Category Archives: Beverages

The Healthiest Way to Enjoy Saffron

Sun Tea–A Double Shot of Sunshine Likened to liquid sunshine, saffron tea is luminous, golden and uplifting. It’s smooth with a subtle floral flavor and the delicate lift that it gives makes me reach for it often. It’s the anticipation of that lift that has me setting a shot glass filled with water and a… Continue Reading

3 Responses to The Healthiest Way to Enjoy Saffron

  1. i don’t understand the saffron sun tea recipe do you brew it in 3 tablespoons of water and then add more water to make a cup or is the 3 tablespoons an error?

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Cherry Bounce

It’s cherry season, and because these rubies are not great shippers or keepers, now’s the time to indulge. Here’s an easy recipe that transforms the essence of cherries into a tasty liqueur that is also a medicinal tonic. Historians note that in September 1784 George Washington packed a canteen of cherry bounce for a trip… Continue Reading

6 Responses to Cherry Bounce

  1. Last summer I steeped the elderberries in vodka, but did not add sugar. I loved the fragrance and took a few spoons during Thanksgiving week when I had a cough. Today, Dec. 16, I strained them. Two cups of elderberries produced scant 3/4 cup liquid. Into that I added one tsp. sugar and I am supposed to wait another month or so.

    I poured a simple syrup over the berries and will try that over ice cream with a touch of allspice or black pepper.

    Thanks to Niki for her advice. I had read that parts of the bush are poisonous including the tiny stems. Removing them was a slow meditative process, a nice job for a hot summer’s day.

    My bush is Sambucus Nigra. I read that the poisons in stems, leaves and unripe berries are cyanogenic glycoside and alkaloids. I did taste a few raw berries. They were not that yummy but I did not get stomach upset or any of the other symptoms associated with thoses poisons.

    At summer’s sunrise the bush was full of birds feasting on the berries. I loved sharing the bush with them and a type of moth caterpillar that wove gorgeous webs (fall webworm). Nice memories on this December day.

    • Diane, Thanks so much for this additional information.I have such fond memories of elderberry harvests and of my uncle making elderberry whistles from the stems. Have you ever turned the blossoms into a lacy fritter? Just dip them into a crepe batter and cook.

    • As fermenting is a kind of cooking, not to worry. There’s a long–and healthful–history of fermenting elderberries into wine. Yes raw elderberries can be a mild toxin if eaten in quantity. But saying they’re poisonous is perhaps overboard?

  2. Can’t wait to try this!

    Elderberries are here. I wonder if the recipe can be used to preserve them for winter?

Cold Quell Tea

At the very first sign of a flu or cold here’s a recipe for beating it. Note it’s important to drink this tea within the first 24 hours of onset, for, as my acupuncturist Leslie Shanai, Lic.Ac. writes, “Once the disease has gotten a good foothold ginger tea will no longer be effective. It may… Continue Reading

3 Responses to Cold Quell Tea

  1. Thanks for the tip it sounds great! I buy ginger and put it straight in the freezer. I find it very easy to grate this way into recipes or add to tea. The benefit for me is that it doesn’t spoil before I can use it. Is this method suitable for making the tea, or am I destroying the nutrients this way?

    • That’s a good question. I’m not as concerned about the loss of C and B Vitamins that happens with frozen veggies as much as I am concerned about the “thermal” properties of a food. In general, I don’t use frozen veggies as according to Chinese Medical theory freezing reduces their ability to warm you. But that’s a subtle point and I haven’t any science to back it up. Check my article on the thermal properties of food. If freezing your ginger works for you, continue to enjoy it that way. Or you might do an experiment and make two cups of tea using frozen ginger in one and unfrozen in another. See if you can detect any subtle differences between the two cups.

      I keep my ginger unwrapped in the fridge and it holds well.

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Fruit Kvass

The historic Russian beverage kvass is traditionally made by fermenting rye bread,  and often fruit, into an invigorating and effervescent drink. It’s currently marketed in Russia as a patriotic—and more healthful—soft drink alternative. My version is an ambrosial grain-free nectar that’s oh-so-easy to make. What does it taste like? A tangy blend of sweet and… Continue Reading

68 Responses to Fruit Kvass

  1. Hi Rebecca, I’m on my third fruit batch (tried beet kvass and it was terribly salty so switched back to fruit). I’m letting it go 5 or so dayson the counter, til I get a lot of pressure release and bubbles when I open the lid. My question is – is it suppose to have a strong yeasty smell/flavor? It’s not really sweet but has a fizz and tangy bite so something’s up – is this what I should be expecting? Thanks again.

    • For the beet kvass, try cutting back on the salt. This is all to taste and your taste is the deciding factor 🙂 That your fruit kvass has a strong yeasty smell/flavor suggests it’s a little overfermented. Next time, keep tasting from day 3 onwards and go by flavor; not time.

