How not to Over-ferment your Milk Kefir to Achieve a Curd-Like Consistency (Yes, this is a post that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH TRADING.)
1) There are many videos on YouTube that show you, step-by-step, the process of culturing and harvesting milk kefir - I personally recommend this one here that is short and sweet enough for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4kLBhGthUw&list=PLrYUil_R3T6MPEOYjEnVEQ-b-bhTQiIKo&index=6
2) I'm going to jump right into the details of how I have consistently made milk kefir that is creamy, a little sour but not tart (you know your milk kefir is tart if your cats/dogs/human kids/spouses won't touch it) and so thick that you'll have to eat it with a spoon.
3) To achieve this ideal consistency (see video clip attached), you'll have to harvest your milk kefir before it separates into whey and curd - at the point where your milk kefir has coagulated, and doesn't slosh around when you give the jar holding your milk kefir a gentle swirl.
4) What happens with most of the milk kefir we make at home here in sunny Singapore is that they seem to skip the curd-like phase altogether, moving into the over-fermented stage of partial or total separation of whey and curd at the time of harvest (anywhere from 4 to 24 hours from the time that fresh milk is added to the milk kefir grains - depending on the grain to milk ratio used). The resulting milk kefir is always going to be runny and tart. In an attempt to slow things down a notch, some of us ferment our milk kefir in the fridge. Fermentation time takes 3 to 7 days - up to 2 weeks for those using a lower grain to milk ratio - and the resulting milk kefir is thick and tart. This is not my favorite way to culture my milk kefir however, because I want my grains to multiply, and I need my supply of 1.5 to 2L of milk kefir every day for the humans and the cats, and my cats and D hate sour.
5) To get thick and creamy without compromising on grain growth and taste, you'll have to play around with grain-to-milk ratio, fermenting temperature and fermentation time. Well, you don't really have to, cuz I've done it for you. The following methods, if you follow them diligently, will give you thick, creamy and tasty (ie. sour but not tart - I mean, this is fermented aka SOUR milk so you can't expect it to be NOT sour at all):
- If your room temperature is in the 28 - 32C range (that is, in a non-airconditioned room), and your grain to milk ratio is 5g (1 measuring teaspoon) to 400ml of milk, your milk kefir will likely be ready for harvesting at the 15th to 18th hour. You should see a curd-like structure (see 3) above and the homemade video of me scooping my milk kefir) and a few tiny whey pockets at the bottom of your jar. This is a temperature I've not tried myself, but it is the temperature that my mentor uses. She harvests at the 24 hour mark though, producing a slightly more sour kefir than mine.
- If your room temperature is in the 22-26C range (that is, in an air-conditioned room), and you use a grain to milk ratio of 5g to 400ml milk, you are not likely to have to worry about over fermentation as long as you keep fermentation time to less than 48 hours. I have on many occasions missed the 24 hour, even the 28 hour mark, and my milk kefir was nowhere near separation. The resulting milk kefir is thick, creamy and tasty. Grain growth is a moderate 10 to 20% per batch.
- If your room temperature is in the 19 - 21C range (that is, what I call a COLD room), this is when you can use a lot of grains to a small amount of milk (that is, the grain to milk ratio of 25g of grain to 500ml of milk that Dom uses). Fermentation time is 20 to 24 hours. The resulting milk kefir is thick, creamy and tasty, and grain growth is an impressive 40% per batch.
6) If you really want your grains to grow, use the largest jar that you can find. I ferment 500ml of milk using a 2L mason jar. I don't know why that is the case, but it is what I observe. Grains love space.
Because of the many things that were happening in my life, I was forced to take a year-long break from trading. After the initial period of house selling and buying and moving, I have spent most of my time tending to my 8 cats, to the arrival of shipments of furniture, to my new hobby of culturing milk kefir. I watched no charts until probably a month ago.I spent way too much time on Facebook than I ought to. I read too few books. I ate too many fruits. I must have gained at least 10kgs in the time that I stopped trading and writing. So, trading MUST resume.