canning jars

How to make Kefir

Kefir, how do you make it?

It is quite simple and a lot of fun. You can make kefir with a variety of milks, dairy and non-dairy.

There are two ways to make kefir.

One way is with kefir grains that will reproduce and last a lifetime (if you don’t kill them with heat or starve them by not feeding them.) Or you can purchase kefir culture packages.

The culture packages is the method I used when I first started making kefir. I call this method “Kefir for Beginners.” It’s really easy, you can make as much as you want, and it doesn’t require you to make kefir every day. It comes in a powder form, and you basically just add milk and you’re done. Six packages can make up to 42 gallons of kefir. So if you’re struggling or feel overwhelmed, this is a great place to start.

Here’s my How to Make Kefir video from my DVD “The Trilogy

Kefir Grains is the method I use now. It’s a little bit more involved, but it’s still really easy. You have to keep your grains fed and happy, but in return they will make you delicious kefir! The kefir made from grains is actually a lot stronger than kefir made from the powder packages. The powder packages have ten good bacteria, and I mean really good ones. However kefir made from kefir grains has over fifty!

When I switched to grains, I saw a big difference and never went back. I really love my kefir grains, almost as much as I love my children. If you take care of your kefir grains and love them half as much as I do, they will make you wonderful kefir for the rest of your life!

You will need to either find or purchase kefir grains. Click here for some resources.


Ok, let’s make some kefir!

Here’s the methods for making kefir. The first is making kefir using Live Kefir Grains.

How to make kefir using kefir grains

How to make kefir using Easy Kefir powder packets

Second Ferment Your Kefir

Once you get the hang of making kefir, I encourage you to start second fermenting it. Not only does second fermenting increase the nutrients in your kefir, it also make it taste a LOT better! I always second ferment my kefir. It’s not hard and I encourage you to try it and see the difference!

Click to learn more

Store your kefir while on vacation

If you are unable to make kefir with your live grains for a short period of time and would like to store it, place your grains in at least 2 cups of milk, remembering that if you have 1 Tbsp of grains to 1 cup of milk rule and adding a little more. I like to store mine in at least 3 cups of milk making sure that they have plenty of food to eat. Then you place this in the refrigerator. This will last for one week and then if you want to do it longer drain the milk and add new milk after 1 week. If you are going  to be gone longer than a week double the milk you would add. Your grains eat the lactose (milk sugar) out of the milk and you want to be sure they have plenty to eat so they won’t die.

It is a living colony and needs food just as you do!

344 Responses to "How to make Kefir"
  1. Hi Donna

    Do you use raw milk with the kefir grains? I do but it can be very expensive. $10 for 2L in Australia. Would you recommend using nonhomogenised + pasteurized organic milk as an alternative?

    Thanks.

  2. Hello my friend is giving me so water kefir grains can I use these with milk or should I just start a new?

  3. I have seasonal allergies and have itchy hives on my neck and face. I don’t want to take prednisone or toxic antihistamines suggested by my doctor. I’ve just started making kefir and kombucha. Will these help my hives situation or aggravate the problem?

  4. So I think I messed up and killed my kefir grains. I left them in the fridge without feeding them for probably 6-9 months. One jar has some pink color to it. Is there any way that I can make them healthy again or are they done for good?

  5. Hi Donna,

    First of all, thanks for providing such a great resource!
    I ordered grains from you this week and I’m SO excited to start making kefir again… last year i was making it with grains and raw milk from our local community farm/csa but wasn’t thrilled with the quality of milk or grains. This year we have our own – fantastic – dairy goats and the grains came from you, so we have the best of both! I do have a few questions that I couldn’t find clarification on even after reading through all the comments/questions:

    ~ how much (if at all) will stress impact the longterm health of the grains? I’m especially nervous about this since my grains are sitting in the post office overnight tonight in their packaging for an extra night… I thought they would arrive today, but the tracking info had delivery scheduled for tomorrow so I shifted my all day city errand trip to today (rather than going tomorrow as planned) and, wouldn’t you know it, they did in fact deliver to the PO this morning; I missed getting back into town in time to pick them up by about 15 minutes. I know they will probably be okay, just hungry and a possibly a bit stressed, when I pick them up tomorrow morning… but it got me thinking about whether or not the stress affects them into the future. What are your thoughts on this? I guess it would also apply after refrigerating for vacation, etc… Do these types of stresses cause lasting affects to the health and vigor of the colony? If so, is there anything that can help them rebound better from periods of stress (like shipping or cold storage)?

    ~ you mention that raw milk with cream can create an “off” or “yeasty” flavor… is this only for milk with a thick cream top in place or for all high fat/high cream content milk? My mini nubian does (one in particular) put off some pretty rich and creamy milk, so I am wondering if I need to let it sit in the fridge for a couple days and then skim the cream before culturing. Do you have any idea how the cream/butterfat content of the milk affects the health benefits of the kefir?

