I’ve been making my own coconut milk kefir for quite some time now.
It started after my naturopath recommended it to me as a probiotic-rich alternative to kombucha, because it contains less sugar.
Now, being dairy intolerant, rather than making traditional milk kefir using dairy milk, I went looking for a non-dairy alternative and came across coconut milk kefir.
Note: I do rest the kefir grains in dairy milk every few batches to keep them strong (I explain why below).
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a cultured, fermented beverage that’s packed with probiotics and beneficial enzymes. It’s created using kefir grains (not an actual grain, they just look like little grains, hence the name) which ferments the milk, turning it into a sort of liquid-yoghurt which you can drink.
Generally, the taste is quite tangy as the fermentation process removes most of the lactose (the natural sugar found in milk).
Coconut milk kefir, on the other hand, is made using the same milk kefir grains to ferment the coconut milk, but it is dairy-free. Coconut kefir has a much milder, less-tangy flavour compared to traditional milk kefir.
As coconut milk does not contain the lactose naturally found in dairy milk, there are a few modifications that need to be made to help keep the kefir grains strong and prevent atrophy (wasting away).
Kefir grains require lactose as a food source. While the grains will continue to ferment for many batches, they will also begin to degrade, changing shape and turning mushy and grainy.
Ideally, they should be a cauliflower shape with a crispy texture.
How to Keep Kefir Grains Strong
To help maintain the health of the grains, rest them in dairy milk for a minimum of 24 hours after every couple of batches.
If you’re sensitive to dairy milk, rinse the grains in water before using them again in the coconut milk to remove any remaining residue.
For those avoiding dairy, kefir can also be used to ferment nut milks (like almond and cashew).
Traditionally, nuts, seeds, and legumes were soaked and/or sprouted to deactivate the antinutrients (like phytic acid, lectins, etc.) naturally found in these foods that protect the seed but harm the gut on the way through.
When kefir grains are added to nut milks, they make them more easily digestible for the body, and deliver a hit of probiotics at the same time.
Fun fact: Coconuts are technically a drupe (like cherries and peaches), and do not contain phytic acid, so they don’t need to be soaked, sprouted, or fermented to make them easier for digestion. In fact, the coconut “flesh” is full of healthy fats, minerals, and acids like caprylic acid (which is good for those suffering with Candida).
What to Do When Taking a Break from Making Kefir…
If you’re halting kefir production in your home (maybe you’ve made too many batches and are now trying to get through them all), you can rest the grains for a period of time in the fridge. Just note that the longer you rest the grains, the longer they will take to revive.
According to Hannah of Kombucha Kamp:
1-7 days: Place the grains in a glass jar and fill with fresh milk. Store in the fridge.
7-14 days: Place the grains in a glass jar and leave them dry (with no liquid). Store in the fridge.
14+ days: Lay grains out on a cookie sheet or dehydrator sheet and dehydrate them at 36°C – 40°C (98°F-105°F) until dry. Store the dehydrated grains in a freezer safe bag in the freezer.
How to Revive Milk Kefir Grains
To revive kefir grains:
- Place the grains in a small bowl and cover with fresh milk and one teaspoon of sugar.
- Replace the milk every 48-72 hours until the milk begins to separate into whey (a clear liquid that settles at the bottom of the jar).
- Once you can see signs of fermentation, start a new batch using one tablespoon of grains for every two cups of milk. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks for the grains to regain their full strength and begin reproducing again.
Homemade Coconut Milk Kefir
How to make a delicious fermented drink rich in beneficial probiotics and enzymes!
- 2-4 tbsp milk kefir grains (can find them at a health food store)
- 4 cups full-fat organic coconut milk (about 2 cans)
- Let the coconut milk heat up to room temperature.
- Place the coconut milk into a glass jar and add the kefir grains.
- Cover lightly (I use a cheesecloth and seal it with a rubber band) then leave at room temperature (21°C-24°C or 70°F-75°F) out of direct sunlight for 12-48 hours. Taste throughout to see when the culture has reached your desired level of fermentation.
- Strain the kefir culture through a metal strainer, and place the kefir grains into some fresh coconut milk to start the next batch.
- Store the fermented coconut milk kefir in the fridge until you’re ready to drink it.
To Make the Kefir into Yoghurt…
- Line a metal sieve with a thick layer of cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, and place the sieve over a medium-sized bowl to catch the whey.
- Pour the strained kefir culture into the sieve and place the entire bowl (sieve included) into the fridge. After one hour, check the liquid in the bottom of the bowl and make sure that it’s mostly clear (it will be an opaque-white in colour, and should look like the liquidy whey from the top of a yoghurt container). If it isn’t clear, pour it back into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and add a few more layers of cheesecloth (or a second nut-milk bag) to strain out the whey.
- Check how thick your yoghurt is after four hours. It will take anywhere between 4-24 hours to strain enough whey to have thick, creamy yoghurt.
- Once it’s reached your desired consistency, scrape the yoghurt into a bowl or container for storage and store the whey in a glass jar to enjoy as a probiotic-rich beverage. For one cup of coconut milk it yields around one cup of yoghurt.
Note: Milk kefir grains may take a few batches to adjust to the coconut milk and may not produce the desired consistency or taste until then.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you made kefir before? What was your experience? Share in the comment below.
Lots of love,
Wells, Katie. (November 21, 2018). Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/54711/coconut-milk-kefir-recipe/
Gotter, Ana. (October 9, 2017). What Is Kefir?. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/kefir
Recipe: Coconut Kefir Milk – 3 Ways!. Cultures for Health. Retrieved from https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/milk-kefir/coconut-milk-kefir-recipe/
Slajerova, Martina. (Updated: July 18 2021). How To Make Coconut Milk Kefir. Keto Diet App. Retrieved from https://ketodietapp.com/Blog/lchf/how-to-make-coconut-milk-kefir
Tiffany. (November 8, 2017). Coconut Kefir Recipe. Coconut Mama. Retrieved from https://thecoconutmama.com/coconut-kefir/
Ballantyne, Dr. Sarah, PhD. (April 25, 2012). Coconut Milk Kefir “Yogurt”. The Paleo Mom. Retrieved from https://www.thepaleomom.com/recipe-coconut-milk-kefir-yogurt/