Making Kefir with Powdered Starter

How to Make Kefir

I had never heard of Kefir until about six years ago. (It’s pronounced “kEE-fur”, by the way.)  And then, while learning about kefir, I heard that there were these things called “kefir grains”, which of course made me immediately picture a wheat field.

FYI – kefir and wheat fields have nothing in common – except for maybe the fact that both can be used to create consumable products.  Therefore, if you are having a conversation with friends and the subject of kefir comes up – (and you know it will, because a lengthy kefir conversation is what friendship is made of) – smile, look smart, and for the love of probiotics, don’t ask something silly about what a kefir field looks like.

Not that I ever asked anything like that or made myself sound silly in front of friends during a kefir conversation.  Nor did I ever pronounce the word like “keh-fur” which rhymes with heifer, which makes me think of a cow, which sort of relates because at least kefir is a dairy product. But anyway…

I finally learned what kefir is, and I also learned to love it. Kefir is a probiotic beverage, similar to yogurt, only not quite as thick. This cultured dairy product is excellent for your digestion as it is full of healthy bacteria that can heal the gut. You can drink it plain, and will find that it is rich and tangy. We prefer to drink it in smoothies, blended with lots of frozen fruit to sweeten it up.

Kefir grains are reusable, allowing you make batches and batches of kefir for years and years. But with my busy schedule, I find that keeping up with making sure my kefir grains are alive and healthy is very overwhelming. That’s probably silly, but that’s where I’ve landed.

By the way, kefir grains are not a grain at all, so I don’t know why they are called grains. They are simply little grain sized live bacteria that, when placed in milk, culture the milk so that it becomes kefir. (I am so incredibly unscientific in my explanations.)

Instead of using these grains to make kefir for my family, I have found that using a Powdered Kefir Starter Culture is a much easier way to go. Then I use my homemade kefir to make more kefir. It’s awesome. Here’s how I do it:

Begin with a quart of milk and a packet of Powdered Kefir Starter Culture. I use raw, organic milk, but this it not necessary if you don’t have access to raw milk.

Pour contents of the packet into the milk. This step is so very difficult that I took a picture of it to show you how to do it. ;)

After you have poured the contents of the packet into the milk, it will look like this. Aren’t you glad I took a picture of this for you too?

Okay, that’s all of the obvious pictures I took, even though I’m sure you would have loved pictures of me digging through my drawer for a lid, putting the lid on, and shaking it up furiously.

Oh shucks, I guess I gave away the next steps in your kefir making process. Indeed, you need to put a lid on the jar, shake it up, and leave it on your countertop for about 24 hours – more or less – depending on how long it takes for this to “kefir-fy”. You will know that your kefir has formed once the contents in your jar have thickened. At this point, you can put your kefir in the fridge to chill.

Just a note:  The instructions in the packet are likely to tell you to heat your milk and do a few extra steps beyond what I have told mentioned here. You can do that if you wish. I skip the other steps because I prefer to keep my milk raw, plus I have found that cold milk works just as well as warm milk.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! When using your kefir, keep about one cup at the bottom of your jar. Pour this cup of kefir into a quart or half gallon of milk, leave it on the counter for 24 (give or take) hours, and allow the milk to thicken into cultured kefir.

Isn’t that cool?  You use your kefir to make more kefir. Therefore, your kefir starter packet will make eight or more batches of kefir! So easy!!

P.S. I just did a little internet research and see that another way to pronounce kefir is {keh-FEER}. I think that sounds a little funny, but what do I know? I’m the one who thought kefir grains grew in fields. ;)

Ever made kefir? How do you pronounce it?

Make Your Own Kefir – a Giveaway!

Kefir is a wonderful, delicious, and incredibly healthy probiotic drink. It only takes a few minutes of work to prepare. In fact, I made some this morning and was finished within about a minute and a half. In a few hours, we’ll have super healthy kefir to use in smoothies!

There are different ways to make kefir, all of which are easy. If you use “kefir grains”, you will save money in the long run. However, I have found that my busy schedule limits my ability to keep up with my kefir grains. This may be a bit of a cop-out, but this is where I’ve landed at this point.

