How To Make Thick Kefir Naturally
It’s all about your environment, your grains, and your equipment.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to make thick kefir naturally without adding anything else.
No live yogurt, lemon peel, or a strain of bacteria you can’t pronounce.
After all, when I make kefir I imagine a woman in the Caucus mountains who had nothing but milk, grains, and the animal bag she used to ferment it.
The mixture was probably watched and strained at just the right time when the consistency was just right.
These people didn’t have a thermometer or other aspects to make their environment “perfect”. They relied on nature and that’s what I rely on too to make thick kefir naturally.
Why won’t my kefir thicken?
The ideal temperature for making kefir is between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celcius). Kefir requires a stable temperature to ferment and a time of 24-48 hours or longer. If left too long, the result is thick curds and whey. If strained too early the result is a thin barely sour mixture.
To make thick kefir, you need an ideal temperature
The ideal temperature for kefir to ferment is between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18-29 degrees Celcius). If the temperature is below 65F/18C, your kefir will take too long to ferment. If the temperature is higher, your kefir will ferment so fast that it will be harder to control.
Does this mean you can’t ferment in temperatures outside of the ideal range?
It just means it might be harder to achieve the best results.
Which type of milk is best for kefir?
Cow milk is the best option for making kefir.
Thick kefir needs cream. Use full-fat whole milk if you need more thickness. If you’re still unhappy with the thickness, consider adding cream to your batch when you make your kefir. Don’t try and ferment your grains in pure cream as this will result in a mixture too thick to separate the grains at the end.
In my experience, raw milk has always produced the best tasting and looking kefir. This is because the bacteria naturally present in the milk are undamaged by heat through pasteurization and interact better with the bacteria present in kefir grains. If you do use raw milk make sure that it comes from a trusted source where the animals are well cared for and the environment is clean.
The ratio of milk to grains also matters
If you pour in too much milk to the ratio of kefir grains, the result will be a thin, barely sour mixture. If you pour in too little the result will be most probably too sour. For best results use 4 cups of milk for every 1-2 teaspoons of grains.
Bear in mind that it also depends on the quality of your grains. Are they hungry? Have they been fed recently? When was the last time you used them to make a batch?
If your grains haven’t been fed in a while, the ferment will happen faster and you’ll be able to use fewer grains to the amount of milk. The batch will sour more quickly and so thicken faster.
If your grains are used more often, the fermentation will take longer depending on the temperature of the room. Warmer temperatures will ferment the batch faster than cooler temperatures.
Kefir requires the right amount of time
You have to think of fermentation as a process and the process is simple. First, you add the grains, then you add the milk and cover with the lid. This begins the process.
As the grains start to eat the sugars naturally present in the milk, the mixture sours. But it doesn’t’ end there. The mixture sours and thickens, gradually but not always at the same time. So you can easily have a batch of soured thin milk-like kefir if you strain it too early.
As the process continues the mixture continues to ferment and if you wait longer, the mixture will change in consistency to become more like thick yogurt and then after that, curdled cheese.
So somewhere along in the process is where you’ll want to strain the mixture for your desired taste and texture.
How do you know when to strain it?
When the kefir has reached a point where it is ready to consume, the grains will rise to the top of the jar. However, this isn’t necessarily the case with each batch of kefir because grains behave differently. The key is to check your fermenting jar every few hours after the first 12 hours.
Since fermentation is a process, the ideal taste and texture will be reached during the process of fermentation. All you need to do is learn how to tell when to strain your mixture.
As you check your ferment, give the jar a gentle shake, then open to check inside. If it looks like the consistency of drinkable yogurt, it’s ready to strain.
Make sure the consistency is the same throughout from the top to the bottom. You can do this by observing the outside of your jar. If the top is thicker than the bottom, leave it for a few more hours.
If you check your jar and the consistency is still thin, wait a few more hours then check again. Strain when the consistency has reached your liking. You can check on the consistency by swirling the jar or by using a wooden spoon to check the mixture.
Fermentation is a process. If your kefir isn’t thick it’s simply because you’ve strained it too early.
How to make thick kefir naturally
In a clean glass jar, add 1-2 teaspoons of kefir grains that should be in a little milk from a previous batch of kefir.
Pour in 4 cups of fresh whole milk. Cow’s milk is best.
Cover loosely with the lid and leave to ferment on your countertop. Make sure the room temperature is in the ideal fermentation range of 65-85 °F (18-29 °C).
Ferment for 12-48 hours depending on the room temperature. Colder temperatures will take longer to ferment. Warmer temperatures will ferment much faster.
After the first 12 hours, check on your kefir. Check the outside of the jar to see if the whole contents have thickened. Open the jar and check if the grains have risen to the top. If you’re still unsure of the texture, give it a gentle stir with a wooden spoon.
Strain only after you are happy with the thickness of the kefir. Since fermentation is a process, your kefir will thicken if left to ferment longer. Each batch behaves differently depending on many factors. The best way to tell is to check the batch frequently (every few hours after the first 12 hours). If the mixture hasn’t thickened, let it ferment for longer.
Kefir is a rich probiotic drink that has been passed down for centuries. This drink doesn’t just taste good, it’s good for you. In just 1/4 teaspoon of kefir are the same amount of probiotics as a probiotic capsule health supplement. Kefir is easy to make and brimming with beneficial bacteria.
The process of fermentation is simple. It takes a little time to learn but once you do, you’ll be making amazing kefir for years to come.