Ideally, to make the best kefir, we would all want to use raw organic milk that is fresh from the farm and handled in a hygienic manner. However, there are often other concerns such as price, accessibility, and shelf life. This article explores the various kinds of milk that you can use to make kefir and their pros and cons.
Make kefir with raw milk
Raw milk is milk that is completely unprocessed. Proponents of raw milk claim that it’s more nutritious and tastes better than processed milk. On the other hand, there are concerns about the safety of raw milk. Raw milk is also banned in many countries so many people may find it difficult to get. Even in places where raw milk is available, it is often much more expensive than the other types of milk.
Pros of raw milk: May be more nutritious and tastes better
Cons of raw milk: Possible safety/hygiene issues, may not be available in some countries, expensive, and shortest shelf life.
Make kefir with pasteurized fresh milk
Pasteurized milk is milk which has been heated to around 70 degrees celsius (160 degrees F). Pasteurized milk lasts longer than raw milk, with a shelf life of about two to three weeks if refrigerated. However, some vitamins and minerals may be lost during pasteurization. It’s also easier to find pasteurized milk than raw milk. In fact, in countries that ban raw milk, all milk is either pasteurized or UHT. Pasteurized milk is also cheaper than raw milk.
Pros of pasteurized milk: Longer shelf life, easier to find, and cheaper than raw milk
Cons of pasteurized milk: Loss of some vitamin and minerals
Make kefir with UHT milk
UHT refers to ultra-heat treatment and UHT milk is subjected to extremely high temperatures at 135 degrees C (275 degrees F) for about 1 to 2 seconds. This kills off the germs in the milk, allowing UHT milk to be stored for six to nine months without refrigeration if it’s not yet opened. However, like pasteurized milk, there is some nutritional loss. Also, many people find it to have a less pleasant taste compared to the other two milks mentioned above. UHT milk is also the cheapest type of milk you can find. I’ve also noticed that using UHT milk to make kefir tends to make it come out thicker.
Claims that kefir or yogurt cannot be cultured with UHT milk are not true. I have made both yogurt and kefir with UHT milk and they turned out just fine.
Pros of UHT milk: Longest shelf life, easily available and is the cheapest option
Cons of UHT milk: Some nutrient loss and may taste less pleasant to some people
What milk am I using to make kefir?
I am currently using pasteurized goat milk to make all my kefir since I have goat milk delivered to my house weekly. Occasionally, if I run out of goat milk, I use UHT cow’s milk that I’ve stocked up for this purpose. Ideally, I’d like to avoid UHT milk but it’s the cheapest option available and so easy just to stock up a few packets for emergency use.
I’d like to try making kefir with raw milk sometime but it probably won’t happen soon because raw milk is banned here in Singapore. Does raw milk really make tastier kefir? If you’ve tried making kefir with raw milk, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at hello [at] kefirblog [dot] com or just leave a comment below. Thank you!