Instead, I use powdered kefir mix to make jars of kefir. It is still very economical to make kefir this way, and wow is it tasty! I will be sharing a tutorial on how I do this next week. In the meantime, would you like to win a Kefir Starter Culture from Cultures for Health?

I’ve been a customer and affiliate with Cultures for Health for several years, and I completely trust their products and knowledge. Their prices and shipping costs are extremely reasonable. And the buttermilk and kefir I make with their starters are delicious!

Make Kefir at HomeToday, Cultures for Health is giving away three Body Ecology Kefir Starter Cultures. To enter this giveaway, you must click here and sign up on the Cultures for Health site. In doing so, not only will you be entered in this giveaway, you’ll also be able to download a free Kefir Recipe eBook!

I am very excited about the thought of many of you making kefir at home to offer your family a wonderful, pro-biotic beverage. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to drink it straight if you don’t want to. Add some fruit to it and make smoothies – your family will think you gave them ice cream.)  ;)

We’ll draw three random winners on Monday, June 4. Please watch for a post stating the winners as you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen.

And stay tuned for a tutorial on making kefir – it’s much easier than you think!

Funky Fresh Kitchen – The Make it Yourself Challenge

What helped me most during our healthy eating journey was realizing that while we were changing the way we purchased and made food, we were not trading Cheesy Velvetta Dip or Jello Pudding for a boring diet of tasteless rice cakes and bland green things that I’d never heard of. I simply found new ways to create our favorite foods. We didn’t have to stop eating peanut butter, pasta, pizza, tacos, cookies, pancakes, mac and cheese and burgers – I just needed to learn to make them in a healthier way.

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Homemade Creamy Pudding

Look through all of our recipes (scroll through the drop down Recipe Menu at the top of our site) to find long lists of Bread and Breakfast recipes, Main Dishes, Side Dishes and Snacks, Desserts, Condiments, Dairy Products – so many recipes that are easy to make, kid friendly, and healthy – all at the same time! Life does not end once you’ve decided to throw away your boxes of Partially Hydrogenated High Fructose Corn Syrup Red Food Dye #40 (otherwise known as the cereal that claims to be a part of “this complete breakfast”).

I know that not everyone enjoys cooking and creating in the kitchen as much as I love it. I mean…I love it. That has made this transition easier for me. But even if you don’t love cooking, there are some very simple foods you can make that aren’t difficult at all – and they just might replace (in a very delicious way) some of those “foods” you threw out the other day.

Your Funky Fresh Kitchen Challenge for today includes choosing one food item that you can make from scratch that will replace a less healthy option from the store. For instance:

Those are just a few fun ideas to get you started. Look through all of our recipes, or look elsewhere on the web (or in your favorite cookbooks) for a recipe you can make that replaces an unhealthy variety of one of your favorite foods. I promise you that all of the above listed ideas are super easy to make. You can make peanut butter in five minutes with only a food processor and some peanuts. Making your own salad dressings is one of the easiest changes I made in my healthy kitchen. Take a look at this post called Five Minutes to Cultured Dairy for inspiration on making your own yogurt and other dairy products. Making Homemade Mac and Cheese takes the same amount of time as using the boxed stuff. Let go of the unfounded fears that cooking from scratch means that you’ll rub blisters, break nails and faint from exhaustion.

Pick one (or five!) and make it a project. Leave a comment on this post telling us what new recipe(s) you plan to make yourself. (No, it doesn’t have to be a recipe from our Heavenly Homemakers site – you can pick anything that will be best for your Funky Fresh Kitchen!)  Your comment will serve as your entry in the giveaway for one of five $10 gift certificates to our Shop. Then, after you’ve completed your Make it Yourself project, come back and leave another comment sharing the results. (This will be a second entry!)  Share with us – Did you like the new recipe? Did it work well for you? Was it easy to make? I can’t wait to hear about all your Funky Fresh Kitchen projects!

Let the Make it Yourself Challenge begin!

