What is Kefir and How Do I Make It? {Step by Step}

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If you have ever asked yourself “What is kefir and how do I make it?”, read on. A few months ago when I was shopping at the food coop, I discovered something new. In with all of the yogurt and dairy products was a bottled drink called kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir “grains” that has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe. Since I have always loved yogurt, I decided to try kefir and see how I’d like it.  Four months later, I am absolutely in love and enjoy a small glass each night. One of the benefits of drinking kefir is that it is loaded with probiotic organisms.  Probiotics do wonderful things for your health and especially your digestive system. This post contains affiliate links, and I will receive compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

What is kefir

What is Kefir

Since I’m on a quest to learn to make more of the things that we eat from scratch, I started wondering if I could actually make kefir myself.  After all, I make yogurt. At one point in our history, we made everything that we eat so it should be possible to make kefir as well. Right?

There are two different types of kefir.  There is a water kefir and a milk kefir. Since the kefir I enjoy drinking is milk based, that is the one I am focusing on. I may try the other one in the future. Both types of kefir are started from grains but each type of grain is different. You need to make sure that you are starting with milk kefir grains.

What is Kefir and How Do I Make It?

Milk kefir grains can be used with cow’s milk, goat’s milk or coconut milk. Since I have access to raw organic cow’s milk from a local farm, that’s what I am using. You can use traditional milk from the store but PLEASE choose something organic and non-GMO. Kefir “grains” aren’t actually any type of grain at all, they are a combination of yeast and bacteria living happily together.  They are totally gluten and grain free. There are also powdered kefir cultures available but I have not tried using those.

Kefir grains can be used over and over again. Once you have your grains, if you care for them properly, you will be able to make a continuous supply of kefir. This is the process I followed for cow’s milk based kefir. Once you have extra kefir, you can use it to make ice cream, cheese, smoothies, frosting and many other dairy based products.

Milk Kefir GrainsMilk Kefir Grains1/4 Cup Live Organic Water Kefir Grains (Tibicos) Natural Probiotics1/4 Cup Live Organic Water Kefir Grains (Tibicos) Natural ProbioticsWater Kefir Starter Pack Grains Brewing Kit, Live Organic Culture GUTPUNCH 2 TBS becomes 2/3 cup, makes HALF GALLON (2 liters)Water Kefir Starter Pack Grains Brewing Kit, Live Organic Culture GUTPUNCH 2 TBS becomes 2/3 cup, makes HALF GALLON (2 liters)


What is Kefir and How to Make it

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What is Kefir and How Do I Make It?
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  • 2 tsp milk kefir grains
  • 2 cups cow's milk


  1. Place the milk kefir grains in a Mason jar with two cups of cow's milk. Raw or pasteurized is fine. Put the top on.
  2. Leave on your counter for at least 18 hours and up to 48 hours.
  3. Make sure that the room is between 67F to 80F in temperature.
  4. After 18 hours check the consistency of the kefir. I enjoy it when it is not as thick as yogurt but not as thin as milk.
  5. When it is the consistency you like, drain the grains out of the milk using a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
  6. You can drink the kefir as is or use it as a base for a smoothie.
  7. Return the grains back into new milk on the counter. The approximate ratio is 1 tsp of grains per 1 cup of milk.
  8. The kefir grains will grow each time you use them so you'll eventually have some to share.

Have you ever tried kefir? Would you like to try making it yourself? Once you have, try serving it over this Downton Abbey Breakfast Porridge recipe.