  2. Loving the fruit kvass. It bubbled in the jar nicely and tastes great.

    My question is that other sources are telling me there is no probiotic value to this drink. Can you explain more about why you feel there is probiotics in your recipe? I am aware that straight honey fruit ferments such as cranberries in honey do not have probiotics, but have the immune properties of honey and the vitamins from the fruit. So how does your recipe contain probiotics. I would like to understand the science here. Thanks!

    • Yes, it’s so easy to make and so satisfying to drink.
      Kvass and other cultured foods ferment because they contain living bacteria and yeast (probiotics) that replicate themselves and transform the original ingredients into a new dish. As kvass ferments in a short period of time, its probiotic culture may be smaller than that found in a longer ferment, like sauerkraut.

      If someone is telling you that there is no probiotic value to kvass, either they’re misinformed or they’re speaking about a kvass that has been pasteurized to kill its living ferments.

      • Well it seemed to work for the kvass but I tried to use it to make a probiotic jelly and it didn’t set – an enzyme in the kiwi denatures the proteins in gelatin unless you cook it at high temperatures!! So the probiotic component didn’t work after that…
        However, I think this is a great idea for things like berries or mango or stuff like that for future reference 🙂

  3. Hi Rebecca! I am extremely new to fermentation and was hoping you can guide me here. Instead of turning fruit into a fermented drink, is it desirable to just ferment the fruit and eat as is? Do you just add water and raw honey? My first try was a disaster…I just used water and sea salt and don’t even know if there is any beneficial bacteria. I also filled the entire jar to the top with the each fruit. One jar was all raspberries, another with grapes and the third blueberries. The raspberies ended up fizzing and bubbling over…didn’t happen with the grapes or blueberries. Should I just ditch them all and start over?

    • Perhaps you’ll want to try the recipe exactly as it is; it works that way. If your experiment tastes good, enjoy it; if it tastes “off,” then toss it.

      • Thank you Rebecca! I just started your recipe today. Is the honey for feeding the beneficial bacteria or strictly for flavor? Is the sugar broken down by the bacteria? I have a couple of clients who are diabetics and I wasn’t sure if this would be too much sugar for them. Also, when you say to discard the fruit solids because the essence is gone does that mean there is no benefit to eating them at that point? Sorry for all the questions, I am new to this and I am just trying to understand the difference between lacto-fermenting fruits and lacto-fermenting veggies.

        • The honey helps the fermentation and, yes, some is broken down. I’ve no idea of the percentage. You may enjoy the fruit solids if you wish….your call.

  4. I’m curious why honey, or any sugar, is a required additive–How does it differ from Beet Kvass, which is only salt, water, beets and a starter?

    • Fruit ferments more quickly than beets and so the enzymes in honey jump start the fermentation. Otherwise fruit in water at room temperature would quickly rot. Beets have less natural sugar and so salt is used to discourage the wrong bacteria and the fermentation period takes longer.

  5. Hi. I tried this and wondering how much should we drink at a time and per day to get the full benefit?
    Thank you:)

    • Drink it for your pleasure and in the quantity that seems right. Some days you’ll want more than other days. It’s important to enjoy some fermented foods each day (or take an acidopholus supplement).

  6. I want to try your recipe it sounds amazing. How big is the jar for using 1 Tbsp of honey? it’s the sugar content in the final product high? I’m hypoglycemic too much sweetness can be bad for me. Thanks

  7. If you don’t drink the fruit kvaas within a week, it should still be good. If refrigerated, the kvaas should pretty much last indefinitely (months at least), due to the fermentation process. Fermentation is a preservation process, after all.

    • YOu’re right that some ferments last months (or even years). But NOT fruit kvaas. I find it tastiest within a few days of making it and the it’s quality declines; after a week needs to be tossed.

    • Mead, with an alcoholic content between 8 to 20%, is fermented honey and water. The alcoholic content in kvass is negligible, perhaps even less than kombucha at 0.5 given it’s shorter fermentation period.

  8. I started peach (which was very ripe), blackberry and ginger with raw honey and distilled water. Also same time one with ripe banana. Both made three days ago and not a bubble in sight in either one. My house is at 72 right now (Florida in the winter). Should I give up this fermenting or wait longer? Both smell ok, look ok, taste like fruit flavored water. No sign of fermentation at all besides the fruit starting to fall apart. Is it the room temperature? And will time show fermentation at some point? I have pears that are really ripe and want to try them but am wasting fruit if I can’t get results. Most other websites use a starter (whey or ginger bug or bread baking yeast?) but I don’t know about that. I was so excited so hope to get it to work. Help.

    • Reply–I’ve never tried making kvass with distilled water. Does anyone else have any experience with this? I don’t recommend distilled water.

