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Non-Dairy Kefir Wants a Date


Making Non-Dairy Kefir

Kefir grains

kefir-grains1.jpgKefir grains love to eat the sugars (lactose) in milk. These sugars are the primary food for this culture. Fresh milk kefir is only 1% sugar and live kefir grains contain over 50 different types of yeast and bacteria existing in a symbiotic relationship. (Click to see which types)

The powerful microbes in the kefir eat the sugar out of the milk it makes it into probiotics – just for you! So, when you drink a glass of kefir, know that it contains only 1 or 2 grams of sugar and this is what makes it tart or sour. The sugar is mostly gone.

This presents a problem for those who want to make non-dairy kefir. Milk sugars are needed to keep the grains alive, and non-dairy milks such as coconut, almond, sesame seed, walnut, and cashew don’t have these sugars. This also results in lower benefits since there is less sugar to convert into probiotics. The grains don’t last in these non-dairy milks because their food source is mostly gone, but I have found an alternative solution because I cannot stand for my kefir grains to die in any regards.

Keep Your Kefir grains Alive

cashew milkI posted a blog not too long ago on how to make Cashew Kefir and a reader, Fran, posted a comment explaining how she has kept her grains alive while making sesame seed milk for over a year by feeding them sugar made from date paste. Here is what she said: “I am vegan and I used to make my own kefir with non-dairy homemade sesame milk that I added homemade date puree (thinned down) to in order to feed the (milk kefir) grains. I started out by dunking my grains into cow’s milk once a fortnight to keep them alive but then one day I had enough grains and I decided that I was going to test how long the grains would live if I only used them in my sesame milk. A year and a half later they were still happily culturing my “milk.” I am guessing that my grains converted to the date sugar quite happily as they showed no signs of either dying or slowing down. If you have vegan readers, they might like to experiment a bit rather than relying on having to dunk their grains in milk. I dare say the probiotics in my kefir were different from those in regular milk, but the end result was tart, delicious, and probiotic rich.”

Dates and kefir

date and almond milk kefirI made some date paste and started feeding it to my grains when I made coconut and almond milk kefir, and I gotta say it’s working great and my grains are not dying. Even though they don’t grow like they do in regular milk, they continue to culture the milk and I will keep experimenting with them to see how they do. A big thank you to Fran and all my readers who share their stories. We are all in this together. When one finds answers, it helps us all.

Easy Kefir

We have an exciting new product called Easy Kefir. It’s made from freeze drying kefir grains and making them into a powder. It works wonderfully well with non diary milk but the same rule applies, you must give them a source of sugar if your non dairy milk has under eight grams of sugar or carbohydrates. One teaspoon of date paste or raw sugar per four cups of non dairy milk will do the trick and help you kefir be full of probiotics.

Here is how to make your own date paste to make all kinds of non-dairy kefir.

Date Paste for Non- Dairy Kefir
This is what I use to feed my cultures when I use them to make non-dairy kefir. Since non-dairy milk doesn't have any lactose in it, your culture needs something to eat to stay alive. 1 teaspoon of Date Paste is enough to sustain 1 quart of non-dairy kefir. This method also allows you to avoid having to refresh your kefir grains in regular dairy milk if you have problems or an aversion to dairy.~Donna
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Date Paste
  • 12whole datespitted
  • 1/2 cup Waterenough to cover the dates
Non-Dairy Kefir using Live Kefir Grains
  • 2Tablespoons Live Kefir Grains
  • 1Quart nut milkUnsweetened. (Can be milk from coconuts, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, etc.)
  • 1teaspoon Date Paste
Non-Dairy Kefir using Easy Kefir powder packets
  • 1packet Easy Kefir
  • 1quart nut milkUnsweetened. (Can be milk from coconuts, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, etc.)
  • 1teaspoon Date Paste
Servings: cup
Date Paste
  1. Soak your dates in filtered water for a few hours or until soft
    Soak your dates in filtered water for a few hours or until soft
  2. When the dates are soft, drain the dates and reserve the soaking liquid.
  3. Place the dates in a food processor or blender. Process the dates, adding the soaking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is smooth, but still thick. This will require 1/4 to 1/2 cup of soaking liquid depending on the type of dates, freshness of the dates, and the length of time they soaked.
  4. Place the paste in a jar with a secure lid and store in the fridge.
    Place the paste in a jar with a secure lid and store in the fridge.
Non-Dairy Kefir using Live Kefir Grains
  1. Add 1 quart of unsweetened nut milk to a glass jar. (It can be coconut, walnut, almond, sesame seed, etc.)
    Add 1 quart of unsweetened nut milk to a glass jar. (It can be coconut, walnut, almond, sesame seed, etc.)
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of Date Paste to the jar and mix with a spoon. Then add the kefir grains.
  3. Place a lid on it and let it ferment until tart and sour, 18 -24 hours.
  4. Remove the grains by straining and place in fresh milk with another spoonful of date paste. Repeat to keep your grains alive.
Non-Dairy Kefir using Easy Kefir powder packets
  1. Add 1 quart of unsweetened nut milk to a glass jar. (It can be coconut, walnut, almond, sesame seed, etc.)
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of date paste to the jar.
  3. Mix in 1 packet Easy Kefir with a spoon or whisk or until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
    Mix in 1 packet Easy Kefir with a spoon or whisk or until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  4. Place a lid on the jar and let it sit for 18 to 24 hours or until tart or sour tasting.
  5. Place kefir in the refrigerator or enjoy immediately. It should keep for at least a month although it will continue to get more sour and tart.
  6. If you like to make more kefir, take 1/4 cup of this mixture and 3 -3/4 cups of fresh non dairy milk and culture again for 8 -16 hours or until tart. You can do this many many times over or until it stops working and making the milk tart. Then you will need a new Easy Kefir package.
Storing your Kefir
  1. If you making your kefir using Live Kefir Grains, you can place your grains in the same amount of non dairy milk you would use to make your kefir. Add the date paste and then place in your refrigerator. Refresh once a week with new milk and date paste to give them something to eat and keep them alive. Remember that you need to do this at least once a week.
Recipe Notes

