We're dairy, soy and nut-free at the moment, so finding a good cultured food for Rain was a challenge. Then we found coconut milk, which makes a great yogurt or kefir. If we had a gas stove with a pilot light, I'd be all over yogurt, and do use a yogurt maker from time to time, but the kefir is both easier and tastier, we've found.
Although I'd love to make this "raw," I do boil the milk for 3 minutes. According to our nutritionist, there are potential bugs in coconut milk that are best not included in home made cultures.
This stuff is incredibly tasty blended with fruit and avocado to thicken. Since it's not as protein-rich as dairy or nut milk, I sometimes cook up a batch of beans (well-soaked in bicarbonate and water overnight), then blend a tablespoon or so of those per cup. If it's not sweet enough, blend in one or two dried dates. Yum!
Another idea for serving is to make a pancake or sweet rice-based bread, then cover with strawberries and use the kefir like creme fraiche on top.
It can be added to pancake batter to make something that tastes a lot like buttermilk pancakes.
Lastly, I do use a sealed jar to culture it, mainly because when I first started doing it, I didn't know that it wasn't the best idea. Nothing bad has ever happened with the kefir, and no jar has ever exploded, but it is probably better to cover the jar with a clean cloth bound tightly to the neck.
3 cans full-fat organic coconut milk
1 packet freeze-dried kefir starter (I use Yogourmet)
1 clean half-gallon glass jar
Pour all three cans of milk into a pot, whisk the water into the cream and boil for three minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool until roughly body temperature. Pour through a strainer into a mixing bowl.
Empty the contents of one packet of starter into a small bowl. Add just enough milk to blend with the starter and blend well until fully dissolved. Then mix this combination of milk and starter in with the rest of the milk. Pour into the mason jar, cover and leave on a shelf or some place that won't be disturbed for 12-24 hours. I always let it go for 24, myself.