Friday, May 13, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky
As with everything else in life, the key to making great kefir is to practice and take note of what works and what doesn't. In the end, no one else knows exactly how you go make your own kefir so you will have to be the worlds foremost expert on your own kefir operation. Practice makes perfect and if you pay attention to what works you will be whipping up epic kefir before long.
There are however a few tricks you can try to get you a head start on your way to thick creamy kefir.
First of all, if you have ordered kefir seeds online chances are your first few batches will not be much to call home about. The seed will most likely be dormant and have been stored in water before they made it to your kefir factory. Be prepared to make a few batches of very runny and stinky kefir that is good for nothing but pouring down the drain. When I got my first kefir seeds, the first two batches I made were useless before the seeds got settled in and started producing great kefir.
The real key to getting the consistency you want is to let the kefir seeds sit in the milk just long enough. If you take the seeds out too early the kefir will be milk-like still. However, if you leave the seeds in the milk too long it will separate. The more the kefir separates the runnier it will get when it is mixed back together. The best way to know that your kefir is ready to be strained is to look for small pockets of clear whey protein forming in the kefir. When this happens the kefir is done and you should strain out the seeds right away.
Also keep in mind that the more kefir seeds you put in the milk, the faster the process will be. If you have too much kefir seeds it can be very difficult to get the timing right for when the kefir should be strained. I make my kefir in old pickle jars. For a normal sized jar I put in enough seeds to for a 'single layer' of seeds on the bottom of the jar.
Another great way of creating thick creamy kefir is to add some heavy whipping cream or half and half to the milk. If you use heavy cream you don't need to add very much, 1 part cream to 9 parts milk for example is enough to make the kefir a lot thicker. If you use half and half (which I prefer myself) you can use more. This will produce a very tasty and thick flowing kefir as long as you don't let the seeds sit in the milk mix for too long.
The traditional way of making kefir was to put kefir seeds and milk in a leather bag and hang it in the doorway. That way anyone who passed through the door would knock the bag around and stir the kefir up. While you probably don't want to hang a leather bag filled with fermenting milk in your doorway, copying the traditional kefir methods will help make a better kefir. Try putting the kefir jar on the kitchen counter and give it a quick shake every time you pass it. By constantly remixing the milk and seeds together the kefir matures evenly.
Another great trick for making the kefir thicker is to leave it fermenting after the seeds have been strained out. You can let the kefir sit out in room temperature or let it develop slower in the fridge. If you put the kefir in the fridge you can leave it for several days while the kefir bacteria in the milk slowly continue the kefir process. If you keep your kefir out in room temperature the process is faster. Keep an eye on your kefir and pop it in the fridge when it is as thick as you want it.