How to Make Kefir with a Direct-set Starter Culture
Direct-set style powdered kefir starter culture is a great option for people interested in making their own kefir but who do not want to maintain a set of milk kefir grains. Click here for more information on making kefir with milk kefir grains. Click here for information on the differences between direct-set kefir cultures and milk kefir grains.
Milk considerations. Pasteurized milk is most commonly used with this culture. Non-homogenized milk can be used if desired. Ultra-high temperature (UHT) and ultra-pasteurized (UP) milk are less likely to culture effectively. Fresh raw milk will typically culture effectively for the initial batch but is difficult to reculture due to bacteria content.
A note about hygiene. When working with kefir, it is important not to introduce competing bacteria to the process. Be sure to wash and rinse your hands well prior to working with the milk. Also be sure to thoroughly clean and rinse the container and all utensils that will come in contact with the milk or the starter culture. Beware soap and food residue the dishwasher may have missed. When in doubt, give everything an extra rinse. The culturing container can be cleaned with regular soap and hot water (rinse very well) or with vinegar. Never use bleach on any item that will come in contact with the milk or starter culture.
How to Make Kefir
Choose a safe spot. An ideal culturing spot should be relatively warm but not excessively so. Temperatures between 72° and 80°F are ideal. The best fermenting spot for kefir is out of direct sunlight. Indirect light or darkness is neither favorable nor problematic. Be sure the kefir is not fermenting near any other cultured foods such as kombucha, yogurt, sourdough, sauerkraut, etc. Do not culture your kefir near a garbage can. Cross contamination of stray yeasts and bacteria can be problematic for the kefir and any other fermented foods you are working with.
Signs the Kefir is Done Culturing
Cow or Goat Milk. The culturing process is complete when the milk thickens to the consistency of commercial cultured buttermilk. It will be a pourable liquid and not an “eat with a spoon” level of thickness. The milk will also take on a distinctive sour fragrance.
Coconut Milk. The coconut milk takes on a distinctive sour, less sweet fragrance. Cultured coconut milk does not thicken reliably like dairy milk.
Coconut Water or Juice. The coconut water or fruit juice becomes cloudy and less sweet.
Reculturing the Kefir
Kefir made with a direct-set style starter culture can often be recultured anywhere from 2 to 7 times. The exact number of successive reculturings will depend on the freshness of the kefir and hygienic practices employed. We recommend reculturing kefir within 7 days of making each batch. Longer periods between batches will decrease the likelihood the new batch will culture successfully. Please note: reculturing is less likely to be effective if raw milk is used due to the bacteria content of the raw milk. If you prefer to use raw milk, we would strongly recommend using milk kefir grains to make your kefir.
|Milk Kefir Grains|
|Milk Kefir Starter Culture|