To be completely honest, I have never been very big on milk or yogurt products. But I do love my cheese! And I love my family, so I decided to give kefir a shot, and I am so glad I did. If you aren't familiar with kefir and all its gut-beneficial health benefits, click here.
Not counting the culture starter (which can be reused and continues to grow indefinitely), kefir has 1 ingredient: Milk. The culture starter (which is usually referred to as kefir grains even though they aren't really grains at all) are available at health foods store and online. These are relatively inexpensive- especially considering this is a one time purchase and you'll probably end up supplying all your friends and neighbors with your excess grains as they multiply. I include a link to purchase kefir grains on Amazon in the table below.
In terms of kefir-making equipment, the tools will really depend on the amount you plan to culture in each batch. You'll need glass jars or a large glass vessel to hold the kefir as it cultures, a slotted spoon or a strainer to separate the kefir from the grains, and coffee filters or a dish towel to use as a cover, as well as some deep bowls if you want larger batches and/or thicker results. A rubber spatula is also very helpful. Before deciding, be sure to read up on the different processes here: Make Your Own Kefir, Transform Kefir into Greek-Style Yogurt, Sour Cream and Cream Cheese Alternatives With This Simple Trick, Big Batch Kefir: The Fastest & Easiest Way to Make Kefir
The links below will take you to the products shown on Amazon's website. I use Amazon for practically all of my online kitchen supplies.
Kefir grains are the one special ingredient needed to convert regular milk into healthy, lactose-free, probiotic rich kefir. The link is to a supplier on Amazon I selected because they have fantastic ratings and currently offer 1 TBS and 2 TBS options. If you are planning to follow the big batch process, which uses a lot more than a couple of tablespoons of grains, fear not. Healthy grains will grow and multiply naturally. Just start small and increase your batch size with your grains. You'll have more than you need in no time.
I use quart size glass mason jars with a coffee filter and rubber band as a lid for culturing my kefir. These also work well for storing the prepared kefir in the refrigerator if you just screw on a lid. Although these come with 2 piece metal lids, these can start to corrode after a few washings. If you plan to use these to store your kefir, I recommend tossing the lids that come with the jars and use the single piece plastic lids in the next row.
When buying lids for your mason jars, it's not the jar size but the opening size that matters. If you bought the wide mouth mason jars (which I recommend because they are easy to clean), make sure you select wide mouth lids! There are quite a few options available but here are two that I like:
Basic white, wide mouth, plastic lids. Different sets come in different quantities, so check to make sure you are getting what you need.
These colorful lids include both wide and regular mouth lids. Since I already had a bunch of regular mouth jars in my cupboard, I choose this option and have been very happy with them.
My favorite way to make kefir is in big batches. I culture a gallon of milk at a time, making the process so much faster and easier. This glass vessel is perfect for that process. Plus, Anchor Hocking is a U.S. company so if you are concerned with the safety of imported goods, you can rest easy knowing this is made with lead-free glass.
Deep stainless steel bowls like these are great tools to have. I use a large glass measuring cup with a strainer for separating my kefir grains from my cultured kefir, and two deep bowls with strainers to make greek yogurt and kefir cheese. I already had them and they work fine, and it's likely that you'll already have something that will work too.
When selecting a bowl you will want to pair it with the strainer you plan to use. Just make sure your bowl is much deep and a little larger in diameter than the strainer you select. You'll want at least an inch or two of space beneath the bottom of the strainer when it's sitting on the rim of the bowl. If you need to purchase a bowl for this, here's a set I think would work especially well. I like that they are lightweight (compared to glass) with deep bowls, handles and pouring spouts. The smallest, 6.5" diameter bowl should work well with the strainer in the row below. Unfortunately I can only find these in a set of 3.
If you just want to purchase a single bowl, the 1.5 quart option of this should work with the recommended strainer. (According to the current listing, it has a 6.25" inner diameter): Tovolo Tight Seal, Stainless Steel, Deep Mixing Bowl
This set of 3 strainers is a great option because you'll need to pair your strainer and your bowl to make sure they work well together and this offers a lot of flexibility. I have used strainers like these when culturing smaller batches daily, as well as when using the big batch process. They also work great for supporting a coffee filter when straining kefir to make greek-style yogurt or cream cheese*. I personally use a large 5 1/2" strainer to separate the finished kefir from the grains because it fits nicely over the deep stainless steel bowl I use with it.
Quick Note: I started out using a slotted spoon to scoop out my kefir grains once the cultured kefir was ready to eat, but I have since switched to using a strainer instead. The slotted spoon makes the process really easy and minimizes the containers that need to be washed, but it doesn't always get every last, little kefir grain like a strainer does. If you process your kefir using a blender, this won't be an issue so you can always start with the simplest method and work your way up. On the other hand, you will probably want a strainer if you plain to strain your kefir to get thicker consistency.
*Look for a strainer with a basket that will support your coffee filter properly; Make sure it's not so large or shallow that the sides end up laying flat. A 5" - 6" diameter strainer works well for that.
Not absolutely necessary, but certainly a great addition to your kitchen! This Smart Stick is the same immersion blender I use, and it allows me to whip up a creamy batch of kefir right in the jar. I use it in both my pint and quart size, wide mouth mason jars. You'll want to scoop or strain out your kefir grains for your next batch before using this, but the good news is this will blend up any remaining little bits of grains that get left behind and give your kefir a smooth creamy texture.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This page contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend products I either use myself and absolutely love, or their equivalents (some of my tools are no longer available but I always check the specifications and reviews carefully before recommending any alternative products)! Thank you for supporting Blue Quarry when you shop.
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