All About Kefir!

Homemade kefir


How to make homemade kefir

Video tutorial of making homemade kefir

Maple-sweetened kefir

Where to obtain kefir grains

I've been enjoying making my own kefir, and am excited about sharing it with my readers here! Kefir is very nutritious, and making kefir is extremely easy. I'm so thrilled about such an affordable, healthy "treat"! 

What is kefir?

Kefir is fermented milk (pretty much any kind of milk can be used*). It looks like a somewhat curdled milk, or a runny yogurt. It can be bought at a store or made at home.

What are kefir grains?

Kefir culture or "grains", which are used to make kefir, look like white, semi-clear cauliflower florets. The kefir culture is referred to as "grains", though it shouldn't be confused with the ordinary sort of "grain", which usually comes to mind.

Kefir grains are a combination of yeasts and bacteria, along with some sugars and proteins.

Kefir grains aren't "made", but rather grow as they are cultured.

Kefir grains in a jar

How is kefir made?

Kefir is made by combining kefir grains with milk. The mixture is allowed to sit at room temperature for 12 hours or longer; the kefir is then strained and the grains are used again. The resulting fermented milk is the kefir!

What does kefir taste like?

Kefir has a soured smell, and tastes very similar to plain yogurt. I think it resembles buttermilk after about 12 hours of fermentation, or a runny sour cream after 24+ hours of fermentation.

If you like yogurt, you will like kefir! Even if you don't particularly care for plain yogurt, there are still many yummy ways to enjoy kefir. :)

Why should we eat kefir?

Kefir has all the great health benefits of yogurt, and MUCH more! Kefir is full of probiotics, along with the protein and calcium from milk. It's also easy to make and easy to digest (the yeast in the grains feeds on lactose in the milk)!

Making kefir

How do I make homemade kefir?

Making homemade kefir is very simple! For every tablespoon of kefir grains, you will need a 7-8 tablespoons of milk (about one cup total, with the grains). (Kefir grains may be purchased from Cultures for Health.)

Just place the milk and grains in a glass jar, cover loosely, and store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 12-24 hours.

Strain, and enjoy your fresh kefir! (Kefir will keep in the refrigerator for months!)

Add the grains to fresh milk, to make another batch of kefir. It's so simple and quick to make homemade kefir! (More detailed instructions and photos about making your own kefir can be found here.)

How to make kefir: Video tutorial

What are some ways to eat kefir?

Some people like to drink plain kefir. If you like plain yogurt, you will like plain kefir.

A common way to eat kefir is by making a kefir fruit smoothie. The kefir adds a creamy tartness and, of course, lots of probiotics and extra nutrition!

Kefir can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt in various recipes. This can depend on the recipe and how long you've cultured the batch of kefir, since the kefir gets more tangy the longer it cultures.

Personally, I don't care for plain milk or plain yogurt. I have never enjoyed drinking milk! I've tried drinking kefir, even very mild kefir, and I can't stand it.

However, I love making fruit smoothies with kefir! I've been putting kefir on my taco salad instead of sour cream (think: quick and easy buttermilk dressing!). And since homemade kefir is cheaper than yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk, there are endless ways to use it if you want to get creative!

Making kefir

How can I obtain my own kefir grains?

To make kefir, you will need to obtain some kefir grains. A tablespoon is enough to get you started making kefir.

The easiest way to obtain some kefir culture is to get some from a friend who is making kefir. Kefir grains may also be purchased from Cultures for Health.

Try to obtain kefir grains, not just a "starter", which is sometimes sold. Kefir grains can be used "forever", whereas "starters" can only be used 7 times or so.

I got my grains from a very generous friend-of-a-friend. The grains have tripled in size during the past 4-5 weeks I've had them, and I've gone from making one cup of kefir each day, to two. Soon, I'll set aside a "back-up supply" of grains. Then, any excess growth can be passed on to others. You can listen to a short podcast about my kefir beginnings here.

I get many requests for kefir grains, and had been directing you to a friend who sold live milk kefir grains. Unfortunately, she is no longer selling kefir grains. I decided to try to find another reputable source for kefir grains (NOT "starter") and just signed up as an affiliate with Cultures for Health.

Cultures for Health sells dried milk kefir grains, which they culture and dehydrate themselves. The grains are shipped in organic milk powder and will rehydrate within 5-7 days and then will continue to grow and make kefir.

While I think the ideal source of kefir grains is live, fresh grains (preferably given as a gift from a friend!), Cultures for Health is a good company and I feel confident directing you to them. I wish kefir grains weren't so expensive to get started -- but remember, once you have them they will grow, and you can bless your friends and family by giving away your extras. :)

Cultures for Health

What about the alcohol content of kefir?

*Many types of milk may be used to culture kefir, but kefir grains that are cultured in non-mammalian milk will cease growing. Consider using your excess grains to culture soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc.

Strawberry Banana Kefir Smoothie recipe

Strawberry Banana Kefir Smoothies... our all-time favorite! :)

Fluffy Kefir Pancakes recipe

Fluffy Kefir Pancakes... a great way to use up extra kefir! :)


Tammy, thanks for this explanation! I had wondered what kefir was. Since people say grains, I was thinking barley or oats. I make my own yogurt from starter or from packets of powder. Then I drain it for sour cream.

You're welcome! I know, kefir was very confusing to me at first, too. :)

Hi Tammy,

I just received my kefir starter in the mail, and have some questions about making kefir. What I have been reading so far recommends storing the kefir starter with the milk at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Would it be preferable to make the kefir in a ceramic container? I've read that the kefir actually tastes better when made in a ceramic container, though it can be difficult to tell if the glaze contains lead.
I have been reading that the kefir should be fermented at about 75 degrees Farhenheit, but what if my kitchen is much cooler than that? I tried searcing online for a kefir incubator, but did not have any luck. Can you clarify these issues for me? Appreciate your help.

Hi! I can help. I would ferment your kefir in a glass jar so that you can be certain it's always clean and safe to drink. Keeping it away from direct sun ensures that the grains will not be killed, since yeast in all forms is killed when the sun shines on it. 75 degrees is ideal, but kefir will even culture in your refrigerator. Try to keep it in a warmer spot in your home if you can, near a heat source. Cooler temps mean slower fermentation and grain growth, so experiment and find what you like.

Hi, I was told Kefir cannot touch metal. I have been obeying this rule for days. But today, I accidentally use my stainless spoon to scoop the grain (forgot about it), but right away I woke up and took away the spoon. I just wonder if there is any damage to the grain if the touch was only a few seconds? Do you know? I worry about it. Thank you!

I know this is very late to reply but here it is. This is nothing to worry about. Stainless steel is non reactive. You can use a stainless strainer too. Reactive metals are aluminum, copper, cast iron and possibly chromed things. I think that is it. Otherwise, you should have noticed no problem with your kefir. I use stainless all the time with no problems.

Can I use almond milk , if so will it still have the same benefits?

Yes, but the grains need milk, periodically, to survive.. Others have also rotated in coconut milk.
I found several instances of people rotating almond milk or coconut milk online, just google it :)

I explain: a friend of mine told me you could make kefir buy just adding some store bought kefir to milk. I tried it and obtained something quite good, however is it kefir?

We make kefir also. Only we make it differently, if you take raw (must be) milk and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours, it becomes thick like yogurt only a little more jelly-like. It tastes like plain yogurt, my mom makes fruit smoothies with it and it is delicious. :)

So you make kefir without the kefir grains? :) Wouldn't that just be soured milk? I've never had raw milk, so I'm not sure exactly what it does. It sounds like yours gets thicker than kefir, since kefir is runnier than yogurt. :)

It's similar to kefir, but it doesn't include all the benefits that kefir has as far as probiotic qualities and bacteria and whatnot, ie-- whereas kefir's a living substance, sour milk isn't... but they are very similar as far as consistency and taste

Sour milk is definitely living and pro-biotic.