    ~ how much headspace in a jar is too much for culturing? for second ferment? I believe I read that you recommend to only fill a jar 2/3 – 3/4 full, but is there such a thing as too much headspace/air in the jar?

    Thanks again for providing all the fantastic info and products… It is clearly a labor of love and is truly inspiring!

    • Your grains will be fine and can last longer than two weeks but what happens when they are stressed is they get rather large and big. This is not bad just means they’re looking for more surface area to absorb food. Goats milk is different than cows milk and the cream might not be a problem tasting yeasty. Leave a little room for it does expand and it doesn’t matter if the jar has lots of room doesn’t hurt anything.

  6. Hi, I bought your book. I got Kefir Grains and I have fed them twice. When I strain the kefir from the grains, there is a lot of small white crumbles along with the less white fluffy grains. Should I get a bigger strainer so the white stuff goes in with the Kefir or should it stay with the grains? Also, should I be rinsing the grains with milk before I feed it?

  7. I now have SOOOO many kefir grains – maybe 3 cups of grains – and my hubby and I have recently learned they can be eaten, but one must start slowly when including this in the diet. Meanwhile, they multiply. Is there a ”safe’ way to dehydrate/freeze them?

  8. Hi, I am pretty new to your site and am DESPERATE for healing. I am 64 y/o 3 yrs ago I had heart surgery and contracted invasive candidiasis. Doctors refuse to even discuss the problem, it has invaded my entire body including my brain and eyes, it has eaten the fat and muscle in my arms and legs to the point that I am almost crippled,on x-rays you can see where it has even chewed on the bones. In the last 6years I have had stage 4 kidney cancer and two aortic aneurysms they removed the kidney and have repaired one of the aneurysms. I am also insulin dependent diabetic, I firmly believe that all these problems have their root in a long standing candida over growth. Can you offer me any help, PLEASE………. no one else will.

    • Start with my free ebook at the top of the page on my website and it will help you get started. Pick one thing to try and be easy about it. The body can heal you it was designed to do so. It just takes a little time and learning.

    • Dennis… Would love to hear how it is going for you since its been about five months. Pray for healing for you.

  9. Hi Donna,

    Your site is great! I am just a beginner and got some grains from a friend. My question is about consistency. Mine is buttermilk consistency, but I see other pics online of a thicker consistency. Can you clarify?

    Thank you
    Karen

  10. I am considering making kefir because of how healthy it is. I am a huge fermentation nut, but I want to try my hand at making it rather than buying it all the time. I have some questions.

    1) can I use my mother in laws grains or would yours be better quality. She makes very thick lovely looking kefir.
    2) I drink goat’s milk but not cow milk due to tummy weirdness with cow milk. Do you think there is enough cow dairy in the kefir grains that using them to make coconut kefir would be a problem?
    3) I did try making goat milk kefir maybe a year ago and a friend gave me some goat milk kefir grains. The milk rotted. My only source is uht milk. Is that a problem?
    4) the second ferment is a great idea! I just want to confirm that I don’t still have the grains in the jar right for the second time around?
    5) I primarily want to make coconut kefir. If I can use dairy grains, do I need to gradually get them used to coconut milk? From your page on that, it didn’t seem like it would be a problem?
    6) any ideas about using grass fed gelatin powder to make it thicker? (The coconut butter is a great idea!)

  11. If I have 2 separate jars of double-fermented kefir in my refrigerator and they were made on different days, is it OK to combine them in one large jar?

  12. I enjoy mixing my second ferment (lemon) kefir with plain, organic yogurt. It creates a nice, light, fizzy yogurt. Am I harming the probiotics in the kefir by mixing it in with yogurt?

      • I am also making yogurt for the first time (using a thermos), and will be straining it overnight so it thickens. Is yogurt whey as healthy as kefir whey? Should I even keep it? How can I use it?

        • It is not as beneficial as kefir whey but is still good for you. You can use it to make cultured veggies although I don’t like the results as well. You will also need to use it within a few days of straning.

  13. Hi, Donna, Thanks again for being such an amazing resource. I ordered dehydrated milk kefir grains from Cultures for Health and followed their directions. They said it would take 3-4 days to rehydrate the grains (changing the milk every 24 hours) and sure enough, this morning is day 4, and I have thickened, yogurt-like kefir. I strained it and put the grains in fresh milk in a mason jar in the fridge. I put the strained kefir in another mason jar in the fridge. Here are my questions:
    1) How often should I change the milk in the jar with the grains?
    2) When I’m ready to make a new batch of kefir, do I remove the grains and put them in fresh milk and let it sit covered on my counter for 24 hours?
    3) How long will the “finished” kefir last in my fridge?
    4) The kefir has separated in the jar with a thin, watery layer on top. Can I just shake it up and drink, or do I pour off the water layer?

