A long time go (in a galaxy far far away…) I tried forgoing buying yogurt by boiling and cooling milk, and then using a dollop of live yogurt to start a new batch.
It never worked as I didn’t have the discipline to make sure I did it before it ran out, and I also didn’t really have enough uses for a constant stream of soured milk. Now we are three (albeit one of us prefers his yogurt served in plastic with a cartoon character the front) we now get through quite a lot of the stuff.
That said I hadn’t thought about making any, but when I recently visited Barca, and drove, a friend had just got some kefir grains (and thankfully) was rather evangelical about them – seeing as we were driving she insisted we should take some back.
They spent 48 hours in the car, from spring sunshine on the Spanish coast, through snow blizzards in mountainous mid-France and over the seas to England. Despite exploding (“Was this really a good idea?“) they survived, and ever since we have had a steady flow of Kefir.
What are they?
Kefir grains are a mix of bacterias and yeasts, that looks like small, white, rubbery walnuts. They are heralded for their probiotic qualities – it creates a yogurt-like product, tasty and useful.
What do they do?
They create Kefir, something a kin to yogurt, although it is slightly thinner in consistently. That said, you can strain it (as greek yogurt is).
How do you use them?
I use 2 jars, one containing the grains at room temperature, and one for the completed kefir in the fridge. I ferment the kefir in a large jar (with a pierced lid). Then I transfer it to another, using a plastic strainer to collect the grains. The fermenting jar then gets rinsed out, as do the grains, I pop them back in the jar with fresh milk.
How long does it take?
It takes about 24 hours to culture. That said, it took longer when it was colder (more like 36). If I am starting to collect too much, then I start storing it in the fridge – then it takes 36-48 hours.
What can you do with kefir?
Make a nice yogurt drink, with a little honey, sugar, and/or jam.
Use as a base for smoothies.
(Apparently) like frozen yogurt to make ice cream.
For side dishes like tzatziki or raita.
For marinades (like tandoori chicken).
To make cream cheese: strain through muslin, or a coffer filter, for ~24 hours. Here’s mine: