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Milk Kefir Grains produce a cultured, fermented milk drink, originally from the mountainous region that divides Asia and Europe. It is similar to yoghurt – but a drink, with a tart, sour taste and a slight ‘fizz’. This is due to carbon dioxide – the end product of the fermentation process. The length of the fermentation time will affect the taste. Milk Kefir is a good source of calcium and is rich in bacteria. Why not visit our shop and Buy Milk Kefir Grains

A vast variety of bacteria have been isolated and identified in kefir grains. Known species are among four genus groups; Lactobacilli, Streptococci Lactococci, Acetobacter and Yeasts.  So far over 50 strains of bacteria and yeasts have been identified from Milk Kefir around the world, making it one of the best sources known. Our European Milk kefir is known to contain over 20 strains of bacteria and yeast. 

The Milk Kefir Grains also transform dairy sugars into a few other things, including lactic acid, CO2 and small amounts of alcohol. We have never noticed or felt any effects from the minimal amounts of alcohol produced in the fermented Milk Kefir. We thought it was worth mentioning though, if you're sensitive to alcohol or been advised to avoid it all together, it might be something to consider.

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Milk Kefir Grains

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Water Kefir Grains

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How to make Milk Kefir

What to do once your Milk Kefir Grains arrive

Once you receive your Milk Kefir Grains from us, it's important to get them fermenting as soon as possible. If you are unable to do that right away, ensure you activate them before the use by date stated on the packaging. Your order will contain 5-15g of Milk Kefir Grains. This is enough to make 250-750ml of Milk Kefir. Don't worry though; the culture grows pretty fast so you will be making much more in no time at all.

What equipment do I need?

Fermentation Jar
You will need something to ferment your Milk Kefir in. We recommend using something glass. Glass is much easier to clean and keep sterile. Plastic tends to degrade over time and is prone to scratches which can harbour unwanted bacteria. Plastic also carries a risk of chemical contamination from the materials contained inside of it such as BPA. A glass Kilner style jam jar is perfect to use.

Plastic strainer
You will need a plastic strainer and a plastic stirring spoon. We do not recommend using metal, Milk Kefir is quite acidic and can react to coming into contact with metal.

Jar cover
You will also need something to cover your jar. We recommend paper kitchen towels as they are easy to discard and replace. You can also use a muslin cloth or similar if you wish. Rubber bands also come in handy to secure the cover to the jar.

Plastic Spoon
You will need something you can stir your Milk Kefir with. Again we recommend using something plastic.

What kind of milk should I use?

We recommend organic dairy milk for the very best kefir. Cow and goats milk works best. Using whole milk will produce a thick, creamy kefir. Semi Skimmed and Skimmed milk still produce kefir, but the consistency is much thinner. Experiment with different kinds of milk to find what you enjoy the most. You can also use raw milk to produce kefir. Using raw milk can carry some risks, so we recommend you do some research on raw milk before making kefir from it. You can read more about using raw milk here.

Although some people have had some success with non-dairy milk alternatives such as rice or coconut milk, we do not advise them for our Milk Kefir Grains (see below on using coconut milk). If you have problems with dairy, we suggest you try Water Kefir Grains as a dairy-free alternative. 

Do I have to use organic milk?

No, milk kefir will ferment any type of dairy. We choose to use organic milk with our grains as we believe organic is better. However, if you do not believe that to be the case, you are free to use whatever type of milk you wish while making your own kefir.

Activation

You will need to activate your Milk Kefir Grains; this is to revive them from the shipping process. Place your grains into 250ml of milk and cover your jar. Leave them for up to 48 hours at room temperature (21 Celsius) until the milk separates. This can sometimes happen within 24 hours, and occasionally can take longer that 48 hours. Stir the mixture very well, so that no separation is visible. Strain out the Milk Kefir Grains and discard the milk. Often, you will need to stir the milk as it is going through the strainer to help aid it passing through. Your grains are now activated.

The fermentation process

Once activated, place your grains into 250ml of milk per 5g of Milk Kefir Grains and cover your jar. If possible, try to stir your Milk Kefir mixture every 6 hours, at the very minimum, every 12 hours. You are looking for the consistency of the milk to change to a thick, yoghurt like texture. At this point, your kefir is ready.

The time it takes for the texture to change depends greatly on the temperature the room in which the Milk Kefir is fermenting in. Generally, in room temperature (21 Celsius), it will take 24 hours for this to happen. During warm summer months, this can happen much faster, and in winter months much slower. As the Milk Kefir Grains begin to grow in size, the time it takes to ferment will also decrease. Try not to over ferment your Milk Kefir; you can read more about over fermentation here.

Never leave any fermenting product in direct sunlight. This can lead to unwanted bacteria and pathogens forming.

Once your milk kefir is ready, strain out the Milk Kefir Grains and place them back into the now empty jar. You can now repeat this process with fresh milk.