(As for me, for a long time I have wanted to try to make Homemade Beef Pepperoni – a recipe I found at Tammy’s Recipes. I challenged myself to make that this week and YUM! I’ll share more about it next week. I’m so excited – I made homemade pepperoni!!)

Five Minutes to Cultured Dairy

I’m out to prove that making your own cultured dairy products is neither intimidating nor difficult. Just yesterday, I made Buttermilk , Kefir and Sour Cream. This took me a total of five minutes.  I did not break a sweat, not even when I was putting lids on jars.

I then started a batch of Yogurt . Yes, it was a big dairy day in my kitchen. Or rather, a big dairy eight minutes. Because that’s really how long it took to do all of this.

As soon as they are done culturing (which these products do all by themselves while I sleep, type, trip on legos or cut my fingernails), I’ll put them into the fridge.

Now, all of you stop thinking that you can’t make your own cultured dairy products and get started on this fun and healthy habit!! :)

Here’s a little Cultured Dairy question and answer time:

Is making your own cultured dairy products hard to do?  Did I or did I not just tell you that this isn’t hard? Okay then.

Can I use regular milk from the store to make these products?  Yep. I recommend drinking and using raw, organic, grass fed cow (or goat) milk to make these, but if that isn’t available to you, you can definitely use milk that you purchase from the store.

Do I have to trip on legos while my products are culturing?  No, in fact I recommend that you step over all legos and call your children in to pick them up before your feet get holes in them. I was just saying that to be funny, or something like that – and to prove that you don’t have to babysit your dairy products while they are culturing.

Why is there a rubber band on your sour cream jar?  I put a rubber band around my sour cream jar so that I’ll know at one quick glance into my fridge which jar is sour cream and which is regular cream. It’s quite helpful to know the difference. You’re welcome to use whatever color of rubber band you prefer. If you really think that sour cream deserves a red rubber band instead of a yellow one, knock yourself out.

What do you mean “knock yourself out”?  That is an expression that really just means “go for it”. To take that expression literally would just seem as though I were a big bully. Please, do not literally “knock yourself out”. Goodness.

Will I really have cultured dairy products in just five minutes like your title suggests?  The five minutes I was referring to was the time it takes for YOU to do any kind of work. It does take several hours for the dairy to become cultured after you’ve done your five minutes of work. Read the specific directions for each of the dairy products to know how long each item takes to become cultured. Here are the quick links:  Buttermilk , Kefir, Yogurt and Sour Cream.

Do you make your own cultured dairy products? Which ones are your favorite?

It’s here! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

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Make Your Own Cultured Buttermilk, Yogurt and Kefir (a Giveaway!)

I love how much money it saves and how easy it is to make your own cultured dairy products! It really is as simple as putting the live culture into the milk and walking away. (Well, you do want to put the lid on first.)  Here are my posts which explain how to make buttermilk, how to make yogurt and how to make kefir. You can do this!!

Once you’ve made a batch of any or all of the above, all you have to do to make subsequent batches is to pour the tail end of the previous batch into your fresh milk and start the process all over again. It’s easy, it saves money and it is oh so healthy! These cultured dairy products are so good for your digestion. Mmm, and yummy too!

To give you a little motivation, in case you’ve been wanting to start making your own cultured dairy products…Cultures for Health is offering to give one of you a nice package of a Traditional Yogurt Starter, a package of Milk Kefir Grains and a Buttermilk Starter.  Remember, once you have the starter, as long as you keep your kefir grains alive and save the tail end of your batches of buttermilk and yogurt, you can keep making more and more batches of these delicious dairy products! 

Cultures for Health is a site I fully trust for purchasing culture starters. They know what they’re doing, they are very reasonably priced and their shipping is a flat $3.99!! This is an excellent company to work with and I love their products. By the way, they’ve got more than just dairy cultures at Cultures for Health…be sure to check out all of their products!

Okay…interested in winning this prize package of  from Cultures for Health? This giveaway is just a little bit different than our usual giveaways.  This time, to enter you need to head over to this page on the Cultures for Health site. You can sign up right there, plus receive their free ebook full of Kefir Recipes by signing up!!

I’ll draw a random winner from all entries over at Cultures for Health on Monday, February 28.