Fruit Juice: Fruit juice should only be added once the grains have been removed (It can cause them to cease growing, disintegrate and also dye them the color of the juice). Approximately 1/4 cup juice per 1 quart kefir is a good amount to start with. Adjust to taste. This will make it very thin and should be kept in mind that this is not the desired way to flavor milk kefir unless your aim is for a thin fruity-milky drink.
The most commonly used flavor extract is vanilla which though simple is very delicious. Be sure to remove the grains before adding a flavor extract. Whole vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks can be used as well.
• Vanilla Approx. 1/4- 1/3 tsp pure vanilla extract to 1 cup finished milk kefir. To sweeten, add in 1/2-1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup.
• Almond Approx. 1/4- 1/3 tsp pure almond extract to 1 cup finished milk kefir. To sweeten, add in 1/2-1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup.
• Strawberry (or any other preserve such as raspberry, pear, orange marmalade) Approx. 1 tablespoons preserves mixed into 1 cups worth of your plain kefir cream cheese. OR for a fresher more natural approach, 1/8-1/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries chopped how you want them + 1/2-1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup, and blend into 1 cups worth of your finished milk kefir.
COCOA & CAROB
Strawberry w/ Lemon/Lime/Orange
Blend together a handful of fresh or frozen strawberries, a squeeze of one fresh lemon slice (or 1 tsp lemon juice) into 1 cup finished milk kefir. This is also very tasty with lime or orange juice.
Lemon, Lime or Orange
Squeeze one fresh lemon slice/lime/orange (or 1 tsp of lemon/lime juice, about 1 tablespoon if orange) into 1 cup finished milk kefir. Try mixing all three for a citrus blend (dividing it of course to 1/3 of the original amount called for, for each).
Banana Berry Icy Blend
Take a 1/2 cup frozen berries, 1 cup kefir, 2 TBS shredded coconut, 1/2 large banana, a couple spoons of applesauce and blend in ice until desired consistency is reached. Add honey or sugar if you would like it sweeter. To make it thicker you can also add a couple scoops vanilla or coconut ice cream, and omit the ice and applesauce (it will be sweet enough). This is a very delicious flavor combination.
1 cup kefir blended with a half a banana and a couple fresh or frozen strawberries. Delicious!
Blend about 1/4-1/2 cup fresh diced mango into 1 cup milk kefir. Add in a slice of pineapple and/or some shredded coconut (or coconut milk) for additional tropical.
Coconut Lime Pineapple
Your classic Pina Colada flavor - blend together a couple slices pineapple (1/4 cup), 1 tsp lime, 1-2 TBS shredded coconut (or 1/8 cup coconut cream) with your 1 cup milk kefir. Great summer treat.
Fruit and flavoring combinations can be endless: fresh, frozen, jams or juices (or extracts such as almond). Mix it up and see what new delicious twists you can create! You can also add in carrot juice, aloe, yogurt, cream (to make a very rich smoothie) ginger, or other spices/herbs if you're feeling adventurous or looking to boost the nutrition even more! You can also of course make it more of a dessert and add in some delicious bites of cookies, cake, candy, nuts, graham cracker, whatever your heart desires! We recommend sticking to a more basic flavor like vanilla and mixing these in at the end for a chunky effect (and possibly using icecream for a Cold Stone type thick mix-in effect, instead of a drinkable smoothie). You can also thicken it with tapioca, blended bananas, blended rice or cooked blended oats or lentils (or other mild-flavored beans) if you desire a more pudding consistency.
These are dynamite!
1. Fill a tall glass cup with ice
2. (Optional - we recommend trying these after you know what the plain version tastes like) add in some flavoring syrup of your choice (grape, cherry, kiwi, cranberry etc). Jam or blended fruit can be used instead of syrup - add honey or sugar if the blended fruit is too bland).
3. Pour in your fizzy water kefir to about an inch from the top. To get fizzy milk kefir, bottle it in a specially designed air-tight bottle, such as a swing-top bottle (used for beer, etc) for a couple days until desired fizziness is reached (then add it to this recipe). If more fizz is desired, purchase some soda water and add a little in, to sub for part of the milk kefir.