What you have tho is nothing like kefir.

Your sour milk is sour because of wild caught lactobacilli.

I prefer to not go that direction but rather innoculate my raw milk (straight from the teat) with yogurt cultures so that i know what i am culturing.

I see you wrote almost 3 years ago. I make my kefir with raw milk also. Are you still making your kefir?

I just started making kefir with raw milk. I have let it sit at room temp for 48 hours and it becomes very thick, thicker than yogurt and is good for sour cream. For smoothies I will let the kefir culture for 24 hours.

That is clabbered milk. Good stuff, but not kefir.

Yes, you make it without the kefir grains. No, it doesn't go bad. If it was store-bought milk it would. The milk cannot be pasturized. It gets thick like yogurt, so no it isn't runny like kefir. I have had kefir(made with the grains) also. If it is bubbly on top it is bad. It should be clear like glass. And you must skim off the cream. (It can't be homogonized either).
When you pasturize the milk you not only kill any bad bacteria but also the good bacteria that is necessary for digestion. We live in a farming community and no one pasturizes the milk. One farmer told my mom when she first moved out here from the city that the day he had to pasturize the milk before he drank it would be the day he would do something else for a living. :)

(That was me that commented before, I wasn't logged in.) :P

Well, I understand that the raw milk doesn't "go bad" when it's left out, but I don't think it's technically kefir just because it's left at room temperature (without kefir grains to culture it). ;)

Kefir, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk... all of these things are somewhat similar, but not the same. They may taste or look alike, but they have some different properties. :)

I'm not sure if you're referring to the kefir or the raw milk being bubbly or needing to be clear on top, skimming the cream, etc... My kefir separates as it cultures, of course, with the clear part being the whey. It is slightly "stringy" (like yogurt) when I pour it into a bowl. And I use milk from the grocery store, so it is homogenized. Obviously, it would be even healthier with raw whole milk, but that's not an option for me right now. :)

What you are making without grains by souring raw milk until it thickens is called clabber.

I've been wanting to make yogurt for awhile, but am not clear how to go about it. We've recently been getting raw milk from a local farm, and I know it would be more beneficial and easily absorbed by the body if we turned it into kefir or yogurt.

I love reading your website, Tammy! It gives me lots of ideas, although we try not to use much dairy or white flour.

So, would kefir grains work on powdered milk? Because that's what we normally use, since it's cheaper.


Hi, Anna!

I haven't made yogurt, though I've heard that it's very easy, as well. :)

I'm not sure if kefir can be cultured in powdered milk. I'm guessing powdered milk would be probably a last resort of milk choices, since it's usually fat-free and about the farthest thing from raw/fresh milk. I did some searching, but didn't see anything saying whether or not it was okay.

Thanks for your comment, and welcome, by the way! :)

Yes, you can culture grains in powdered milk, but as Tammy said, it's far from ideal, and can be hard on the grains. They don't necessarily die-off, but they don't flourish, either.

I would NOT recommend using fat free powdered milk for has had all the useful ingredients removed and fillers added in.So does any thing labeled low fat most of the time they add fat free powdered milk to add texture and thicken the consistency's a very unhealthy I avoid low or fat free milk, fat free yougurt and pretty much every "low-fat" "fat free" dairy product out there...I make my own yougurt in my dehydrator with yougurt's delicious and the longer it "cooks" the more sour it becomes. I strain the yougurt and make yougurt cheese and greek yougurt...I also add berries in season pureed with a very small amount of LOCAL raw honey..use local honey to build immunity against the pollens in your area...

I use a small beer cooler six pack sized. 2 pint jars 3/4 full of milk warmed to 105 to 110 degrees F. Fill cooler with warm water 110 to 115 degrees F. In the pint jars with milk
stir 2 heaping tablespoons of active cultured yogert at room temperature.
Seal the jars loosely place them in the warm water, place the lid on the cooler to keep the temperature constant. In a few hours you will have yogert.The warmer the temperature
the faster it makes, but too hot and it will not form yogert. Too cool slows development of the yogert. You can use the yogert you make to make more yogert. Happy yogert making. PS.
low heat powdered milk can be added to your milk to make your milk produce a thicker yogert.
Have never tried to make yogert with plain powdered milk.

Tammy, thank you for the wonderful post on Kefir! My dad was hospitalized 4 years ago for a near-fatal accident and was on large doses of antibiotics. I purchased some kefir from a local health food store as a probiotic source for him. It was quite pricey, but he enjoyed it and I purchased it several more times during his 3 month stay. I have not purchased any for myself since then, but I have been curious nonetheless. I was thrilled to find 2 sources not far from my parents, so I thank you for passing along this information!
You are such a wellspring of knowledge. :) I hope to get into cloth diapering, but since I work for a major consumer products company and get most diapers for free (and my husband stays home and prefers to use disposables), we are on this path for now. But I think it's better for the environment and for babies to use CDs. I will have more questions for you in the (near) future, I hope!! :)
May God bless your week, Tammy - thank you for the ministry you have here!
Vicky :)

Just yesterday, (the day I think you posted this) my husband and I went to see some friends in another state. My friend offered me some of her kefir grains and even though I had heard about kefir I did not know anything about it really but brought them home. How surprisingly wonderful to come to your site this morning and find instructions! I cannot wait to try. Thank you!

Vicky, thanks for your comment! :) You'll have to let me know how it goes if you get some kefir grains! :) Shoshana, wow! That is really amazing! :D

Thanks for all of the info. I just have one question. How do you store the grains when not making kefir? Or do you just continue the cycle and use the grains everday by making kefir continually? I saw that you said that you can freeze or dry them, but is putting them in the fridge okay? How about leaving them at room temp? In the jar with the lid on?

Hi, Kristen! :)

You can make kefir every day, but if you get tired of it or need a break, there are several ways to store the grains. One way is to put the kefir in a jar with the normal amount of milk used to culture the grains, and put the jar in the fridge, loosely covered. The milk needs to be drained and replaced once a week. If you won't be able to replace the milk every week, add extra milk for each week you won't be able to tend to them. (e.g. for one tablespoon of grains, put 1 cup of milk for one week, 1.5 cups of milk for two weeks, etc.)

The grains can also be frozen or dried, as a back-up supply or for future use, but that is more for long-term storage. :)

Hope this helps! :)

Tammy how do you Dry Kefir Grains? Freeze Also?
My Kefir grains are on the way now and I'd love to know how to dry an freeze for later if I have more than I can use.
This is a new adventure for me as well,so I'm not sure I want to lose the Idea of saving some for a latter use. Hope you are still using Kefir. Mary

I suggest checking this page for more info on dried grains: It's the best resource I've found for kefir.

My local health food store sells dried grains in a small package. I also like yogurt but not milk. Perhaps I will give it a try.

*waves* Thanks for Kefir 101! This is lil_irish_lass from LiveJournal...I asked about kefir and two different people referred me here. :D And it was worth the referral, what a great write-up! Now I feel much more confident (my first batch is culturing right now) :)

Hi, Melissa! :) I'm glad the photos and instructions were helpful! I'm sure your kefir will be great! It's one of those things that's SO simple, yet there's a lot of information out there about it... and it can be confusing (at least, it was to me!) unless you've seen someone making or it tried it yourself! :)

I am so glad I just found your site. I am new to Kefir but I have been playing around with it. Oh, boy it makes the best smoothies.
I have been told that it makes REALLY good sour dough bread also (although I have not made it just yet.)
Well I have to comment because I am new to Kefir and I am really enjoying playing around with it.
I have a list of things I want to try. I have been told you can make a vinegar with it also so that is next on my list.

Thanks again for such a well done post on Kefir!

