Kefir grains are used to ferment milk. The reference to kefir grains as a "grain" is a misnomer because it is actually made up of about 30 different types of beneficial bacteria and 25 types of yeast. Together, these bacteria and yeast cultures form a symbiotic relationship to get the energy they need and create the kefir grain. Kefir grains are most commonly used to make a kefir drink with many benefits for health and longevity. They can also be used to make cheese, ferment vegetables or even make herbal tonics. It's important to maintain kefir grains once you obtain them.
Rinse your kefir grains with filtered water when you first get them. Avoid using water that is chlorinated because it could harm your kefir grains.
Select a fine meshed plastic strainer, a glass jar and a plastic spoon to use for transferring your kefir grains to new batches of milk. Choose tools that are either plastic, glass, porcelain or pottery. Your kefir grains may interact with metal and affect the taste of your kefir drinks.
Select one type of milk to use on a regular basis with your kefir grains. If you change the type of milk used for your kefir grains it may make a sour or unpleasant drink at first. Your kefir grains will usually adjust to the new milk type within a day or so. Choose milk that is organic for best results, and raw if available in your state.
Use approximately 20 times the milk as kefir grains during fermentation. Keep your fermentation jar in a location at room temperature that is maintained at about 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid temperatures above 104 degrees or below 32 degrees, which may harm your kefir grains.
Change the milk in your fermentation jars after 12 hours for a mild tasting and thinner kefir drink, or after 24 to 48 hours for a thicker and more tart drink.
Feed your kefir grains milk as usual and place them in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit to slow the fermentation process if you are unable to feed your kefir grains for a short period of time. Make sure the milk is changed for the kefir grains at least once every two weeks so that they remain active.
Strain your kefir grains from your milk and rinse them under running water to prepare them for long term storage if you don't plan to use them for awhile. Lay them on a piece of cheesecloth, and let them dry for two days. Put them in an envelope once they are completely dry, and place them in a cool and dry location. You can store them for up to a year when dried.
Soak your dried kefir grains in water for 24 hours when you are ready to activate them. Put them into a cup of milk to start feeding them. Increase the milk by a cup a day until you get to the amount of milk you want to ferment. Your kefir grains will multiply, and you can give the surplus away to your friends.