Kefir Karma

The misinterpretation of the behavior of kefir grains happens often enough that you should read this in case your first batches of kefir are questionable.

Customer: Unfortunately, the heat must have killed the kefir grains.  I have tried three different batches and the result tastes putrid.  Could you please replace them and let me know when you send them so that I can make sure they don't sit in the mailbox?

(I sent her new ones and got this message shortly after she got them.)

Unfortunately, the kefir grains were dead again when they arrived.  They did not get here until Monday and I was waiting at the mailbox and met the mail lady and immediately brought them in the house and put them in milk but to no avail.  Perhaps if you shipped them so that they would get here quicker or put them in some milk to sustain them along with way?  It was not particularly hot over the weekend but regardless, they are unusable. Thoughts?

My answer
Under the care of the post office they do not die. They die in overheated mailboxes. So they were not dead when they arrived. Were you not there on May 19 when they arrived?

Probably best to get them from someone else. It will just happen again. Do you want your money back?

Cuistomer: I am not sure what happened then.  I was standing there waiting for the mail lady and took the package directly from her and went immediately into the house and put the grains in milk.  They were never put in the mailbox at all.

I guess you should just send me my money back.  I am sorry that it didn't work out.  They looked lovely.
Marilyn: They were fine then. What makes you think they aren't working?
Customer: I put them in fresh milk yesterday and the milk is putrid today, just like last time.  I can change it out and give it another 24 hours if you like but I don't think it will help.
Marilyn: Glad you didn't throw them out. Rinse them with water; they sound yeasty. They will be fine. A few rinsing before the next couple of batches will rinse away that excess yeast. Yeast tastes nasty so I know what you mean.
Customer: I will give it a try and let you know.
Customer two days later: You were correct!  After a couple of days of rinsing they have started to revive and make kefir.  Thank you for helping me troubleshoot.  I thought they were goners!

Infrequently Asked Questions

Can I use almond milk on my kefir grains?

First off, there is no such thing as almond "milk". Let's call it what it is, which is almond water. The way you know there is no such thing as almond milk is because milk, by definition is the liquid from the udder of an animal. See how calling non-milks "milk" adds confusion. People actually think almond "milk" or soy "milk" can be used with kefir grains. Well, it can but don't expect your kefir grains to thrive or grow. They will lose the growth factor in non-milks so if you insist on using non milk, at least use your extra kefir grains in a separate jar so you don't ruin the growth factor of your entire stock of kefir grains. Kefir grains are able to ferment any beverage, they just won't grow in it unless it is real milk.

I want to feed my kefir grains coconut milk. Will that work?

I suggest you put the kefir grains in real milk for a week to get some growth then switch half of them to coconut milk for slow growth, or to coconut water for no more growth. If you keep them in real milk they will grow forever. All the beverages will ferment with milk kefir grains but not all liquids allow them to grow.