A Blog About Health and Alternative Living

Kefir For Your Health




There’s a lot of talk in recent years about the importance of one’s gut flora in immune system function.

Antibiotics, pesticides, and even chlorine kill off our gut flora, the good and bad bugs alike.  We must replenish the good bacteria at every chance, as current research shows that the bacteria types in our gut play a huge role in our overall health – from our ability to absorb nutrients, fight off infections, and control our mood.

Probiotic pills are one option for this.  However, they are extremely expensive (if you get the good kind!), and they only contain a few strains of bacteria.  The body needs a wide variety in order to fully function well.

The best way to increase the number of strains you ingest is to ferment your own kefir and vegetables, and eat them a few times a day.  Studies have shown that 1 teaspoon of a homemade sauerkraut had MORE living probiotic bacteria than some of the top supplements on the market!  And each vegetable, milk, type of food that is fermented comes out with its own individual palate of organisms.  From what I understand, some of the most healthy world societies have the most diverse gut floras.


So, why kefir?

Kefir is fermented milk, which creates a slightly thicker, tangier product.  It most compares to buttermilk in flavor and texture (which is why we use it mostly in smoothies versus drinking it straight up!).  Kefir is created with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and cow, goat, or coconut milk.

Kefir has higher probiotic count than yogurt, and it contains many more different strains of bacteria and yeast.  It is easier to digest than milk – with reduced or no symptoms of lactose intolerance – because the lactose is consumed during the fermentation process.

Kefir Grains

Kefir Grains

Water kefir is an option for those who need to remain dairy-free.  One would use water kefir grains instead of dairy kefir grains, and feed it with sugar and water.  (Sort of like you do with kombucha, but no tea.)

Kefir is nutritious – a good source of phosphorus, calcium, protein (10.5 grams per serving), vitamin K, B vitamins, and tryptophan.  It also boosts immune system function, as evidenced by a study done on mice.


Below I’ve got the step-by-step instructions on making kefir.  Basically you just pour milk over the kefir grains, cover it with a paper towel, and let it sit at room temperature for 6-24 hours to ferment.  It’s easy-peasy!  You can make it as often as every day, or make it once a week (what I do).  You just have to make sure the grains always have milk on them, because they need a constant source of food to remain live.

Raw milk is preferred over pasteurized because it still contains all the living nutrients, and the end product naturally is most alive.  I’ve made kefir with both raw and low-temp pasteurized milk, and can attest that they do create a different end product, mostly in texture.  The pasteurized is thinner/runnier, and of course you don’t get the same cream top separation effect. We love raw milk in our house, but I realize it’s not for everyone (and not accessible to everyone!).


What is really cool about this kefir thing is you have a friend (me) who will gift you some grains any time you want to give this a go.  I know it sounds kind of scary to grow bugs in something you’re going to eat.  I admit to being very afraid to try it the first few times I made it, but we’ve been drinking it now for over a year with no complaints!  So, who’s in?




Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 1 quart

Kefir is a tangy, creamy cousin of yogurt, with lots more probiotic strains and immune-strengthening power. The kefir grains used to make it are quite forgiving and just might become your new favorite "pet!"
  • Raw milk (I use about a quart at a time)
  • Kefir grains (from a friend or mail-order service)
  1. Add at least a tablespoon of kefir grains to a clean glass pitcher or jar (preferably with a wide mouth).

    Kefir Grains

  2. Add milk and stir. Cover pitcher with a doubled paper towel or cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
  3. Leave out in room temperature for 12-24 hours, until kefir reaches desired consistency and tang. (See below for more timing clues.) Then cover with a more permanent lid (avoid metal lids if possible - they are reactive and could affect the living organisms in your kefir!). Strain immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  4. Using a non-reactive strainer (aka not metal - I use silicone), pour kefir through into a large bowl.
  5. The kefir grains will be surrounded by lots of the thick cream, so you need to stir them in the strainer until most of the cream has let go into the bowl.
  6. Pour new batch of kefir into a clean glass jar. Put the kefir grains back into a clean glass pitcher, and begin the process again. The grains may be stored in milk in the refrigerator for longer before starting the next batch as well (up to a few weeks - longer may require reactivating the grains.)
Tips on timing kefir production:
The fermentation process will move faster with less milk, more grains and/or more heat. It will move slower with more milk, fewer grains and a colder atmosphere. When beginning, it's okay to err on the safe side - a smaller batch in the summer may only need 6 hours. Once you are doing a quart or more at a time, 12 hours is a safe bet. You know you've overdone it when the milk separates into curds and whey (so watery liquid at the bottom and thick cream at the top). The kefir is still useable at this state, it just may be more tangy than you would like!










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