What is kefir

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  1. Sounds very healthy! Can you give me an idea of what it tastes like? Does it taste like regular milk, yogurt, something entirely different?
    • Ellen Christian says
      It's definitely healthy! It's a cultured/fermented milk drink. It is slightly tangy depending on how long you let it culture. It's closer to yogurt in taste. If you buy it from the store, it's generally sweetened. There is a strawberry flavor from Lifeway that is quite good if you're not up for making it but want to try some.
  2. Ellen, I love Kefir and think it is so cool you can make it at home. Your explanation is very good. I have been drinking store bought Kefir just because it's good for me with all the probiotics. How does homemade Kefir taste compared to store bought? I usually like a plain (Vanilla) yogurt type flavor but it can't be too sour. I'm wondering if I should try to make it at home since it's pricey to buy. 
    • Ellen Christian says
      The only store bought kefir I have tried is Lifeway's strawberry kefir which is sweetened & flavored of course.  I tried the kefir I made after about 18 hours and it had just a mild bit of tartness to it. It was nice and creamy and definitely quite good. The longer you let it ferment, the more tart it will be. If you want it flavored vanilla, you could always use it in a smoothie and add a drop of vanilla extract if you want. It was really easy to make.
  3. Kelsey Apley says
    Oh wow I never knew how to make it or what it was for that matter! It is interesting that you can keep the grains if you are careful!! 
    • Ellen Christian says
      I love that you can just keep this going continuously without having to buy new starter every month or so like yogurt.
  4. wow. that's it? it's that simple? we need to try this!
  5. I have heard of Kefir, but I have never tried it. You have sparked my interest!
  6. jenny at dapperhouse says
    This is SO interesting!! I would love to give this a try. 
  7. I'd definitely have to try it from the store before attempting to make it myself. But you amaze with all you can do!
  8. Clair Boone says
    WOW! You go girl making it yourself! I've wanted to try Kefir more as it's so good for you but the price keeps turning me off so this is a great idea :)
  9. tara pittman says
    Sounds so easy to make. I need to try it
  10. i'd love to try this. i'd rather drink a natural probiotic than take a supplement. do you drink it chilled? i wonder if it would be yummy with a dash of cinnamon too?
    • Ellen Christian says
      I do drink it cooled. Just make sure you don't keep the grains in the refrigerator or it will stop the growth/fermentation. You could certainly add a dash of cinnamon or a bit of vanilla.  I like it with a touch of maple syrup too.
  11. That is funny that you wrote about this, because I was actually talking to a couple of moms the other day and they mentioned me trying this with my son. He is having a bit of a milk intolerance and they said this might help.  I am am so glad I visited because I know what I need to about this now.
    • Ellen Christian says
      I have heard that myself, Carlee.  The probiotics eat the lactose so it is supposed to be easier for those that are lactose intolerant. Let me know how it works!
  12. Wow, I've never heard of this! Thanks for filling me in! 
  13. Barbara Montag says
    I drink or use Kefir in a smoothie every day. The lactobacillus helps a lot with allergies. This kefir sounds so easy to make I'm going to try it. Maybe I missed this in your post - where do I get kefir grains? And when it's done could I add a bit of honey and vanilla at that time? thanks a bunch! 
  14. I tried the store bought version. I havent decided if I like it, but I heard its good for good teeth.
  15. Nicole Brady says
    I absolutely admire your determination to not only be healthy but do it on your own terms. I test out new products and recipes but I'm not quite as adventurous as you. The only time I tried Kefir, it was a packaged product from the store and not fantastic. I'm guessing the sample I tried just wasn't a good representation of the product. 
    • Ellen Christian says
      Thanks so much, Nicole. I just keep taking little steps. If you want to try a good (in my opinion) tasting kefir before you try your own, the Lifeway Strawberry Kefir is quite good.
  16. Nancy @ Whispered Inspirations says
    I have seen Kefir at Whole Foods, I didn't know what it was. :) I'm an almond milk gal. :) I'll have to try this. Thanks for explaining.
    • Ellen Christian says
      I really enjoy it, Nancy. We occasionally have almond  milk for my daughter who is lactose intolerant but it won't work with kefir as far as I know.
  17. Mama to 5 BLessings says
    that is great that you make this yourself, we do not use milk, we use almond milk instead. 
    • Ellen Christian says
      My daughter enjoys almond milk at times. We generally do raw cow's milk from a local/organic farm.
  18. Seriously, you are amazing!  I haven't even hears of Kefir.
  19. Ashley - Embracing Grace says
    I have never heard of kefir. You are impressive!
  20. Sarah @ Must Have Mom says
    I can't believe you make your own yogurt and kefir too! Go you!
  21. It's great that you found a way to make something you like on your own terms, and I'm guessing a lot more reasonably priced.
  22. CrazyMom a/k/a Melanie says
    This is AWESOME.. Thanks Ellen, I missed Kefir, in Germany we had this all the time and I was able to buy it ready at the store..wonderful productand soo healthy, thanks for sharing, soo will try this
  23. I drink alot of kefir but have never tried making it myself. Looks interesting!
  24. Joanna Sormunen says
    Never tried Kefir myself but it sounds very interesting and I'm sure it would be very good for me.
  25. Kristin Wheeler (@MamaLuvsBooks) says
    Wow! What an education. Never heard of this before. Thanks for sharing. 

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