Milk Matters: How Processing of milk Affects Quality of Kefir

Milk is an essential part of our diets and it is important to understand how the processing of milk affects its quality and safety. Milk is a complex mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Processing of milk can include pasteurization and homogenization.

Fresh Milk

Fresh cow’s milk is generally considered the best option for making kefir because it is minimally processed and has the full range of nutrients and enzymes present. These nutrients and enzymes help to support the growth and activity of the beneficial bacteria and yeast found in kefir grains, resulting in a superior final product. In contrast, milk powders and UHT milks are heavily processed and may lack some of the necessary nutrients and enzymes.

In addition, full-fat milk is generally considered a better choice for making kefir than skimmed milk. This is because full-fat milk contains more fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, and E, as well as more beneficial fatty acids. These nutrients can support the growth and activity of the bacteria and yeast in kefir grains and contribute to the overall taste and texture of the final product. Skimmed milk, on the other hand, has had most of the fat removed and may not provide the same level of nutrients and flavor.

Different Brands

There are four ways to sterilize fresh milk, mainly due to differences in temperature and time.

1.Ultra high temperature, UHT
Sterilization 
temperature 125 ~ 135 degrees
Time 2~3 seconds
The most common sterilization method in Taiwan can kill most of the bacteria in raw milk. Reduce possible deterioration due to temperature changes during transportation. Long-lasting milk also uses this sterilization method, but the time and temperature are higher.
Weiquan, Uni-President, Guangquan, Lin Fengying, Kirkland

2. Loose high temperature and short time sterilization method
Sterilization temperature 80 ~ 90 degrees
Sterilization time exceeds 15 seconds
But it is not as strong as ultra-high temperature short-term sterilization, and it can still retain the nutrition and calcium of fresh milk. However, if the temperature is higher than 7 degrees, it is prone to deterioration such as agglomeration, so it should be eaten as soon as possible after buying it home.
Imei Fresh Milk, Sifang Fresh Milk, Chulu Fresh Milk

3. High temperature short time, HTST
Sterilization temperature 72 ~ 75 degrees
Sterilization time 10-15 seconds
Even if the temperature is higher, due to the shorter time, the nutrients in the raw milk can still be partially retained.
Such as: Uni-President Ruisui Fresh Milk

4. Low temperature for a long time, LTLT
Sterilization temperature 62 ~ 65 degrees
Sterilization time 30 minutes
Due to the low temperature, nutrients such as whey protein and vitamins in fresh milk can be well preserved, but the shelf life is short. And because the sterilization time is long, it is difficult to produce in large quantities.
Such as 65 ℃ Xiuguluan fresh milk, old daddy fresh milk

Milk Powder

While it is technically possible to make kefir using powdered milk, it is not the best option if you have access to fresh milk. Many brands of powdered milk are highly processed and may lack the lactose needed for the microbes to consume in order to make kefir. If you do decide to use powdered milk, make sure to choose a brand that is minimally processed and contains at least 12 grams of lactose or carbohydrates. However, it is important to note that the resulting kefir may not have the best taste or texture. Fresh milk is generally the best choice for making kefir, as it results in a superior product.

Plant Milk

Non-dairy kefir is a fermented milk product made using plant-based milk alternatives instead of cow’s milk. There are a variety of non-dairy milk options that can be used to make kefir, including soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and rice milk. 

One of the benefits of non-dairy kefir is that it can be a suitable option for people who are lactose intolerant or have milk allergies. Non-dairy kefir is also a good choice for those following a vegan or plant-based diet. However, it is worth noting that non-dairy kefir may have a slightly different taste and texture than cow’s milk kefir, as the plant-based milks do not have the same nutritional profile as cow’s milk.

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