People ask how often they need to clean their fermentation jar. We tend to use a clean jar each time ourselves here at Freshly Fermented to keep our kefir making process as hygienic as we can. However, many of our customers tend to clean their fermentation jars on a weekly basis.

You can keep your kefir in the fridge for up to 30 days. We tend to prefer the taste of our kefir chilled here, but you can drink your kefir right away if you wish.

Increasing the amount of milk used.

Milk Kefir Grains will grow pretty fast. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 tablespoon (approx 15g) of Milk Kefir Grains per litre of milk once you have enough grains to use that much milk. To begin with, keep an eye on your grains and once you see they have grown, or are over fermenting the Milk Kefir too fast, increase the amount of milk used. As a rough guideline, you should be able to double the amount of milk used every 2-3 weeks. Making kefir is not an exact science, lots of environmental factors come into play, much of fermentation is a trial and error process.

Why is my Milk Kefir not thickening?

We tend to find that Milk Kefir can take a little while to settle into a new environment and recover from shipping. This usually takes 2-3 weeks. During that time, you might notice that you get a crust on the milk at the top around the grains. Often only around a third of the milk will thicken around the grains. Underneath that crust, the milk can still be very watery.

Please note that the kefir can still manage to split and separate at this stage. That can happen very quickly during the first few weeks, which can be frustrating. If this happens just to stir the kefir well. Once stirred, the overall kefir consistency can be quite thin, and the taste can sometimes be a little sour. This can lead to people assuming the grains are not working correctly. However, this is a normal part of the initial starting process.

Once the grains have settled into the new environment in your home, you will find the milk separates much slower, and you will have a better consistency of kefir fermenting. You will need to be patient during this process. The grains will settle in time. The kefir produced during this initial phase can still be used as per normal, it just does not have the same thickens and taste it will have in the time ahead of its journey with you, but still contains all the beneficial bacteria as normal kefir does.

Remember Milk Kefir grains are a living product. As with any living product, they need care and nurturing to produce the best quality product possible.

My grains look small and not like those in the pictures!

In order to be cost-effective, we break down and compress our Milk Kefir Grains for the shipping process. It will take several weeks of fermenting for your grains to reform into clusters like those seen in our pictures. Do not worry though, this in no way effects the Milk Kefir fermentation process.

I've followed these steps, and nothing is happening.

Milk Kefir Grains are very hardy. It's unlikely they would have died during the shipping process. Dead grains become yellow with a brown/orange tint; it is very easy to tell if the grains have died. If you are experiencing problems, please do get in touch with us. Don't worry, were always more than happy to resend more Milk Kefir Grains if required.

Finding it hard to drink Milk Kefir?

People can often find Milk Kefir very sour and difficult to drink. Most people prefer to carry out a second fermentation process with Milk Kefir to mellow out and mask the overall sour taste. You can find out more about carrying out the second fermentation here.

What do I do with my excess Milk Kefir Grains?

Excess grains can either be discarded, or frozen for later use. To freeze them, simply put them in a little milk and a suitable container and put them into the freezer. They will keep in the freezer for 6 months. or more. You will need to reactivate them again once defrosted. You will often find it can take a week or so for them to start producing good kefir again. Some people have had success dehydrating Milk Kefir Grains and then rehydrating them again at a later date in milk. We however recommend you freeze them here at Freshly Fermented.

Should I rinse or wash my Milk Kefir Grains?

No, it is very important that you don't. Milk Kefir Grains grow a natural protective layer around themselves known as Kefiran. This layer is easily disturbed by rinsing or washing them. Doing so can effect not only the quality of the kefir produced, but also damage the Milk Kefir Grains by making them more prone to mould and other problems.

Can I use coconut milk?

Yes, it is possible to use coconut milk. However it must be of premium quality. Generally, most coconut milk brought in supermarkets is not suitable. What happens is that eventually the grains will die due to the low fat content found in concentrates used and other things put into the coconut milk to help preserve it. We have had a lot of issues with people using coconut milk that was not suitable and ended up replacing a great deal of these grains at our own expense. We decided it was better to recommend that people don’t use coconut milk with our grains.

The best coconut milk we can recommend is Grace coconut milk or Biona coconut milk It needs to be 100% pure with a high fat content. Generally over 10% fat to work properly with Milk Kefir Grains. We ask that you do so at your own risk. We also advise you have spare grains as a backup to use if things do go wrong.

Going on holiday?

If you’re planning on going on holiday, you’re probably concerned about leaving your Milk Kefir Grains unattended. Don’t worry though. Place them in a fresh batch of milk and pop the jar into the fridge. They will keep like this for 2-3 weeks.

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All our cultures contain active bacteria ready for fermentation

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Where stated, many of our products are vegan friendly.

If you have more than one fermenting food culture at home, we recommend that you keep them at least 1 metre apart from each other at all times. This is to stop cross contamination of the different cultures. If you are working with dairy in particular, this is very important. Please contact us is you require further assistance with fermenting more than one culture.