      Another possibility is that perhaps you didn’t have enough fruit to water. I’ve never made it with a starter and I don’t recommend using baking yeast.

      • I put more fresh ginger and honey into it along with a touch of molasses and mashed up the fruit more – and within an hour it started to ferment and has continued to bubble pretty well. I also agree that distilled water is not the best and have started a new jar using spring water. It never occurred to me that distilled water has all the minerals taken out and could affect the ferment action. I’ve read enough now to see that starter yeasts create a different set of microorganisms that are not wanted in lacto fermentation. I’m excited that the taste of what is now fermenting is very good, tangy and sweet. Thanks for your reply and your website.

  9. So, you realize this isn’t kvass, right? It’s a nice naturally fermented fruit soda, sure. But kvass, by definition, is bread based. It’s like talking about “uncured bacon.” You can dehydrate meat without salt, but bacon is by definition cured.

  10. I tried this with apples, cinnamon and ginger and some local raw honey. In only 24 hours I saw bubbles and now 36 hours in it smells of alcohol. Is this normal? Is it safe to drink? My plan was to try it tonight (48 hours of fermentation). I do live in a hot climate so don’t know if that could affect it.

  11. I was getting ready to make a beet kvass, and am learning that by itself it doesn’t taste that appealing, I have some apples I was thinking about adding, any other ideas on what might make it more drinkable, I need the benefits of the beets and I know fermenting adds extra benefits, Thanks in advance, I love the idea of using raw honey instead of whey or a starter culture as many suggest,

  12. Hello! I just tried a peach/mint fruit kvass, let it sit out on the counter for 2 days. Everything looked ok, didn’t smell bad, however when I strained the fruit out the liquid was thick and syrupy! I am afraid to taste it because I don’t know if that is some type of weird bacterial thing causing that viscosity that could make me sick. What are your thoughts?

  13. Hello! I was so excited to try the raspberry kvass and then totally mis-read the instructions! I thought is said shake every 2-3 days instead of 2-3/day! It is a full 48 hours from the time I put in the cabinet. Everything seems ok. No film on top suggesting growth of anything bad… But those little guys ARE microscopic! Didn’t use a starter… Used unpasteurized honey and spring water. And it had a LOT of pressure on the lid.

    Do you think it’ll be ok to drink? I shook it and out it back for a little more time and thought I might try it later today.


  14. Hello! I just made this and my daughter and I loved it. I like it better than water kefir because it doesn’t taste as sweet. I used raw honey, and it worked, but I thought that honey, especially raw honey, has antimicrobial properties and shouldn’t be used to ferment. Do you know anything about this?

    • Yes, honey has antimicrobial properties AND it is an excellent medium for fermentation. Consider mead and my Honey-Cured Kohlrabi recipe. It’s “anti” the bad microbes and “pro” the healthful ones.

  15. The raspberry kvass worked perfectly. I think apple will work if I don’t let it go too long next time, but the blueberry lemon…Should the blueberries look spent, too? With the first two versions I could see the color drain from the fruit. The blueberries look unchanged. I’m not sure if I should keep going another day or not.


    • Isn’t it simply great!
      Your unfailing guideline is to ferment it “to taste”. And, as an experiment, you could divide a batch and let one jar ferment longer.

  16. I’ve made 4 different ones, one with coffe, another black tea, another Mate tea/Chimarrao (South American famous beverage) and finally a red fruited one. I use Organic/Demerara sugar instead of honey. And for a starter, I usually put a homemade bread yeast wich culture I’ve started a while ago. Hard to say wich one was better! The first three became like very sofisticated beer, low alcohol, slightly sweet, and the red fruit one like a frizzante or Lambrusco! I strongly recommend!!!!!

  17. Fresh blackberries, picked by myself and my Mum, and a few slices of fresh ginger ^^ delicious! Am trying plums today. And maybe a herb…hmm, which to choose…

  18. Thanks for the recipe!

    I tried a raspberry kvass and an apple and raspberry kvass using frozen raspberries and fresh apples. I used kefir whey.

    After 2 days its fizzy but tastes horrible. Nothing sweet at all.


    Also, I live in Hong Kong and its hot. Should I reduce it to 1 day.

  19. Hi Rebecca!

    Blueberry Lemon and Raspberry Ginger Kvass are the big hits in our household!

    Out of curiosity, why would you not recommend RO water for fruit kvass? I use RO for Kombucha and have been using it for my kvass as well. Thanks for your information!


    • Good question; and you’ll find a detailed answer in my book, T

        he New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

      . Briefly I favor whole versus refined ingredients and the naturally occurring minerals in water (except for rain water and RO water) give water good flavor. Some argue that RO water chelates minerals at the expense of your own mineral reserves. I recommend filtered or spring water.


    • I don’t know and I wouldn’t bother to try it because high fructose sweeteners, including agave, are simply not healthful (despite the various marketing claims made for them).

