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Flavoring Milk Kefir and Second Fermentation

What Is a Second Fermentation?

The first fermentation takes place when milk kefir grains are added to milk and cultured for around 24 hours. Once the grains are separated and transferred to fresh milk, the resulting liquid is milk kefir.

Since the grains have been removed, the milk kefir can be further cultured and flavored, according to taste preference. This culturing period is the second fermentation.



What Are the Benefits of a Second Fermentation?

A second fermentation can be performed for the additional bacterial content, reduced lactose content, or simply for the improvement in flavor.

Fermenting the kefir a second time, no matter the additions, mellows the kefir and takes away some of the sharp acidic flavor milk kefir is known for. Not only that, but with the addition of other flavorings, it can be a spicey, sweet, or savory fermented drink.

What Flavor Additions Can I Make in the Second Fermentation?

The sky is the limit! Because the kefir grains are removed before the second fermentation there is no risk of a contaminating or harming your kefir grains in any way.

Here are some flavoring ideas:

  • Citrus fruit peels
  • Vanilla + cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder
  • Garlic or onion (for use in savory kefir dip)
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Chopped fruit


Milk Kefir Flavoring Tips:

  • Use flavor additions that can be easily removed from the kefir when the second fermentation period is complete. Ground spices or cocoa powder do not need to be removed.
  • When choosing fruit or other additives containing sugar, they may make the kefir more carbonated. If you prefer not to have effervescent kefir, wait until after the kefir has been fermented a second time before add any sweeteners.

Have fun and experiment and enjoy an easier and tastier kefir-drinking experience.

Lemon and lime slice with glass of milk kefir

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