Dora Renee' Wilkerson


I love the idea of making my own kefir. If I wanted to make 2 cups of kefir per day how much milk would I use per day? Thanks

Use about 2 cups of milk (and about 2 tablespoons of kefir grains) if you want 2 cups of kefir. Since the grains are strained out of the kefir and used again, the amount of kefir you end up having is the same as the amount of milk you used. :)

I'm wondering how long kefir will keep in the fridge.
Sometimes I get on a "kick" and keep making it faster than I'm using it. What do you think?

Donna, you can strain out the kefir grains and store the kefir in a container in the fridge for "a long time". Supposedly for months, though I haven't kept any that long myself! :)

i had to be away from home for a week and left my kefir grains in milk in a glass jar covered loosley with plastic wrap in the fridge. can i strain it and drink it? Is it safe? It looks ok.

ive started drinking kefir early this year and i think it rocks. lol... this site is really cool. ive been thinking of things to make drinking kefir more "fun" and this site really helps! thanks!=)

I don't know if you can actually mess this up or not. I just tried to make kefir for the first time with yogourment kefir starter using ultra-pasteurized goat milk and the directions on the back. It never curdled even after 48 hours. It just got thick and sour smelling. Do you think it is safe to drink even though I left it out that long?

Hmmm... my kefir doesn't really "curdle", at least, nothing like cottage cheese or something. It does get thick, but not as thick as yogurt.

Your 48-hour kefir is probably safe to drink (some people actually like culturing it for longer than 24 hours!), but I haven't had any experience with kefir "starter" -- which I think is the limited-use version of kefir grains, and can only be cultured a certain number of times before "wearing out" and then you have to purchase more?? Real kefir grains continue to grow as they're cultured and actually multiply.

The only other thing I can think of is that if you're using kefir grains, sometimes the first couple of batches of kefir taste funny when made after switching kinds of milk. For example, if I was culturing my grains in cow's milk from the store and then I gave you some of my grains and you started using them in goat's milk, the first few batches of kefir would be different as the grains "adjust" to the different milk.

i realize this is years later but maybe someone like myself who is new to Kefir and your site may find this beneficial. The OP stated they are using kefir starter by Yogourmet. This, like their yogurt is a limited use powder culture and not live grains like is discussed here. The 2nd issue is the OP used ULTRA-PASTEURIZED milk. That is a no-no for making Kefir or pretty much anything else. Nutritionally best is Raw but with limited resources and state laws it's hard to come by. Store bought regular pasturized milk of any fat content can be used, but obviously like the milk itself will be less creamy with less fat.

On another note,
I see a lot of people saying they culture for more than 48 hours. I read consistently that anything more than 48 hours will cause severe constipation and that the 12 hour mark is more of a laxative. Personally I have been culturing for 18-24 hours with a 2nd ferment after the grains are removed. This helps mellow out the flavor and you can also add fruit, ginger and other things to add some flavor to the kefir without hurting it.

Hope this helps
ps - if anyone needs grains I'll share mine when available for free if local or cost of shipping if out of my area. you can reach me at aprilchabot at gmail dot com.

hi Tammy!

I'm curious you mentioned making soy, rice and coconut milk. How would one go about making it? My family and I can't digest cow's milk that well so we drink the alternative.

Jules---too lazy to sign in lol

I hope I didn't skim over it lol. Would it be made the same way?

Are there soy grains etc? I'm truly curious now!

Hi, Jules!

I've never made my own soy, rice, or coconut milk, but I'm sure a Google search would yield some directions and instructions on making your own! :)

Kefir grains can be cultured in various types of milk. The same grains are used, whether one is culturing cow's milk, goat's milk, soy milk, etc. The result would still be called "kefir", but made with a different kind of milk. :)

One of the differences, though, is that kefir grains cultured in non-mammalian milk will not continue growing as they otherwise would when cultured in milk from a mammal. :) 

Hope this helps! :) 

I misunderstood you Tammy, I thought you meant you could actually make soy, coconut and rice milk.

