Smooth and creamy maple-sweetened kefir

Ruth (2) drinking some kefir

How to make kefir: Video tutorial

All about kefir

How to make your own kefir

We have been busy making and enjoying lots of kefir at our house! :)  I first started making dairy kefir about 4 years ago. The boys were younger (ages 3 and 1) and I ended up consuming most of the kefir I was making myself. Before Ruth was born, I decided to take a break from making kefir. After moving from Ohio to Seattle 2 years ago, I kept intending to get more kefir grains. I finally did so this summer, and we have had a grand time making and drinking our kefir!

I bought my kefir grains from Brandy, a long-time reader here. I have been really super impressed with the quality of her kefir grains! From the very start, they have produced thick, creamy, YUMMY kefir! This kefir is better than any I have had before (though the grains do look like my previous ones). (NOTE: Sadly, Brandy is no longer selling kefir grains. I now recommend Cultures for Health as a source for purchasing real kefir grains!)

Ruth (2) had been asking for a glass of milk for snacks or at meals, and would love to drink several cups of milk each day. I didn't want her to drink that much plain milk, but I'm much more comfortable with her drinking a generous glass of kefir instead. Milk is an affordable food (usually $2/gallon at Costco), and with my own kefir grains I can serve fresh kefir for about $0.12 cents a cup!

kefir grains
Kefir grains, ready for fresh milk

The children all love kefir. For an extra-delicious treat, I stir in some maple syrup. The resulting kefir tastes similar to Trader Joe's Maple Cream Line yogurt (which costs about $3.70 for 32 ounces).

Milk kefir is easy to make, taking just a couple minutes' time, and no special warming, stirring, etc. When I ordered my kefir grains, Brandy sent about enough to make a cup of kefir each day. The grains have quickly multiplied and I'm now making 2-quart batches! :)

kefir grains

We use our kefir for smoothies or drinking (instead of milk). I sometimes blend a banana with some kefir for a morning drink, and the kids like kefir with strawberry jam stirred into it. :) Brandy suggests making a "smoothie base" where you blend some fruit and store in the fridge to mix with kefir for a quick smoothie throughout the week. Really, fruit-flavored kefir tastes like a drinkable yogurt, and my kids love getting to use straws (we buy straws at Costco for about a penny each). :)

So anyway, aside from this being a simple "I love kefir!" kind of post, this is one of the ways I've been combining frugality, health, and simplicity in the kitchen. Having affordable but nutritious snacks and breakfasts is crucial for a modest food budget (something I'm constantly striving for but still don't feel I've accomplished!), and homemade kefir has been a step in that direction. :)

How to make kefir: Video tutorial

All about kefir

How to make your own kefir

I get many requests for kefir grains, and had been directing you to a friend who sold live milk kefir grains. Unfortunately, she is no longer selling kefir grains. I decided to try to find another reputable source for kefir grains (NOT "starter") and just signed up as an affiliate with Cultures for Health.

Cultures for Health sells dried milk kefir grains, which they culture and dehydrate themselves. The grains are shipped in organic milk powder and will rehydrate within 5-7 days and then will continue to grow and make kefir.

While I think the ideal source of kefir grains is live, fresh grains (preferably given as a gift from a friend!), Cultures for Health is a good company and I feel confident directing you to them. I wish kefir grains weren't so expensive to get started -- but remember, once you have them they will grow, and you can bless your friends and family by giving away your extras. :)

Cultures for Health

 

More frugal tips from Jessica's blog! :)

Comments

I just got some Kefir grains in the mail this week, and I'm ready to start making kefir! However, my grains don't look like the ones in the picture. Is it possible that they got damaged or something while they traveled? I sure hope they work. I'm kind of nervous that I won't like it. I really don't like the taste of plain yogurt, and I don't even like sour cream! Hopefully mixing it with fruit will help. What kinds of fruit have you used?

Since you don't care for yogurt or sour cream, how do you feel about homemade ranch salad dressing? I make the "buttermilk" Hidden Valley Ranch dressing with mine, instead of using buttermilk. I raise dairy goats, so I use raw, full fat goat milk to make my Kefir, so I don't have to add any mayo, but I have used store bought milk sometimes, and I had to add a little bit of mayo to make it 'feel' right.

I recommend that you ferment your kefir for 10 or 12 hours, at a fairly cool temp so your kefir won't have too much "tang". I make mine at a cooler temperature (60*)....I fix up a cooler with that temp water in it, and then place my jar of kefir milk in there to work. This is especially good for the summer when our inside house temp is about 80*. (When you make if for the shorter time, you need to use a lot less milk with your grains, so it will get thick enough. But it will be less sour/tangy!)

Use your first few batches of Kefir for pancakes, muffins, mashed potatoes or cauliflower, cornbread, cakes (anything that calls for buttermilk), cream soups, oatmeal, cream of wheat, and milk gravy till the grains get 'happy'. When they are happy, then try the milk with fruit...sweetened strawberries and blueberries are my favorite....and see how you like it. Banannas work well too.....my kids love the "Elvis Smoothie".....bananna, with chocolate chips, and sometimes a little peanutbutter.

Wishing you much success!

Does the syrup cover up the yeast flavor?

I've wanted to try it, but haven't been able to get the grains. We have our own cow, so the milk would be free...which is even better, so hopfully one of these days I can afford to go looking for someone who has some grains to sell. I'll try to keep the place you bought yours in mind, if I ever do. :)

I have been looking forever for kefir grains but its SO hard to find them in Canada. Your post came at the perfect time so I have placed an order at Etsy for the kefir grains! Thank you SO much for the info!

I'm from Canada as well and just started looking for the grains. I was hoping a place like Nutters might carry them but it looks like I'll have to order them online.

I got my grains from http://www.etsy.com/shop/WellsofHealth?ref=pr_profile and they shipped here no problem. It took about 2 1/2 weeks, but I *think all is well. I have my grains culturing for the first time. They send awesome instructions, so it's easy to follow. I'll let you all know how things go!

and I've been making smoothies almost every night. I have so many kefir grains, even after giving lots away that I've started selling them on e-bay. :)

Tammy, I absolutely *love* your kefir pancake recipe too. It's a family favorite!

Ruth is just so cute! Her hair is getting quite long!

I love your cooking ideas! I just started with my kefir grains and the batches come out very watery, but am wondering if cooking with kefir destroys any or all of the beneficial bacteria?

I am still awaiting to get my first batch of kefir grains I ordered on ebay with a good feedback record. I am reading different sites on how to get started when I came across yours. I like the maple syrup and preserves/jam idea for sweetening. That would be the only way I could get my kid to drink it. The smoothie idea is great I do that now with local raw milk.

so i have a question about the maple syrup and jam ideas: do i put these sweeteners after the kefir has been made (and left in the fridge)or during the making of the kefir (when the kefir grains are in the milk? im confused :( and could u explain about how to do the flavored drinkable yogurt taste? u put blended fruit in the already made kefir???

I came across your video on youtube, it is the creamiest kefir I have ever seen, was just wondering what kind of milk do you use please?

Thank you

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