As milk kefir grows in popularity and you learn more about potential health benefits, you might be interested in adding it to your diet, if only the taste weren’t so strong and sour! Did you know that you can culture milk kefir differently to produce a flavor that suits your taste buds?

By making small adjustments you can produce kefir that is mild and slightly tangy in flavor or kefir that has a strong robust flavor. It all depends on two variables: culturing time and culturing temperature.


Below are three examples showing how timing affects flavor, assuming a culturing temperature of 68º-72ºF.

12 Hours

After 12 hours of culturing, the finished kefir will be mildly tangy and thinner in consistency.

24 Hours

After 24 hours of culturing, the finished kefir will be a bit thick, similar to buttermilk or heavy cream. It will have stronger flavor. It shouldn’t be overpowering, but it will have a distinctly tangy, sometimes yeasty kefir flavor. Kefir cultured for 24 hours is wonderful in smoothies, as the stronger flavor is masked by the sweet fruits and add-ins.

48 Hours

This kefir is for the veteran kefir lover. When cultured for 48 hours, the kefir flavor will be strong and sour. It will generally begin to separate into curds and whey, which can be whisked back together, for a smoother finished product. Alternatively, drain the whey off to make kefir cheese.


In a space that is not a perfect 68-72ºF, is there a way to produce consistent results?

The answer is yes, although there will be some trial and error through the various seasons to determine how long to culture milk kefir to get results that suit your preference.

Keep in mind that when the culturing area is warmer, the culturing occurs more quickly; when the culturing area is cooler, the culturing slows down.

Learn more about maintaining temperatures year-round:

Give milk kefir a shot! You may be surprised to find that you actually really love milk kefir — mild or extra zingy!

Milk Kefir Flavoring Ideas

If you're looking for more ways to flavor milk kefir beyond changing the culturing time, try one of these milk kefir recipes. They're some of our favorites!