Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Amazing KEFIR

I no longer make milk kefir, but always have water kefir or grape juice kefir ready to drink.  I have to say that Grape Juice Kefir (1/4c grains with 1qt Grape Juice left out for 24-48hrs and fermented for a week or 2 in the fridge) is my absolute favorite and I drink it everyday!  But the grains don't last more than a few times before they die, so I always keep a supply of grains ready to go.  When you have extra grains, you can add them to smoothies, eat them, share or sell them, dehydrate them or try some of the other kefir recipe flavors that are very yummy!

-1/3C sugar (organic cane or raw is best, though Sucanat is highly recommended, but has a strong flavor)
-1Qt jar of hard water (dissolve sugar in about half of it before you add the grains and rest of the water)
-1/4C water Kefir grains
-Cover with a coffee filter or paper towel for 2-5 days (I usually do 3 at the most) and leave on the counter
-Strain out the grains with fine mesh strainer and put the kefir (liquid) in an air tight jar in the fridge
-Then repeat with your new grains

IMPORTANT: Kefir grains need minerals to continually produce, so if you use cane/raw sugar, after 3 or so batches, make a batch using Sucanat to really feed the grains well.  You can either drink the kefir or dump it if it's too strong a flavor for you.

Letting the strained Kefir sit covered air tight in the fridge for a couple more days usually makes it more carbonated!

***NOTE*** Reverse Osmosis water will kill your grains!! I found the following online, and was confirmed by my sister, who used RO water and her grains died!

"Reverse osmosis water has in most of our observations led to eventual kefir grain death even. It just
doesn't contain enough of the various and vital minerals found in normal tap, spring or mineral
water. It is what we like to call 'processed' or 'refined' water, basically an empty water devoid of its
normal nutrients and properties, much like white sugar is compared to whole cane sugar. It's an
unbalanced and empty nutrient."

Now storing Kefir over a longer period of time is not so easy… Kefir (either milk of water) can be very demanding, even stored in a fridge you will not get very long before your grains die. The method of storage that you use will entirely depend upon how long you are likely to be away. 
The first method is for leaving for up to 7 days:
  1. Place the grains (water or Milk) in a glass jar with the usual amount of liquid that you would ferment.
  2. Store the jar (sealed) in the fridge for up to 7 days
  3. Strain the kefir (the drink produced is drinkable)
Basically this method puts the grains into a semi-dormant state and slows down the metabalism of the organism. HOWEVER, when you return to brewing as normal at room temperature you will find that the first few brews will take approximately 24 hours longer as it takes the grains a few days to wake/warm up again. 

If you are going away for more than 7 days but have someone who can “babysit” your kefir (while water the plants or feeding the cats) then follow the directions for above but after straining the grains and restarting the batch pop the glass jar back in the fridge and leave for a further 7 days. This method can be used for up to 2/3 months HOWEVER…
resting kefir grains for this long will have a negative affect on the grains and the microflora in them. THERE IS A CHANCE THAT YOUR GRAINS MAY BECOME DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR so it is best to have a back up set of grains in the freezer (just in case!). When you return to room temperature brewing again it will take your grains quite some time to get themselves back to optimum brewing (up to 10 brews) and as above the brews that you perform during this time will take longer to complete.The longer the grains were kept dormant the longer it will take for them to recover I personally wouldn’t recommend storing grains with this method this long and think that if you need to rest your grains for longer than say 5 or 6 weeks the freezing method works best.

If you do not have someone who can look after your grains then you can rest them for by increasing the volume of liquid by about 30% for every week that your grains are being left however this method is really only any good if you are leaving your grains for 2 weeks (ie your summer holiday) and not much longer than that. Also this method works best with milk kefir, water kefir can be a bit more choosy and therefore it can be a bit hit and miss.
Please be aware that the same applies with regards to resuming your brew at room temperature no matter which method you use.


  1. Good stuff! Mine is "brewing" on my counter at home as we speak. :-)

    1. Awesome! How's the "Kefir growing" been going for you??