Kefir is a cultured milk product, similar to buttermilk, with lots of nutrients and probiotics. It’s easy to make homemade Kefir in the Instant Pot.
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Kefir instant pot recipe from milk and a starter culture. Making it in an Instant Pot makes it even easier. It is a cultured milk product, similar to yogurt. It is mesophilic, which means it is cultured at a lower temperature. The mild, flavor makes it ideal for breakfast, a snack or as a dessert. We usually add fruits or nuts, and honey.
We like to make homemade kefir, so that we know exactly what is in it. The kefir is just high quality milk with a starter culture – no sugar or additives. Making it at home can be a little tricky, because you need control the temperature for a number of hours. Also, you may want to boil the milk before culturing to make the finished product thicker, and this requires a specific temperature.
THE SCIENCE PART OF MAKING KEFIR
There are a variety of different milk cultures. They can be grouped into two categories – mesophilic and thermophilic. It is important to know which category your starter culture is in, because cultures thrive at different temperatures. Kefir is mesophilic. Most yogurt cultures are thermophilic.
- Mesophilic, which translates to “medium-loving”, indicates that it thrives at medium temperatures (around 68-100 degrees F) and is destroyed at a higher temperature (around 113 degrees F).
- Thermophilic, which translates to “heat-loving”, indicates that it thrives at higher temperatures (around 105-115 degrees F) and is destroyed at a higher temperature (around 130 degrees F).
MAKING KEFIR IN AN INSTANT POT
An Instant Pot is perfect for culturing milk products. It has a special yogurt setting that scalds the milk, and then another setting that allows you to select the temperature and it will hold it there for hours. The Instant Pot Ultra has a yogurt setting that can be adjusted to low, where it will maintain a constant temperature of 90 degrees, which will usually work for culturing a mesophilic culture. The medium setting will culture a thermophilic culture.
Because this is a cultured product, it is important that everything is clean. Start with milk that is not near its expiration date. Remove the sealing ring on the Instant Pot lid. Thoroughly wash the inner pot and the lid with very hot water and put the sealing ring back on.
For kefir, boiling the milk is not required, but will produce a thicker product. If you decide to boil the milk, use the boil setting on the yogurt setting to bring the temperature of the milk above 180 degrees F and then let it cool to below 70 degrees F before adding the kefir starter culture. This will kill any unwanted bacteria, and also help thicken the kefir.
The milk and starter culture must be kept at a constant temperature where the culture will thrive. Kefir is a mesophilic variety, so it needs to be kept between 68 and 100 degrees F. The low setting on the Instant Pot is 90 degrees F, so this setting will work. The longer it is cultured, the thicker and more tart it becomes.
It is possible to make successive batches of kefir from a few tablespoons of a previous batch, but we usually start with fresh starter culture to make sure the culture is strong and the milk is kept clean. The starter culture comes in powdered form in tiny packets and conveniently stores for months in the refrigerator. We get starter culture from Cultures for Health.
Also, making it in an Instant Pot is easier, and a great way to use less energy. We use an Instant Pot Ultra, that has a special yogurt setting. This creates incredible kefir, allowing us to eat less meat, and also saves money.
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I make kefir milk using my own grains at home, can I use my own kefir culture when making this yogurt? How much would I use?
Thanks for the question Maren – I always start with fresh milk and a starter culture. Using store bought kefir may work, but I don’t want to risk having an unsuccessful batch if it doesn’t, which would be a waste of my time and the milk. Cultures for Health has some really good information about this at: https://culturesforhealth.com/blogs/learn/milk-kefir-make-kefir-from-prepared-kefir .
Can you use kefir purchased at a store as your starter instead of the culture packets you mention?
I always start with fresh milk and a starter culture. Using store bought kefir may work, but I don’t want to risk having an unsuccessful batch if it doesn’t, which would be a waste of my time and the milk. Cultures for Health has some really good information about this at: https://culturesforhealth.com/blogs/learn/milk-kefir-make-kefir-from-prepared-kefir .
Thanks for your explanation of the difference between making kefir and yoghurt. Please also add metric measurements in future. It saves those of us in the rest of the English speaking world having to constantly look up conversion tables!
Marilyn – Thank you so much for the comment! I write most recipes these days in grams, because it is so much faster, easier and more accurate, but I had not done that in this post and not even thought of the temperatures. I’m so glad you mentioned it, I will work on adding this to all my posts.