Strawberry Banana Kefir Smoothie ~ How to make milk Kefir
If you love the convenience of smoothies, you’re gonna love the added health boost kefir gives your beloved drink.
Why add kefir to your diet?
To improve overall health by balancing the bacteria in your gut. You have 3 pounds of bacteria in your gut. Good bacteria helps you utilize all the nutrients in your food. Good bacteria also has influence on your immune system, hormones, metabolism and mood. Bad bacteria in your gut, when left unchecked, causes cravings, mood swings and a compromised immune system.
Kefir is loaded with health boosting good bacteria and is the perfect treat to get you on your way to a more balanced gut.
What the heck is milk kefir?
Similar to kombucha, milk kefir is a probiotic drink that is fermented with a symbiotic culture of healthy bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Rather than being made with tea and sugar, like the kombucha, milk kefir is made with milk. It can be made with cows milk, goat milk, coconut milk, etc. The kefir SCOBY is referred to as “grains” because it looks like swollen rice grains or some say it looks like cauliflower.
The fermented drink has a taste and texture similar to drinkable yogurt. The possibilities of flavor variations of kefir are endless because you can add any fruit, veggie, herbs or spices to it. Kefir can be made into dips, cheeses, frozen desserts and added to just about any recipe.
For now, we’ll just go over the basic process of making kefir and make a beautiful fruit smoothie.
Before you can begin making kefir, you’ll need a SCOBY/kefir grains. I purchased mine from Cultures for Health through Amazon. You can also obtain the grains from other sources online or ask someone you know to share some of theirs. There’s also a Facebook group that you can ask someone to send you some grains and simply pay for the shipping.
If you purchase your grains from Cultures for Health, they will come in a dehydrated state in powdered milk and you will need to activate them. Their website provides fantastic instructional videos as well as recipes and advice. The cost is about 18$ and it seems like a lot to pay when you open the package and see three tiny grains.
However, once your grains are activated, you will be impressed with how powerful they are. After about a week or so (depending on the climate in your home) of activation, your grains will produce some of the thickest, most delicious kefir you’ve ever had.
Note: I am an Amazon affiliate and if you purchase the grains through the highlighted link above, I do get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. However, I am not affiliated with Cultures for Health and do not receive compensation from them for this post or for promoting their products. I simply believe they are a reputable company that stands by their products and offers their customers optimal support.
To activate your grains: You will need milk that has NOT been ultra pasteurized and is preferably organic from grass fed animals. Though the kefir can be made with plant based milks, it is recommended that you activate your grains with animal derived milk first. If you do want to make kefir with plant based milks after your grains are activated, you will need to maintain them by feeding them animal based milk periodically.
Step 1: Simply place your grains in a glass container, like a mason jar. Add one cup of milk and stir with a non-metallic utensil. Kefir grains can be damaged by metal, so don’t use it to handle the grains. Cover the jar with a cloth or coffee filter to allow the mixture to breathe and affix with a rubber band. Set in a warm place where the jar will not be disturbed for 24 hours.
Step 2: After 24 hours, strain the milk through a non-metallic strainer or cloth. Place the grains back in the jar and repeat step 1. You will repeat step one and two each day until your kefir is fully activated, which will take anywhere from 5 to 14 days.
You can use the milk you’ve poured off of the grains as you normally would use any milk. I just placed mine in the refrigerator for later use. The poured off milk will taste fine. It will just have less lactose in it because that is what the kefir grains consume to produce the kefir.
Note: Your milk can be cold, right out of the refrigerator when you pour it over the grains. No need to warm it beforehand.
Each day, you will notice that the milk you pour off will become thicker. Your kefir grains are fully activated when the thickness of the milk is similar to yogurt. It will seem foamy or frothy similar to risen bread dough.
Straining the milk through a non-metallic strainer will become a little more difficult once your kefir grains are fully activated and the milk has turned to kefir. Use a non-metallic utensil to stir and push the kefir through the strainer.
I found that if you put a lid tightly on the finished kefir and shake the jar vigorously, it helps thin the kefir and makes it easier to strain. Also, when you shake the kefir with the grains in it like this, it makes your grains ferment the milk faster.
When your grains are fully activated and working to make a cup of kefir every 24 hours, you can begin adding more milk to the grains for fermenting if you like. By the end of the second week with my grains, I was making one quart of kefir every 24 hours. By the end of the third week, my quart of kefir was ready after only 12 hours. I was wanting to make three pints of kefir per day but it’s not necessary to make so much. You decide the quantity you want.
Step 3: Once you have a jar of fully fermented kefir, you can then strain it and give it a second ferment. This is the method we prefer for flavor and health benefits. Adding fruit to the finished kefir and allowing it to sit on your counter, sealed with a lid, will increase healthy probiotics as well as add enzymes and vitamins. This is how we make the smoothies.
Step 4: After the second ferment is finished (24 hours) place the jar in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours.
Step 5: Blend the fruit and kefir in a blender or with a hand held blender. Enjoy!
Because I was making so much kefir by week three, we had more than we needed for smoothies. I’ll be making cheese and ranch dressing with the excess. Rather than doing the second ferment with fruit in the jar, I simply allowed the finished kefir to sit on the counter for a few hours with a lid tightened and then placed it in the refrigerator.
Notice, the solids will separate from the liquid whey after some time (a day or so). This is a good thing for making cheese and other recipes because you will strain the whey off. Be sure to save the whey for other recipes like bread, pizza crust or for fermenting veggies.
Right now, we’re really enjoying these smoothies for breakfast every day. We’ve noticed a great improvement in our digestive health since incorporating kefir into our diets. I can’t wait to come up with more recipes using kefir and you can bet your booty I’ll share them right here.
In the meantime, I’m sure I will take a break every now and then from making the kefir. When I do, I’ll simply put my grains in a jar with fresh milk and place it directly in the refrigerator with a tight lid. This will slow down the action of the grains but keep them viable for making kefir when I want to start again. You just have to change out the milk for the kefir grains once a week so they don’t starve and die. I have read that you can dehydrate them or freeze them for extended periods of rest.
Making kefir is a new thing for me and I’m loving it. I’m sure there are a lot more things I need to learn about it. So far it has been an easy and rewarding experience. I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy the tremendous health benefits. Let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you!
Have a fantastic day and as always, keep it delicious!
Till next time ~ much love, Connie
- 1 tsp hydrated kefir grains
- 1 C milk (not ultra pasteurized)
- 1/4 C strawberries
- 1/2 banana
- Place the grains and the milk in a glass jar.
- Cover with a cloth or coffee filter and affix with a rubber band.
- Allow the mixture to sit in a warm place for 24 hours.
- Strain the mixture through a non-metallic strainer.
- Set the grains aside for making another batch.
- Place the strained milk (kefir) in a glass jar with the strawberries.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to sit in a warm place for 24 hours.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours.
- Add the banana and blend in a blender or with a hand blender.
Recipe by: Connie Murray@Happybellyfoodie.com