I have fond, peculiar memories of a glass jar sitting on the fireplace mantle, holding a liquid that constantly reinvented itself. It changed by the day, by the hour sometimes, from something strange to something more recognizable. This liquid, as it turns out, is intensely good for you, a drinkable yogurt full of good bacteria, and even better when flavored at the breakfast table with fruit purees. This is one of the recipes in my book Food Heroes.

It’s fruity.

You can reuse the kefir culture many times as a starter before you need to begin anew: 2 cups of kefir from a previous batch will ferment 1 quart of new kefir.

You can make kefir with coconut milk, rice milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or soy milk but it won’t get as thick as with cow’s milk.

Add the milk to a pot and heat it until it just begins to bubble.

Make sure to stir the pot often so it doesn’t scald.

Bring the temperature down to to about 116 degrees F. If it is too hot, the heat will kill the good bacteria.

(Note: As you’ll see in my book, you really only have to heat it to body temperature. The reason you do this is to help activate the bacteria.)

Pour the milk into the starter just a small amount at first.

Whisk the small amount together with the milk.

Then add the rest of the milk.

Ladle the mixture into glass jars with resealable lids suitable for storage.

Like so…

Close the lids loosely, not air tight.

Then place them on a mantle or a ledge of your choosing.

Putting them in the refrigerator will slow down the culture so wait to do this until the kefir has reached the desired consistency.

It is ready to drink at this point. But if you’re feeling fancy and need something a little extra one morning…

Your favorite jam is the answer.

Strawberry rhubarb is my favorite.

You can flavor a whole batch at once if you’re planning to drink it all soon…

Otherwise only flavor the amount you plan to drink, since it will spoil much more quickly with the addition of fruit puree.

Give it a nice stir.

And pour it all back in the jar.

One plain, and one strawberry rhubarb… depending on your mood on any given morning.

It’s creamy.

It’s frothy.

It’s fruity.

Give it a try sometime!

Have you ever made your own yogurt or cheese? Or experimented with food bacteria?

“Homemade Kefir”

Cook Time18 hrs
Total Time18 hrs
Servings: 4 cups


  • 4 cups sheep's milk or cow's milk whole
  • 1 5- gram package kefir starter culture or 2 cups of kefir starter culture can be found online or at health food stores


  • Heat the milk in a sauce pan until the surface just begins to foam, stirring often so that it doesn't scald.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool to below 117 degrees F.
  • In a bowl, combine the starter culture with 1 cup of the milk and whisk together. Then whisk in the remaining milk.
  • Lade the mixture into glass jars with sealable lids. Seal the lids loosely, not air tight.
  • Place the jar on a mantle or another ledge of your choosing and watch the change slowly begin to happen. Time and temperature affect thickness and flavor of kefir. In warmer temperatures it may be ready to drink in 18 hours, in cooler temperatures it will take longer. Left too long at room temperature it will turn cheesy and sour, so finding the right amount of time is key. It should be creamy, like a drinkable yogurt, thicker than milk, with a sour perfume. Shake it well and refrigerate it once it has reached this pivotal state to slow down the culture. It can be store in the refrigerator for 12 months, and longer in the freezer.