Please help me make my milk kefir taste nice
March 18, 2017 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Please help me make my milk kefir taste nice.

So I've been making milk kefir recently, but I can't make it nice. It doesn't have to taste amazing, but just good enough to drink without retching (as I do at the moment). I use the right kind of organic milk and it smells like it should, but I can't make it nice.

So far I've tried brewing it for half the time (12 hours), but that doesn't change much. I've also tried mixing chocolate milkshake mix into it, but that doesn't help either.

Can I have some recommendations of how to make it nicer please.


posted by sockpim to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you be more specific about the ways in which it is not nice?

I make kefir and I like it - to me it's got a tangy, yogurty taste that is good all by itself.
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Are you making the second "brew" or fermentation? There's a lot of factors for why your kefir might be failing, but usually it's because your fermentation time is too low for your grains:liquid ratio.

What has worked for me is about 24hr for about 1oz grains to 16oz milk. Try that, strain the grains, and then ferment one more time without the grains. Do not strain for final product until you notice the whey and curds separate. It's only at this step that I would consider it done.
posted by tedious at 9:29 AM on March 18

rtha: it smells like gone off milk. Milk that hasn't just gone off, but has been off for days.

tedious: I don't know it in imperial measurements or the weight of the grain, but the grain is about 2cm squared in size. I have found that using more milk lessens the dodgy taste, but not by much. Does the second fermentation make the taste nicer or more mellow/easier to drink?
posted by sockpim at 9:33 AM on March 18

I'm familiar with the off and rotten taste when I've gotten from grains in milk for over 8 days and letting a yeast crust form on top. What's the source of these grains and how many times have you soaked them?

Regardless, what i would do, is soak them in warm water for a couple hours, then rinse them in your nylon strainer while dangling them in a water bath. That way you can make sure there's no more weird detritus coating the grains.

The second fermentation makes the flavor "cleaner" somehow, and gives you more time for the bacteria to eat more of the lactose in the milk.
posted by tedious at 9:47 AM on March 18

Are you sure it hasn't actually gone off? Kefir is supposed to smell kind of like yogurt or sour cream.

I've had kefir grain go off, they were already off when I bought them, actually. It smelled godawful. To verify, I did an experiment. I left a cup of milk on the counter for the same amount of time as the kefir. The milk gone bad smelled better than the the one sitting in the kefir grains. I had my answer.

If it's good kefir, then add fruit purees like you would with yogurt. Eat with cereals, etc.
posted by Neekee at 9:47 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

If it smells like it has gone off, something probably went wrong - you might want to get new kefir grains entirely. Homemade kefir shouldn't taste that different from store bought kefir. If you don't like the way store bought kefir tastes, you might just not like kefir.

I usually like my kefir better when it has undergone a "second fermentation" and is more fizzy and bubbly. I usually shake up the whole jar and then pour it. It usually tastes good just like that, but sometimes I mix in some sugar or salt. I sometimes mix it with the flavored store-bought kefir too.
posted by pravit at 10:10 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Our kefir tastes tangy/sparkly. It's very strong, but good.

If we use too much kefir and/or let it ferment for too long, then it smells like milk gone bad (different from sour milk). So try adjusting those? Make sure you shake the whole jar when you add milk so that the kefir grains get distributed throughout the milk and they all ferment at roughly the same speed.

I would read through this page:
posted by ethidda at 10:11 AM on March 18

Also, if after the second fermentation you find it too tangy, I would consider adding half an onion, cut in half to the batch; I find that it cuts the sourness roughly in half. This is the technique that I use when I'm making curds for cheese.
posted by tedious at 10:32 AM on March 18

I found the second fermentation to be the trick as a an also recently started Kefir maker. I let the grains do their stuff on top of my fridge and then when the mixture is thickened, strain out the grains (which actually look like a solid lump of cottage cheese rather than discrete bits) and put the strained kefir in a closed mason jar in the fridge for a day or two (or more) Much mellower yogurty flavor and no retch. I like it with Nesquik powder or blitzed with honey and mangoes for a Mango Lassi.
posted by merocet at 11:04 AM on March 18

I found mine was great (tangy, sparkly, smooth) in winter, and terrible in (hot Australian) summer. In summer it would be ready in about three to four hours, whereas in winter it took overnight. So I think the fermentation time is the biggest factor for me in whether the flavour is good. A slow low temperature fermentation is important. Eventually I started just refrigerating mine for the whole summer and changing the milk weekly, waiting until the weather was reasonable again to start it back up.
posted by lollusc at 4:45 PM on March 18

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