Right now we’re looking at triple digit temperatures for the coming weeks. Produce doesn’t last long on the counter. Water kefir and kombucha are fermenting faster than ever, I try not to ferment vegetables often in this weather, and I know I would kill milk kefir grains if I even forgot about them for a single day. But we’re drinking milk kefir happily through this heat. It is times like these – when life gets extra crazy and things are more unpredictable – that having a little stability in your cultures is really helpful. That’s why I’m grateful for the ability to make milk kefir without those milk kefir grains I know I’d kill. And golly, this has to be the simplest way to make cultured dairy. This powdered kefir culture is an excellent stand-in for the kefir grains you might not have or want to keep up with. It’s also one of the simplest cultures you can work with. You literally dump a packet of starter into the quart of milk you want to culture, stir, and let sit for 12-16 hours on your counter top. You then have kefir.
After that initial batch, you can use 1/4 cup of the previous batch to culture another quart. This can continue for several batches – basically until you determine it is no longer making kefir. That’s when you openthe other packetof kefir culture, which you’ve carefully stowed away in your refrigerator, and start over again. And if dairy kefir isn’t your thing, you can also use this culture to make coconut milk or coconut water kefir. Or, use one packet to start up some milk kefir and another to make coconut milk kefir for those who are dairy-free in your family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a kefir purest as the next guy and readily admit to feeling that this isn’t as “authentic” as making it with the grains. Founded or not, I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to cultures. But if it’s a question of some form of kefir or no kefir at all, I’ll always go with some form of kefir. So, until the temperatures die down, I think I’ll stick with this super simple method for making kefir. It’s a good dose of probiotics and enzymes in our fresh goat milk, but without the treacherous keeping of a mother culture in these crazy temperatures.