How to Make Milk Kefir with a Kombucha SCOBY
Wanna make milk kefir but ain't got no grains? Try out this quirky brewing technique.
Are you thinking of making milk kefir… do not have any milk kefir grains… and are considering using your SCOBY?! Well congratulations, great discoveries are usually made by people like you. While making milk kefir using a kombucha SCOBY is not a common practice, this doesn’t mean that it is not worth a try.
Is It Possible?
Ready made kombucha is often used to culture other drinks, such as fruit juice. This is because the free floating microbes are still active, and as soon as there is something to feed on and the conditions are right they will get busy.
Seeing as the kombucha SCOBY is an even more concentrated form of microbes that the kombucha itself, it should definitely be able to achieve some sort of fermentation within the milk which you wish to turn into ‘kefir’.
So yes, culturing milk with a SCOBY is possible. You will probably not get the exact taste and consistency that kefir has, but for probiotic purposes you milk will definitely be colonized by the beneficial microbes.
How to Make the ‘Kefir’
Before you begin this experiment, make sure that you have at least one or two additional spare SCOBYs on hand. You do not want to go experimenting away with your one and only SCOBY. This is because foreign mediums can sometimes impair the SCOBY, and in extreme cases the culture can even die. More on SCOBY health shortly.
What You Need
Before you get going, decide what milk you want to use. You could use a non dairy milk, or regular cow’s milk. You will also need the spare SCOBY, a suitable brewing vessel, a cover, and some starter liquid or some spirit vinegar
How to Set Up the Brew
- Fill your normal brewing container (or another glass jar) with the milk. Now is the time to add some starter liquid kombucha or vinegar. If you are using strong kombucha as starter liquid, then add it in a ratio of 2:8 starter liquid to milk. Or if you are using spirit vinegar, pour into this milk at the ration of 1 tablespoon of vinegar per 1 litre of milk. This is to acidify the milk so that no pathogens can get in.
- Place the SCOBY into the milk and secure a cloth covering over the top with a rubber band. You can also use a coffee filter as a cover.
- Leave the batch of ‘Kefucha’ to ferment for a couple of days. Keep checking on it to see how it is looking and smelling. You can even taste some along the way to see what the flavor is like.
- Stop the ferment when you think that it is mature enough for your liking.
And there you go. If you like the taste and consistency of your ferment, it is possible that you might be thinking of doing some more batches. If this is the case, here are some SCOBY care guidelines for you to follow.
SCOBY Care Guidelines
As mentioned earlier, SCOBYs prefer their normal tea solution to any other foreign substrate. They are adapted to feeding off of the tannins, minerals and sugar in the sweet black tea. When placed in other substances they can become starved which affects their ability to ferment properly. Things like oils in unusual substrates can also cause health problems with SCOBYs.
How to Keep Your SCOBY Healthy
Because the milk is not the SCOBY’s preferred substance to ferment, you will need to implement a SCOBY recovery system if you want to make regular batches of ‘kefucha’. The best way to do this is to harness in to use two SCOBYS. The reason for this is that to keep them healthy, you will need to let them have breaks sitting in their usual sweet tea base. This will give them time to recuperate and feed. The tea from these batches of “recuperation kombucha” might not be the nicest, as the SCOBYs could taint the tea with a milky taste. So it might be wise to treat this kombucha that they make while recovering as not for drinking. If you want, you can use it to clean your drains! The microbes in kombucha are quite efficient at eating away at sludge on the insides of pipes.
Alternate Two SCOBYs in Sweet Tea
So basically, if you didn’t guess, all you need to do it to alternate the two SCOBYs in between the kefucha and the sweet tea holiday mix. This way you can always make your ‘kefir’, and maintain the health of your milky SCOBYS.
Keep the Milky SCOBYs Separate
In order to preserve your other kombucha making SCOBY or SCOBYs, do not mix the milky ones with these again. I would recommend making kombucha with the pure SCOBYs which have not been in the milk. Swop out the other two for the kefucha for as long as you like or as long as they last. If you need news ones, then your kombucha brewing SCOBYs will have probably made babies or new layers by that time. If you wish to stop making your kefucha altogether, simply compost the milk SCOBYs. If you are thinking of making kefucha at some point in the future but are not sure when that will be, then simply keep them in sweet tea (you might have refresh it from time to time) until that point. Or you can simply use new SCOBYs when that time comes!
While brewing ‘milk kefir’ with a kombucha SCOBY is not the norm, it is a possibility.Whether or not this is a sustainable type of ferment long term is unknown. It could be that the kombucha SCOBY does not really cope well with the exposure to the milk on an ongoing basis. Or it might just morph into a hybrid culture!
The taste of milk kefir made with a kombucha SCOBY is also possibly not to everyone’s liking. However, while the flavor and consistency is not the same as kefir, it might be just what you want! If you do try this unusual ferment, let us know what your results were!