Milk kefir characteristics can vary depending on the milk used for culturing. Milks from different animals and milks processed in different ways can result in differences in your yogurt's thickness and texture.
While most milk will culture well, there are some factors to consider.
Choosing the Type of Milk for Making Milk Kefir
- Cow milk is the most popular choice for culturing. Culturing cow's milk produces a thick, smooth milk kefir.
- Goat milk is becoming more popular for culturing. The structure of goat milk is different from cow milk and results in a thinner finished kefir than cow milk.
- Sheep milk is sweeter than cow milk and contains more protein, resulting in a thicker, creamier kefir. It is used more for making cheese generally, but could be cultured into milk kefir, too.
- Non-dairy Milk may be cultured in some cases. Coconut milk can be cultured using milk kefir grains as long as a revitalization period is observed. While some people report success culturing kefir grains in seed and nut milks, these yield inconsistent results.
Revitalization Period. When culturing coconut milk, it is important to revitalize the kefir grains in animal milk for 24 hours. We recommend allowing the milk kefir grains a revitalization period every few days. Simply place them in animal milk for 24 hours. Once the culturing process is complete, the milk kefir grains can be returned to use with coconut milk.
- Lactose-free milk may not suitable for culturing. Some brands do actually still contain lactose, but also contain lactase, an enzyme that helps lactose-intolerant individuals digest the lactose. However, these brands are usually ultra-pasteurized, as well, which does not work well for culturing. Other brands of lactose-free milk are filtered to remove lactose. In that case, there would be insufficient food for the bacteria.