Kefir and Yogurt- What Is The Difference?

What Is The Difference Between Kefir Milk and Yogurt?

Making Milk KefirAs my daughter would say… "The difference is microscopic!" ba-dump-baaa

The biggest difference between kefir and yogurt is what you can not see. The types of bacteria that culture the milk and the way in which the culture is produced.

Traditional greek yogurt, made using low heat incubation has bacterial strains Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus (often shortened to) L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus. These two bacteria live together in harmony and work synergistically to ferment your milk into yogurt. Different styles of commercial yogurt will also have other lactobacilli and bifidobacteria added. Yogurt typically does not require yeasts as a part of the fermenting process.

Yogurt is typically made using some yogurt from a previously made batch. By saving a little yogurt from each batch, and using it to culture the next batch, in theory you will always have a healthy yogurt culture. This is often only true if you are using an heirloom culture.

Traditionally yogurt is thick enough to eat with a spoon.

Kefir, on the other hand, could have 50 or more different strains of bacteria AND yeast living together in the same culture. Kefir does not require heat (or incubation) to culture milk, and it is made using kefir "grains" which are firm jelly-like clumps of bacteria and yeast that feed on milk sugars and produce a fermented product.

Because yeast is part of the kefir fermentation process, the end product is often slightly carbonated, and is slightly alcoholic. (0.5% to 2% alcohol)

For home culture makers, kefir is by far the easiest to make. You just need to drop the grains in a jar of milk, and set it on the cupboard. 24 hours (or so) later you have a delicious probiotic drink. Yogurt, while still very easy, is a little fussier. You need to heat the milk, then cool it, add your culture, and then incubate (keep it warm) for 6-24 hours. Then it needs to be refrigerated before it will "set".


Both kefir and yogurt are easy, inexpensive and delicious super foods.