Are you ready to master kefir and eat it every day? Most diseases begin in your digestive system, including physical and mental disease. Once you heal your gut, your digestive system will begin to work properly again and disease symptoms will begin to resolve. Kefir is a great place to start.
I have had my kefir grains for years and have made kefir every day for over a decade and let me tell you – these kefir grains, which are combinations of bacteria and yeast, have a mind of their own. When I make kefir, my kefir grains will start to float to the top of the jar like they have a life jacket on. They make kefir extremely well and multiply like rabbits, and they demand that I pay attention to them. If I get too many in a jar and don’t add enough milk, when I open my jar they will spit and bubble at me as if to say, “Add more milk please!” My grains are intense and I like them that way. They have over 50 strains of good bacteria, and I don’t know of any other food that can give you so many good bacteria in such a small amount of food. Kefir grains will last forever if you take care of them.
I get a lot of emails every week asking why their kefir is not getting thick. Nine times out of ten it is because it has over fermented and people don’t realize it. Kefir grains are extremely active and strong and will multiply quickly, and before you know it the grains will need more milk. They’ll start fermenting so fast you will think that your kefir is not thickening when the opposite is happening. If the grains have increased and you have not added enough milk, they will ferment the milk faster and you might not notice that the kefir is ready and thick. Then as it sits longer, the kefir will start to separate into whey and curds.
It can create quite a panic for people and they fear they have done something wrong. Many will throw this over-fermented kefir out which gives me complete anxiety. First, let me say it is never ruined, it is just really fermented and sour. One of two things has happened. First, you may have too many grains for the amount of milk you are using and need to add more milk or remove some of the grains. Or secondly, your house is warmer and it is fermenting faster and, again, you will need to add more milk. If you see clear yellowish liquid and curds, it is over fermented and has passed the thickening stage and is now separating into whey and curds. Again, this is not bad – it’s just a little more sour and may be less appealing.
So, what to do? You can separate the grains from the kefir and then mix up the kefir by stirring or shaking the jar. You can then drink it, make a smoothie, or store it in the fridge. If it is overly sour, you can add some fresh or frozen fruit to it and let it sit for a couple of hours on your counter. The bacteria will eat some of the sugar in your fruit and make the kefir taste milder and increase the nutrients. For more info, you can look at my second fermenting page.
Sometimes it is hard to separate the grains from the kefir when it gets like this. The best way to do this is to put it in a strainer and as the whey goes to the bottom of the bowl, take some of the whey out of the bowl and pour the whey back in over the clump of kefir, stirring with a rubber spatula until it thins it out and goes through the strainer. You may have to do this several times until it goes through the strainer.
If your kefir looks like milk and is not separating into whey and curds and does not taste sour, then something is wrong with your grains, or you added too much milk for the amount of grains, or your house is colder and it needs to ferment longer. The big test is the taste test. If it is getting tart and sour, your kefir is working. It should also thicken, but you will need to watch it to make sure it doesn’t over ferment. Always use cold milk straight from the fridge and don’t use a heating pad unless your house is really cold and in the mid to lower 60s all the time. Kefir grains that are strong will make thick, tart kefir and you will love it.
I hope this will help you make good kefir and take away some of the confusion. Watch your kefir in those first few weeks and you will learn so much as they make kefir for you. They’re alive with the very same bacteria that resides in you, and you might as well watch and observe how they eat all the milk sugars (lactose) out of your milk and make probiotics from it. Is that not the coolest thing ever? They eat the sugars and make it tart and then you have a creamy drink that is 1% sugar and loaded with nutrients and 50+ probiotics. What else on the planet can do this, and has been around since time began and wants to hang out with you in your kitchen? Give it a jar and a lid and watch it do its thing.
“There is no point trying to hide from your bacteria, for they are on you and around you always, in numbers you can’t conceive of.” ~ Bill Bryson
Here’s a time-lapse video showing you how kefir separates over time: