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General Category => Other Fermentables => Topic started by: animaldoc on May 30, 2011, 02:32:12 AM

Title: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on May 30, 2011, 02:32:12 AM
In my curiosity regarding all things fermentable, I am both attracted and repulsed by Kefir.  I've read with interest the threads on the forum ..... and bought some at Whole Foods.

Now let me explain ...... sour milk is one of my most vomit-inducing sights and smells, let alone tastes.  When I find my son's sippy cup after three days under the couch it's all I can do not to add more chunks to the sink after I empty the cup.

So what would posess me to try this?  I dunno .... but that first sip was hard to stomach.  The second was merely awful.  But I was determined not to waste my money since you guys seem to enjoy it, so I added blueberries and blenderized it into a yougurt-like drink.  Not bad.  Managed to finish the rest of the bottle, and by the end it wasn't bad.  Bought my second bottle -- wildberry flavored this time -- and it was kinda tasty.

So I can make this at home?  Gotta try that!

Bought some grains on Amazon from real-man-of-genious and got a small plastic bag with a half of a teaspoon or so of gelatinous goop.  Put it in a cup of milk at room temperature for three days before I saw any thickening.  Nasty tasting -- sour verging on vomit-inducing.  Thought maybe too long fermenting and the milk kinda went bad.  Strained out the grains ... they seemed a little larger, so I put them into a new cup of milk.  Again about three days to see thickening and then it was practically cheese when I filtered it.  Gently smushed the cheese thru the strainer and fished out the grains, but them in a new cup of milk.  This time it only took 36 hours to thicken ....... refrigerated, strained, rinsed the cheese of the grains and they are probably about a tablespoon now.  And the Kefir?  Well ...... it tasted pretty darn good!  Just when I was about to give up too.

So I've got my tablespoon of grains in a cup and a half of milk, hoping for 24-36 hour fermentation.

Does this sound like I'm on the right track?  Is there anything I can be doing better?  What is the proportion of grains to milk -- can I ferement larger quantities or am I limited to making one daily drink at a time?  Do you ever end up with too many grains?

Thanks for introducing me to another fermentation project ....... my wife is slowly coming over to the dark side too, she's making home made yogurt (boy that yogurt maker looks like a good way to make a lacto starter for a Berliner Weisse ..... ;) )

-- animaldoc
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 30, 2011, 04:35:36 AM
In my curiosity regarding all things fermentable, I am both attracted and repulsed by Kefir.  I've read with interest the threads on the forum ..... and bought some at Whole Foods.

It sounds like you're on the right track, although you're being a bit heroic about the whole thing.

I find that it's easier to just make yogurt. Milk in a sanitized and rinsed bowl, set in a pan of water on a hot plate and covered (internal temperature ~90-100 F), innoculated with a bit of fresh plain store-bought yogurt makes very good home-made yogurt after 2-3 days. Leave it for a day or so longer and the lactic character gets even more intense.

Once I've got my yogurt, I cut it by 50% and add sugar and possibly a tiny bit of salt and some cardamon to make an Indian drink called lassi. If you want it sweeter, mix the yogurt with mango juice to make mango lassi. Very nice and refreshing on a hot day.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on May 30, 2011, 05:50:51 PM

Once I've got my yogurt, I cut it by 50% and add sugar and possibly a tiny bit of salt and some cardamon to make an Indian drink called lassi. If you want it sweeter, mix the yogurt with mango juice to make mango lassi. Very nice and refreshing on a hot day.

ooh that sounds good ...... what are you cutting it with?  Milk?
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 30, 2011, 06:21:19 PM
ooh that sounds good ...... what are you cutting it with?  Milk?

Water or ice, although I guess you could cut it with milk. To get it nice and frothy, mix it in a blender or mix it by hand in a pitcher with a whisk until it's smooth and then pour it roughly from one pitcher to another several times.

