I’ve been on a huge probiotic kick for the last several months for two reasons. First of all, fermenting stuff is super fun. You toss some food at a blob-like culture, let it sit for a bit on your shelf, and wake up to something delicious in the morning. Plus you get to have fun explaining what all the weird stuff is in your kitchen to house guests! The second reason is that at the end of all that fun, you’re getting a super nourishing, enzyme/mineral/vitamin rich result that outperforms most of the probiotics supplements you’ll find on the market right now. I attribute a large part of why I’ve had so many health improvements over the past couple months to the fact that I get plenty of probiotic rich foods in my diet (along with liver!).
As I talked about in my homemade whole milk kefir post, I didn’t jump into cow/goat milk kefir right away. When I first transitioned to paleo, I added probiotics to my diet by making and/or buying raw sauerkraut (I got so excited about the benefits that I was practically drowning in the stuff…I think Mr. Dig minded). After seeing improvements in my gut health after several months, I decided to give coconut milk kefir a whirl and really liked the effects as well. Later, I tried whole goat milk kefir and figured out that I was digesting it just fine. Finally, I tried whole cow milk kefir and felt only great things happening in my gut.
What I didn’t love in this whole process was the hefty price tag. Thankfully, M. Dig got some milk grains from one of her friends about half way through my experimenting and was able to share some with me. Since that time, I’ve recreated the goat/cow milk kefir and coconut milk kefir at home…all of these variations end up being totally pure and very economical! The best part, in my opinion, is that you can entirely tailor the ingredients you use to your body’s tolerances without really any hassle or money wasting at all.
- milk grains (either get from a nice friend or buy at the store and rehydrate following the packaging instructions
- 1/2-1 cup homemade full fat coconut milk (or buy from the store…if you can, try to get a BPA free can with no additives in the coconut milk)
- jar with lid
To convert milk grains into fermenting coconut milk takes at least 2 rounds of brewing before you get drinkable kefir. The grains just have to get used to utilizing a different food source, just like what happens in humans. Repeat the steps below several times, smelling the kefir each time, until it tastes fermented to your liking. Letting it ferment several times without drinking the kefir also helps remove any residual dairy contamination if you’re severely intolerant to dairy.
I’ve read that you occasionally have to ferment the milk grains in whole milk again to spruce them up but I have not yet had to do that…mine look pretty good. If you do that, you’re essentially starting from scratch so you may have several cycles of non-drinkable coconut kefir as your grains get used to coconut milk again.
1. Place your hydrated milk grains in a cup.
2. Rinse well with lukewarm water from the faucet. I use a cup instead of a sieve because I find it’s easier not to break up the milk grains or lose them down the drain. I basically just fill up the cup with the water, hold the milk grains back with my fingers or a fork, and dump out the water. Then I repeat until the water runs clear and the milk grains look like this:
3. Move your milk grains to your jar and cover with 1/2-1 cup of full fat coconut milk. The amount varies depending on the size of your milk grains (smaller milk grains, less coconut milk).
4. Place lid lightly on the jar without screwing the lid on so that the milk grains can “breathe”.
5. Let sit on a shelf for 24-48 hours. It’s natural to see your coconut milk separate a bit if you’ve made it from scratch so give it a swirl to remix once in a while. You are less likely to have the problem if you have store bought coconut milk with guar gum and the like.
6. Fish out the milk grains into a cup just like in step 1 and start the cycle over. Drink (or if it’s the first few batches, discard) the kefir that you made, rinse the jar out well, and start the whole cycle again.
You can either drink your kefir plain or sweetened with a dollop of sweeter of choice (I prefer local raw honey).
Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever made coconut milk kefir and what your experiences was like!