Kefir Grains are alive, try as you might to prevent it, the Kefir they prodice will change for many reasons. We will now discuss those reasons.

TASTE

Kefir is a very "different" food to people outside countries with a history of Kefir consumption. Bluntly, people in such areas will either love (few) or hate (most) the taste of kefir. This is why commercial Kefir, which is not the same as Kefir you make yourself, is flavored. The flavoring will be required for Kefir to be paletable.

Once interesting observation, Kefir is highly active. That is to say when consumed with other foods it changes their flavor as the Kefir disgests the food in the mouth.

I perosnally find Kefir gives meat a sweet taste, but makes carbs taste aweful! Todays common high carbohydrate diet might be why Kefir tastes so aweful to most people. A simple trick I have learned is never offer Kefir to someone with or just after a meal when carbs remain in their mouths, and try to have them clear their pallets with a drink of water.

When Kefir tastes aweful to someone it is likely they will never try it again if offered. So follow the above suggestions to try and make it as good of an experiance as possible! If it still tastes aweful, well, that is why this site has a recipe section!

GROWTH OF THE GRAINS

Your Kefir Grains will grow. Grain growth is vary predicitable and observable. First you will see "flat" tissue formation which then curls up as it grows. The next step is very tight curls so tight that the grain will look like a tiny coliflower. The final stage results in an internal enclosure that accumulates CO2 causing the Kefir Grain to float. Or to give the Grains some personailty, they Kefir Grains start as small grains that do not float very well and build their own life preservers to float at the top!

While their efforts to float are respectable, their floatation pockets need to be broken up so all the bacteria and yeasts have direct contact to the surrounding milk food.

The internet is filled with people seemingly in competition to grow the largest grains they can. This is not the desired goal. At least weekly, break up the Kefir Grains into small peices perhaps half the size of a pea. Remember Kefir Grains do not like huge changes to themselves or their environment. Using the edge of a plastic spoon to cut them when held in the strainer spoon is a reasonable gentle technique that always works.

A slap chopper is faster, but it has been observed to cause the Grains to become long strings instead of individual small peices. The result will depend on a number of factors. The firmer your grains the more likely a slap chopper will work for you.

GRAIN RATIO

Keeping everything else the same, the more Kefir Grains you use the faster the fermentation rate.

The exception here being Kefir Grain growth as just discussed. The day after cutting up the grains you may notice a slight reduction in fermentation rate or it will stay the same. The next couple of days the fermentation rate will increase and the Kefir will likely be more creamy. In the next couple of days the Kefir Grains will mostly be floating again and the Fermentation rate will begin to slow, time to chop them up again!

It is very difficult to adjust for the Kefir Grain growth variations. Pick a ratio of Kefir Grains to Raw Milk and at least weekly chop up the grains. Keep adjusting the ratio until your Kefir is as desired.

CHANGES IN THE MILK

If you live in an area with distinct summer and winter, expect the Raw Milk you purchase to change dramatically in Spring and Fall. For example raw Goat Milk we have used requires twice the kefir grains in winter as it does in summer. Speaking to the farm owner we found that the Goats consume less water in winter thus causing a doubloing in disolved solids in the milk. The result is winter Raw Goat Milk kefir is fantastically creamy! The farm owner also amkes and sells cheese and said he obtains about twice as much cheese per unit of milk as he does in summer and the quality is supperior. So here we have a nice cross check, we require twice as much Kefir Grains to ferment the milk and the farmer gets twice as much cheese. Clearly the doubling of the solids in the milk is why a doubling in grains is needed to consume the double amount of food in the milk!

The disolved solids in the milk is something we observe to happen very quickly. In fall over a couple of weeks the Kefir is thin, and we know the Goats have reduced thier water intake. In very early spring the Kefir becomes very strong and we know the Goats are driking more water so we must reduce the amount of Kefir Grains.

TEMPERATURE

The higher the temperature the faster Kefir Grains will grows and the faster they will ferment. Temperature tends to be the hardest fermentaion varible to control.

AGITATION

Agitation will increase Kefir Grain fermentation rate by washing away the vitamins and other beneficial excreations form the Kefir Grains and bring fresh food up into the grain.

Agitation should be preformed when you first feed the grains and just before harvesting the Kefir and giving the Kefir Grains more fresh food. It will take about 8 hours before the Kefir Grains will benefit from agitation, during the first 8 hours food is redily avialable and thus not limited them. After 8 hours you will begin to notice changes at the surface if the milk in the fermentation jar.

If you break a jar and thus need to quickly build up your Kefir Grain population from your backup, agitation is a great way to do it! Shake the fermentation jar every few hours. The kefir can get very strong thei way, but Kefir Grain growth rates of 30% per day are typical. In just 3 days you will double your Kefir Grain mass. If you want to share or sell your Kefir Grains, this is how to build up your Kefir Grain inventory!

EXTRA GRAINS

Each days harvest will result in extra grains, grains resulting from the constant growth of the colony, assuming you are following our grain chopping instructions.

What to do with those grains?

Eat them! Give them away! Store them as backups in case you break your fermentation jar and lose your primary supply of grains.

Another treat is to place them into the Kefir you just harvested. Then either place the mix in a blender or place a electric hand mixer into the kefir container. Mix for a minute or so, leave the Kefir in you sealed container at room temp for about an hour, then place in the fridge. Over the next half of the days the Kefir will get very thick and very creamy! The taste will be more mellow making it ideal to offer to people who have never tried Kefir.

Mix them into a smoothy!

Heat is a bit of an enemy of the grains, so placing into very hot food will tend to destroy the grains.