Formal recipe here, although I just wing it.

   http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/indian-lassi/Detail.aspx

Other traditional types of lassi include rose water lassi (go light on the rose water), sweet lassi (just sugar, no cardamon), savory lassi (cumin and pepper, no sugar) and salt lassi (substitute a lesser amount of salt for the sugar). Strawberry lassi is a modern variant. Basically, it's India's answer to the smoothie.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on May 30, 2011, 06:46:39 PM

you should sart out wit small amounts ofmilk, like about a half cup. The grains need to  "wake up" The first few batchs will be very strong and taste something like paint thinner. You can just toss the first few batches.

Once you get going add more milk. I use about three tablespoons of grains to make about a pint. It willbe a longtime before you end up with too many grains. Wait about a year beforeyou give some away or eat them.

Kefir is ifanately more probiotic then yogurt. I have a batch of kefir that has been aging in the cabinet for about four months. Atthe six month mark I am going to make cheese with it.

Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on May 31, 2011, 02:20:04 AM

you should sart out wit small amounts ofmilk, like about a half cup. The grains need to  "wake up" The first few batchs will be very strong and taste something like paint thinner. You can just toss the first few batches.

Once you get going add more milk. I use about three tablespoons of grains to make about a pint. It willbe a longtime before you end up with too many grains. Wait about a year beforeyou give some away or eat them.

Kefir is ifanately more probiotic then yogurt. I have a batch of kefir that has been aging in the cabinet for about four months. Atthe six month mark I am going to make cheese with it.



  Tossing the first few batches ..... I had heard that ...... the third batch tasted good.  I checked my batch this morning and it wasn't thick so I let it continue, and when I checked it tonight it was extremely thick.  Hopefully it'll taste good.

   That batch you have aging in the cabinet ....... what does it taste like when you let it continue to age?  Is the cheese going to taste like a lactic bomb?

   When you are making it for drinknig ...... how long do you let the pint sit at room temp before it is ready?  Do you ever age it in the refrigerator (ie does it progress to different flavors if refrigerated?) and if so do you keep it on the grains or filter out the grains to age/store?

   Thanks for the info!

Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on June 01, 2011, 04:20:33 AM
The aging batch is very strong and sour but to me not disagreeable. The lactose is gone I think? that's why many who are lactose intolerant can drink kefir. . After I strain it through cheese cloth and remove the moisture it will be dried and supposedly become like a Keir parm cheese. I dont know, first try at it.

I let my kefir stay on the grains in the cabinet for three days, sometimes for a week if I dont get to it. Then I strain it throw more milk on top of them in a clean jar, then store the strained kefir in the fridge. The longer you store it the more sour it will get. IT wont go bad though, It will keep in your fridge for a year. After a year it wont even go bad, it will just start turning to cheese.

We use it in kefir lassies of all kinds. I drink it regular at breakfast and it is like an energy drink to me. Fixes me right up and gets me goin. I put it in a bowl with some sugar or honey and vanilla then I take a whisk and froth it to a head. Very refreshing.

Now you have to check out Kombocha.

Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on June 01, 2011, 11:56:03 AM


Now you have to check out Kombocha.



    One funky fermented thing at a time my wife already thinks I'm a little weird ........ and some of the things I make are more that a little gross  ;)

Thanks for the tips ......
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on June 02, 2011, 12:56:29 AM
This site has everything you will need regarding kefir. http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: hubie on June 06, 2011, 08:58:12 AM
Are all kefir grains created equal?  Coming from a brewing perspective knowing all the different variants of yeast, my guess is that kefir grains would differ as well.  That being said, what is a good source for grains?  There doesn't seem to be a shortage of sellers of them.  The Australian site looks very nice and I'd consider purchasing grains from them, but unfortunately they don't tell you on the web site how much they are, and it isn't clear if you can just order grains, or if you have to purchase the book, etc. 

