Learn About Milk Kefir
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Recommended Culturing Products: Milk Kefir / Viili / Yogurt
These are all products we recommended from our own research and own personal use.
• Each item is what we've found to be superior in its category.
• All the products in some way aid in fermenting, are sustainable, or are eco-friendly (and in many cases all three).
• We live on a tight budget so you'll find most of our recommendations are reasonably priced as well.
• Have something you think we should recommend? We'd love to hear! Let us know on our contact page!
Milk Kefir / Viili / Yogurt
Water Kefir / Ginger Beer
These icons will take you to culture-specific recommendations. OR view the full recommendations list below.
(click product images to view more details about each item)
Supplies & Equipment
This great little lid is quite functional - it fits most wide mouth mason, Kerr and Ball canning jars and is perfect to convert your jar into a strainer or sprouter! We also make specialty strainers and sprouters of our own, which we find work even better. You can find them in our store.

Just tip jar and let the kefir strain out, leaving the grains behind or sprout wheat or other grains to eat and use in making more digestible breads at home. Made of culture-friendly food-grade plastic.
We always have some of this stuff on hand at our home. Cheesecloth (butter muslin) always comes in handy with straining, and can double as a breathable lid for your cultures. This is the unbleached, natural good stuff. We love this stuff because you can wash it and re-use it - very cost friendly and eco-friendly.Also a perfect filter for jelly, cheese making and storage, making Greek yogurt (thick yogurt) and even meat roasting, basting, stuffing and poaching.
With some of this unbleached natural twine you can make your own bags out of muslin to hang and strain kefir to make cheese.
Muslin also comes in already made muslin drawstring bags, which double great as re-usable bags for keeping any household items like buttons, toys, fishing tackle. We offer packs of these in our supplies section of our store, too. We like to also use these to carry snacks in, instead of using (and wasting) tons of plastic bags.
Soup socks are another perfect option for keeping something in thats immersed in some kind of liquid medium. Soup socks are a lot like the cheesecloth, but they're more stretchy and not as tightly woven (and also reusable for quite a few times). If you've ever made home-made soup you know the chicken and bones fall apart everywhere- sticking the whole chicken plus your veggies and fresh herbs in these stretchy re-usable socks keeps everything intact. What a brilliant creation. Great for sticking in fruits or veggies for flavoring your kefir or kombucha.
Bulk quantity unbleached coffee filters still remains one of the best (and cheapest) options for finely straining kefir to seperate the curd and whey (when making kefir cheese!). Just rest inside a strainer like one of the ones above. Also doubles as a nice breathable lid for kefir.
Excellent stainless steel strainer (culture friendly material). We own one ourselves - the sturdy strong handle, fine mesh size and multiple size choices of this strainer makes this ideal for straining kefir and kombucha. Also rests nicely atop most standard bowls due to the hanging knob opposite the handle.
Bamboo strainers are a good alternative if you want to avoid all plastic and metal materials when straining your ferments - may or may not work well with milk kefir.
We don't recommend plastic strainers usually because virtually ALL plastic strainers' holes are too large. This is best for kombucha or water kefir (if your grains are consistently large - though yeast strings or kefir grains may pass through), has a sturdy handle and is also collapsible. We do have a special nylon/plastic strainer in our supplies section of our store which works perfect for all of our cultures and has a finer mesh.
A bowl with a pouring spout and nice grip on the handle and bottom - really nice to have for collecting your strained ferments and then being able to pour them into your bottling jars. This one holds 8 cups and even has measuring notches inside - convenient and handy bowl.
This little cheese press device converts 3 cups of kefir or yogurt into 1 cup of kefir/yogurt cheese in about 24 hours (which is a nice healthy probiotic alternative to commercial cream cheese or sour cream).
One of the best cheese books to get as a guide for making (and even selling) all kinds of cheese. Kefir can be used to make some of the easiest and tastiest cheese.
Just as it says - this is a well-liked easy to read book of homemade cheese recipes: From Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yogurt.
