Properly Caring for Your Kefir Grains

When Kefir Grains are treated properly they thrive and produce the best tasting and the health beneficial Milk Kefir.  Additionally healthy Kefir Grains are happy Kefir Grains which happily produce their maximum amount of Milk Kefir.  This article will teach you the essentials of caring for your Kefir Grains.  When you take care of your Kefir Grains they will take care of you.

Kefir GrainsTo properly care for your Kefir Grains all that you need to know is: MC MATT G.  I know that’s not the best acronym, but it rhymes and might be memorable as a result.  Here is what MC MATT G means:

Milk

Consistent

Metal

Amount

Temperature

Time

Gentle

Remember and implement each of these concepts and your Kefir Grains will thrive.  The order of the concepts doesn’t matter to your Kefir Grains; however, if you ignore one of these, then you will be lucky if your Kefir Grains don’t spit in your Milk Kefir (sorry just trying to make it a little funny and more importantly memorable).  However, if you omit more than one of these, then your Kefir Grains will eventually diminish, dissolve, and die.  Now let’s explore each letter.

Milk

These are Milk Kefir Grains and they do require milk.  Do not feed them juice, that’s for Water Kefir Grains.  Some kefirists report success in feeding Kefir Grains Soy Milk, Coconut Milk, or Almond Milk; however, in doing so one should not expect their Kefir Grains to thrive or reproduce.  What Milk Kefir Grains desire most if Milk from a mammal.  Cow’s milk is most common; however, many kefirists love to use only sheep’s or goat’s milk.  I’ve read that human breast milk is also acceptable; however, we’ve never test it.

Cow’s milk comes in many forms: raw, organic, homogenized, whole, 2%, 1%, skim, etc.  Truthfully Kefir Grains will “process” any of these forms of milk; however, when milk fat is removed from the milk please watch your Kefir Grains closely as they will likely process the milk faster than with normal full fat milk.  Some purists will only use raw unprocessed milk with their Kefir Grains; however, this milk requires special handling and care with which those purists are familiar.  We use only Organic Milk pasteurized whole milk and our Kefir Grains love it.  It goes without saying, but the milk used should always be fresh, unspoiled milk.

Consistent

Like children, Kefir Grains thrive on consistency.  Follow all of this care advise consistently and you will find that your Kefir Grains thrive and produce wonderfully healthy and tasty Milk Kefir for you.  If you are regular in your routine of harvesting the Milk Kefir and providing an adequate quantity of fresh milk you will also develop a good habit that is easy to maintain.  Try not to change your milk type or brand to often, remember consistency is important.

Metal

There are some who debate this point; however, most kefirists choose to avoid bringing their Kefir Grains into contact with any metal.  They using a plastic/nylon mesh strainer to harvest their Milk Kefir.  They also choose tools which are made of plastic, silicone, glass, or ceramic.  It is widely believed that Kefir Grains and even Milk Kefir may interact with metal and adversely affect the taste of your Milk Kefir.  Some even believe contact with metal may negatively affect the longevity of your Kefir Grains.  In short, avoid metal when handling your Kefir Grains.

Amount

Not giving your Kefir Grains enough milk will starve them.  Doing so slows their growth, produces a very thick Milk Kefir, and can eventually kill Kefir Grains.  Giving the correct amount of milk requires an about 1 cup, or 8 fluid ounces, per tablespoon of Kefir Grains to be provided about every 24 hours.  As you collaborate with your Kefir Grains over time you will find an amount and pace that works for both of you.

Time

As stated above regarding “Amount” you must give your Kefir Grains enough time to consume or process the milk you have given them, but you cannot give them too much time or you will starve them.  This means, that you should harvest your Milk Kefir at least every 24 hours and immediately afterwards place your Kefir Grains in the appropriate amount of milk.  If you find your Milk Kefir is completely separated into curds and whey then you have either left the Kefir Grains too long or not given them enough milk.  Conversely, if you find the Milk Kefir has a very liquid consistency then either you provided way too much milk, you did not allow enough time, or your Kefir Grains are too cold.

Temperature

We always recommend room temperature as the optimum for keeping your Kefir Grains at their happiest and by this we mean 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius.  Anything near this range will be just fine, plus or minus 6° F or 3° C.  Please also note that this means that you should warm refrigerated milk to room temperature prior to placing the Kefir Grains in it.  Never microwave milk, but warm it in hot water, like you would a baby’s bottle.

Gentleness

Handle your Kefir Grains gently and as infrequently as possible, within reason.  Healthy Kefir Grains are relatively strong and can be pushed around with a silicone spoon; however, be careful not to grind them into your plastic/nylon mesh strainer as you harvest your Milk Kefir.  Please don’t expose your Kefir Grains to drastic temperatures or temperature changes.

If you follow each of these points, MC MATT G, then you will properly care for your Kefir Grains and as a result have the happiest Kefir Grains in town and as a result you will be happier as well.  By the way, with each Kefir Grain order we always send a Kefir Grain care guide which will help you remember how to care for your Kefir Grains.  If you have any comments or questions, please be sure to share them below.

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