I am not a scientist or a mystic, I am just someone who loves kefir and what it does for my health and the health of my children. I believe it enhances the immune system, which improves the entire body’s systems.
Kefir, technically is a symbiotic mass of bacteria and fungi that live and work together to digest milk. Some bits focus on the lactose, some on the protein and even others specialize on digesting the milk fat. The result is the mass( Kefir Grains) which make me think rather of scrambled egg white with some slime around them, When you place these grains in an amount of clean wholesome milk at least twice its volume, cover to keep out fruit flies and set it upon the counter, something magic happens. These little symbiotic critters work together feasting on your milk. No worries, they only take the parts that are usually harder for you to digest anyway.
When your grains first ship, they may have a little stage fright. That is okay.
Gently slip them in about a cup of lukewarm milk in a glass jar. Cover with a clean cloth and place it back out of the way on the counter. About any temperature where you can be comfortable, kefir will grow. If it grows and starts getting bigger than the amount of milk you put it in, add more milk until you get all the kefir you can use. (Don’t forget the pets and the neighbors). Beyond that, when you are typically making more that you need, you can eat the grains themselves, give them away or sell them.
Like pet grizzlies, if you feed them regularly for a while, then withdraw food and put them in the cold, they will hibernate. Unlike grizzlies, it is okay to awaken them about twice per month, rinse and refeed. This will keep them from molding or reducing in quantity if there is a time when you won’t be using them on a daily basis.
I like for my kefir to taste quite tart, much like a good organic buttermilk. To find this stage, I check the jar until I begin to see grayish-green whey separate out. Usually toward the middle of the jar, a belt of translucent grey liquid begins to form. At that point I stir gently and taste. If I like it I pour it through a ladle with many little holes in it (or borrow an Ice fisherman’s hole scoop, yep, the orange plastic job) I then drink the kefir, or use it in smoothies or cook with it while the grains are returned to their jar and covered in more lukewarm milk. When I taste it, if it is not tart enough, I wait 12 hours or 24 and taste it again. If I let it get too tart, I simply add a bit of regular milk to it when I serve it to tone it down. Kefir is an acquired taste, but one most people begin to crave very quickly.
Remember to keep the grizzly cave clean. Or, just because we love kefir and it is good for us, doesn’t mean that the grains feel that way. They love MILK. Leave them in Kefir (spent milk) and they will not thrive and might die. That is like living in their byproducts, so whenever your kefir is tart, take it away and use it, but replace it with fresh sweet milk. The little grizzlies er grains will love you for it.
Have fun and God bless you!