Sorry about that! Makes total sense that you could use an alternative milk.

Thanks for the info!

~Jules---I still need to login!

Well, I know of at least one person who makes their own soy milk, so I'm sure there is info out there on making your own... I've just never done it myself. :)

I took some kefir with me when away from home for a week. I thought I took one with the grains. I found I hadn't. It was just kefir. So I drank half and added milk to it every day and it kept making more. It got just as it does when I make it with the grains. Would it have had the same culter properties?


CULTURE properties!

Donna (again)

Hi, Donna! My guess is that the kefir (without grains) can culture the milk (for how long, I don't know!) but I have no idea just how different it is from milk cultured with grains. :)

Can you make Kefir from store-bought Kefir? If so, can do you end up with Kefir grains this way? Thanks.

You can not make kefir grains from kefir. "Kefir" is milk that has been cultured by the grains. The grains are strained out of the milk and then you have "kefir" and the grains are re-used to culture more milk!

The only way to get kefir grains is when they grow/multiply. See the pictures -- they're white/clear-ish bubble-like things. :)

We belong to a cow share program 9 months of the year and get raw milk. I just thawed one gallon that I had frozen in October and thought that I would try making kefir wih it. I got the yogourmet kefir starter which calls for heating the milk to boiling point before innoculating it with the culture which had been added to a small portion of the cooled milk beforehand. It has been sitting for more than 24 hours and has not curdled. Does frozen milk make a difference? The yogourmet calls for 2% milk. This is whole. Could that make a difference? None of your threads mentions heating the milk. I didn't use a thermometer. Maybe it wasn't heated enough? Would appreciate some feedback. It seems like such an easy thing to do.

Ooops, I think this comment slipped through the cracks, and I never answered! :|

Honestly, I don't know much of anything about the kefir "starters" except that they are for a limited number of uses, and it's much better to have actual kefir grains, which continue to grow.

And, I'm not sure about using milk that has been frozen... I haven't read that it's okay or NOT okay...

Sorry I can't be of more help!  

I would say that the boiling milk was too hot and killed off the starter!!!

I make kefir with frozen raw milk and it works just fine.

I cultured kefir exactly as you did with heating raw milk and using the Yogourmet kefir grains. Mine thickened after 48 hours.

Dear Tammy,
As to this: "kefir grains cultured in non-mammalian milk will not continue growing as they otherwise would when cultured in milk from a mammal". How long can I make kefir from excess grains in rice or oat milk? I understand they stop growing in such case, but do I need to simply throw them away after some time or...?
Thank you,

Hi, Sandra!

I'm not entirely sure, since I've only cultured kefir in dairy milk, but I think it takes a long time for the kefir grains to stop "working" if you just use non-dairy milk. You could always keep a few in some milk so your supply (of grains) doesn't vanish, and use the rest in the rice or oat milk, and see how long they last! :) Like I said, I think they last a long time still... I'd keep using them until the grains seemed like they weren't really culturing the milk much...

I was interested in the comments made about the kefir without animal milk.
A friend gave me a kefir starter (not the grains) which had been made with organic store bought soymilk.
I have continued to use the organic soymilk to make the kefir now for 3 months with no diminishing of the quality of the finished culture.
There are no visible kefir grains in the finished product but the soymilk thickens quite nicely.
Would you know why this still works and if it is as good as the product with the grains?

Honestly, I have no idea! I have never used/drank kefir made with starter...


I really enjoy kefir, and drank it often while pregnant (although I could never quite stomach the plain stuff! I used it for smoothies, or drank it flavored!). I'm breastfeeding now, and my daughter shows a distinct sensitivity to dairy. I know that kefir is more easily digested -- is this just a lactose thing? Or would it actually affect the protein (which, in my understanding, causes the sensitivity)? Any idea whether kefir will affect her or if it would be ok to try?


I am not an expert here... I have heard that kefir contains less lactose (little? or none? I am not sure...) and is easier on the stomachs of those who are lactose-intolerant. I'm not sure about other dairy sensitivities...

