How (and Why) to Make Your Own Kefir


| 12/24/2018 9:38:00 AM


 Pictured: me being reckless.

Pictured: me being reckless. (Photo by Wendy Chamberlin.)

Whether you want to reduce your energy footprint, opt out of the food industrial complex, handle a surplus, or just cut costs, at some point you’ll find yourself making your own food. If you’re reading this, you probably cook, or are considering it. But there are many ways to make food that are less labor-intensive and potentially nerve-wracking than cooking, one of which is fermentation—the practice of inviting bacteria into our food, letting them eat part of it, then killing them and taking it back.

To some, fermenting food at home may sound unusual, but I’m going to sell you on it: It’s easy, since your job is to ensure you have the right microorganisms and then get out of the way. It saves energy because fermented food keeps longer. It’s awesome for your body because it breaks down allergenic proteins in grains and dairy; fermenting these foods can make them easier to digest. It’s versatile: You can do it with a lot of different foods. And perhaps the simplest food to ferment is a fermented milk product, similar to yogurt, called kefir.

I love kefir. Like, you don’t understand—other girls go crazy about chocolate. Kefir is my chocolate. So, using the leftover milk we had in the fridge as an excuse, I made a bottle recently. Here’s what I did.



I upended a bottle of milk into a pot, which made me feel reckless. (I live a very small life.) Briefly, I boiled it, stirring to make sure it didn’t burn. This stage, gentle reader, would be called “sterilization” if I had a fancy commercial kitchen. I did it to kill any harmful bacteria that might have lingered on the pot or gotten in the milk.



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