Kefir ferments when you place milk kefir grains and add them to milk to culture for 24 hours. Once the grains are separated, they are transferred to fresh milk and the fermenting process is complete – you know have milk kefir.
By removing the grains, you can use it in smoothies and/or recipes, or you can culture a second time – and this second culturing period is something known as second fermentation.
It’s a really wonderful way to flavor the kefir – especially if you are planning on using a flavored kefir to make a specific recipe. In our case, I usually second ferment kefir with garlic and then use that second ferment to make garlic infused breakfast biscuits occasionally for the kids. They are delicious!
What are the Benefits of Second Fermentation?
The second fermentation can encourage additional [good] bacteria for the gut, and also help improve the flavor of your kefir. With each ferment, the kefir mellows out and other flavors can be added – you can second ferment with garlic, lemon, chai, or even things like chopped fruit or cocoa powder.
Second fermentation has many more nutrients and vitamins than first fermentation, and that is because you have added a new source for the kefir microbes to feed on, leading to increased vitamins. It also helps to make the calcium and magnesium more bioavailable, which your body can use right away.
How do you Second Ferment Kefir?
Making second ferment kefir might just be the easiest thing you have done – in fact, the hardest part may be picking out the prebiotic item to second ferment with. There are so many choices!
You can add garlic, and then turn around and use the kefir to make garlic infused biscuits; or you can use fresh oranges or strawberries or even lemons. Cinnamon is amazing in second ferment kefir… perfect if you make pancakes for your kids, or even banana bread.
Make basic kefir with your kefir grains, making sure to remove the grains afterwards. (This is regular kefir – above, before straining).
Strain the kefir — place the kefir grains back in the same jar and add milk – these will be your grains that will ferment another batch. The kefir you strained should be kept separate — put that kefir in a clean jar, because you will be adding your choice of a prebiotic item.
Take your prebiotic item you want to ferment with the kefir – it’s always better to use less, because if you use too much, your kefir can separate. I always use 2 garlic cloves, and within a few hours mine does separate.. but I usually throw it in the fridge within 4-5 hours.
Leave the jar on your counter with cheesecloth or a coffee filter placed on the top with a rubber band. Allow that kefir to sit for 4 – 6 to even 12 hours. Your kefir might separate (that’s OK!) – taste your kefir to determine if you may want to remove the prebiotic item. If it is fermenting too quickly (in the case of garlic), place it in your fridge to stop the fermenting process.
Before you use your second ferment, remove the prebiotic item. If you are using spices or dry items like cinnamon, or cocoa as your second ferment item, you’ll keep those in there.
If you are using for smoothies made in the blender, you can add more fresh fruit after the second ferment.
How to Use Second Ferment Kefir
Second kefir ferment can be used in a variety of ways – you can add some additional fresh fruit, a little maple syrup or honey for sweetener and blend into a smoothie. Or, you can use in your favorite recipe – from pancakes to biscuits, we’ve also used it in banana bread (obviously not with garlic!)
When you decide to ferment, opt for additions that will enhance the recipe you are using it for. For example, if you are making biscuits, you might want to use garlic to second ferment your kefir. Or, if you are making pancakes, you could second ferment with cinnamon or, chai, etc.
Once you remove the prebiotic from your kefir (oranges, strawberries, garlic, etc.), refrigerate your kefir until you are ready to use it.
Have you ever tried second ferment kefir?