My Version of Homemade Raw Milk Kefir

How to make homemade raw milk kefir - from
I delayed making my own kefir for the longest time because I thought it would be too much of a hassle. But as I learned more and more about nourishing foods, I realized kefir offered a lot of important benefits. Namely, it’s loaded with its own unique package of probiotics, which are vital for gut health. So, I took the plunge and ordered some milk kefir grains, and it turns out making my own kefir is incredibly easy! And the benefits are more than worth taking the time to make it.
When I spring for homemade, I like to use the simplest method possible. This makes it easier for me to stick with it and make it a regular habit. And making kefir has become part of my routine for several months now (I drink it every day!), so you know it must be easy! Here’s how I make my own raw milk kefir:
1. In a glass jar or pitcher, mix kefir grains with raw milk (non-homogenized regular milk can also be used, but raw milk makes a much more nutritious kefir). The amount of milk you use depends on how many grains you have. When you first order grains, you’ll most likely only be using 2-4 cups of milk at a time. But don’t worry – kefir grains grow fast! After a couple batches, you’ll be able to easily make 2 quarts at a time.
2. Cover the glass container tightly and set out at room temperature (if you have a cold kitchen in the winter, you may need to find a slightly warmer place, like on top of the fridge).
3. For a milder, thinner kefir, leave out overnight and refrigerate in the morning. The kefir will continue to culture (much more slowly) in the fridge.
4. For a stronger, thicker kefir, leave out for 18-24 hours before refrigerating. The longer you leave out the kefir, the more probiotic cultures it contains, and the less lactose and casein. So if you are really trying to get those probiotics, or if you are very sensitive to lactose or casein, leaving it out a little longer may be the best option for you.
5. Strain out the grains (see below for how to handle the grains). Store kefir in the refrigerator. Voila! A great, homemade probiotic drink.
Kefir is fairly tasty and versatile. It’s a little sour, like plain yogurt but a little different. I drink mine plain (sweetened with stevia because it’s a little too sour by itself for my taste), or I make kefir smoothies.
I use kefir grains because in the long run they are much more economical. There’s a small $15-20 investment at first, but you only have to buy them once! You can use kefir grains indefinitely, and here’s how:
– Strain the kefir grains from the kefir.
– Store covered in a glass container with enough raw milk to cover grains.
– Use at least every 48 hours to keep cultures alive.
These grains will not only continue to thrive, they will also multiply. So, you can either make even more raw milk kefir, eat the grains for a super dose of probiotics, or share your new grains with a friend!
Note: There are two types of kefir cultures: water kefir grains and milk kefir grains. Water kefir grains are for making homemade kefir sodas and beverages, while the milk kefir grains are for milk kefir. These grains are different and can’t be used interchangeably. Be sure you order the right kind!
Kefir is a cultured milk product, which means it’s even more beneficial than raw milk! Read more about cultured dairy here.
How to make homemade raw milk kefir -


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  1. Love fresh kefir!
    I have to disagree w/ the no tap water rule though – I’ve rinsed w/ regular old chlorinated tap water for years with no problems and grains that grow. Maybe they’d grow faster w/ spring water but water in plastic bottles freaks me out about as much as the chlorine in tap water so, for now, I use tap water.

  2. I don’t actually rinse at all as I was told it’s not necessary. I love kefir but I usually end up with it separated so make it into smoothies. And it makes a great tasting smoothie!

  3. I am inspired to make Kefir today after reading this! I have to admit, I am not great at getting motivated to make things that are “projects” which can take a day or more to prepare. I tend to get overwhelmed by the steps and length of time involved. Often I start something and then completely forget it’s there…but this post somehow makes me feel motivated to do it…and I have some sour raw milk that would be perfect! Thanks Elizabeth!

  4. It’s so interesting to hear others’ experiences with homemade kefir. I agree, Deb, that plastics and chlorine are equally disconcerting.

    Cat JB – Thanks for bringing up the rinsing issue. I actually looked it up, and of course traditional cultures didn’t worry about rinsing grains. Some experts are even concerned about washing away the good stuff! I will edit my post above in light of that.

    Raine – You’re welcome! I really don’t like trying new things until I feel it will be fairly seamless to integrate it into my life, so I do hold off on some beneficial practices until I’m ready. I waited so long to try kefir, but now I feel it’s one of the easiest nourishing foods to make! With its unique benefits, it’s definitely worth it. I find it easy to remember the kefir because I drink it every morning, so when I run out I just mix the grains and milk and put it on top of my fridge the night before. The next morning, there’s my kefir! But for other things like sauerkraut that have to ferment for 3 or more days, I just write “sauerkraut” on a dry-erase calendar in my kitchen on the day it will be ready. That way I don’t forget!

  5. I’m making my kefir today (first time), as well as another batch of yogurt, which I’ve made now about four or five times with our raw milk.

