How to Use Kefir as Sourdough


Kefir and sourdough have a lot in common. Both are cultured foods. Both improve the nutritional value of whatever they are culturing (milk, flour, sweet water). Both contain yeast, bacteria, and acids.

So why not use kefir in the same manner as a sourdough starter: to leaven and ferment your bread?

Make a Kefir Sourdough Starter

Because kefir has many of the components of sourdough, you can make a type of sourdough starter directly from kefir! The cultures in the starter will be the same as in the kefir so you will know you are getting a wonderful fermented food.

To make a kefir sourdough starter:

  1. Combine 1 cup each flour and milk kefir in a quart jar.
  2. Stir well to combine.
  3. Place a breathable lid such as a towel or coffee filter over the jar and secure it tightly.
  4. Allow to culture 2 to 3 days at room temperature or until it is bubbling and active.
  5. Use in your favorite sourdough recipes.

Use Milk Kefir Directly as the “Sourdough Starter”

Milk kefir can be a direct stand-in for a sourdough starter whether you don’t have a sourdough starter going, or you don’t have the time to create the kefir sourdough starter above.

Simply replace the liquid in your favorite sourdough bread recipe with kefir. For the flour, use the amount of flour in the recipe plus the amount of starter given. So if your recipe calls for 2 cups of starter, 3 cups of flour, and 1 cup of water, use 5 cups of flour and 1 cup of kefir. You may need to adjust the amount of kefir to get the right consistency to the dough.

Mix and knead as usual. Allow to ferment in an oiled bowl for about 24 hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down and place in a buttered loaf pan. Allow to rise until it reaches the top of the pan, then bake as usual.

Benefits of Using Kefir as Leavening

Keeping it simple. If you are already making milk kefir on a daily basis then you’ve got leavening on hand. Furthermore, if you can use something you’re already making as a sourdough starter then you don’t have to create and maintain a separate sourdough culture.

Better keeping qualities. Because of the acids and bacteria naturally present in kefir, many find that kefir-leavened breads, much like sourdough, tend to keep longer than their commercial yeast-based counterparts.

Starting with a Reliable Culture. If you have ever tried to create a sourdough starter by catching wild yeasts then you know that it can be hit or miss. Some wild yeasts produce great bread, others not so much. Starting with kefir can give you the peace of mind that only truly established cultures can bring.

So, definitely give kefir-leavened bread a try. You can create truly great bread with three simple ingredients: flour, salt, and kefir.


Sourdough Bread made with Kefir

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