How to Make Homemade Kefir – Low Sugar

Make your own kefir in just two easy steps. Plus a review of kefir products available in the market.

How to Make Homemade Kefir - Low Sugar | @tspcurry fermentation probiotics

As promised, here’s Part 2 of My 3 Easy Ways To Improve Gut Health series:

I knew kefir was really, really good for gut health because a) kefir generally contains around 10 or more cultures/probiotic strains – compared to only about 4-7 cultures/probiotic species found in yogurt and b) kefir also contains yeast species for even more gut-health benefits.

So, I figured I’d take a crack at making homemade kefir.

Now, I did not expect to actually like plain, unflavored homemade kefir. Case in point: I’m the type of girl who eats plain yogurt only with toppings.

But after over a month of kefir-making, I’m kinda addicted to the super-creamy, a little fizzy, slightly sweet homemade kefir.  Not to mention, it’s way better than the store-bought varieties.

And it’s EASY TO MAKE! If you’ve ever made homemade yogurt and thought it was tedious, making kefir is much simpler. 

How to Make Homemade Kefir:

1. Add kefir grains to 1/2 to 3/4 cup reduced-fat 2% milk. (More info below on kefir grains)

2. Cover jar with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm spot on your counter. I placed on top of my dishwasher (because my kitchen is usually right at 68° – and kefir grains grow slowly below 68°)

How to Make Homemade Kefir | @tspcurry probiotics fermentation

3. Wait 24 hours.

4. Strain out kefir grains for starting the next batch. (This is your ‘mother culture.’)

How to Make Homemade Kefir | @tspcurry probiotics fermentation kefir

5. Drink! Or place in the fridge.

Now, I tested two different kefir-making techniques (powdered kefir starter culture and kefir grains) – and compared it to purchased Lifeway brand plain kefir. Here are the results:

1)Yógourmet Freeze-Dried Kefir Starter Culture

How to Make Homemade Kefir | @tspcurry Info on: probiotics, fermentation

Pros:

  • Easy to find: I found this Yógourmet Kefir Starter at my local health food store for $8.99.
  • Taste: My kids really liked the final kefir product. They described it as: “Just like plain yogurt but sweeter.” “Thick and creamy.”
  • Contains yeast: According to the book The Good Gut, yeast plus many, many strains of probiotics is a main benefit of drinking kefir. Shelf-stable kefir doesn’t always contain yeast.

Cons:

  • An extra step: The step involves heating to repasteurize milk before activating the freeze-dried cultures. This doesn’t take as long as How to Make Homemade Greek Yogurt. But it’s not as simple as the one-step process described below with kefir grains.
  • Fewer probiotics. Only 4 are listed on the package; but according to Yógourmet, there are at least 10 more strains present in the grains used in making the starter – which are difficult to isolate.
  • Not renewable: Once your packets of culture are gone, they’re gone (compared to kefir grains which live basically forever.)

How to Make Homemade Kefir - LOW SUGAR | @tspcurry probiotics fermentation

2)Yemoos Kefir Grains (My favorite)
Pros:

  • Easy to make. I can’t OVER-emphasize how easy using Yemoos Milk Kefir Grains are:
    1. Add kefir grains to milk
    2. Wait 24 hours. Drink!
  • Taste: It tastes like almost like lemon cream soda! It’s fizzy, creamy, sweet-citrus and tastes like full fat dairy even though it’s not.
  • Hearty kefir grains. My kids thought my Yoomos delivery was for them – and it sat in their room for THREE days – despite the package warning to refrigerate immediately. But it still worked. And they last forever.
  • Contains yeast. The aroma is like bread baking in the oven.
  • Excellent how-to pictures, tutorials and FAQ on the Yemoos website: I got a ton of info here.

Cons:

3)Lifeway Store-Bought Kefir
Pros:

  • No prep. Plus, lots of pre-made flavors which are fairly low in sugar.
  • Great customer service for your questions. I had lots – and got an immediate email back.

Cons:

  • Fewer probiotics. More microbes is better when it comes to gut health. So, the more variety in probiotics, the better. However, for folks that want to know exactly what’s in their food, the Lifeway label lists all probiotic strains and the two yeast-based organisms: S. florentinus and S. diacetylactis
  • More expensive. A bottle costs $3.99 in my local store which goes very quickly in my family of six – especially during spring allergy season.

For tips on How to Use Kefir, see my 3 Tips for Improving Gut Health post from Monday.

Fun Low-Sugar Flavor Combos:

Plain – The kids and I have been drinking a shot-glass full of plain every morning now that seasonal allergy season has begun.

Why shot glasses? Yemoos recommends adding kefir to your diet slowly – just so your digestive system can get used to it. The kids LOVE drinking out of shot glasses. (:

How to Make Homemade Kefir

Raspberry Cream Kefir – Blend 1 cup frozen raspberries with 2 cups kefir in the blender. Tastes as good or better than our fave Lifeway flavor.

How to Make Homemade Kefir | @tspcurry Info: probiotics, fermentation

Chocolate Soda – A drizzle of chocolate syrup in a glass of kefir is a special fizzy treat. Great with my ‘Good Gut’ Peanut Butter Swirl Breakfast Brownies

For tips on How to Use Kefir, see my 3 Tips for Improving Gut Health post from Monday.

So…will you try making kefir? Do you drink kefir now?

 

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We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

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