You can get either one, but don't use either one in almond "milk" at first. Use the correct medium, which is real milk for milk kefir grains and sugar water for water kefir grains and then when you have extras, establish a second jar for your non-milk medium. That way if they stop working after a while you have your back up jar going and growing in the proper medium.
My kefir has a thin consistency; do I need new kefir grains?
You probably do not need new ones because kefir grains are very forgiving. Rinse them with water and start the process over giving them just enough milk to make mild tasting kefir. It might take a couple tries to get the taste you want. Pay no attention to the consistency for now. Go for taste only. Keep them at room temperature and give them a fresh change of milk every day.
The answer is no, they switch to any other kind of real milk just fine. Just make sure your milk source has an udder. Almonds, soybeans, rice cannot make milk, it is water, and the kefir grains will lose their growth factor in such non-milks. Kefir grains will certainly culture any kind of beverage you choose but you should always use your extras for such experiments and keep your main culture jar going with real milk. That way you will always have growing kefir grains for sharing purposes and for anything else you want to use them.
1) How is it that you never run out of kefir grains? Don't they only grow so fast? It is true. I always have kefir grains available. They grow like gangbusters and I have several jars going. 2) Why do you charge for your kefir grains? I thought kefir grains were supposed to be given away for free? Many people are sharing their kefir grains for the cost of shipping.
What people choose to get for their extra kefir grains is up to them. I am glad there are so many people willing to share because I couldn't begin to supply the demand for genuine kefir grains. $15 plus $6 shipping is a reasonable amount to ask for my kefir grains because of several reasons. They are guaranteed to be healthy and to grow. If the post office screws up and loses or cooks the kefir grains because of hot weather, I will replace them. The very first batch you make will be good. Mine are never in a dormant or semi-dormant stage from being in cold storage. There is no wasted milk while you "wake them up". If you decide to get them from someone else, ask them if they have recently been in the refrigerator. It is nice to know if you are going to have to bring them back into balance or not. This could take up to two weeks.Kefir grains are hardy and will usually go back into pristine condition no matter how long they've been neglected. Just be aware that there is probably nothing you are doing wrong if it doesn't taste just right at first. Give them a fresh change of milk every day and watch magic happen. Kefir grains you get from me are guaranteed to be already in great condition. You get a goodly amount. You get 3 Tablespoons which is enough to make a quart of kefir/day. When they double in about two weeks you get to make twice that much. Others offer a fraction of that, which is fine, too, because they will grow soon enough. I ship every Monday and fill all orders. There is no waiting two or three weeks while my supply builds back up. You get a useful 7-page instruction and recipe booklet. Plus you get excellent technical support by phone or e-mail. I spend hours some days just answering questions. Not that there is anything hard about making kefir but some people have a hard time understanding the written word or have a special concern. Last but not least, the Bible says, "The laborer is worthy of his hire." and I am not going to supply excellent products and service for nothing. This is my cottage industry. My job is to make you successful. The fair amount I charge makes me happy to go the extra mile for you. 3) Would a 24 hours fermentation be good enough at room temperature, or would you recommend more, for probiotics benefit? I've read it should be fermented anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days. What in your opinion is the best for probiotics benefit? I always think of the kefir grains first. Get them out of there in 24 hours and into fresh milk no matter what it looks or tastes like. They don't care what you do with the kefir afterwards. So if you want more bacteria in the kefir, leave the strained kefir on the counter at room temperature for as long as you want. Make it how you like it to taste. Just don't leave the kefir grains in the same jar with hardly anything for them to eat, while you are waiting for it to get more and more sour. 4) I just got my kefir grains from you and don't understand the instructions. Put the whole contents into a quart jar. Pour 2 cups of milk over. If you like the way it tastes in 24 hours use the same amount of milk. If it is too sour in 24 hours, strain and this time put 3 cups of milk over them. If it is way too sour or completely separated, double the milk. If it is still too sour the next batch add an additional cup of milk for the next time. The idea is to give them the amount of milk they can handle in 24 hours. The amount I sent you was making a quart for me, but they won't for you at first because of the stress of shipping and going without food for 2 days. They will get up to speed quickly so don't be afraid to give them more milk if it is getting too sour or separating.
5) My kefir grains I got from you are growing great. Too good in fact. What do I do with all the extra kefir grains? They are eating me out of house and home. The first thing you should do is to share some of your extra kefir grains with friends. These people are your back up. That way if something ever happens to your kefir grains you will not have to send another twenty dollar bill to Marilyn. You'd be surprised at some of the novel ways people have killed their kefir grains. After you have run out of people to share them with, freeze a back up. They will not last forever in the freezer so you might want to freeze a back up once per month and discard the old ones. You don't need a freezer full of kefir grains. 6) Hi Marilyn, I was looking on your website and I notice that the milk you use is raw. I don't have access to raw cow's milk but I can use either organic cow or goats milk store bought. Will I get the same effect using this type of milk with your kefir grains? Probiotic benefits are there even in regular pasteurized milk. Kefir grains will adjust to any kind of milk except ultra pasteurized. They don't like ultra dead milk, as I call it, even though it may say organic on the carton. Beware that "organic" standards are quite low. Just because something is "organic" doesn't mean it is necessarily healthy. A very popular brand of "organic" milk is from confined cows. You would never suspect such a thing but there is nothing in the organic guidelines that say the dairy animals are to be free range. So go ahead and use regular pasteurized milk from the store if that is all there is available. 7) Hi Marilyn! I ordered kefir grains from you a few weeks ago. I had made several good batches with them, but the last three batches have had poor texture--cheesy curds up at the top, and mostly whey down below. I tastes fine, but that good thick texture of kefir is missing. I've used mostly raw milk, leave it on the counter over night or a little longer, and agitate the jar from time to time. What could I be doing wrong? Thanks!
