Kefir is basically “sustainable yogurt” -Yogurt’s great, and I do continue to eat it, but for a reliable, renewable culture that is often free (ask around, someone is likely to have grains they’re willing to share with you!), you can’t beat kefir!
I much prefer kefir over yogurt because of several reasons:
- Milk is cultured with kefir grains – that can be strained, reused, and shared as they grow. (Yogurt is made by inoculating milk with other yogurt, but eventually over time it becomes contaminated and you have to buy more starter or plain yogurt, so the cost adds up over time…)
- Kefir incubates at room temperature – ideally around 70 degrees F. (Yogurt is made with thermophilic (aka “heat loving”) bacteria, therefore must be incubated at 105-110 degrees F for at least 4-6 hours.)
- Kefir contains a wide variety of beneficial bacterias and also beneficial yeasts! (Yogurt has generally only a few types of beneficial bacteria)
- Kefir consumes lactose – no lactose for those sensitive to it!
I first started out with kefir in 2012, then gave them away when I moved and acquired new kefir grains where we currently live. The new grains never excited me. What was wrong with them, and were they the wrong kind of kefir or what!?
I did some research and practiced on my grains (they were so bad, it couldn’t get worse, right?) and lo and behold, I fixed them! Yay! Here’s what I learned:
- I was letting my kefir culture too long – I was letting it get thicker than yogurt and should have been putting it in the fridge (or strain) as soon as I saw it start to set.
- I thought healthy kefir meant I should wash the kefir grains really well – after reading The Kefir Lady‘s instructions, I realized I was probably stressing them and now I gently strain and leave some thickened milk on the kefir, so the kefir looks like little blobs of yogurt instead of shiny squeaky clean grains.
- Lastly, I kept using fridge temp cooled milk – kefir does better with tempered milk. I’ve still been cheating, but I get closer to the correct temp by pouring fresh from the cow, and it seems to be working.