      And I’ve never heard of agave–“raw” or otherwise–being used as a fermentation agent.

  20. I love this! My friend and I made a batch with an abundance of past-the-peak plums and I had just found this recipe that afternoon while riding on BART. Since then my kitchen has accumulated several jars with dried mango and ginger; apricot; blackberries and apricot kvass.
    Thank you.
    I was introduced to you when a dear friend moved away from my native Salt Lake City and had a slew of books she wasn’t taking an she thought I might enjoy your Whole Foods Encyclopedia and I have since worn the cover off then old 90’s edition. I just picked up the latest edition.
    Do you teach classes still? I looked for a link to email you but couldn’t find it.
    Thank you for all you have done to bridge the post-industrial gap between our pantries and our palates and our vitality therein.

    • Isn’t it a great recipe! Glad you’re enjoying it. And I’m delighted that the Encyclopedia is serving you.
      Regrets, I’m no longer teaching classes but I do work with people individually re. diet. There is a Contact form way at the bottom of each page.

  21. Thanks for the simple and accessible recipe!

    I’ve just tried making it with nice ripe peaches. A by-product of the process seems to be a thick syrup in the kvass, sort of like what one would find in canned peaches. I tried to strain it out when I separated the peaches out at the end of the fermentation, but was unable to.

    Have you had this experience? Is that normal? Any suggestions for keeping the liquid a little less thick in the future?

  22. Your recipe works very well. Thank you. It’s very simple and delicious. I used raspberry to make the fruit kvass. It tastes really good. Now I can enjoy this healthy bubbly drink anytime .. Thanks again!! 🙂

  23. hello, Rebecca. You don’t specify how much whey or yeast to use. I am trying a batch with 1 T of whey. I estimated if I were to use yeast, maybe 1 t for a quart jar. Sound right? Warmly, Jan

  24. Do you have on-line classes for Certification?

    I would be interested. Something about Certification that
    makes a person more accepted in some instances.

    Thank you for a beautiful recipe. I do not like soft drinks and have hesitated drinking Kombucha because of the alcholic content.

    Thank you, again.

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Five Daikon Tonics

Here are five great daikon kitchen remedies for  asthma, bronchitis, cold relief, indigestion and weight loss.  The medicinal properties of daikon are impressive. And as you’ll see below, subtle preparation differences create different results. For example, when using daikon juice for asthma add ginger and don’t boil it. But for chronic bronchitis, bring the juice just… Continue Reading

2 Responses to Five Daikon Tonics

  1. Who knew??!! I love these radishes, but have only used them in soups and salads–or just to munch on. Onward ho!

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Detox Tea

This gentle and pleasantly flavored detox tea is excellent in the spring or to support a cleansing diet. Fenugreek supports lymph flow while burdock and red clover are liver tonics. Fennel, ginger, orange peel and licorice treat numerous digestive complaints and the ginger also increases circulation. 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 1… Continue Reading

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Ginger Tea

Ginger is famous for its medicinal properties. A warming spice, it stimulates digestion and boosts circulation, respiration and nervous system function. By increasing circulation, it helps effect a systemic cleansing through the skin, bowels and kidneys. Ginger treats colds (see Cold Quell Tea) and fevers and is an effective remedy for motion sickness, nausea from… Continue Reading

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Home Brewed Cider

Accompanying article: Kefir Using the same kefir grains (see Kefir—Homemade) as for making kefir milk, you can make a variety of healthful, lactic-acid fermented beverages. Sandor Katz, writes in Wild Fermentation that “You can kefir fruit or vegetable juice, or water with any sweetener you like, or rice milk, soymilk, or nut milk. Cranberry juice… Continue Reading

4 Responses to Home Brewed Cider

  1. Hi, this is great information and I am just starting on the kefir train.
    I am having great success using milk grains with raw milk, but as it is hard to always get this milk and somewhat more expensive, i want to try and use almonds and coconuts. My question here is am i understanding this that to make the above apple drink you use milk kefir grains, i have plenty of these as they are growing quite fast. I also have water grains but i am not having much luck with them they are not multiplying.

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How to Make Kefir

Considered by many to be the most healthful of fermented foods, effervescent kefir tastes tangy and fresh. How lovely that you’ll make your own as commercially available kefir only approximates the real thing (see my Kefir Article for details). As you work with kefir, you quickly develop a feel for the process and of how it varies… Continue Reading

110 Responses to How to Make Kefir

  1. I just got my first batch of water kefir grains last week and have made a couple batches 🙂 My second was far better than the first lol But I saw that they had multiplied enough and we cracked a coconut so I thought I would put a scoop of the grains in about 1 1/2 c. fresh coconut water, it fermented quickly! It is also very strong…but I am curious, do I need to now keep them separate from my other grains? Are they only for coconut water now? I don’t want to ruin my origianl grains, but I also do not always have coconut water. Any advice?

