For those who wish to reduce or avoid dairy, or who would like a tasty change from dairy milk kefir, coconut milk kefir is a great alternative.
There are three options for making coconut milk kefir. The first two contain minimal dairy. The third option is completely dairy-free.
Option 1: Use Milk Kefir Grains
- Milk Kefir Grains
- Coconut milk: Homemade or canned. Avoid brands with additives and sweeteners, as they can be hard on the kefir grains. Guar gum, which is a typical additive, does not seem to be problematic.
- To make coconut milk kefir, place the milk kefir grains in coconut milk.
- Stir with a non-metal spoon.
- Cover with coffee filter or cloth, secured by a rubber band.
- Culture at room temperature, 68°-85°F
- After 12 hours, begin checking the coconut milk kefir every few hours, up to a maximum of 24 hours. Remove the milk kefir grains once the coconut kefir reaches the desired consistency.
Sometimes kefir grains will require an adjustment period, so the first batch of coconut milk kefir may not culture as desired. Use the coconut milk from this batch for cooking and place the milk kefir grains in fresh coconut milk. An adjustment period isn't uncommon whenever kefir grains are switched from one type of milk to another (cow to goat, pasteurized to raw, dairy to coconut, etc.).
Milk kefir grains can be cultured in coconut milk regularly but should be revitalized in dairy milk for 24 hours once every few batches.
Note that dehydrated milk kefir grains should be rehydrated and fully activated in dairy milk before being used to culture coconut milk.
Option 2: Use Kefir Starter Culture
This option is not completely dairy-free, but contains very little dairy and is much simpler than using milk kefir grains. Use a Kefir Starter Culture in coconut milk. Simply follow the included instructions.
Option 3: Use Finished Water Kefir
This option is completely dairy-free.
- Add ¼ cup water kefir (finished kefir, not the water kefir grains) to 2-4 cups coconut milk.
- Cover loosely and culture for 24 hours.