One thing it was nice to learn from that site was that you can't just make kefir by adding commercial stuff to milk like you can do with yogurt.  I was going to try that myself thinking I can grow up my own grains, but apparently it doesn't work out that way.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on June 06, 2011, 11:41:46 PM
As I said above, I got mine from real-man-of-genious on Amazon.   Took about a week to get, but it seems like they are good grains.  I am not sure where he got his originally though.

If you wait a month or so I'll send you some of mine :)
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: justenpelton on June 08, 2011, 01:57:32 AM
Kefir is actually quiet easy to make if you can find good grains and good milk.  I ferment mine in a quart jar, lid loose, and in the pantry. I strain my kefer, remove the grains and start the next batch. I got my grains from a friend, but you could try going to a local alternative health food type store, generally they can point you in the right direction. 
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: tubercle on June 08, 2011, 04:08:03 AM
Do the grains multiply or are the same ones used over and over?

 For example, if Capozolli were to be laying awake at night thinking "I got so many of these things now I need to give some away; I wonder if Tubercle could use some", would getting rid of some deplete It's stock.

 Just sayin'....
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on June 11, 2011, 01:27:35 PM
Capazzoli has been spending sleepless nights watching the kefir grains grow. Some of them do need a new home.

They are yours if you want them, but you have to give them love, I name mine.

They do multiply but slowly, Now the kombucha scoby, that grows unbelievably fast.

It should PM me.

Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: hubie on June 23, 2011, 12:17:33 PM
I sent away for, and received my grains.  Certainly not what I expected when I kept thinking about "grains."  I was expecting to see something that looked like little bits of hard white stuff.  I've done one milk change on them so far.  This will take a bit of experimentation.  I'm not sure how to measure their volume.  One of my grain masses is flat like a pancake.

In any event, this should turn out to be a fun adventure.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on June 23, 2011, 01:43:15 PM
I've had fun with it so far.  Probably about a month since I got my teaspoon of grains and they've definitely multiplied and gotten bigger...... I feel like I'm nurturing these grains in a very different way than I feel like I'm raising yeast .... I guess it's like kids, you get to watch them grow  ::)  They are a large heaping tablespoon now, several large grains 1-2 cm in diameter with a bunch of smaller grains.

I found the first few milk changes had very weird tastes ..... some of which I'm sure was related to the fact I didn't know what "real" kefir tasted like, some of which is probably related to the grain's development and adjusting to a new environment.  Now I'm getting fairly consistent flavor, ripening 2 cups of milk in 24 hours for a mildly flavored kefir and 36 hours for a more tart one.  I've found that at 36 hours I'm getting a marked curd separation from whey, and I don't like the texture as much (mmmm chunky).  So I try to remember to throw the jar in the fridge at 24 hours if I'm not going to separate the grains right away.

What I was wondering .... those of you who make kefir regularly ...... do you rinse your grains before transferring them to a new batch?  Sometimes they are completely encased in curd ........ if they separate cleanly, I just transfer them but if I can't isolate them by rolling them around in the strainer I'll rinse them with cold water.

-- Scott
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on June 23, 2011, 02:10:04 PM
Hmmmmm .... kombucha looks interesting ........ I sense a new weird obsession on the horizon .........
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: hubie on June 23, 2011, 11:55:15 PM
What I was wondering .... those of you who make kefir regularly ...... do you rinse your grains before transferring them to a new batch?  Sometimes they are completely encased in curd ........ if they separate cleanly, I just transfer them but if I can't isolate them by rolling them around in the strainer I'll rinse them with cold water.

I was just reading on this topic last night.  One view (Dom's) is here:  http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html#washing-grains
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on June 24, 2011, 12:46:30 AM
animaldoc, If at any time your kefir separates dont worry, it is common. To fix it, strain out the grains and then pour the strained kefir into a bowl. Take a whisk and beat as you would eggs. it will emulsify and go back together. Sometimes I age mine to the point where you can actually see clear liquid on the bottom. I decant the solids off of this liquid then whisk it. It makes for a thicker kefir more simular to the consistency of yogurt. Great on fruit. 