If the kefir still tastes sweet after 24 hours add less date paste so it will ferment faster.

23 Responses to "Non-Dairy Kefir Wants a Date"
  1. Why not just use a piece of a date, rather than going to the extra hassle of making and storing a paste? Most water kefir recipes call for a chunk of dried fruit such as a fig, prune, or handful of raisins. This should work for nut milk kefir as well I would think.

    • Yes Sandy! I actually did try it by soaking my dates along with the cashews and then blended it. The Cashew Kefir was delicious!

  2. I thought I had read in a previous comment that you do not second ferment coconut kefir. Is there a particular reason/understanding to not second ferment coconut kefir?

    • I don’t second ferment my coconut and almond milk kefir because I do not like the way it tastes. It doesn’t mean you can’t I just haven’t found it to separate even more and not taste as well.

  3. Now if I can only afford the kefir grains I can finally start enjoying kefir! I am vegan for a lot of reasons, always hated milk and am lactose intolerant as well, so just didn’t see me buying milk just to store the grains!
    Donna, do you have any idea where would be a good source to find out if anyone local (Lehigh Acres FL) might have grains to share or trade? I make a lot of fermented foods already, but on a fixed income it isn’t easy to branch out! The cost of kefir grains is close to my weekly grocery allowance!

    • I have found a couple of groups on Facebook for fermented veggies, kombucha etc. whose members are very open to sharing grains and are all over the world, actually. In am sure you would be able to locate someone close to you who would be willing to share! ;D

      • You can buy bottles of date paste at many health food stores. It is also commonly available at Indian and Middle-Eastern grocers. You can also try using coconut syrup, molasses or barley malt to supply the sugars needed by the milk kefir grains.

  4. Wow, I feel almost famous! My name is “Fran” but cheers for trying out my method and sharing it Donna and glad you are making it possible for vegans and people who can’t eat dairy to enjoy this precious resource as well 🙂

    • Fran, so sorry will change this. It came up this way in comments on the blog so I assumed it was your name. I sent you an email earlier thanking you did you get it?

  5. In trying to make non-dairy kefir I grew a little weary trying to keep up with the days, making sure I feed the grains with milk often enough, and so on. I can tolerate milk but want to cut down a bit because of sinus issues that I think are related to milk. So I use 2% organic pasteurized (NOT ULTRA pasteurized) milk and either almond milk or coconut milk, half milk and half non-dairy. This combination also makes a creamier kefir than the non-dairy kefir alone. This cuts down the milk consumption, makes the process easier for me, and seems to help my nose!

  6. I am SO excited to try this. I am vegan and been looking for another way to feed my grains. Thank you so much! 🙂

  7. I make coconut milk kefir every week with live milk kefir grains. I use two cans for each batch, fermenting for 24 to 48 hours. I then second ferment with blueberries for an additional 24 to 48 hours (but based on your previous posts I think I may need to shorten both to 24 hours to get the best benefits). I make two batches back to back, resulting in (4) 20-ounce jars of kefir. I then rest my kefir grains in milk for 4 – 7 days. I have never added anything else (like the date paste) and this has worked fine for over a year. I have never made kefir in milk so I haven’t seen the grains “grow”, but they seem to be alive and doing well. I hope I’m not doing anything wrong. Even though I am not vegan (I just have trouble with dairy), I was happy to see the post about the date paste. I figure I can add that while I’m on vacation to make sure they survive while I’m gone.

    Thanks for all the great information! Every post is so worthwhile. After a year of making kefir I have just started to make kombucha. After I figure that out, I hope to add cultured vegetables. I’ve been buying kim-chee and cultured pickles and sauerkraut, but would really like to make my own. Thanks, again, for all the great suggestions, recipes, and inspiration!

  8. I am going to try this! I don’t drink (cows) milk and have up to now using coconut milk for 2 days and skim milk for one.

  9. Wow! What a *great* idea! When I made kefir with almond milk, my grains looked kind of “sad” so i went back to cow’s milk. I prefer not using cow’s milk so will try this. Also, if this slows down grain growth that actually is better for me, because mine reproduce like crazy!! Thanks for another great idea. Donna (and Karan)!!

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