Now that you've obtained some dairy kefir grains, it's time to culture your first quart. It's simple and really only takes about 5 minutes to get a batch going.
First, choose your "milk". Nonfat is NOT a good idea, it doesn't seem to work well. The best option is RAW, milk (goat or cow). Second best is non-homogenized whole milk (We buy ours at Whole Foods in glass 1/2 gallon jars). A great dairy-free option is So Delicious brand coconut milk (refrigerated, 1/2 gallon carton).
Second, wash and sanitize your quart sized glass jar. I wash in the dishwasher, then pour boiling water in and over the jar and allow to cool on the countertop. (Wash and sanitize your jars between batches.)
Next, fill the jar to about 1 inch of the top with your milk. Allow to sit on the counter for an hour or so to bring to room temperature or place in a pan of hot water to heat slightly. Don't overheat, the kefir grains can be killed with heat. Many times, I don't warm the milk at all. Cold won't hurt it but will slow the culturing process.
Now, simply add your kefir grains to the jar of milk, cover with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. I then put my jar in the cabinet and allow to culture for 12-48 hours (12 for warmer areas, up to 48 for cool houses like mine). Be sure to keep several feet of space between your cultures (water kefir, kombucha, yogurt, etc...) to prevent cross contamination.
When I allow the culture to sit for longer periods, I get a separation of whey. This isn't a problem, but does give a more tangy flavor. I simply stir it back in.
*Note on using coconut milk- we are using So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk and it is FABULOUS in kefir. I kid you not... when using this in smoothies, I don't even have to sweeten them! Yum!