Try this too, after the kefir is fermented whisk it with a little water and sugar. It will be much thinner. Then close a lid on it tightly.  Check it in twenty four hours. The bacteria in the kefir will begin to eat the sugar and produce co2. After pour it into a bowl, then whisk it vigorously incorporating air into it, it will froth up and get a head. Very agreeable.

I mixed some with sugar and water and bottled. Made great milk soda but one of the easy cap bottles had a release and kefir soda was all over the fridge. Haven figured out a way to control that.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on June 24, 2011, 02:19:32 AM
Capozzoli -

   You mentioned before that you were making Kefir cheese ...... did you strain the grains out then let the kefir age further or just take fresh kefir and cheesecloth/strain it?  or did you leave the grains in?


-- Scott
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on July 06, 2011, 11:57:47 PM
Sorry for not checking back in here.

I took the grains out. after a few weeks. The milk solids separated completely and looks like feta cheese floating in brine. It just separates coagulates on its own.  

I strained it through a cheese cloth and Jared it up and stored in the fridge. Im not gonna dry it.

It is kinda spreadable and similar in texture to soft goats cheese. It is very strong and sour in flavor but agreeable. If you like strong cheese you will like kefir cheese. If not you will hate it.

I may try some other kefir cheeses. They are good for you.

Crazy stuff this kefir. I have had it in the cabinet for several months and it did not go bad. I have had some in the fridge for a year and it is still good.

It is not only fermented milk but it is preserved. It amazes me.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on July 07, 2011, 04:02:24 AM
It is crazy stuff.  I made some cheese by straining the grains from day-old kefir (how do you separate the grains form the curd that formed?  For me it doesn't pass thru the strainer if I let the curd set up. .. .. ..) and let it continue to ripen for about 2 or 3 days until it completely separated from the whey then strained thru cheesecloth.

Wow -- tart!  As you said, not objectionable, kinda pleasant, but a little much for me.  Just not liking it enough.  Yet.  It's a taste that I think you have to develop a liking for, not something you will jump right into.

Gonna try it again with some less tart kefir.

May shift some of my grains over to water-kefir ....... coconut milk kefir looks interesting.

But I just ordered a bunch of stuff for regular cheese making ...... will probably expand in that direction first.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: hubie on August 15, 2011, 02:27:16 AM
I'm going to have 2 to 3 weeks where I won't be able to do anything with my kefir grains.  How do you store your grains long-term?  Should I put them in fresh milk and just put them in the fridge?  I've also heard of putting them in a 50/50 mixture of milk and water; something about not letting the pH get too low or something, but that might have been in the context of really long-term storage.
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: animaldoc on August 16, 2011, 01:29:31 AM
I just got back from a 2 week vacation myself.  What I did was put my grains in fresh milk - about half of what my grains can "ferment"  in 18-24 hours -- and kept that in the fridge.  When I got home, I poured off that milk and discarded it -- there was no curd (I don't know if that's the right term  ??? ) formation.

Poured fresh milk on top, had fresh kefir the next day.

I have a large colony of grains now ..... may try to "freeze dry" some as a backup ...... unless anyone needs some fresh grains - I would be glad to share!

-- Scott
Title: Re: New to Kefir
Post by: capozzoli on August 16, 2011, 02:16:54 AM
Yep, pour some milk on them and store them in the fridge. The cold will slow down the fermentation process. If you are gonna store them long term, do the same thing just change the milk out every couple of months or so.

But in the cabinet is fine. I have done some long term ferments at room temp and both the kefir and the grains were fine.

I made a thicker sour cream type kefir recently. I added a bunch of powder milk to regular milk. The end result was pretty thick, almost spreadable. But it was hard to retrieve the grains out of the thicker stuff.