  2. Hi there,

    A few months ago I noticed a small pinkish spot on the top of a batch of grains that had over-fermented for a few hours. I scooped it off and went about creating a new batch of kefir as per usual.

    I have been using these same grains ever since and the milk itself tastes fine and I have had no health concerns – and I drink kefir daily. The only think is the milk is never effervescent, but is still tangy and sour.

    Recently I read that a pinkish colour can indicate mold and that I should throw the kefir grains away and begin again. Can you tell me what you think? I would so appreciate it!

    Thanks so much!


  3. Hi I’m about 3 weeks new to kefir, But have been baking up a storm using up some extras. I’ve made muffins ,sourdough bread, pear bread, I’ve been wanting to try cheese, and have a quart strained off and separating for this in my fridge.. What are my options at this point and where do I find recipes for this…As in do I add salt and herbs to taste or what ?

  4. Great post, I’m curious if I’ll still get ample probiotics in my kefir with only an eight to ten hour ferment. I made a few batches fermenting between twelve and twenty four hours and found it too tart for my liking but with a shorter ferment I enjoy the taste. Thanks for any response you can give.

  5. I noticed today that a part of one of my kefir grains is very slightly grey. Is this okay? I have been storing the grains in some kefir, in the fridge, for about a week (because I haven’t needed to make any more kefir since my last batch); I don’t know if that made them turn grey, or what.

  6. I’m making a 1-cup batch of kefir right now, and it still hasn’t separated into whey and curds, even though it’s been sitting overnight, but the grains are floating at the top of the milk; is it ready, even though it hasn’t separated?

  7. Hi!I’m new to making kefir, and I’m wondering, is it okay if my kefir is thin and runny? When making it, I leave it on the counter until I notice the whey separating from the curds of the milk, then I shake it up, drain the grains from it, and put it in the fridge, ready to drink. Am I leaving it on the counter for too little time, or too much? Or maybe not using enough grains? I use 1 tsp grains per 1 cup of milk.

    • If you have a small container (like a baby food jar or even a small ziplock bag), you could store your rinsed grains in water or milk* and upon your arrival, get milk ASAP to start feeding them again. I think they would be fine.

      I ordered my grains on Amazon and they came in a small jar (without milk or water) and they were fine. It did take a few days to “wake” them up.

      So, if your travel time is 48 hours or less, I think this would work fine.

  8. So is it possible that milk kefir is not helping but hurting my acid reflux? Symptoms are, it feels like a lump or something in my throat. Have been checked and Dr says acid reflux. Thanks

    • It’s highly possible that you’re sensitive to dairy, even fermented dairy. Go without all dairy (and the other common allergens) and then you’ll know.

  9. I’ve been making Kefir for several months with grains using raw Goat Milk. The kefir is still beautiful, however the grains don’t seem so grainy or cauliflower like anymore they seem more strung out and ribbon like. Is this a problem?
    Thanks for your help.

    • It sounds like a foreign culture has been introduced to your culture. As long as your kefir is tasty and a texture you like, this isn’t a problem. At some point, you may wish to start with fresh grains.

  10. I bought a kefir starter…(powdery substance)..the kefir tastes great but i don’t notice what i would consider to be ‘grains’ power say… Am i missing something?


  12. […] 2. Kefir – Homemade kefir is like a different food than the stuff you buy in stores. There are so many more probiotics in the homemade version, and homemade kefir is so much more nutritious,  and the taste is tangier. You will need someone to share kefir grains with you or purchase some online. There is a bit of a learning curve, but the payoff is worth it. […]

  13. Hi I have been gradually building up to home made kefir, starting initially with store bought kefir, which I had no difficulties with. I recently started making kefir at home, which thickens nicely and tastes great, but causes my stomach to react, my stomach reacted and resulted in difficulty falling asleep,neither of which happened with the strioe bought variety. I am wondering whether this Is because I am new to home grown variety? as I heard you have to start low and build up gradually

      • I drank homemade kefir for 6 months with no problem. I am lactose intolerant but the kefir grains eat most of the lactose. Then I started to get raw milk from a farmer. I started have indigestion problems. I contacted the farmer. He told me there are so many more healthy probiotics in the raw kefir than the regular that it could take a gradual change over to get used to it. I’m sure there is more probiotic in homemade kefir as to store bought. So I would try mixing the kefir with 3 parts store bought to 1 part homemade. Do this and in a day or 2 increase to 50% of each for a few days. Then 25% store bought to 75% homemade for a few days and then 100% homemade. If the issue is with the healthy bacteria, you will likely resolve the issue. I don’t know anything about it keeping you awake at night but it should resolve the stomach issues. Hope that is helpful.