In warm weather, kefir grains use up the lactose much faster than before. Remove half the kefir grains from the jar and that will help but not totally solve the poor texture. A really good way to get smooth and creamy kefir is to put your jar(s) in a cooler with with a hot water bottle full of ice to keep the temp in there between 60 and 70 degrees. Whenever the kefir separates in the jar before 24 hours is up, it is time to strain and give them more milk for the next batch or remove some kefir grains from the jar. Using enough milk also makes a milder, more pleasant drink.
7b) I started with 2 c milk and kefir grains for 24 hours and then tried it and was too sour--it also tasted a little yeasty, so added more milk. Now it is 48 hours and smells yeasty too. The consistency does not seem like kefir. I am not clear on the procedure.
The amount I gave you was making a quart in 24 hours for me. Sometimes the trip sets them back a little so I have you test with two cups of milk. It was too sour so the next batch you can double the milk. Make sure you strain it every 24 hours and put into fresh milk regardless of its consistency. You go by taste only. Getting the right consistency will come with practice. Get it to taste right first. If it is too sour, you use more milk the next time. If they are using too much of your milk, remove some kefir grains from the jar. Your strain it out. Lift out the kefir grains from the strainer and put them into a new clean jar. Taste the kefir you just strained out. Determine if it is just right (by taste) or if it is too sour and use the same amount of milk if it is just right or more milk if it is too sour for the next batch. If the kefir you just strained is too sour, you can dilute it with a little fresh milk to make it palatable. Don't worry about thickness at this point.
re: A yeasty flavor. Sometimes you need to rinse the kefir grains with water before the next few batches to wash away the excess yeast. That will greatly improve the flavor. 8) I had a question about the difference between Kefir grains/Kefir powder and Kefir water grains/Kefir milk grains?
What I have are genuine milk grains and genuine water grains. They multiply over time. The powder starter is something you will have to renew from time to time. Genuine kefir grains will last forever and grow for you with proper care.
9) Hi Marilyn, I received the grains today, but I have a question. What do I do with the grains when I'm not using them to make kefir? How do I store them? Refrigerator? Room temp? In milk?
When you want to go on a vacation follow the instructions at the bottom of page 2. They can stay in the refrigerator for two weeks or so with milk over them. But don't make a habit of leaving them in the refrigerator; there is always a recovery period; the kefir isn't so great because they go out of balance at cold temps. If you want to keep them happy give them a fresh change of milk every day and keep them at room temperature.
9b) Our kefir is coming out great day after day! Thanks. Can we store the kefir grains for a while? If so, how long and are there any special instructions? It is best to not think of kefir grains as something you should store. A lot of people think of them as their new pet. Whenever you store them you will put them out of balance, then for a lot of people it is a struggle to get them right again, with some wasted milk. The thing to do is only make the amount you are going to use and remove the extra kefir grains from the jar. If you want to take a break for a month or so, freeze them. There will be up to a week recovery time with wasted milk.
9c) I really need a break from making kefir. How do I store them?
They can go in the refrigerator up to two weeks, which is explained at the bottom of page two of the instructions that came with your kefir grains. Beyond that they can be frozen for up to four months. Either way, cold temps set them way back and there will be a recovery period. They will be sluggish at first and you will think they are dead. They did not die. Give them a fresh change of milk every day, keeping your culture jar at room temperature. Taste every batch. Notice how your kefir gets a little better each day. Be sure to adjust the milk according to the taste and not the consistency.
9d) I find that making milk kefir is worrisome since we are not consuming it as fast as I am making it and I am using raw milk which is expensive. Can I freeze some? How do I do that? And if I want to rest for a little while can I refrigerate it? Thanks again Ursula
10) I have a question about the milk kefir grains. All was going well and I have been making kefir for weeks now. I have given some to a friend too. Lately the past week or so, my kefir is not coming out the same. Can you help me figure out what to do? It is very curdy on the top and watery on the bottom when I strain it and put it in the refrigerator it separates and has alot of whey like liquid. It is not as smooth and consistent as it once was. What am I doing wrong??
This is the most common question of all so you are not alone. You have not kept up with your kefir grains needs. You have not noticed how much they have grown but are giving them the same amount of milk. Or maybe you are giving them more milk than at first, but not nearly as much as they really need. Now they need a lot more milk. They are using up their food supply faster because there is more of them. The kefir is becoming too acidic by the time 24 hours is up so it is separating. This is actually the beginning of cheese making. Acid causes curds and whey to separate. Your strategy is to remove some kefir grains from the jar or use a whole lot more milk to feed them properly.
A water kefir question
11) I bought some water kefir grains from you not too long ago, (2 months). I have been giving them TLC and following your instructions. I am not able to make them multiply and on occasion they have produced a gooey, gloppy mess instead of the kefir water. This happens randomly. Can you please give me some insight? Water kefir grains like calcium. That's why well water works so well. Either use something like coral calcium (one small scoop per quart of sugar water) or crush up a calcium tablet. It will take a few batches like this before you notice growth. Sometimes a weed gets in there making thick water kefir. The remedy is to rinse better than you normally do and put them in sugar water only for a time or two.
12) I notice you ship on Monday. Is is okay to bother you on Sunday?
I don't mind at all taking calls on Sunday for Monday orders. If you call on a Monday, your order will go out Tuesday. The best way to make your order is by e-mail or use the contact form. It is so much easier and quicker to cut and paste your address into a label.
13) Do you ever ship any other day of the week besides Monday?
I ship nearly every day of the week most of the time. In the summer I consider how far away you are from Ohio and ship as late at Wednesday. Sometimes I ship on Friday for a Monday delivery even if you are in zone 8. So go ahead and order your kefir grains. You might get them sooner than you think.