According to calendars it’s springtime now. I’m beyond excited about those warmer temperatures and can’t wait to experience them more frequently. Days are getting longer and nature is living up again.
A lot of people around me are aware of my new pet. Pet. It’s a … kefir – you heard me right. I own it since the beginning of November last year and as I’m going to raise any future child of mine vegan, the kefir is being fed vegan too. And, yes, it works perfectly fine.
Kefir has its origins in Eastern Europe. The name is used both for the starter as well as the finished product. The word is written Кефи́р in Russian, but it is also related to the Turkish köpürmek what means „to foam“ in English. Foaming is what the kefir actually does: The starter is being put into milk and starts to produce gas and foam. It is fermenting and this is what we want it to do to achieve the desired outcome. After a period of 8 to 48 hours the milk transformed into the beverage that we are aiming for.
The starter itself looks like little chunks of cauliflower to me: It’s white and a bit grainy, however, the texture is airy and fluffy.
During the fermentation process sugars from the milk are broken down into acids. Since I don’t use any cow’s milk (for obvious reasons) I can’t tell you about the chemical reactions going on during the 8 to 48 hours, however, soy milk too can create the disticnt sour-ish flavour that anyone who knows kefir from pre-vegan days will remember.
I can’t tell you for sure about soy milk (or rice milk or any nut milk) kefir’s health benefits as all data available is relating to cow milk’s kefir. However, I’m sure it is pretty good for you and your health. I myself recognized improved digestion and overall well-being whilst including kefir into my daily diet.
In the following lines, I will tell (and show) you more about how I treat my baby, what I do for getting the results I want and what equipment I use for the preparation process:
First of all you will need a jar or glass with a lid. I always use this preserving jar pictured, however, a mason jar or an empty marmalade glass will work perfectly fine as well. Further you will need a strainer made of plastic (DON’T EVER GO FOR ALUMINIUM! THIS IS NOT A REQUEST!!) and also a plastic / wooden / glass spoon. It is essential that the kefir has no contact with any aluminium or metal, otherwise it will turn grey-ish and die eventually.
As I said, I’m usually making soy kefir. You can adjust the amount of milk you are using to the size of your starter. For an amount of 200 ml of milk (equals 0.85 cups) I use about a tablespoon of kefir grains.
Just put the starter into the glass and add the soy milk. You need to make sure that there is at least some sugar in the milk already. The brand I use contains about 4 grams of sugar each 100 ml and it works just fine. If you only have access to low sugar types of vegan milk I highly recommend adding at least some extra sugar to the milk because that’s what the kefir is living off.
I then put the lid on the jar or glass and let it sit for the amount of time I mentioned above. The longer you will let it sit, the more sour the result will be.
After it is finished, I strain the whole amount of liquid to get out the single kefir grains. You can use any container to catch the finished produce. Then, I rinse the grains with lukewarm water and start the procedure anew.
If – for whatever reason – you don’t feel like making kefir, you can just put your starter grains into the fridge with some milk (think of the sugar!). The fridge’s coolness will slow down the fermenting process. This works fine for a couple of days. After 4 days, I do recommend changing the liquid the kefir is bathing in.
As my title indicates, you can make kefir from rice or nut milk as well. Also, coconut milk with added sugar will work.
Back in November I got the kefir starter by a friend. Unfortunately, I have no clue where to buy it. I have seen it on food sharing platforms and private websites. I doubt that you can just go into a store and request kefir grains. There are, however, some powders out there, about which I can’t give you any feedback so far. If you give them ago, please let me know about the results in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and good luck with the vegan kefir,