  14. Hi, I understand that when switching milks kefir grains can go through a transition and produce a few strange and yeasty batches. Is this true when switching from 2% milk to whole milk? Or just between dairy and non-dairy milks?


    • I’ve not had this experience with my kefir, but then I’ve not tried kefiring 2%. When I use kefir grains for non-dairy milk, the grains loose their oomph with time but initially are “normal.”

    • Whenever you switch their milk source they can go through a transition period. This includes changing the brand of milk, the fat content of milk and the type of milk (cow’s, to goat’s to non mammal milks, etc)

      The transition period generally only lasts a few days, up to a week, if your grains were healthy at the time of transition. You can also make the transition easier by slowly introducing the new milk. For example, 3/4 full fat to 1/4 2% and continue slowly increasing the 2% until that is all you are using.

      While your grains are transitioning you can still use the resulting kefir in smoothies or in recipes to replace yogurt/buttermilk, no need to toss it.

  15. Hi, I really appreciate your detailed instructions. I just received some kefir grains and have made one batch, it seemed to be quite tart, and almost have a yeasty/alcohol odor. I think maybe this is due to only one fermentation, and perhaps fermenting too long. We’ll see how the next batch goes. One source said to ferment for 18 hrs, then the 2nd ferment for 6 hrs, so I’m going to try this and see what happens. I still drank it, blended with some frozen strawberries, stevia and chia seeds and it was delicious. Do you think I need to ferment less time or just get used to the taste?

  16. Thank you so much for this information.

    I’ve been making kefir with raw goat’s milk for a couple of months now. This week was my first sketchy batch. I left a gallon of milk and kefir grains in my oven with the light on for 48 hours – longer than normal. When I took it out, it had light brown something at the top, and it smelled a bit different, but not terrible. I skimmed of the top and strained it in the fridge. I was worried that I had left it too long to strain it on the counter. I just ate some a day later and it tasted tart – my kefir has never tasted tart so far. Now I’m worried that I might get sick. Does this all sound normal to you? I just cover the jar with a cloth because I don’t want fizzy kefir. I also normally try to shake the jar but this time I did not, so maybe that’s why it formed the brown substance on top?

    Any advice would be much appreciated!


    • While it’s great just “freshly strained” just wait until you taste the ripened. It’s flavor is far superior. Furthermore, as the article states:
      I recommend ripening kefir for a day or two prior to consuming it. Fully ripened (48 hour) kefir eliminates lactose from the beverage and increases some of the B group vitamins. Folic acid, for example, increases by at least 116 % in comparison to fresh milk or freshly stained kefir.

  17. can I make more Kefir milk using raw milk & kefir milk?
    Will grains form using this method or do I need to purchase some grains?

    • Depending upon how the kefir was cultured, you can sometimes make a shabby wannabe kefir by combing kefir and milk but the odds of it forming viable grains are very slim.

      For the real deal, get the grains. You won’t be disappointed.

  18. I made some Kefir cream cheese about a week ago, we all loved it but there’s still some left in the fridge. Just wondering if you’ve made it and if once made, it keeps as long as the kefir milk? ie: as long as it’s palatable it’s ok. Thanks for the all your fabulous advice!

    • Yes, you can trust your nose, eye and taste to determine if a fermented food is still good. As the cheese contains less liquid than kefir, it is more “stable” and will have a longer shelf life.

  19. I have been using store bought organic milk not lowfat..Makes super tasty kefir. Does the process of fermenting it also make it less fattening? Will it cause weight gain? Thx!

    • I have put kefir on my skin to moisturize and it works well although sometimes I have noticed that it burns a bit and I need to wash it off. I would guess that this is probably because of the high acid content in the kefir.

      I would suggest testing it out on less sensitive areas before grabbing a handful and rubbing it on your face or you might not like the results!

    • I’ve used kefir grains or tibicos but I found the standard kefir grains easier to use both for milk and other ferments. Your best bet is to do an online search for a source ato purchase them and your source will provide directions.

  20. While living and traveling with the Bedouin of Egypt our camels’ milk was re-cycled through bladder’s tied to humps, saddles, slung over shoulders, gently rocking and swaying throughout the days into star filled nights. This ever available beverage remaines impregnated within organs and inner lining, and as far as I know the cultures’ within are as continuously old as a thousand caravans passing through generations, each giving birth and moving on since time-and-memorial!

    Caravans of yak-and-camel, goat-and-pony crossing steps, spanning deserts, passing through forests, over mountains and tossing oceans, always destine to places never before heard of, for generations unseen.

    These growing colonies evoke such images and answer such questions as; From where, and from when did this wonderfully tangy-and-tasty treat originate and is it the same in variety and character as human cultures? Does it vary as greatly as do we, in its taste and colonial heritage…

    Kefir is an undying treat from pantry shelf to village hut and outward bound into a sea of culinary possibilities!