This company sells a myriad of wonderful cheese-making kits and supplies (New England Cheese Making Supply Co). They also have things like acid meters, thermometers, yogurt supplies, home pasteurizing equipment and refrigerator thermostats.
This is a great yogurt book if you're wondering what to do with all your yogurt (or kefir). It's filled mainly with recipes to use with your home-made yogurt, such as yogurt dressings, yogurt dishes, etc.
Some seriously creative (and yummy basic ) recipes - over 500 ice creams, sorbets, granitas, drinks, etc in this ice cream book. The best book to get started and get inspired for making any kind of frozen treat from your kefir or yogurt.
We tentatively recommend this coconut water. Compared to the other brands most agree it has the truest fresh young coconut flavor and is handy to use to make coconut kefir if you cannot purchase young coconuts. However, the background of this company is vague, and some of the times we tested this we turned up with rancid coconut kefir. We highly recommend just buying the real thing if you can.
Some people have had good success kefiring with milk alternatives such as goat, soy, rice, hemp and almond milk with their kefir grains. We recommend these ones for their taste, being unsweetened, gluten-free (some aren't), mostly organic (not Almond Breeze) and overall popularity and company backgrounds.
If you don't want to bother with all the added ingredients found in most milk-alternative beverages you can make your own soy, rice, almond (or oat, hemp, bean, etc) milk. This is one of the highest rated milk machines out there to do the job and is still priced reasonably too, for everything it can do.
It is difficult to find WHOLE milk in powder form. This one is whole, comes from Holland and is excellent to coat and store dried or frozen milk kefir grains in, to protect them from the elements. Also excellent to add to your milk kefir to make a creamier, thicker kefir (try 1/8-1/4 cup per pint or quart). There is also dried whole goat milk for this purpose as well.
Ingredients & Flavoring
Organic whole cane sugar is in our opinion one of the best sugars for sweetening your milk kefir with. This particular brand composts their sugar instead of heating it, retaining more of the original nutritional value of the sugar cane.
Organic Turkish apricots are one of the few dried fruits that flavor milk kefir favorably (believe us, we've tried many). Barry Farm offers many, many other high quality and usually organic dried fruits to try in your kefir or kombucha as well at very good prices. You can purchase small or bulk from them. Dried dates, figs, cherries, raspberries, and apples also work well with milk kefir. Aside from these, fresh fruits usually impart more flavor.
This brand of organic flavoring syrups is a delicious easy way to add flavor to your kefir, yogurt, and of course kombucha and water kefir as well (and popsicles). Of course fresh fruit and ingredients (or juices) are optimal but for difficult to recreate, fun flavors try the Hazelnut, Huckleberry, Pomegranate and Irish Creme.
One of THE best maple syrups out there - and we're talking Vermont fresh from the tree quality. An excellent natural sweetener for kefir.
Raw honey is so good mixed with fresh kefir and has substantial health benefits both for your skin and for consumption. Although we recommend finding local raw honey (which also can help improve seasonal allergies), this is an excellent and highly recommended choice of raw honey.
Jam is another excellent way to flavor kefir. Absolutely the best tasting jams out there (and that's not just our opinion). A little background: Bonne Maman products are exported to over 100 countries and are top rated in taste tests. Their preserves and jellies are made with no colorings, artificial preservatives, pulps, purees, juices or concentrates.
Cranberry Juice Concentrate is delicious and has many health benefits (and high vitamin C), this one is our favorite because no funny stuff is added. Juice concentrate is better for flavoring than juice in the case of milk kefir since you can use a smaller amount, and not risk diluting or making the milk kefir too runny and loosing its creaminess. They also make pomegranate, blueberry and cherry.
For making your own juice (veggie or fruit) this juicer is really the way to go - one of the best juicers for serious juicing without breaking the bank. For flavoring (and secondary fermenting) with your bottled kefir this device can really create some interesting and incredibly healthy and fresh juices.
Vanilla extract is so delicious in milk kefir and one of the simplest ways to add flavor. This is one of the best brands of flavor extracts and amazingly its cheaper than non-organic store brands when you get it bulk online. For example this Fair Trade Certified vanilla extract is the product of premium organic vanilla beans grown in southern India by small farmers who are committed to sustainable, bio-dynamic agriculture. They have many other flavored extracts as well.
