
- Cover the jar with a piece of tight weave cloth that will allow air circulation while preventing dust or insects from entering. Secure with a string or rubber band.
- Store in a warm, dark place for 12 to 24 hours to ferment.
- Your kefir will last in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.
Note: Your Maintenance Free Kefir culture loves warm temperatures of around 25°C to 36°C. For best results, keep your milk within this range during fermentation. Electric yoghurt makers are not suitable for kefir making as they run too hot and will damage the kefir culture.
It's Ready When
While the kefir may be ready after 12 hours, many people choose to ferment their kefir for up to 24 hours to give themselves a higher probiotic hit!
Sometimes the flavour of the kefir can become quite strong and yeasty (so if you are new to kefir, or just want to cut some of the acidity, simply shorten fermentation time or serve with fruit or honey).
Maintenance Free Kefir is a combination of bacteria and yeast living together in unison. As with any fermented product, cleanliness is vital when making either milk or water kefir.
You are deliberately creating the perfect environment to grow bacteria. Just be sure that you are only growing the starter culture that you have introduced and not some other microbe that blew in on the wind!
To avoid this, thoroughly clean and sterilise all of your utensils before using them. If you use bleach, vinegar or iodine to sterilise glass items, ensure that it has been completely rinsed off before use.
STORING YOUR KEFIR CULTURE IN THE FREEZER
When opening the sachet of culture we recommend bringing it to room temperature first. This will reduce the effect of the condensation causing some of the culture to stick to the inside of the sachet. Please keep jars of culture closed as much as possible to keep the powder dry.
COMMON PROBLEMS PEOPLE HAVE WITH MAKING KEFIR ARE:
- Temperature control: Remember that your kefir is a colony of living microbes. Over heating them above 38°C will cause heat stress and damage and by 40°C your kefir culture is dying. If your milk falls below 25°C your kefir culture will be too cold for optimal growth and will take longer to become delicious and may even stop growing altogether.
- Not adding a simple sugar: Adding sugar increases the amount of simple carbohydrates available for the culture to eat and can improve the end results of non-dairy or lactose free and water kefirs. The sugar is used up by the culture and won’t be there in the end.