Anyone else have any input here?? :) 

I just copied and pasted an article for my sister in law referring to how great it is for younger children, the older, and even those who are lactose intolerant. There is much more info if you google for it. Tammy, thanks for all your info, such a blessing your sharing with all of us...

I have been away for 2 weeks and the kefir definitely smells bad. Can these grains be "rinsed" and reused or do I have to start over?

I don't know for sure, but here is what I would do if it were me:

Rinse the grains with some good water (distilled or else boiled) and put them in fresh milk. Change the milk for a few days and see if they get back to "normal"!

From what I have read, the only danger of leaving kefir grains in the same milk for too long is that they have nothing to "eat" and they die. As long as the grains haven't "died" then they should be fine, even if they were in some rather icky milk for a bit.

I haven't tried this first-hand, though. But if it were me I would try to salvage the grains before just getting new ones... :) 

Hi Tammy,
I was given some grains last week, put them in a jar and added organic milk...3 days later about, I went to drain it off, half of the mixture had separated into clear whey, the grains were in tact, and I strained off the kefir, still leaving a lumpy runny mixture that looks like lumpy yogurt or sour cream. Did I screw up this batch? What should I do with the runny lumpy mixture?
The kefir is not as thick as my first batch?

Thanks for your response.

You can still use the "runny lumpy" kefir if you like the taste! It's pretty difficult to truly ruin kefir, aside from heating the grains or not changing the milk for many days or something like that. :) If it were me, I'd keep on trying and see how subsequent batches turn out. :)

I purchased my grains from Cultures for Health last week and began making kefir about 5 days ago. I started w/raw cows milk but maybe the kefir grains weren't rehydrated yet because I only got gooey cream on top and whey on the bottom. So I switched to an organic milk from the came out more of a kefir consistency but it's so incredibly white compared to the raw milk I'm used too and it has a different flavor so I think I want to use raw milk again. Do I need to rinse the grains when I switch from store bought milk to raw? Also, I use glass jars and I clean them in the sink then drip dry. The only thing about making kefir that I'm nervous about is how clean is clean enough? I mean do I need to spray the jars down w/rubbing alcohol and water to sterilize them? boil them every day? or is washing and drip drying sufficient. I don't want to grow bad bacteria here but I also don't want to get obsessive complusive about it either. Can you help?

I believe the grains do take a few days (at least) to rehydrate, so keep going and give it time! :)

I don't think there is a need to rinse the grains when switching between milks (unless there are allergy reasons for, say, going from dairy kefir to a non-dairy milk). I personally never rinse my grains. I allow them to gently drain/drip and then use them again. I don't see a need to rinse them, it's an extra step, and in my opinion, the kefir grains do great when they're pretty much left alone... just "fed" with fresh milk! :) I will say I don't think that handling them will necessarily hurt them... and I have even broken large grains apart with clean hands... so they are pretty hardy IF they are healthy! :)

I wash my jars by hand (hot soapy water, rinsed well under hot water) or in the dishwasher, and don't take any extra steps to sterilize them. I've never had a problem with bad bacteria! :) I keep a sanitary kitchen, use clean utensils, and use clean (washed) hands if I need to handle them directly. I think with these basic measures, the kefir should be just fine. :)

I thought I'd mention that I make dairy kefir for my children every day, but am not drinking milk myself. So what I do is whenever I get some extra kefir grains (as they multiply) I rinse them well and use them to ferment fruit juice. I did try rice and soy milk, but found that it gave them such a sour, curdled taste. bleck. However, the probiotics will still be in the fruit juice, so I can have the probiotic benefits too, even if I'm not drinking milk.


First time at this web-site. Will the yeasts that grow in kefir aggravate someone allergic to brewers yeast and nutritional yeast flakes? I have no apparent allergy to yogurt, but was not sure about kefir.


I'm not sure about yeast allergies, but I know kefir is similar to yogurt -- in taste and content -- though kefir is reportedly an even better probiotic than yogurt.

