The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bakerb's picture


Does anyone grow & use kefir...I've been growing it for 10 years, or's a wonderful product & it's very easy to grow!   I've made "cream cheese" & "sour cream"'s a wonderful substituted for buttermilk in baked goods & I've made sourdough starters with it.  If you'd like to know more about it, I recommend this site: it's everything you'd want to know about kefir!

I bought my kefir grains from Dom, I'm not sure if he still sells them, but the above site will tell you.



Petrissage's picture

Dear Beth,

I am delighted to read your post because I need kefir help! I bought mine from another source [Gem] and have never yet succeeded in making kefir. My grains may be dead by now as they have sat in the refigerator unused for many months.

Whenever I made kefir, following Gem's directions very carefully, the mixture would separate before it made kefir. It was a disaster every time.

If it is possible for you to give me advice on what I am or was [if my grains are dead] doing wrong, I would be most grateful. I love kefir and have been buying it for a long time when I would rather make my own.

I succeeded in making filmjolk and the Finnish viili, but never kefir.

Thanks for your post!


makeminemilk's picture

   I got some kefir grains from Gem Cultures almost two years ago, and I've been making nice thick kefir since (and eating the excess grains)...

   My instructions also said to "strain" the finished kefir, but I soon realized that the grains (my grains anyway) gravitate toward each other into larger "communities" and become marble or near golfball-sized by the time the kefir is fermented...making any kind of strainer unnecessary. I just use a plastic spoon to lift them out (about 3 or 4 big grains total) and into the next container. I ferment my stuff about 24 hours @ 70 degrees.  Quite a bit less time needed in summer. On cold days you can "kickstart" or speed up a slow-fermenting batch by floating the kefir container in a larger pot of hot tapwater for about 20-30 minutes. I keep 2 batches (2 cups each) fermenting every day and consume both during the day. 

 Sometimes I will intentionally break the big kefir grains half or "wash" the grains by pouring the fresh milk directly on them. This seems to ensure a good ferment every time. I've had great, thick (pudding-like) kefir every time with these practices. I also use only WHOLE milk. I've never frozen my grains or stored them without making kefir, and I can't say I know what "dead" grains look like... 

bakerb's picture

Hi,'s good to hear from you!  I'm not an expert on kefir, although I've been growing it for a number of years...I think I do some things wrong (to save time), but I still get a good product...I don't strain the grains every day, as Dom suggests, I just add a little milk on top of the grains & kefir until my container (a quart jar) is full (of grains & kefir), then I strain the grains and start anew with a clean jar, the grains, and a little milk.  Also, my kefir always separates (as you said yours did), but the kefir tastes great!  I think kefir grains are very resiliant, with a will to live if we just feed them a little...I would suggest to you: examine your grains, smell them, feed them a little milk...see it they ferment it.  Did your grains ever look like this?:  I hope this helps, I suggest going to  and read, you may need to buy more grains...

Take care!  Beth

Petrissage's picture

You are certainly far more of an expert than I am!

What do you do with the watery part of the separated kefir? I did not know it was meant to separate.

It has been long enough that I cannot say for sure that my grains ever looked like that, but I think they did. They certainly multiplied like mad.

I will check my grains --- I have been feeling guilty about neglecting them so!

Thank you for the pointer to the site with so much information. Where did you get your grains?

I appreciate your help and encouragement. 





bakerb's picture

Hi...the watery part is the whey, it's part of the kefir, just separated, stir it back into the kefir...

I bought my grains from Dom (in Australia) from the above site...I looked on the site & they're still available... 

The fact that your grains multiplied, means that they were indeed healthy & growing...hopefuly they still are...get reacquainted with them...I've grown fond of mine over the years, they are a living thing, a very complicated (as far as I'm concerned) living thing.  If they're not alive, of course you'll need to repurchase them...good luck!   Beth