Autumn can be a tricky time for people that started making kefir over the summer period. The high summer temperatures allowed us to be pretty slack – using cold milk from the fridge and not worrying about temperature at all. And most of the time we still produced great thick kefir.
With autumn arriving, we get a lot more emails from our customers that the kefir stopped working all of a sudden even though they did not change anything in their process. But that’s exactly what is now needed – change your process.
Low night temperatures, but not low enough yet to start the fire, and medium day temperatures can make for a slow fermentation. If your room temperature is too low nothing will happen, as the grains will sleep and won’t be active enough to ferment the milk.
First of all it’s best to now get into the routine to warm up the milk to 20 °C before adding the milk kefir grains. So they are off to a great start. You may have to also change the position in your home where you have it fermenting. The back porch may have been perfect over summer, but probably a room on the sunny north side is now better for the fermentation.
You can also wrap the jar in a towel and put it into an insulated chilly bin to keep warm. You can also add a hottie after 12 hours to keep the milk warm.
A hot water cylinder cupboard can be used in winter. But please check so that the milk doesn’t get too hot in there.
We have it in the kitchen year round. The wood fire in the living room in winter is sufficient to provide a warm environment in winter. We keep it one meter away from the fire and this maintains 20 °C. You can also submerge the jar in a pot filled with warm water. Exchange the water periodically and make sure the milk never goes above 25 °C. We often do this just before it is due to get strained and it thickens up super fast with this method.
You can also use a fermentation flask like the one we stock from Culture Cupboard. It is perfect to keep the temperature constant, especially in winter and over the hot summer period. This Flask comes with a jar and a recipe booklet to make plant and dairy based yoghurt as well as kefir.
Good luck and feel free to comment below if you have any questions about making kefir at home.