What is a second fermentation?
The first fermentation takes place when milk kefir grains are added to milk and cultured for around 24 hours. Once the grains are separated and transferred to fresh milk, the resulting liquid is milk kefir.
Since the grains have been removed, the milk kefir can be further cultured and flavored, according to taste preference. This culturing period is the second fermentation.
How long is a second fermentation?
How long you continue to let your kefir ferment depends on your taste preferences. We recommend tasting your kefir frequently during its second ferment to get a feel for how the flavor changes over time. A second ferment can range from 6 to 12 hours, or more or less, just depending on the culturing conditions of your home and taste preferences.
What are the benefits of a second fermentation?
A second fermentation can be performed for the additional bacterial content, reduced lactose content, or simply for the improvement in flavor.
Fermenting the kefir a second time, no matter the additions, mellows the kefir and takes away some of the sharp acidic flavor milk kefir is known for. Not only that, but with the addition of other flavorings, it can be a spicey, sweet, or savory fermented drink.
What flavors can I add in a second fermentation?
The sky is the limit! Because the kefir grains are removed before the second fermentation there is no risk of a contaminating or harming your kefir grains in any way.
Our Favorite Milk Kefir Flavoring Ideas:
- Citrus fruit peels
- Vanilla + cinnamon
- Cocoa powder
- Garlic or onion (for use in savory kefir dip)
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Chopped fruit
- Chai-Spiced Milk Kefir
- Frothy Orange Kefir Beverage
Milk Kefir Flavoring Tips:
Use flavor additions that can be easily removed from the kefir when the second fermentation period is complete. Ground spices or cocoa powder do not need to be removed.
When choosing fruit or other additives containing sugar, they may make the kefir more carbonated. If you prefer not to have effervescent kefir, wait until after the kefir has been fermented a second time before adding any sweeteners.
Have fun and experiment and enjoy an easier and tastier kefir-drinking experience.