    I am a little uncertain about the kefir grains because I have a box of them I ordered from Donna Gates’ Body Ecology site, and I just figured those were okay – but they don’t look or sound like the grains you used. I poured them directly into a liter glass container I have from when I bought Traderspoint Creamery yogurt, with raw milk in it (about 3/4) full. I couldn’t stir them because the neck of the bottle is too narrow, so I jostled the bottle gently until it appeared mixed, and then put it on top of my refrigerator at about 9 a.m. this morning.

    The grains are in a silver pouch and look a lot like really fine, white, granulated salt when I poured them in. The directions also say to use with raw milk, but it says to heat the milk first, which is probably just another way to make kefir (I decided just to follow your directions because I didn’t want to bother with the extra step).

    • Hmmm, my grains came in milk in a little baggie (I got them at They were much smaller than what you see in the picture, though. They do grow over time. :) I’m sure your grains will do fine, though. It probably just takes a couple batches to really get them going. I personally don’t think heating the milk is necessary if you use raw milk – plus like you say, I don’t need the extra step!

  6. Always ferment kefir in the dark. Lactic Acid Bacteria thrives in the dark and light destroys the bacteria production. The kefir will taste better too! For even better kefir and other ferments use a pure glass jar that is equipped with an airlock system like that found at This system will give you perfect ferments every time. No fuss, no muss and NO Molds. Fermenting for Dummies I call it.

  7. I live in the Philippines where it’s difficult to find raw milk. UHT and pateurized milk are the ones available in the market. I’ve used UHT for several batches and the milk kefir tastes just fine. Will continued use of UHT for milk kefir cause any health problem?

    • I’m a firm believer in doing the best you can with what’s available to you. If you’ve had some success with UHT milk and kefir, then that’s great! I have heard that using regular pasteurized might help the cultures develop, but I don’t have personal experience comparing the two.

  8. Oh, I thought you were supposed to cover Kefir with a cloth lid so air could excape. I will look into putting a tight fitting lid on it. I do love having the Kefir.

  9. To those who think tap water works the same as filtered:
    Chlorine is technically a halogen, which means, in your body, that it displaces iodine. This contributes to thyroid dysfunction. Over time, it can also weaken your ferments, I.e. kefir grains and kombucha scobys. You may still find that they are fermenting, but you may just be missing out on some of the bacteria since it probably isn’t fermenting at highest capability – as fast, or producing as much bacteria- anymore when it is constantly being flooded with chlorine and other things that are found in normal tap water. Even an inexpensive counter filter like the PureH2O or something is usually enough to make a big difference. You won’t be able to tell if your ferments are lacking as much probiotics as they should have, except in extreme cases when they die.

    Just wanted to give you some feedback: You have tags for things like kefir grains, but when you go to the Resources page, they aren’t one of the things listed. Perhaps they are found at the same place as other things on the list, but it would require checking all the links you have there.

  10. Hi! How long does it take for the grains to grow? I’ve made four or five batches of Kefir. I followed the instructions for changing from pasteurized milk to raw, but it just doesn’t seem to be getting very thick anymore. It smells right (tangy and pleasantly sour), and tastes right (tangy and slightly sour), but it’s more like a slightly thickened milk. But at times it’s hard to even find the grains when straining them out. I run it through the strainer and stir, but I’m afraid they’re getting broken up or squashed and going through the strainer.

    • I have the same problem too I can barely see my grains when fermenting and I been doing it for almost 4 months already. Should I get new kefir grains too?!

      • You might not be fermenting long enough, this would allow the grains to become stronger. Try 8 to 12 extra hours and see how that goes. It will not go bad, at worst you would have really separated keifer and see the whey (clearer liquid) which you can still strain out the grains and use. A good way to tell when you have fermented long enough is when you see that the whey is starting to separate, you’ll see small pockets of whey forming. Considering kitchen temps change with the different seasons, that’s how I tell when it has been long enough. Seems to work for me anyway.

  11. Thanks for your website and all the recipes and advice. I’ve been making milk kefir for about 3 weeks. My grains are healthy and growing/multiplying everyday. It’s exciting to find so many new ways to use the fresh kefir. So far, I’ve made smoothies, chocolate pudding, breakfast pudding, kefir cheese dip with veggie sticks, and in my pancakes in place of milk. It has all been delicious. So nice to find yummy ways to stay healthy!

  12. I have been drinking raw milk kefir for years now. It is easier to make than raw milk yoghert since the temperature is somewhat more flexible. I like to culture in 80 degrees Fahrenheit but you can go down as low as 72 degrees. In the winter I culture on a seeding mat which brings the temperature about 10 degrees up in my cold kitchen. For me it works in dark and light without difference of taste.

  13. I bought raw milk kefir and raw milk at our raw milk dairy farmer, Freedom Hill Farm in Ottisville NY. I am planning to leave the kefir bottle out for a day, and then strain out the grains, and then grow in a quart of milk. My house is staying around 65 degrees F now so I will definitely be leaving it out for at least 24 hours, possibly 36. Hopefully, I will be able to strain out the initial grains.
    I found your article helpful as well as the comments.

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