If you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, are Paleo or vegan, this recipe is for you! You can enjoy all of the benefits of kefir with coconut milk! This is actually how I started making my kefir because I thought was intolerant to cow’s dairy (it turns out I was just intolerant to pasteurized cow’s milk – fancy that). I was also making cow milk kefir using raw milk for my family and I tried it and was perfectly fine so I quickly switched over to that from coconut milk kefir. Since then many of you have asked me for a recipe for coconut milk kefir and I finally getting around to posting it. I got my original help on this from Jenna at Food With Kid Appeal so thank you to her! I also have a reader who makes this very successfully and who gets their grains from me quite often.
One caveat: your milk kefir grains really do prefer cow or goat milk to coconut. To keep your kefir going and to maintain strong and healthy grains, you will need to do one of two things:
- Refresh your grains in a batch of cow or goat milk every 2-3 weeks (rinsing in between with filtered water only if you have a severe allergy) OR
- Realize your grains will only last about 3 months (please tell me if anyone has had them last longer!) and find a good source from a neighbor or friend to keep you with grains for when yours die
Other than this your recipe is fairly straightforward. Note that you may need to make a few batches to allow time for your grains to ‘adapt’ or ‘take’ to the coconut milk.
1 can whole coconut milk (where to buy coconut milk) or 2 cups homemade coconut milk
1 Tbsp milk kefir grains (where to buy quality starters) or obtain from a friend or your local Weston A Price Chapter (usually a great place to find kefir grains for free!)
Equipment needed – fermentation jar (where to buy a fermentation jar) or plain old Mason jar secured with a coffee filter and rubber band, nylon strainer (where to buy a nylon strainer)
Place can or homemade coconut milk into your jar and add the grains. Cover and place in a cabinet or pantry for 24-36 hours. The length of time will depend on the conditions in your kitchen. Start tasting the kefir after about 18 hours the first time. Keep tasting until it gets a bit effervescent and sour tasting. Then it is done. It will take longer if your kitchen is very cold and shorter when it is warm. Just keep testing it to see when you like the results and that will be your sweet spot of time.
Strain the kefir through your nylon strainer. Place the strained kefir in the fridge where it will get thicken with the cold temperature. Put the kefir grains back into your fermentation or mason jar and repeat the process by adding more coconut milk. There is no need to rinse the grains after each batch.
Enjoy in smoothies or with berries and soaked oatmeal or just plain with a drizzle of honey!
If you have any questions check out my kefir Q&A – many of those answers will apply to your coconut milk kefir making. Please note your grains will most likely not replicate or grow when using milk kefir grains for coconut milk kefir so you shouldn’t run into any issues with that!
Ooh, I bet the kid would love this! Thanks for the sources for kefir grains, too — I have been wanting to get my hands on some for a while.
So… do you use both, the whey and the white part that floats at the top of the jar?
Anna Tennis says
When I make it I shake up the can really well to homogenize it. It’s just fat that separates out and goes to the top, so it can be stirred or shaken back in and the whole can’s worth used.
Thank you so much! I’ve been wanting to make kefir but didn’t know how to with coconut milk. I unfortunately am allergic to the protein in milk, so I can’t even drink raw milk. I’m excited to try this!
Lindsey G. says
I can’t wait to try this! I just started making kefir for my family but I need to go on an elimination diet, so wil be dairy free for a bit.
When you say to “refresh” the grains in milk, does that mean that I should make a batch with milk? Or literally just let the grains sit in a bit of milk for a little bit?
Also, once the grains get acclimated to the coconut milk, will the grains still work with milk? My hope was to alternate (a batch of milk kefir & then a batch of coconut kefir) but I’m not sure if that’ll work.
Really enjoy your site! I was wondering if water kefir grains would work with the coconut milk. Has anyone tried it?
Well, I was told that the milk grains will last indefinitely as long as you treat them right, which means feeding them dairy. If you feed them exclusively coconut milk they will die.
Lindsey Gremont says
Yes I explain that in the post.
So, you said this recipe is vegan, but when you buy kefir grains, they were once in cows milk. But, are the still considered vegan, or can you buy vegan kefir grains? It would be so incredible if you answered! Thank you thank you!!!!!
Lindsey Gremont says
If you read the post you will see that in order for the milk kefir grains to thrive they need to live in dairy milk off and on along side of the coconut milk. You need to alternate between the two. You can rinse the grains in between batches if you have dairy issues. But if you want fully vegan kefir grains then you would need to go with water kefir not milk kefir grains. They are different. Water kefir grains can be made with coconut water – not coconut milk. I hope this helps!
I accidentally left the coconut milk for months in a glass container. It smelled and tasted sour – fermented by itself? Could this have been used still to mix with kefir and make coconut kefir, or you need fresh coconut milk only?
Lindsey Gremont says
I would use fresh for this yes.
amber lau says
i’m supose to go on a dairy free diet due to thyroid issues suggested by doctor. Can i still use milk base for keifer grains or conconut milk?