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Chocolate Spice Kefir, How I Make Kefir and What is a Second Ferment?

I haven’t done a specific post of kefir yet mostly because there are so many out there, mine would be just one of many, but I thought I would show you my process for making kefir.  Kefir is my favorite ferment mostly because it is the easiest.  I do like my other counter top yogurts but kefir is even simpler.  There is no need to keep a mother culture  with pasteurized milk.  I can just toss my grains in milk fresh from the fridge.  No worries about my kids eating the mother culture either.  I did accidentally blenderize and eat a batch of kefir grains once when I forgot to strain them out but luckily I had some spare grains.  And beside the ease of kefir, it’s is more biodiverse than any other ferment that I know of.  Here is a list from Culture for Health that shows a list of what is normally found in kefir (it can vary from one person to another):  Compostition of Milk Kefir Grains

Directions to Make Kefir

To make kefir, I simply drop about 2-4 tbsp worth of kefir grains (just guess) in a quart of fresh milk.  Set at room temp for about 24 hours or until the kefir pulls away from the side of the jar when you tip it.  I usually give the jar a gentle shake occasionally.   If I don’t my grains seem to take longer to culture all the milk.  If you see your kefir has started to separate, don’t panic, stay calm, it’s perfectly fine.  It freaked me out the first time it happened to me and I thought the kefir was bad.  It’s not.  It just does that. Please don’t throw it out thinking it’s gone bad.  I usually make mine in a wide mouth mason jar and use a stick blender to mix it all back together and make it smooth again (after you remove the grains!).  I don’t like chunky kefir.  If it separates again in the fridge, just give the jar a good shake.

 

Kefir
Using a strainer like this strainer from Cultures for Health, gently pour the kefir in the strainer and tap it on the edge of your bowl (or large measuring cup like I use).  I put the grains straight into a new jar to start a new batch right away.   Once all the grains are separated from the kefir, I pour the kefir back in the jar and get them ready for a second ferment (see below).

If you don’t want to use your kefir grains on a continual basis or need a break, you can put them in enough fresh milk to cover and set in the fridge for up to a week.  If you need longer than a week, you can put them in the freezer for a few months.

Second Fermentation

In many of my posts, you’ll hear me talk about a second ferment frequently. I do a second fermentation on beverages like kombucha, dairy and water kefir, and kvass.  The first fermentation is when you first inoculate the milk or sugar water with the culture.  The second fermentation happens after the first.  There are a few reasons that I do this.  The first is for flavor.  Many cultures like kombucha and kefir might be damaged by the addition of certain flavorings.  I don’t add any flavor to the first ferment just to avoid damaging the SCOBY’s.  Some flavorings are fine for certain cultures but I would rather be safe than sorry (like many add ginger and/or lemon to the first ferment of water kefir).

And regardless of the flavoring added, second fermenting kefir just tastes better to many.  It’s less sour and more pleasant tasting to me at least.  I actually didn’t care for kefir and would just choke it down because I knew it was good for me but now I enjoy it and drink it because I want to.

Also during the second ferment you can fix flavors.  If your beet kvass tastes too much like dirt (words heard from my husband), you can add juice like orange juice or apple juice and let set for another 8 hrs to improve the flavor.

The other reason to do it is for even more nutrition.  The second ferment increases the B vitamins even more.  Think of it as a B vitamin boost.

During the second fermentation, dairy kefir tends to separate even more.  Remember, this is fine. The kefir is still good.


Chocolate kefir
See the bubbles?  This was blended 6 hours earlier.  The bubbles are from the ferment!  Soda milk anyone?
Chocolate Spice Kefir

  • 3 cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 quart kefir
  • sweetener to taste (stevia, honey, rapadura)
Gently whisk cacao powder into the kefir and add spices.  Return to the mason jar and let set another 8-12 hours.  Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves and blend kefir to make it smooth.  Add sweetener to taste.


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32 comments to Chocolate Spice Kefir, How I Make Kefir and What is a Second Ferment?

  • Allison Bruner

    This recipe just says 1/4 cacao powder. Is that 1/4 teaspoon or tablespoon? Thanks! I just made me some and put a lot of cacao powder in because I like super chocolate stuff. :)

  • (In your post it says you use a stick blender to mix it all back together if it separates duing your first ferment. Doesn’t that blend up all your grains?)

    Our kefir separates all the time. I think I just have WAY too many grains. I need to give some away! Lol.

    • Melanie

      Oh my, I’m so glad you asked. Blend it after you remove the grains (I did blend my grains up once, whoops!).

      Those grains do love to multiply! If you use too many in your kefir, it does tend to separate more. Try using less grains but don’t worry if it does separate.

