Sharing a Reader's Milk Kefir Success! - The Fermented Foody

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Sharing a Reader’s Milk Kefir Success!

On 10th October, I received this message from my friend, Nutritionist Nicki Williams:

“I’m after some advice! I want to make kefir again but my grains died and my kefir tasted horrible! I love the Russian kefir I buy – thick and creamy. Can you help me? xxxx”

And so my kefir series began. Although I didn’t realise it at the time!

Nicki has been so helpful to me recently on matters of health and the best way to return her generosity was to launch into a volley of advice. Ohhhhh, that was a long mail. Haha.

My brother once told me he used to look to cut a vein when my emails arrive. He has since limited me to BRIEF FB Messenger notes. (I do try to be brief. It just doesn’t always work. 😉

Anyway, this was Nicki’s lovely reply. (I hope you don’t mind me sharing – just that I didn’t realise I knew this much about kefir until Nicki kindly pointed it out!)

“Wow Sarah. You’ve got a book there! Thank you so much – your knowledge is amazing. And you’ve been there, done that, so it’s real. Now inspired to start trying again. Can you advise on a starter kit? xxxx.”

(We are girls who send kisses, yes.)

And so we headed off our separate ways. Nicki to ‘do her thung’ with kefir and me to crack on with my 30 day blog challenge.

If I inspired Nicki to make kefir, she inspired me to start my kefir series, which I will continue with, after a brief look tomorrow at something fascinating to do with bacteria. (Mmm hmm, we’re getting down the nitty gritty – with video footage’n’all. Don’t say I don’t spoil you. 😉


Wednesday this week, Nicki pops up on one of my FB threads and whaddyou know? She posts this rather luscious photo:


The message accompanying it was joy to my watery eyes: Well it was an emotional moment for me, because it’s the first time someone has told me that I’ve inspired them to actually go and MAKE kefir and then they’ve gawn and done it!  That’s what this blog is all about.  My dream is to encourage you to read, learn and do:

“Kefir made Sarah Jackson!! With starter pack and raw milk – tiny bit lumpy but tastes amazing!
Very pleased with myself xxx”

(The lumps? They’re the bacteria doing their work – you can eat them, let them melt in your mouth – they’re only soft … or you can blend them and they disappear!)

A further message from her on email was as follows:

“I have made my first kefir after reading your blogs. We drink raw milk which I buy from a farm in Herefordshire, which is already full of enzymes and probiotics, so I really wanted to make some kefir with that – and make it even more nutritious.

I bought some starter packs and just mixed one packet with 1L of the raw milk in a glass Kilner jar.

I put it in the airing cupboard and left it for 2 days (I actually forgot it was in there!)

(Note to you reader, from me, Sarah: Remember I’ve mentioned in this series how hardy kefir grains are?!)

I wondered if it would be OK – it was thick like yoghurt.  Tastes really good.”

Now I have to say that I’ve never seen mustard yellow kefir. I’m now so curious I’m going to order some from my local health shop and see if my husband likes it. (Or maybe I just want to make yellow kefir, for the sheer magnificence of it. 😉

Anyway, congratulations Nicki. You are my first convert and I applaud you! May and your kefir have many happy years together. Your relationship has only just begun. 😉

So are you going to go make some kefir now?

Please post in the comment box below if you’re still nervous, have a question, or have some kefir to boast about!

Haven’t signed up yet? Here’s the link:

Toodle-oo till tomorrow.

KISSES - CBemail-signature1




About the Author Sarah Jackson

I love to experiment with food, write poetry, read, walk in nature, take iphone photographs, sing, cycle, watch good movies, documentaries, dramas and comedy.

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Marion Archibald says

Dear fermented food guru 😉

I tried my first batch of coconut milk kefir but I either did something wrong, or I don’t know what I’m expecting to get; I think it’s the latter tbh! I used a starter pack of powder and one litre of Alpro Original CM as per the instructions. I left in covered for 24 hours and although it still seemed really thin, I put it in the fridge overnight. This morning it was still really thin. I thought I’d done something wrong so I started to pour it away only to realise it was thicker at the bottom – now I need to start again!

So here are my questions:

1. Is it ok to use that kind of milk? (I see you used a tin of coconut milk, but I also want to try rice and almond milks which I buy in cartons too).

2. I left it in the kitchen, but my flat isn’t that warm – victorian and draughty! Should I have left it longer to make up for the lack of heat? Could I have used my yogurt maker?

3. I’m expecting something that’s the consistency of yoghurt – is that right? I’m looking for something which means I can ditch the sheep and goat yoghurt I take, and I’m allergic to cow’s milk.

Looking forward to trying again once I hear from you!

Thanks Sarah,

Marion x

    Sarah Jackson says

    Hi Marion,

    Okay, to tackle your questions:

    1. You can kefir any dairy or non dairy milk. So coconut, nut and seed milks are all great. I make my own milks from scratch. It’s so quick and much cheaper than buying. If you buy nuts’n’seeds’n’coconut snow/flakes/chips you can just water and blend in seconds. Strain through a muslin bag and you’re done!

    2. It’s said that the idea temp is 68-72/75 degrees Farenheit for fermenting. You will know when it’s fermented by tasting. The taste will be slightly tart and the milk thicker than when it started. Plus there will be a slightly bubbly sensation on the tongue. Always taste ferments if you’re not sure. They talk to you! 😉 .. There’s no need for a yoghurt maker and I wouldn’t recommend it. I think it may get too hot and be too intense.

