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What is the best milk for making dairy kefir?

The milk used to make kefir will influence its taste, texture and flavor. Some types of milk work better than others! This guide will help you choose the best milk to make your milk kefir from grains or powdered kefir culture.

All animal milks are very suitable for milk kefir. Often, high fat milks give better results, while raw, lactose-free and plant-based milks are more complex to ferment. Read on to learn all about the peculiarities of the different milks!

 

Animal milk (cow, goat, etc.)

The best way to make kefir is to use animal milk. Any milk is suitable, whether it’s cow's milk, goat's milk, or sheep's milk. Animal milk contains all the nutrients for your grains, or your powdered culture, to be able to turn milk into kefir.

Each type of milk gives a different kefir

Not all animal milks are the same. Cow's milk gives a tangy and smooth kefir. Goat's milk, on the other hand, gives kefir its distinct taste and produces a more liquid kefir.

The richer the milk, the creamier the kefir

Naturally, the more fat there is in yourmilk, the creamier and thicker your kefir will be. Fancy a triple cream kefir? Replace a cup of milk with a cup of 15% or 35% cream. Rich and smooth kefir guaranteed!

Milk in (almost) all its forms can be fermented

Whether the milk is homogenized, powdered or even condensed, it can be used to make kefir. The texture and taste will vary, but the grains will be able to extract the nutrients needed to make delicious kefir.

Note: Don't know which strain of culture to use? Check out this article to choose between grains and powdered kefir culture.

 

Raw milk

Can you make kefir with raw milk? Perfectly, if your kefir grains are very active and robust. Raw milk contains its own cultures of wild microorganisms, which could contaminate young kefir grains. To avoid weakening your grains, activate them in pasteurized milk, until they are active and vigorous. You can then use the raw milk for your daily kefir.

If you are using a powdered culture, it is best to avoid raw milk or boil it before the inoculation. You must give the kefir culture every chance to develop.

 

Avoid lactose-free milk

You cannot make kefir with lactose-free milk, because kefir grains need lactose to survive. If you deprive them of their food source, they will not last long!

However, it is good to know that once fermented, natural milk kefir contains very little lactose. During fermentation, lactose is consumed by the microorganisms in the kefir. This has the consequence that some lactose-intolerant people can consume small amounts without feeling discomfort.

Source: PubMed - Kefir improves lactose digestion and tolerance in adults with lactose maldigestion

 

Plant-based milk (almond, soy, coconut, etc.)

Powdered kefir cultures are generally quite effective at making kefir from plant milks. On the other hand, making vegetable kefir from kefir grains is rather complex.

How to make vegetable-based milk kefir

If you want to make vegan kefir from grains, be aware that in the long run, your grains will lack nutrients (mainly lactose). We must therefore feed the grains regularly with animal milk if we do not want to lose them.

Make vegetable kefir from powdered culture

Culturing your vegan milk with cultured powder is a better choice when it comes to making plant-based kefir. We recommend doubling the amount of culture recommended in animal milk kefir recipes. Keep in mind that plant milks rich in protein (soy) or in fat (coconut) are more likely to produce kefir with a creamy consistency.

 

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