    Anthropologist, Caril Ridley

  21. Hi, here are some questions I have:

    1. I was just given kefir grains with kefir yesterday for the first time. All I did to seperate them in the morning (24 hours), was use a fork to extract the grains and start over in a new mason jar. Is that wrong?

    2. When I opened the fridge to see my finished product I saw a big, long, rubbery substance with what looked liked grains inside? I assumed it was kefir grains that I’d missed & added it to my new batch. Can the grains take on a different appearance when reproducing? And when reproducing do they seperate or just get bigger?

    3. Are there benefits to seperating the whey from the kefir and is using one over the other more beneficial? or should I just mix or blend it all together?

    A lot of questions, I know. I’m really new at this & quite nervous about trying it. Thank you for taking the time to answer.

    • Q. # 1….sounds right. #
      #2. I haven’t a clue
      #3. Both are good;; however, kefir is typically separated from the whey.
      Just keep on working it and you’ll soon have it down.

  22. Two questions:
    1. Still confused about refrigeration once Kefir is made. Have read that orgianlly when cultrued in goat stomachs, herdsmen simple stored without any cool storage. Is this because they drank it in a matter of days and therefore no problems as with other milk products?
    2. I put NuStevia in my kefir for taste. Will this alter the probiotic action of the drink?

    • Once kefired, the product continues to ferment and eventually reaches a point where it is too sour to be taste good.
      To retard fermentation, refrigerate.
      Flavor your kefir as you wish.

  23. Kefir grains are not readily available where I live in Canada. I can however get at kefir culture starter for milk. How will that work to culture grains or is it the same thing?

    • It might be. If the starter replicates itself so that you can use it indefinitely then you’ll know it’s the real thing. Look again at my article and the various resources and I’m sure you can find a way to get kefir grains in Canada.

  24. Hi ,
    I have been making keifer awhile. I am wondering if a keifer that is more than 48 hrs would still be safe. Do you know if there is a limit of time to keep at room temp ? Thanks

    • As long as it tastes good, it is good.That’s the beauty of lacto fermented foods, they’re safe. However if left out too long, the flavor becomes overly sour and not pleasant to drink.

  25. When making almond milk kefir would it be advantageous to cycle the kefir grains w/ milk kefir…meaning…make almond milk kefir then feed the grains w/ milk and back to almond milk? Would this cycle keep the grains alive?

    • When using non dairy milks for kefir you do want to switch to normal mammal milk (cow, goat, sheep etc) about every 4 batches to keep the grains alive and growing.

      Another good idea, keep a separate batch of grains growing with just mammal milk so that you have a backup should something go wrong with your other grains.

  26. You said it’s good to ripen the kefir for 48 hours at room temperature. But I understood that you are supposed to change the milk every 12 to 24 hours. I’m confused about that. Should you leave the grains in the same milk for 48 hours to ripen and what about the 24 hours? Did I miss something?
    I’ve been changing the milk every 24 hours and then refrigerating the results which have been very tasty. The first “batch was very thin which I threw out but the second was very thick and the 3rd and 4th batches have been in between the first two.

    • Hmmmmm, I’ve never heard of changing the milk every 12 to 24 hours. Keep it out until it has the flavor and consistency that you enjoy which is a matter of personal taste. Not to worry, before it can go bad it will taste more sour than you’d like.

  27. Hi,
    Do you boil the pasturized milk before making Kefir?? Like when you make yoghurt we do bring the milk to a boil, was wondering whether its the same with Kefir

  28. My kefir came out very thin. I have made it in past and was as quite different, and much more delicious. I used a very small nylon strainer. Might that have beent the problem?
    Thank You,

  29. Can I make kefir by using kefir? I use yogurt to make additional yogurt and buttermilk to culture more buttermilk. Can I use kefir in the same way? If so, how do I do this? Thanks for your help.

    • You can make a lousy and not so tasty approximation of kefir using just kefir. But why bother? Get the grains and you’ll have a great and sustainable beverage.

    • Yes, kefir grains will kefir both juice and milk. With milk the process is sustainable and produces more grains. In juice, the grains do not increase and their life span is limited.

  30. i would love to make some kefir milk can i get the kefir grains at a health food store and what are the best ones to get thank u very much, rita

  31. My questions: How do you determine
    1. when the kefir fermentation has finished?
    2. how long do the grains last and how many times can they be re-used?
    3. from where do you obtain the grains?
    Thank you for your time and assistance.

  32. My Mom used to let some of her fresh milk sit and “clabber up”. She then drank it or used some in baking. what is the difference between it and Kefir?


    • You’re describing naturally soured or clabbered butter milk which, indeed, is tasty.
      Kefir is even tastier. It is incubated with a specific culture which provides invaluable probiotic. Also, depending upon how you make it, kefir can be pleasingly effervescent.

