Q. What is milk kefir?
A. Milk kefir is a probiotic beverage made with either milk kefir grains or a powdered kefir starter culture. Milk Kefir Grains (once active) and Kefir Starter Culture can be used to culture dairy milk or coconut milk. Information about culturing sugar water, juice or coconut water can be found on the Water Kefir page.
Kefir grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The term "kefir grains" describes the look of the culture only. Kefir grains contain no actual "grains" such as wheat, rye, etc.
Q. What ingredients go into creating milk kefir grains?
A. Our milk kefir grains are grown using only organic milk.
Q. Does milk kefir have the same benefits as water kefir?
A: Water kefir contains fewer strains of bacteria and yeasts than milk kefir, but far more than other cultured products like yogurt or buttermilk.
Q. What strains of yeast and bacteria does milk kefir contain?
A. While the probiotics can vary with each batch made with milk kefir grains, a list of bacteria and yeasts generally found in Milk Kefir Grains can be found in Composition of Milk Kefir Grains: Bacteria & Yeasts.
For our powdered kefir starter cultures, a list of ingredients can be found on each product page.
Q. Why should I make my own milk kefir?
A. In the case of milk kefir grains, homemade kefir will contain a larger number of probiotics than will commercial kefir, made with a powdered starter culture. Making kefir at home costs significantly less than commercial kefir and you have complete control over the milk you use (organic, non-homogenized, raw, etc.).
Q. I want to consume kefir but I'm allergic to dairy. What can I do?
Q. Does milk kefir contain gluten?
A. No, milk kefir grains are grown in organic milk.
Q. Are milk kefir grains reusable? Is the powdered kefir starter culture reusable?
A. Yes, milk kefir grains are reusable. Once a batch of milk kefir has finished culturing, simply remove the milk kefir grains and place them in fresh milk. The powdered kefir starter culture is also reusable several times.
Q. How long do dairy kefir grains last? How long does the powdered kefir starter culture last?
A. If cared for properly, milk kefir grains have an unlimited life span and can be used repeatedly to make kefir.
Kefir made with a direct-set style starter culture can often be recultured from 2 to 7 times. The exact number of successive batches will depend on the freshness of the kefir and hygienic practices employed.
Q. What is the process for making milk kefir?
A. Please see our detailed instructions for making milk kefir using milk kefir grains, as well as instructions for making milk kefir using the kefir starter culture.
Q. How long does it take to make milk kefir?
A. Kefir generally takes 12 to 24 hours to form. The exact amount of time will vary depending on environmental factors, the most important of which is temperature. Cold retards the fermentation process (and can be all but stopped by placing the grains in milk in the refrigerator). Heat speeds the process so kefir will form more quickly in a warm area and will be more likely to over-culture. Allowing the kefir grains to remain in milk longer than 48 hours risks starving the kefir grains and potentially damaging them.
Q. My house is colder than 68°F, how can I culture milk kefir?
A. Many homes maintain temperatures that are cooler, especially in the winter. For tips on keeping things within proper temperature range, see our article, Cold Weather Care for Starter Cultures.
Q. Do I need to stir the kefir during the culturing process?
A. You can stir the kefir while it's culturing but it's not necessary.
Q. How will I know if I've successfully made kefir? How do I know if I shouldn't drink it?
A. The milk will thicken and can have a tangy or sour aroma and flavor. We always recommend that you refrain from consuming anything that looks, smells, or tastes unpleasant.
Q. What does kefir taste like?
A. The taste of finished kefir varies greatly based on the type of milk used and the length of time it is cultured. Milk kefir can have a sour taste and an effervescent texture. If you have not tried kefir, we recommend purchasing kefir at the grocery store to try before purchasing a starter culture.
Q. How long can I store the kefir in the refrigerator?
A. Finished milk kefir can be stored as follows:
- At room temperature (68° to 78°F): 1 to 2 days
- In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 2 to 3 weeks
- In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 1 to 2 months or longer (like ice cream)
- Storage recommendation: Refrigerate
Q. Do I need to rinse the grains off between batches?
A. No. There is no need to rinse the grains unless they stop making kefir effectively (which can sometimes be attributed to a buildup of yeast on the grains). If it becomes necessary to rinse the grains, use filtered water if possible to avoid chemical exposure.
Q. Do I need to make a full quart of kefir each time or can I make smaller batches?
A. Making a full quart is not required. Many of our customers find that making 1-pint batches better meets their needs.
Q. Do I need to wash the jar/container between batches of kefir?
A. We recommend using a clean container for each batch of milk kefir.