Milk Kefir Thickening Process

Kefir- Step-6-pour-into-containersThis process for thickening homemade kefir with Pomona’s Pectin was developed, described, and photographed by Kristin Caufield, a kefir fan. She tried a few different methods and this is the one that worked the best for her.

Kristin says: “While I love the ease and versatility of making homemade kefir, my husband misses the thickness of store-bought yogurt, so I did a search to see what options I had. I’ve strained it, but then you are left with only a little ‘yogurt’ and a lot of whey to find a use for, so that isn’t an ideal solution. I’ve seen several thickeners used and tried a few with mixed results. I then saw several suggestions for using Pomona’s for kefir as its thickening ability is activated by calcium rather than by sugar – but no one had any specific instructions on how they did this.”

That was the challenge – and Kristin went to work. At Pomona’s, we are not kefir makers and cannot give you advice on that – but if you are a kefir maker and trying to thicken your homemade kefir, consider giving Kristin’s method a try.

Thank you Kristin!

Note: Adding calcium water is not necessary if the milk has calcium in it naturally or is calcium fortified. If you need to add calcium water, we recommend 1 teaspoon per cup of milk. Add the teaspoons of calcium water to the milk that does not have the pectin in it. Stir well.

Kefir Thickening Process

Step 1:
Make your kefir with 1 Tablespoon grains to 3 cups low-heat pasteurized milk. You will be adding more milk in later, so it’s best to let it culture toward the sour side.

Kefir-Step-1-milk-and-grains

Step 2:
Strain off the grains from your kefir yogurt to use in your next batch.

Kefir-Step-2-strain-out-grains

Step 3:
Warm 1 cup of fresh milk, either in the microwave (about 1 minute, depending on your microwave), or on the stove top. Warm the milk to about 110 degrees F. but not hotter as too much heat will damage the probiotics when you mix this milk into your kefir. Warm milk is necessary for dissolving the pectin in Step 4.

Step 3: Heat up 1cup of milk. Add the warm milk to a blender with 1T of Pomona's Pectin. Blend well.

Step 4:
Put warm milk in blender or in food processor. Add 1 Tablespoon of Pomona’s Pectin. It is important to vent the lid (if there is one). Blend for 10 seconds, then stop and scrape down the sides so all pectin clumps are in or on the milk. Then blend for a full minute or until all powder is totally dissolved.

Kefir-Step-4-add-milk-to-blender

Step 5:
Add your strained kefir yogurt to the pectinized milk in the blender or food processor. Blend for a minute or two at medium speed, stopping and scraping down the sides if need be. At this point, your kefir will be the consistency of thick ranch dressing.

Kefir-Step-5-add-strained-kefir-yogurt

Step 6:
Pour kefir into containers and put into your refrigerator. You should have 4 cups. It will thicken up a bit more as it sits in the refrigerator. The blend will eventually start to separate into curds and whey (I presume this is because the pectin binds with the calcium making the kefir more acidic, causing it to separate – like adding lemon juice would do), so it should be consumed within a day or two after making. Alternatively you can just stir the mixture. The separation does not change the flavor or texture.

Kefir- Step-6-pour-into-containers

For more inspiring recipe ideas, see Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar, High-Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves, and More by Allison Carroll Duffy and the Pomona’s Partners, published by Fair Winds Press, June 2013, and available in paper or ebook everywhere books are sold.

Pomona’s Pectin is available at your local natural food store, food co-op, and many farm stands. Find it also at Sur La Table and a growing number of more conventional grocery stores with natural food sections (Wegmans, Hy-Vee, Rosauers, Nugget Markets, Coborns, Fairway, and others). If you can’t find a store near you on our store locator, you can order from our website or many other online sellers.

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7 thoughts on “Milk Kefir Thickening Process

  1. What about the calcium water? Is it not needed for some reason? I thought it was essential to use it with the Pomona’s pectin to activate it.

    • Hi Tom,
      Because we know that milk already has calcium in it there is no need to add the calcium water when using Pomona’s Pectin with milk. I’ll add something to the recipe to indicate this.

      Thanks so much for your comment and for using Pomona’s Pectin.

      • Thanks! I mixed a ½ teaspoon of pectin with 1 cup of mango nectar, then heated it to 118 degrees in the microwave. After a few minutes’ cool-down period, I added the mango nectar to 3 cups of cold kefir. It tastes great!

        Thanks for guiding me through the process. I’ve become a big fan of kefir and can’t wait to try out more fruit jam/jelly recipes from your website!

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