    Place near a radiator, in an airing cupboard, above a fridge, near your boiler. Any warm place you can find. Hmmmm. Nowhere warm? One way of making yoghurt is to fill a cool bag with water at a specific temperature, put your yoghurt in, in a pot and zip/close the lid. I guess – if you really can’t raise your flat to 72 degrees you could try that for kefir? Not sure if it would work, but worth a try? Just a thought.

    At the temps I’ve mentioned, it shouldn’t take longer than a couple of days to ferment.

    If it’s gone too sour, the milk will start to separate, so that’s another key indicator. You can still use it. Just blend the milk (or remove grains first, if you’re using those instead of powder).

    3. It’s said that yoghurt gets thinner in summer, thicker in winter. I’ve found the opposite! I think there are no rules! Using a full fat milk will result in a thicker kefir than a thinner milk though. One thing to bear in mind. I don’t know the brand you’re using.

    When we ferment food and drink, we are merely their keepers. They’re in charge and they’ll do pretty much what they fancy, which is half the fun of it. You will never have milk that resembles the same consistency throughout the year, so expect a surprise and enjoy the ‘not knowing!’ .. I always stir my milk before using. It settles in the fridge. If you read through the kefir series you’ll also learn how to trouble shoot some other problems like grains sticking together, cream forming on the top of the milk etc.

    I hope this helps Marion. I’ll be putting together a bunch of recipes soon. I found a very quick way to make a delicious, creamy cashew nut yoghurt. Am still experimenting with other nuts. Look out for it! 🙂

    Haha. Fermented Guru. Now that’s a title I haven’t heard of before … 😉

      MJ Archibald says

      Dear Fermented Guru, am very excited, I think it’s worked!!

      I left it for a while as although the sun is out here, the heat hasn’t been. I went to look at it this morning and it was clear on top but seemed thicker underneath but when I went to strain it, it just all went back to being milky. But, I’ve watched some videos since and I think I was looking for something the consistency of yoghurt and I see that it’s not (it can be, but not always). Anyways, by the time I looked at the videos and spent some time in the garden (it’s finally getting warmer), the kitchen had warmed up and when I looked, it had bubbles!! Kefir!! 🙂

      However, I have an urgent question – have strained it and there are grainy bits left in the cloth. Are these Kefir grains, and should I be keeping them? I used a starter pack from the whole foods shop which was a powder. In one video I saw, she just put the grains into another jar and started another kefir milk going – is that what I should do? I bought some fresh Almond and Coconut milks to keep trying but I don’t know if I should just use another satchet of the powder. Also, should I buy grains? And if so, can you recommend or should I just pick an organic one I see online and go for it?

      Sorry for all the questions, but it’s part of my bigger plan!


        Sarah Jackson says

        Hi Marion

        Okay, firstly I’d like to guide you back to this blog post to clarify the difference between coconut kefir and dairy kefir.

        Kefir isn’t the consistency of yoghurt. It’s thicker than milk but it’s still a milk.

        It can get thicker at certain times of years. That’s in the hands of the bacteria and nature!

        You don’t need to strain coconut kefir. Whatever bits are left in the cloth are probably just bits from the coconut milk. Grains will only exist where you started with grains in the first place. You used a powder. And made non dairy milk. All you need to do is stir the coconut or almond kefir milk and put it in the fridge in a jar. You won’t notice the ‘bits!’

        You only need to buy kefir grains if you would like to make dairy milk. They last forever so they’re very cost effective. In that instance you strain the grains out and use them to make the next batch. Ad infinitum.

        Culture powder starters are used to start non dairy milks. I keep back 6 tablespoons of coconut kefir to make the next batch. You don’t need a new starter each time. Your packet should give you instructions, but this should work anyway. After however many batches, the milk will stop fermenting. You know then that you need a new packet of powder for the next batch.

        If you use kefir grains, there’s no real point in using them for non dairy milk as they need refreshing in dairy milk every few days. They feed and live off the lactose in milk and non dairy milks don’t have lactose. Of course, you can use them and keep refreshing them but they will need careful attention and if you’re making non dairy milk for anyone with dairy intolerances/allergies/food exclusions, you’re better off using the powders.

        They one plus, if you have no allergies, in using the grains for all milks (if you have the time to faff with refreshing them all the time) is that you will only have to buy them once. Powders you will need to keep buying. They do make a LOT of milk before they lose their strength though.

        Here’s the link:

        If you look under Kefir on my blog in categories – in the right hand panel – start at the first page with the post WHAT IS KEFIR and read through all the kefir posts. There are several. It will answer all your questions I reckon.

        Hope this helps! And well done for trying and persevering. Proud of you!! x

      MJ Archibald says

      Me again, the kefir novice! Just finished draining it and there aren’t really grains so am going to buy some ‘proper’ ones – can you recommend anywhere in particular?
      Can’t wait to buy some proper jars and things now!! 🙂 x

        Sarah Jackson says

        Will PM you. I don’t recommend publicly at the moment as some suppliers are very small and don’t have the capacity to provide to large numbers.

        Get clear glass clamp down jars. Cheap as chips, easy to use, solid and .. you can see what’s happening!

Irene Brankin says

Love it, Sarah, and I’m getting organised next week for the recipes I’ve taken down. I just have to buy the ingredients and then it’s all systems go!! Look forward to more. Irene x

    Sarah Jackson says

    How exciting Irene! Thank you.

    It’s the first time I’ve ever shared my own recipes. Can’t wait to hear your feed-back. (I think. Haha) .. I hope you love them and I hope they start to build your immune system for the winter!

    Try to take some kefir daily. And a bit of fermented veg. There’s a recipe for that on my blog, but I’ll publish a simpler one of my own soon. x

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