  • Katie

    Do you cover your kefir with something during the first and second ferment? A friend of mine uses a somewhat tight fitting lid during the first ferment and does not do a second ferment, but I was thinking it may be best to let it “breathe.” Thanks!

    • Melanie

      I used to leave it loosely lidded but I recently learned that kefir (both water and dairy) is an anaerobic ferment. I switched to using a Pickl-it and my grains love it! I’ve never had grains multiply so fast and the kefir tastes better.

  • […] Thyme for Radishes » Lavender Honey Milk Kefir I’ve heard of people doing a second ferment with lavender and honestly I thought it couldn’t be good.  I like the smell lavender but the […]

  • […] The first thing I will make with my new kefir grains is a Chocolate Spice Kefir http://www.picklemetoo.com/2012/05/25/chocolate_spice_kefir/ […]

  • Terrie

    I don’t have whole cloves. Would powdered cloves work? If so, how much?

  • Terri

    Can you explain the second ferment a little more. Do you just leave it out with whatever flavorings for six or so hours? Thank you

    • Yes, the second ferment is when I take out the grains, sometimes add fruit or spices (or chocolate and spices in this case) and let it set for a few more hours. Even letting it set out for a few hours without the grains and no flavor gives the kefir a more mild taste (in my experience).

  • A friend gave me some milk kefir grains but they look like one big ball. Looks different than yours pictured. Is that normal and ok?

  • Do you need to seal (airtight) for the 2nd ferment? I worry about gases and explosions-Please enlighten me – thanks – Peace – Locke

  • my current batch of kefir is a little more tart than I would like, and a search turned up your recipe. I am trying this!

  • Joanna

    thanks, I bought my kefir grains from body ecology, no need to strain , you use a little of your first batch to make up to 8 more batches before tossing, convenient yet yours sounds more sustainable, where do you get the starter grains? Cant wait to try chocolate kefir!

  • Helen McClain

    I second ferment my kefir all of the time. It seems to be thicker and has a milder taste. I talked with Donna @ Cultured Food Life to find out how long kefir could be kept in the refridgerator after second ferment and she said about 9 months , it does get more sour tasting the longer you leave it . I don’t notice a sour taste as I always use flavoring. My standard go to is the rind off the orange and I also enjoy lavender kefir. I also make a lot of kefir cheese and flavor it with either strawberries or with fermented chopped jalapenos for a savory dip, or drizzle over vegetables.

  • Misty Woods

    My second ferment separates completely, curds, and whey. Are you blending this lumpy stuff and drinking it?

  • Can you second ferment with honey and molasses and banana together
    For 12 hours?

    • I would add the honey and molasses after the second ferment because the bacteria will just eat the sugar away. Just add what you need to taste before serving or refrigerating. Also adding too much sugar during the second ferment could cause the kefir to become alcoholic.

  • My second ferment exploded, lol! Fortunately I was using coffee filters as a rubber and rather than a typical lid. I believe I left it to long. It separated and was very clumpy and still thin liquid. I had added vanilla and honey (which I now see I should have probably waited to do until refrigeration). How long for the second ferment and what is your opinion on using a breathable “lid” like I did?

    • DeAnn Cline

      Mary Ross, a SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, which is what dairy kefir grains are and the culture for making kombucha is as well.

  • Natina

    My kefir grains make what looks to be yoghurt it does not look like your and my grains are slow to multiply. My home is warm so I’m wondering what the issue is? Should I use skim or 1% milk instead of 2%?
    Thank you

  • Marge

    I want to do a kefir 2F with fruit. I have frozen strawberries or raspberries in mind. Can I use frozen berries? If so how long does it ferment in order to have a berry flavor? What quantity of berries per quart of kefir?

  • Juanita

    I just made this and added in a 1/4 cup of frozen raspberries. Very yummy. It tastes like a sophisticated milk shake!

  • Liora

    Answering Netina, they usually recommend using fresh whole milk. Using lowfat varieties or UHT (shelf stable) ultra high temperature milk starves the grains over time. Try using fresh whole milk and see if your grains don’t perk up in about a week or two.

  • Sloane

    Have you ever used goat’s milk when making kefir? Does it work? Does it taste similar, or will there be a ‘goaty’ taste (like goat’s cheese)?

  • Debra Myers

    Sloane,

    I have only used raw goat’s milk for my kefir, as I don’t like cow’s milk. I use Dwarf Nigerian because it doesn’t have a goaty taste but is really kind of creamy and sweet plus it is more lactose tolerant than cow’s milk. Now, I must try a second ferment.

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