There are so many jars to choose from out there, but we recommend thick-walled glass jars which offer more protection against explosion when storing and bottling your ferments. Brands that make superb jars include Ball, Kerr, Bormioli Rocco and Anchor Hocking. This pack is a good size to start out with if you can't find it at your local store. We have jars available in our supplies section of our store, too.
Swing top bottles are great for building carbonation in your kefir. This comes in a pack of 12 and each holds 16 oz (2 cups) - just right for bottling and flavoring! We also offer these in our store.
An airlock is a great cheap little necessity if you are thinking of fermenting beer, wine, or lacto fermented veggies such as sauerkraut or pickles! We make our own sauerkraut with this.This also is wonderful to use to ferment kefir, kombucha, and gingerbeer. It simply keeps the ferment cleaner than a cloth lid, while still expelling built up carbonation from the fermenting process.
This insulated bottle sleeve is great in the winter or summer to help regulate the temperature of your fermentations such as milk / water kefir or kombucha. Comfortably holds a quart jar.
Flexible ice packs - you can cut to fit whatever you need to stick them in or around. This is great for all kinds of purposes including wrapping around kefir jars to cool them in the summer.
The problem with many ph test strips is that due to the hype in testing body acidity/alkilinity there are many cheap and unreliable 'gimmick' brands out there. If you are wanting to accurately test the Ph of any of your cultures or even for other purposes this brand is used by chemists and is as accurate if not more so than as a descent ph meter (unless you're willing to shell out $200+).
One of the most reliable, recommended and affordable of the yogurt machines out there. Some mention that you can place a glass jar inside it too, if you wish to avoid fermenting your batches in the plastic container it comes with. Makes up to 2 liters at a time.
After discovering that yogurt machines can be finicky and heat up too hot, we've come to rely on this trusty cooler - also which seems to perform the best for regular cooler usage too (outperforming other comparable coolers). We just fill it with water thats 110°F, stick in our jars and in 4 hours we have tons of beautiful home-made yogurt. Of course, there's bigger sizes but this one holds 4 of the quart jars, which is a good starting amount for most, and fits perfect in the backseat floor area of a car when you use it for 'real' cooler purposes.
When sterilizing milk that we've found matters is a thermometer that can rest away from the edges and bottom of the pan, hands free. For some reason its difficult to find clip thermometers - this one is rated well for accuracy, and has the elusive clip. Digital thermometers can be unreliable, we always use our basic clip thermometer or a candy/deep fryer thermometer.
Many digital thermometers are unreliable but this one is rated one of the best (and priced well too).This is excellent for making yogurt or bread. Also comes with the handy clip so that the probe can rest right where you need it.
We like this measuring cup because you can push sticky stuff out of it without touching it with anything else (great for cultures where contamination is an issue). Perfect for measuring honey, molasses, yogurt starter, kefir grains or sourdough starter.
This little ice cream maker gives you the most bang for your buck. This will process up to 4 quarts of ice cream (or frozen yogurt/kefir) at a time. For a fun one for kids, we had to stick this other one in here too - the Play and Freeze is such a cute idea.
The best and cutest popsicle molds (bpa free). Everyone seems to adore these because of their perfect size, cute shapes and colors and of course the fact that you can make tasty, fun treats at home over and over with these. Homemade frozen yogurt, kefir and kombucha popsicles taste SO much better than regular popsicles of course too! :) Or just freeze some fruit juice in these molds for a quick cheap summer treat!
Fascinating and fun book full of helpful and truly unique fermenting advice. It focuses on the flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods. There aren't a whole lot of books out there on this topic - we ended up owning this we liked it so much.
Sandor Katz (author of the above mentioned book, Wild Fermentation) takes fermenting to a whole new and more in-depth level. His most current book chalk full of fascinating info on cultures from around the world, how to obtain them, and how to work with them. Beautiful large reference book for any fermenting enthusiast, including several photo sections.
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