Choosing Milk for Making Kefir


Animal milk vs. Alternative Varieties of Milk

Animal Milk. The ideal environment for Kefir Grains is animal milk. Varieties include cow, goat, sheep, and other similar species. Kefir Grains thrive in animal milk due to the chemical makeup of the liquid. The lactose in animal milk provides the most efficient food source for the Kefir Grains and therefore the most efficient and effective culturing process.

Alternative Milks. While animal-based milks are the healthiest for the Kefir Grains, alternative types of “milk” (coconut, soy, rice, nut, etc.) can also be used under certain conditions. Generally speaking, Coconut Milk, Soy Milk, and Rice Milk can be cultured using Kefir Grains as long as a revitalization period is observed (see below). While some people report success culturing Kefir Grains in seed and nut milks (e.g. hemp milk, almond milk, etc.), these varieties tend to yield more inconsistent results.

Revitalization Period. When using a non-animal variety of milk, it is important to occasionally allow the Kefir Grains to revitalize in animal milk for 24 hours. We recommend allowing the Kefir Grains a revitalization period at least once every few weeks and ideally more often. To revitalize the Kefir Grains, simply place the Kefir Grains in 1-2 cups of animal milk for 24 hours. Once the process is complete, the Kefir Grains can be returned to use with an alternative variety of milk.

Fat Content

Milk with any fat content ranging from fat-free to whole milk may be used with Kefir Grains. While Kefir made with reduced fat or fat-free varieties of milk will have a thinner consistency, the fat content itself does not influence the effectiveness of the Kefir Grains or the culturing process.


Homogenization is a commercial treatment that prevents the cream from separating from the milk. Both homogenized and non-homogenized varieties of milk can be used with Kefir Grains. The only difference will be that Kefir made with non-homogenized milk will develop a layer or kefired cream on top of the kefired milk. The layer of cream is often a yellow color in contrast to the white milk.


Pasteurized vs. Raw

Pasteurized Milk. Pasteurized milk is most commonly used for making Kefir. We strongly recommend avoiding Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) or Ultra-Pasteurized (UP) milk. These sterilization processes actually cooks the milk rendering it far less effective for culturing. Therefore using UHT/UP milk with Kefir Grains will typically yield inconsistent culturing results.

Raw Milk. Raw milk generally works well with Kefir Grains. We do recommend using fresh milk whenever possible. Raw milk comes with its own set of beneficial bacteria, and if your milk is a few days old or wasn't chilled down quickly enough before you bought it, that bacterial count can be high. This means that the bacteria in the milk may provide some competition for the Kefir Grains making it more difficult to culture the milk properly.

Grocery Store Milk Selection

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