Fermentation Experimentation

Kefir breakfast

Yep, I make my very own milk Kefir (Кефир.) An Eastern European-style yogurt, Kefir is loaded with lots and lots of tummy-friendly bacteria.

Not to brag, but I also curdle farmers cheese (Творог): a creamier, smoother, and milder form of cottage cheese. Surprisingly, fermenting dairy products at home is super easy, fast and fun!

A co-worker introduced me to the mysterious world of food fermentation and I got hooked. As much as I enjoy changing the molecular structure of food by the process of heating, I equally enjoy creating natural partnerships between food and lactic acid bacteria, using the process of fermentation. It is almost like playing a mad scientist, who is growing a microbial Frankenstein in his lab… OK, maybe not that dramatic, but still fun.

I take a real pleasure in creating that perfect batch of Kefir.  No, I am not trying to compete with Lifeway Foods.  In fact I buy their delicious drinkable dairy beverages on weekly basis.  But I favor the homemade alternative for its tarter deeper flavor and fizzy texture. When fermented correctly, its consistency resembles that of Greek yogurt. My favorite way to eat it is with toasted granola and honey.

My next physics experiments – Sauerkraut and Pickled Fruit.

Kefir-making: let the experiment begin

Kefir-making: let the experiment begin

Kefir-making: 12 hours later. The whey is starting to separate.

Kefir-making: 12 hours later. The whey is starting to separate

Kefir-making: 24 hours later. Ready for the finishing touches.

Kefir-making: 24 hours later. Ready for the finishing touches

Kefir-making: you can stop here and eat your Kefir with a spoon

Kefir-making: using the strainer to drain the Kefir. You can stop here and eat it with a spoon

Kefir-making: or you can blend Kefir for a smoother consistency

Kefir-making: or you can blend Kefir for a smoother consistency

Home-made Kefir

Equipment and Ingredients


  1. Pour fresh milk into a large jar. Leave up to 2 inch of space
  2. Add live kefir grains
  3. Cover with lid, but not airtight to allow the gas buildup to escape
  4. Leave for 1-3 days at room temperature. I usually peak into the jar every 12 hours to make sure the fermentation is going according to plan. During hot summer days, it takes no more than 24 hrs to get to the right consistency. Generally, the longer you ferment kefir, the more sour it gets
  5. Cover the strainer with paper town. Pour Kefir into the strainer to separate the liquid (this is now your kefir), from the grains. Use the strainer as well the spoon to strain the kefir into a bowl
  6. Move the recovered kefir grains into a small jar and save until next time
  7. If you want a smoother lighter kefir, blend it for a few minutes in your blender. For a thicker chunkier alternative, transfer to plate and enjoy.
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{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Kocinera October 8, 2010, 6:43 AM

    Oooh, this looks cool! I’ve never made Kefir before, but your step-by-step photos make it look pretty easy. :)

  • Phoo-d October 8, 2010, 12:01 PM

    How cool that you make your own kefir! Do you use milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized or does that not matter with kefir? I would love to give this a try.

  • Faina October 8, 2010, 2:48 PM

    Phoo-d, I use Pasteurized milk only because I’ve read that it is healthier than ultra-pasteurized. But any milk will do.

  • Ellie (Almost Bourdain) October 10, 2010, 10:20 PM

    Yay to make your own kefir! My mom used to make homemade yoghurt but I haven’t tried anything like this at home.

  • badmash October 22, 2010, 6:45 PM

    I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

  • mackdaniel October 24, 2010, 1:02 PM

    this was a really nice post, thanks

  • Emm November 22, 2010, 3:33 AM

    Hi there, great photo’s. Isn’t kefir amazing?! We make milk and water kefir..and if you’re into experimenting (sounds like you are ;-) Kombucha is another amazing ‘science experiment’ to play around with. I’m gonna do a post about it some day soon.

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  • MrB August 16, 2015, 1:01 PM

    Lifeway’s kefir is not genuine kefir. It is an assembly of 10-12 kefir bacteria and yeast strains to produce a retail milk product with a constant (sellable) viscosity and flavor. Likewise, fermented no fat organic milk is not genuine kefir. Genuine kefir is a probiotic comprised of 54+ strains of bacteria, yeasts, and moulds. Let me explain if I may. Historically, kefir was fermented using raw goats or cow’s milk; 4-8+ % fat (lipopolysaccharide) content. Fermenting no fat milk, organic or otherwise, synthesizes only traces of B vitamin’s and bioactive molecules. Not enough to sustain a properly balanced nutraceutical level in humans. Also, you did not make make mention of the secondary fermentation (48 hours) necessary after the primary fermentation of 12-24 Hours to “finish” B,K,A vitamins and biologically active molecule synthesis. If you are not making kefir to replenish or round out the microbiota of your intestinal tract, halting dysbiosis, just buy buttermilk. It’s cheaper (no grains, no milk, no time involved with straining) and provides the same benefits as Lifeway’s kefir (smoothie). Your health will be rewarded by kefiring / fermenting with whole milk.

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