4. Add in half and half (half cream, half milk) to the top.
5. Stick in your straw and drink!
It's easy to get a delectable cream cheese from your kefir simply by straining it in a fine muslin (butter cloth), thin tea towel or a couple coffee filters lining a strainer. You can aim for a sweet breakfast spread or a salty, cheesy snack spread with some of the suggested flavorings below. Simply take your finished kefir (seperated from the grains), and either hang it in a bag of clean fine kitchen cloth over a large bowl or put it in a coffee filter-lined strainer over a large bowl (to catch the whey dripping out). To make it easy putting kefir in a cloth bag, place the cloth in a bowl with the edges draping over the sides, pour the kefir in, grab the sides and tie it shut at the top and remove from bowl and hang. Use a rubber band, twistie or kitchen twine to tie the bag shut securely with a strong knot to hang it from. A banana tree works well to hang the bag, or a wooden spoon across a tall bucket works well too (and then the bucket can serve to catch the whey as well). Let drip through the cloth or coffee filters at room temperature for 24-28 hours. You may put it in the fridge too, if it's needed for some reason (it will not hinder the process). Remove from the cloth or coffee filters and put in a clean storage container to consume!
Flavoring Suggestions: (all improve when let to sit for a day or two and meld in the fridge before consumption)
Strawberry Cream Cheese
1-2 hefty tablespoons strawberry preserves mixed into 1 cups worth of your plain kefir cream cheese OR for a fresher more natural approach, 1/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries chopped how you want them + 1/2-1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup, and blend into 1 cups worth of your plain kefir cream cheese.
Blueberry Cream Cheese (follow this for raspberries or blackberries too)
1-2 hefty tablespoons blueberry preserves mixed into 1 cups worth of your plain kefir cream cheese OR for a fresher more natural approach, 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries chopped how you want them + 1/2-1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup, and blend into 1 cups worth of your plain kefir cream cheese.
Preserves Cream Cheese
The list could go on and on for this so we'll condense it into 1 recipe. Simply take your favorite jam/jelly/preserve - about 1 tablespoon worth to start with, and blend it into your kefir cream cheese. Some flavors will work better than others. Apricot, Huckleberry, Orange and Lemon would be some good ones to try).
Honey Pecan Cream Cheese
1-2 tsp honey and 1/4 cup pecans chopped to desired size, blended or stirred into 1 cup kefir cream cheese (smaller pecan pieces will lend more flavor after a day or two in the cream cheese than larger pieces will).
Mixed Berry Cream Cheese
1/4 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries with 1/2 -1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup (if you desire to sweeten it a bit) into 1 cup kefir cream cheese.
Cherry Almond Chocolate Cream Cheese
Fresh or dried cherries (they will soften in the cheese after a day) chopped to desired size, with 1/2 -1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup (if you desire to sweeten it a bit), 1/4 tsp almond extract, and 1/2-1 tablespoon cocoa powder (such as Hershey's). This is great with or without the chocolate
Chocolate Cream Cheese
Simply blend 1/2-1 tablespoon cocoa powder with 1/2 -1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup (if you desire to sweeten it a bit) into 1 cup kefir cream cheese.
Cinnamon Raisin Cream Cheese
1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup/handful raisins blended/stirred into 1 cup kefir cream cheese. Dried apple bits can add a nice touch as well (and perhaps a very tiny pinch nutmeg). Add 1/2 -1 tsp sugar/1 tsp honey/pinch stevia/1 tsp maple syrup (if you desire to sweeten it a bit).
Garlic Onion Cream Cheese
Blend in about 1 tsp minced onion, 1 tsp minced garlic and add a little worcestershire sauce if desired (about 1 tsp), and a generous pinch of salt into 1 cup kefir cream cheese.
Mediterranean Olive Tomato Cream Cheese
Around 15 pimento or mixed olives, and 1/2 cup sun dried or semi-dried (marinated is ok too) tomatoes and a pinch of salt (adjust if olives or tomatoes contain salt). Chop or blend (whatever you desire) and mix into 1 cup kefir cream cheese.
Veggie Cream Cheese
1/4 tsp dill weed, 1 tablespoon dried/dehydrated veggies and 1 tablespoon soy sauce blended into 1 cup kefir cream cheese.
Parmesan Italian Herb Cream Cheese
Add in about 1 tablespoons grated (or granular) Parmesan, a very tiny pinch salt and stir into 1 cups worth of kefir cream cheese. Sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon (a couple generous shakes) Italian seasoning (basil, thyme, oregano, sage, etc). To make it even cheesier, shred in some (1/4-1/2 cup) of your favorite cheese such as Monterey Jack, Colby or cheddar or even a mild mozzarella. Adding sun dried or semi-dried tomatoes is wonderful as well.
