Milk kefir is quite simple to make and as you may have seen, you only need the kefir culture, milk and a little bit of time and bam! you have a slightly fizzy probiotic drink.
Milk is milk or is it?
It all depends on what part of the world you are from because it may be more convenient to drink camel milk when in the desert, or horse milk when in Kyrgyzstan! Milk kefir can be made from any milk really and the finished kefir will enhance the health benefits of the milk it is fermenting. Certain milk types may produce a thicker kefir as buffalo milk does whereas goats milk makes a thinner kefir. Your choice of milk will depend on what you like or the health benefits you want. See how to make kefir here
Then there are people that prefer not to consume milk products and there is space for them on this kefir wagon too, that’s what nut milk is for! As with any other milk each nut milk has it’s own character and flavor profile it brings to the table. Almond milk is bursting with health benefits but makes a thinner kefir whereas Cashew nuts make a thicker nut milk kefir. It’s not a good idea to second ferment your nut milk because it simply doesn’t taste that good and it separates quicker.
If you want to see how I make Almond nut milk kefir- go here.
..and then there’s pasteurized, UHT, homogenization, organic and raw milk..
Let’s make it simple:
Pasteurized milk – Yes, it’s safe to use and is the most popular milk used.
Ultrapasteurized Milk – NO! it’s not safe to use, there’s not enough food for the grains to live on
Homogenization – Yes, it’s safe to use. Homogenization is a process that breaks down the fat molecules so the cream doesn’t rise to the top.
Organic milk – Yes, it’s richer in Omega 3 and has less damaging Omega 6. Organic milk contains more CLA which is also known as a cancer fighting fatty acid. THE BETTER OPTION!
Raw milk – Yes, only if you get it from a trustworthy source. Kefir grains do well in fresh raw milk.
This is the most popular milk used for making milk kefir and makes a thick and smooth kefir. Fat constitutes approximately 3 to 4 percent of the solid content of cow milk, protein about 3.5 percent and lactose 5 percent.
When making kefir with buffalo milk gives it a longer shelf life and also makes a richer and thicker kefir than using Cow milk. Buffalo milk has lower cholesterol but more calories and fat compared with cow’s milk. Buffalo milk is consumed in South Asia, with India, China and Pakistan being the biggest producers. Buffalo milk has a very high fat content, which is on average twice as high as that of cow milk. The fat-to-protein ratio in buffalo milk is about 2:1. Compared with cattle milk, buffalo milk also has a higher casein-to-protein ratio. The high calcium content of casein facilitates cheese making.
Camel milk has a similar composition to cow milk but is slightly saltier and has a shorter shelf life. Camel milk can be three times as rich in vitamin C as cow milk. Camel milk is also rich in unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins.
Seeing that Camel milk and Cow milk is similar in composition and result in the same character traits as Milk Kefir.
According to a German researcher, sheep milk has more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than the milk from pigs, horses, goats, cattle, and humans. CLA is a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat. The fat globules in sheep milk are smaller than the fat globules in cow’s milk, making sheep milk more easily digested. Has higher fat and protein contents than goat and cow milk; only buffalo and yak milk contain more fat. Sheep milk also generally has a higher lactose content than milk from cows, buffaloes, and goats. The high protein and overall solid contents of sheep milk make it particularly appropriate for cheese, yogurt and kefir making.
Sheep milk makes a thicker, creamier kefir than Cow milk does and can also take a bit longer to fully ferment because of the higher lactose content.
Goat milk contains less lactose than cows milk Goats milk is a good source of protein, contains less sugar (lactose), 13% more calcium, 25% more vitamin B6, 47% more vitamin A, and 134% more potassium than regular cow’s milk.
Making kefir from this type of milk will be a thinner kefir and reduced fermentation time.
Horse and donkey milk have very similar compositions. Equine milk, like human milk, is relatively low in proteins (particularly caseins) and ashes and rich in lactose. Compared with that of other dairy species, equine milk contains low levels of fat and protein. Most equine milk is consumed fermented and it is not suitable for cheese making.
The rich high content suggests that this milk will be thickened quite a bit with fermentation.
How does the fat content of the milk influence kefiring?
Reduced fat milk will yield a thinner kefir than whole milk would. You can even add cream to your milk to make a thicker creamier kefir. When using your grains to culture cream you may have difficulty separating your grains form the kefir but then you can use about 10% finished milk kefir added to the cream to culture it.