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Kefir–Health Benefits

Kefir is a creamy, tangy and tasty fermented milk beverage that is more healthful than yogurt. It builds immunity and imparts a sense of well being. A daily glass of kefir is a delicious and fuss-free way to support your energy and overall health (unless that is, you’re sensitive to casein in which case all dairy products are contraindicated). You… Continue Reading

25 Responses to Kefir–Health Benefits

  1. Help! I have read so many articles on health blogs etc. (nothing from a credible source) that I can find that boasts kefir is only beneficial from milk that has not been pasteurized. Can anyone point me to a source of info backing this claim up? I cannot find it. I have only found research on the merits of Kefir (including those prepared with pasteurized milk) without discussion on whether pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria. It seems it does not and that other factors may come more into play such as the starter dose used for example. Thanks!

  2. Hi, I have been making kefir for about a year with live grains. I am becoming very confused as to whether or not there are any benefits in what I am making because I used pasteurized milk. Many articles I have read tell me that the good bacterias are in the milk and the pasteurization kill them. I interpret your article to say that the the good bacterias or flora are from the grains. I’d really like to know if what I am making and consuming is beneficial or not.

    • There are so many options. Kefir from raw milk is a more vital food and so, as possible, favor it. If that’s not possible, then enjoy kefir made from pasteurized milk (if, that is, you can assimilate dairy products).

  3. Hi,
    I used muslim bags for awhile for my kefir and they worked great for a couple months. One day I noticed a foul smell and removed the kefir and rinsed them with my well water from the tap. That was a couple months ago. Now I only have 2-3 grains left and cannot get them to grow. please help!

  4. I have erosive gastritis., do you think that kefir would help me with this issue? My digestion system is a mess.
    Thanks a lot

    • It might help. But not if your sensitive to milk in which case even kefir would contribute to erosive gastritis. Consider reading my book:Clean and Free.

  5. AT 26 -27 deg. C my milk kefir always separates into curd and whey 18hrs after brewng, even if I add just add half teaspoon grains to 2 cups pasteurized milk (500 ml.) , using cold milk straight out of the fridge. Are there any ways to slow down the process to 24 hrs. ?

    How can Water Kefir grains brewed in distilled water(no minerals but free of chlorine and flouride) and raw sugar produce nutrients and vitamins?

    Why do some recipes call for Sodium Bicarbonate and sea salt in water kefir during brewing?

    Please advise. Thank You>

  6. I drink kefir every day made with raw milk. Someone told me that it’s a recipe to invite parasites. Do you think raw milk kefir can contain parasites or flukes ?

    • Yes there’s a lot of ungrounded fear about raw milk products but that they might contain parasites or flukes is unfounded.

      The kefir process produces lacto bacillus that actually would kill many potential pathogens.

  7. Calcium supplements are really needed if you want to have strong bones and also if you want to avoid osteoporosis. Pregnant women needs even more calcium.

    • Yes, that’s the conventional recommendation and it may be applicable to you, especially if there are factors that deplete your calcium, including: being sedentary; stress; eating refined, processed, packaged foods; not getting enough dietary calcium from sources like sea weed and leafy green vegetables.

  8. […] here’s a terrific website on how to make kefir,  just in case your interest is piqued:  Trust me, it isn’t hard.  If you’ve made homemade yogurt before, you worked too […]

  9. Hi, I am very new to this. I have been useing the powdered freeze dry Kefir. Is it really the same & I would like to buy some real Kefir grains. I have been reading alot on different websites. And very confused!!! Can I use Almond Milk? And do I have to heat it first? I need HELP!!
    Thank you,

  10. Hi Rebecca
    Thanks for all the info.
    I am trying so hard to find unadulterated milk to use ie raw milk which is difficult and although I can get organic milk it is still homogenised. Do you know if Kefir cancels out the bad affect of homogenisation. Otherwise I wondered how diluted raw cream would work as milk. Not having that much lactose in it would it thicken properly. I have just put my first batch of diluted cream in sort of 1 to 4 as don’t want to be drinking pure cream!! So far not thickening as the usual milk yet. I can only buy frozen goat milk which separates a lot on defrosting and never gets nice and thick like raw milk does but I suppose it is healthier than diluted cream. Any comments?

    • Kefir improves a lesser product (homogenized milk), but doesn’t “cancel” out homogenization.

      I’ve not experience using diluted cream as per your experiment. Perhaps another reader can help. In the meantime, keep on experimenting and I’m sure you’ll come up with a system for your givens.

  11. Dear Rebecca,
    As a follower of nutritional information. I was delighted to find your blog on Kefif. I was curious as to the different fermentation process (fizzy) texture. It is delightful, refreshing and so beneficial.

    Thank so much of the great information. Vanessa

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