Kefir translates to 'pleasure' or 'feeling good', and for good reason - it is my chosen powerhouse ferment. Milk kefir is simple fermented milk, similar to drinking yoghurt. 

500 ml



Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Using the freshest milk possible is important here, however your milk kefir will still ferment with older milk.

Be sure to give your jar a wash and good dry beforehand, but don’t be too caught up in making a very sterile environment.


  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) milk (you could also use coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk – see Notes)
  • about 50 g (1¾ oz) milk kefir grains

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Fermentation time: 24–48 hours

Equipment: 1 × 500 ml (17 fl oz) glass jar, muslin (cheesecloth) or lid, bottle for storing

1. Put the milk and the kefir grains into the jar, cover with a lid or muslin secured with a rubber band, and let it sit for 12–24 hours at normal room temperature. (Some people lid their kefir, and others use a cloth – if you do use a cloth, keep it away from other aerobic ferments such as kombucha or any other yeasts, as they can be bad for it.)

2. If you experience a little separation don’t worry – maybe you’ve over-fermented, or maybe the milk wasn’t as fresh as it could have been. It’s still fine. Just mix after you strain it.

3. Strain with a fine strainer (see Notes), bottle and refrigerate the liquid. It should be thicker than milk, but still pourable, and smell lovely, fresh and sour, like Greek-style yoghurt. It will probably be slightly fizzy; that’s my favourite part! If not, set it out for a further night on your bench and give it a gentle shake. The longer it sits out to ferment, the more lactose is eaten and the sourer and fizzier it will become.



• You can also ferment using coconut milk, almond or soy milk. Milk kefir grains definitely prefer cow’s or goat’s milk so, if you use these other plant milks, make sure to rest the grains with a good feed of real milk every couple of ferments. 

• Kefir grains are available from specialist retailers, such as The Fermentery.

• You can easily make kefir part of your routine. Find out how much you’ll drink and only make as much as that, as the grains prefer to remain in use rather than being used in large batches and put to rest. The grains should grow and can get quite big. They can also be ‘put to sleep’ in the fridge covered with a little milk in a jar should you need a break, or can be frozen or even dehydrated at under 40°C (104°F) to save for another time. Excess milk kefir grains can be blended into smoothies or fed to animals.

• There are plenty of rumours about never using steel sieves or metal of any kind. I’ve always used a metal strainer, and we even ferment the milk kefir in high-grade stainless steel at The Fermentary. Plastic is okay too, but don’t go out and buy new plastic stuff. Metal things from your cupboard are fine.



This is an edited extract from Ferment For Good by Sharon Flynn (Hardie Grant Books RRP $39.99, available in stores nationally). Photographer: ©Tara Pearce