Kefir Cream Cheese Easy Pie Dessert
This is so simple and so delicious. Similar to a light fluffy cheesecake. Take one of the recipes here for the cream cheese if you want it flavored, or leave it plain. If you don't have a pie crust, simply mash together 2 cups graham cracker crumbs with 6 TBS butter or coconut oil (melted) a tiny pinch salt and a 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Press the crust mix into the pie pan and chill for 30 min-2 hours. Otherwise use a pre-baked graham cracker pie crust. Whip 2 cups milk until stiff peaks form, slowly add 1/4 cup sugar (omit or lessen if cream cheese already contains sugar) continuing to whip. Then take this mixture and with a spatula gently fold it into 2 cups kefir cream cheese and 2 tsp lemon juice until well blended. Taste and add sugar (or honey or stevia) to desired sweetness (and 1 tsp vanilla extract if desired), do not over-stir. Spread over crust. Top with fruit or nuts, caramel, chocolate, etc). Chill 1-2 hours and then serve!
BREADS & DOUGH
Using Kefir Instead of Sourdough to Raise Dough
Funny enough, milk kefir is an excellent dough riser, much like your traditional sourdough starter (or yeast packets). It will make a multi-dimensionally flavored bread or tantalizing pizza crust.
Kefir Pizza Crust
To make a milk kefir dough-rising starter, take 1 cup milk kefir, and stir into 1 cup unbleached flour (wheat or spelt work best, rye and other grains don't rise as well). Let sit in a jar that has enough room for it to expand double in size, covered with a breathable lid (a paper towel and rubberband works). Once its very active and bubbly and risen almost double, its ready to use. Don't wait until it has become overly sour or started to recede and de-puff. It should be ready anywhere from 18 to 48 hours.
Recipe makes either 4 mini pizzas or 2 large pizzas:
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil (sesame, olive, safflower, sunflower or herb-infused)
1 cup warm water
4 cups flour (again, unbleached wheat or spelt work best. Wholegrain will not rise as well, but it can still work ok - you may need to add more water too as it is thirstier than standard white flours. A good compromise can be 1 or 2 cups wholegrain, and 2 or 3 cups standard white).
Pizza seasoning, salt and pepper to taste (around 2 TBS seasoning, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper is a good place to start).
Your kefir dough-rising starter (1 cup kefir milk mixed in 1 cup flour and left to mature)
Pizza seasoning blend (will make more than what is needed for the recipe):
2 tablespoons Oregano
1 tablespoon Basil
1/2 tablespoon Onion flakes
1/2 tablespoon Garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon Thyme
1/2 tablespoon Fennel
1/2 tablespoon Paprika
1/2 tablespoon Black pepper, Coarsely ground
1/2 tablespoon Ginger
1/2 tablespoon Lemon Peel (dried Form)
Mix your kefir dough-rising starter with the warm water, salt and the oil. Slowly add in all of the flour, mixing a cup at a time until blended, then adding another cup and so on. Once the dough is moist and stretchy (a couple minutes of stirring) it is ready. Add more warm water if it is dense and dry. Pizza dough is more 'loose' than regular bread dough. Roll out 4 mini pizzas or 2 large ones (roll into a ball, then roll outwards from the center in each direction until it forms a nice thin circular pizza crust, the appropriate size for your pizza pans or baking stone). Put your rolled out dough on your pizza pans.
Now spread your pizza sauce of choice, the seasoning, then the toppings of choice, and for the last layer, the shredded cheeses of choice. If there is meat involved, save this to put on just before sticking it in the oven to prevent spoilage issues (and top with a little more cheese to prevent the meat from burning and losing too much moisture unless you want it very crisp).
Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap on their pans for 2-5 hours. Preheat oven to 450°F/250°C just before you are ready to stick the dough in. Put pizza(s) in oven for 15-25 minutes until golden brown and sizzling. Serve!
To make kefir bread, simply use the same recipe as above, but knead the dough mixture for about 5-10 minutes, adding more flour so that the dough is soft and springy instead of loose and moist. Avoid adding too much which will feel like a dry, dense and tough dough. Once its kneaded, shape and put in your tin you will bake it in (or clay baker, bread basket shaper etc). After 2 hours, punch it down and let it rise again, another couple hours or more until doubled in volume. Bake at 375°F/190°C for about 35-45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing or storing.