Instructables
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Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that originated in Turkey.  When I was having some health problems, a friend of mine suggested I make and drink fresh kefir.  To tell you everything that is great about this wonderful stuff would take too long so here is a link to learn more (http://www.kefir.net/intro.htm).   I learned about it, and then sent for some kefir starter and made my own.  I had problems with keeping the milk, temperature right.  Everyone suggested I buy a yogurt maker, and that just didn’t happen.  I came across and made a Wonder Box for a whole different purpose. It keeps hot things hot long enough to cook them, and cold things cold, (stay frozen for 4 + hours).  So I figured that the Wonder Box would keep the milk at just the right temperature without problems.  It worked.  The best kefir is the Kefir that is fresh made in your own home.  So here we go on making homemade Kefir.
 
 
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Step 1:

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Supplies:
Clean quart Mason jar with lid (+/-$3)
Kefir starter ($26.95 for a 6 pack, each 6 pack. can make 2 gallons, a quart at a time, found here: http://bodyecology.com)
One quart milk (any type you like, including skim, and coconut water)
Sauce pan
Thermometer
Rubber scraper
Wonder box, (about $15.00 to make, info found here: http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/category/thermal-cookers/wonderbox/)

Step 2:

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Pour the milk into the sauce pan.  Turn the stove top element heat onto medium low. 

Step 3:

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Heat the milk until it reaches 92° F.  If you don’t have a thermometer, just stick you impeccably clean finger in the milk, if it don’t feel any temperature (not hot, not cold, so skin temperature) it is at the right temperature.

Step 4:

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Open the package of starter and add it to the warm milk. 

Step 5:

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Stir until the starter is dissolved. 

Step 6:

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Make sure the jar and lid have been sterilized in boiling water and allowed to cool, with the lid on, to prevent unwanted yeast etc. from entering the jar.
Pour the milk with the starter into the Mason jar.  Screw on the lid. 
Takelababy1 year ago
I was given my milk kefir starter. All you need is a clean class jar, a coffee filter and a rubber band to keep the fruit flies out. As long as your house is around 70 deg, even a little warmer the kefir can sit on the counter or cupboard out of direct sunlight. Taste it daily and when the flavor is ok, strain out the starter (culture) and put it in a clean jar with milk. If not needed for a while you can refrigerate them but it may take a day for them to recover if set on the counter again. The strained kefir is now ready to be capped and refrigerated or left at room temperature where by it will slowly continue to ferment. It will seperate and you can pour off the whey and save it for other things.
Takelababy1 year ago
Milk kefir is made from bacteria that clump together and look like mini cauliflower florets. No idea as to why they are referred to as grains as they are not grain. Same with the water kefir altho the bacteria look like little semi transparent boxes. They are not really interchangeable. Apparently it is bad luck to sell kefir grains (centuries old tradition). I got mine off ebay for a little more than the cost of mailing. Kefir is easy to make if you have the right equipment, bottles, rubber bands, paper towels or coffee filters to cover and keep the bugs out and allow air in, splastic spoon and plastic strainer: this is a must for the grains. Five minutes of your time, then wait.
Takelababy1 year ago
I set mine on top of the hot water tank with is warmer than body temp. The top of the fridge works but the tank is better. I tried making Ranch dressing which called for a blob of mayo, same amount of sour cream which I didn't have to added kefir, a splash of buttermilk and the spices and chives. Awesome. I'll never buy it again. I added a few ounces of buttermilk to about 6 oz of regular milk and now have more buttermilk. Yes, it can sit on the counter.
snoop9112 years ago
I usually make lassi ( I buy off the shelf kefir and mix it with my own homemade yogurt ), but I love the idea of someday making the kefir part as well!

In terms of grains, are all grains equal? Can they be stored in the freezer, if so for how long?

I know for my yogurt, I've cultivated many different strains, and I freeze a portion of every batch to be thawed and used the next time I make yogurt.. which can often be weeks later.

So many machines for yogurt, but not (m)any for kefir.. It's be nice to see a "progurt" like machine that can simultaneously yield lassi, with all the probiotic benefits of yogurt and the yeast benefits of kefir!
dZed2 years ago
Thank you for the Instructable!

I have had some similar benefits from eating fermented foods. I make yogurt weekly, at least (I use a cooler with a bunch of towels to keep it at the right temperature). My wife used to buy kefir, and I thought it was pretty good, and saw a mention of it in an old version of Sandor Katz's "Wild Fermentation." I have some kefir "grains" on order right now, after reading a lot about it through this very long webpage: http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

Take my comments as someone who has yet to make kefir - the "grains" are on order, and not yet arrived - but my understanding is that once you have these grains and take care of them, you never need to buy starters again, and that the starters you're using are not "real" kefir, but a small subset of the critters that join together in clumps and are called 'grains' by people. Apparently, you strain out the grains each time you make it and store them (?) and then use them again next time -- and also apparently, they multiply so you can share your grains over time. No need to start anew every time (or every 7 times, as you say)...

My other understanding is that this process works at room temperature, and heating the dairy is not necessary.

But again, I have not received my product, while you are the practiced one here.

Thanks!
dZed dZed2 years ago
I just glanced to the sidebar and saw that someone has posted an "authentic" kefir Instructable that talks about the process I've only read about: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Authentic-Milk-Kefir/
craftknowitall (author)  dZed2 years ago
Thank you!
craftknowitall (author)  dZed2 years ago
Thank you for you comment. I was following the directions on my starter. It never said anything about grains, so I am clueless. Maybe when you get your grains, you will do an instructable that will teach about the grains. I would love to learn from you.