  14. I ran out of milk after my kefir was already in the counter for 24 hours about. I won’t be able to get any more milk for about 3-4 days- will it be ok if I don’t strain and just put a lid on the jar and put in the fridge until I can strain and put fresh milk over the grains?

    Thanks

  15. Another question…what is your opinion of keeping the Kefir grains in a muslin bag while fermenting? I have one of these bags and it definitely makes the process easier and my Kefir is still very thick. Just wanted to know if this is a good idea long term. Thank you!

  16. I just discovered your site. It’s wonderful! I’m learning so much! I was wondering if raw honey can be used for the second ferment. I’ve read some conflicting information on the web that raw honey shouldn’t be combined with Kefir. If not in the second ferment, is it okay to use when making a Kefir smoothie? Thank you!

  17. I am just starting kefir. In the steps to make kefir milk you said to avoid metal but all the pictures show a strainer that is metal. And you say to use a fine mesh strainer. All I have ever seen and have are metal. Is this ok to use? I have been using a plastic spoon, but I’m afraid the holes might be too big and I’m not catching all of the grains.

  18. I’ve been reading articles that say you need to take a break from kefir every twenty days or so. Do you agree? Also, do you ever eat your grains?
    Thank you,
    Gail

  19. If I want to make 1 quart of kefir, how many tablespoons of grains do I need. Seems as though I’m getting different amounts depending on which website I’m reading.

      • Thank you. I apologize for all the questions, but you are an amazing resource. I’ve struggled with IBS for decades, and just 3 weeks ago, gave up wheat products and saw a 95% improvement. I’ve never felt so terrific! Reading about getting probiotics through foods has me even more excited. So, more questions:
        1) Because of my stomach issues, I read it’s best to proceed slowly with adding probiotics to your diet to avoid side effects. I am currently drinking 2 tablespoons of kefir a day, and every 5 days will up it another tablespoon until I hit 8 ounces. Should I wait to try my fermented carrots until my body gets used to the kefir? What do you recommend?
        2) Can I make kefir using organic non-fat milk?
        3) Wilk I lose the probiotics in kefir if I heat it up or use it over hot oatmeal?

        • Yes, your doing great and this amount of kefir is perfect. Wait on the cultured veggies until your body is use to the kefir but if your not feeling discomfort than go ahead and make them.

          Yes, you can use organic no-fat milk.

          If you heat it above 115 you will start to kill the probiotics.

  20. Hi Donna,

    So, my grains are growing, and I’m making a large batch at once, enough for 3 – 4 days. I’ve been putting all the grains in one jar and covering them with milk in the refrigerator until I’m ready to start fermenting again. Can I just remove the jar from the refrigerator and place it on the counter for 24 hrs. – which I’ve been doing – or should I be straining and changing the milk?k

    Thanks! Love your grains!

    Best,
    Debbie

    • I’m enjoying my morning kefir drink, thanks to your patient guidance. I’ve been making a few days worth at once as the grains are growing fine. Here’s my new question: I was pouring milk over the grains to store in the refrigerator for the next few days, and toward the end the milk was clumpy! Is it okay for the grains to stay in this milk, and then ferment, or should I get new milk at least for the fermenting? Sorry to bug you AGAIN. Thank you!

        • They are in the refrigerator in the “bad” milk now; I don’t plan to ferment them for a few days. Should I get new milk, strain the grains, and put them back in new milk in refrigerator? Is that enough, so that I can them just use that same jar containing grains and milk to ferment? Thanks – really sorry for the questions.

  21. My friend just shared her kefir with me last night that was already fermenting. I put it in the fridge in the morning and separated about 6 hrs later. It seems just a little thicker than whole milk. Maybe I should have let it stay on the counter longer? I added lemon zest and am going for the 2nd fermentation. I don’t mind having a thin batch, but did I harm the grains or do I just need to let it sit at room temp longer next batch?

  22. I received my grains a couple of days ago. The first two batches were fine. But the third batch separated after 17 hours. I am using skim milk does this make a difference.

  23. I use raw cow milk to make my kefir. Today, I ran out of milk and I won’t be able to get any for another 24 hours. My keifer grains have been fermenting for 12 hours. The mixture is slightly separated with cream stuck to the side of my jar and streaks of yellow liquid running throughout. I am thinking that since I can’t get more milk for 24 hours that I need to slow down the fermentation process. Should I put my kefier (with the grains) in the refrigerator until I get more milk?

  24. I received my grains 2 days ago…..thank you very much! It was very thin yesterday after 24 hours but I went ahead an separated it anyway. I am wondering if I put too much milk in the jar for the amount of grains? I didn’t put as much milk in this 2nd batch I started and it looks like it may be getting thicker when I checked it out this morning. Any advice for me since I’m new at this?

    • One more thing on my new Kefir grains that I got a couple days ago…today it looks like I have 3 layers in my jar….there is a bottom layer, then the middle layer is sort of clear and the top layer which is sort of grainy looking…….am I doing everything ok with the Kefir? Thanks so much!