After recently getting into making my own homemade kombucha, my naturopath recommended that I also start drinking kefir as it’s rich in probiotics and contains less sugar.
Now, being vegan, I went looking for a non-dairy alternative for creating homemade kefir and came across coconut kefir (which ended up being great because I love coconut!). This recipe works so well and tastes amazing! Just to mention, I do rest the kefir grains in normal dairy milk every few batches to keep them strong and to help prevent them from dying off (I explain why further on).
What is Kefir?
Kefir is a cultured, fermented beverage that is packed with probiotics and beneficial enzymes. It is created using kefir grains (not the same as regular grains) which ferments the milk, turning it into a sort of liquid yoghurt type drink.
Generally, the taste is quite tangy as the fermentation process removes most of the lactose (milk sugar).
Coconut Milk Kefir
Coconut milk kefir is made by using milk kefir grains to ferment the coconut milk, it is of course still dairy-free. Coconut milk kefir has a much milder, less tangy taste compared to normal milk kefir.
As coconut milk does not contain the sugar lactose naturally found in regular milk, there are a few modifications that need to be made to help keep the kefir grains strong and prevent atrophy, where they die off over time. This is because these grains require lactose to thrive. The grains will continue to ferment for many batches, however, they will begin to change shape, and turn mushy and grainy over time. You want them to have a cauliflower shape with a crispy texture.
To help maintain the health of the grains, rest them in dairy milk for a minimum of 24 hours after every couple of batches or so. If you are particularly sensitive to dairy milk, rinse the grains in water before using them again in coconut milk to remove any residue that may remain.
Coconut milk is the most commonly used non-dairy milk to make kefir, however, nut milks also work! Almond and cashew milk are the most popular and are easily available at local health food stores and supermarkets (or you can make your own!).
Coconut milk is great in that it has a succulent texture as a result of its high-fat content, and produces a tangy kefir depending on how long it’s fermented for. Fermenting 1 tbsp of kefir grains in 2 cups of coconut milk over 3 days may produce a lightly tangy kefir. While allowing it to ferment a little longer, over 4-8 days, produces a creamier texture, but also has a MUCH more pungent taste. So it’s up to you how strong you prefer it.
How To Take a Break from Making Kefir
If you want to take a break from making kefir (maybe you made a load of batches and are now trying to get through them all… Don’t worry, I’ve been there), it’s very easy to rest the grains for a period of time in the fridge, but just keep in mind, that the longer you rest the grains, the longer it will take to revive them.
1-7 days: Place the grains in a glass jar and fill with fresh milk (I use regular dairy 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 until dry. Store the dehydrated grains in a freezer safe bag in the freezer.
Now it’s important to note that the longer the grains rest, the longer it may take to revive them. Also, the revived grains may not have the same bacteria diversity that was present in the fresh grains, but it’s ok because they will regain their diversity again once they’ve been used a few times.
How To Revive Milk Kefir Grains
To revive them, place the grains in a small bowl and cover with fresh milk and 1 tsp of sugar. Replace the milk every 48-72 hours until the milk begins to separate into whey (this is clear liquid that usually forms at the bottom). Once signs of fermentation occur, start a new batch using 1 tbsp of grains for every 2 cups of milk. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks for the kefir grains to regain their full strength and begin reproducing again.
Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe
- 2-4 tbsp milk kefir grains
- 2 13.5 ounce cans coconut milk
- Place the kefir grains and coconut milk in a half-gallon size glass mason jar.
- Cover lightly (I usually use a cleaning cloth of cheese cloth and seal it with a rubber band) and leave at room temperature (21°C – 24°C) out of direct sunlight for at least 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, begin tasting the kefir until it reaches desired level of fermentation.
- Strain out the grains and add them to a new batch of coconut milk to begin the process again.
- Store the fermented coconut milk kefir in the fridge until you drink it.
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.
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Have you ever made kefir before? What was your experience?
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