Tammy I took my large grains and put them into my smoothie and just kept a really small grain to start growing all over again. The only problem is the grain is not growing. It is still fermenting the milk and I still get kefiran I believe but no growth are the grains dying or something this ever happen with any of your grains. Thanks for your time. John

It probably would have been better to keep more than just a really small kefir grain; perhaps it is just growing really slowly, or maybe it is dying -- eventually it would stop making kefir if it really was dying, so I guess if that happens you'll have to get more kefir grains! Sorry! :(

Hi Tammy, I have been making kefir with grains i bought for about a month or more.

Recently my kefir seperates and is very thick on top and water on the bottom. It looks not like those round grains you show but like flat mushroomy things. What happened and am I going to kill us drinking it? i keep about 4 tbsp in 2 and a half cups of milk and change it 24 hrs.
Thanks in advance,

In my experience, when the kefir gets thick on top and separates, that means it has cultured longer (say, 24+ hours instead of 12) or with more grains.

From what you said, it sounds like you are using 4 T grains for 2.5 cups of milk -- you could easily increase the milk amount to 4 cups for that amount of grains!

The shape of the grains -- sounds like normal changing growth as they reproduce. If I saw a picture of them I might be able to give more help, but I am not an expert. :)

I don't think any harn will come from drinking what you're described your kefir to be like -- sounds normal to me! :D

Hi Tammy,
My friend gave me a ton of kefir grains in water, but I didn't get around to putting them in milk until about 3 days later (I left them in water in the fridge).
To make matters worse, once I DID put the grains in milk, I left on a business trip and forgot all about them for a week! Ugh! (No beginner's luck for me.)
So...I'm now looking at a quart jar with very tightly clumped kefir-y yogurty stuff at the top, and a clear liquid in the bottom half. Is there a way to save the poor kefir? Or do I need to bite the bullet and tell my friend I botched it?
Thanks for your help!

My suggestion is to keep using the grains and see what happens... maybe they'll revive! :) From your description of the jar ("a quart jar with very tightly clumped kefir-y yogurty stuff at the top, and a clear liquid in the bottom half") it sounds like they're working! :)

Looking for a non dairy/corn kefir starter. Does any one know where I can buy some?

hello tammy,

have been making kefir for many years/ periodically have a question/
do not know how i missed your site/ it is one of the best/ (simple & direct)
have a few problems which need some clarification
1 – one site stated that after straining the grains should be washed – yes or no?
i have never washed my grains
2 – after straining how long can kefir be kept in the fridge?
3 – it is stated that the grains should not touch metal what about the kefir?
4 – it is stated that kefir should not be heated but can it be added to porridge?

thank you for your help

1 -- No, don't wash the grains. If you really must, you can rinse them with some cool, distilled water. Otherwise, just strain the kefir and add the grains into some fresh milk!

2 -- Strained, loosely covered (to prevent pressure build-up) kefir will keep in the fridge for "a long time". Not sure exactly how long that is -- I've heard reports of it being 6 months or longer. Whatever your taste buds can handle I guess! :P Personally I wouldn't keep it longer than a few weeks, but that's just my preference.

3 -- Kefir shouldn't be stored in metal since it is acidic and can/will react with metal.

4 -- Kefir loses some of its nutritional benefits when heated, but it can be heated, used for cooking, etc. safely. We love kefir pancakes! You can use it like you would use yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, etc. as it seems fit. It won't have all the benefits of raw kefir but it's still healthy and good for you! :)

Hope this helps! :)

Hi New to site. I am wondering is there any way to make the Kefir thicker? I am just starting to experiment. I have only bought already make Kefir milk in the store. I will be starting my first patch at home this evening. I am trying to increase my mothers health. She is undernourished and doesn't eat anything. she has been put on steroids in hope to build her body's immune system. But she doesn't eat. She does like yogurt like things,so I am going to get her to try Kefir. Thanks Kelley

Kefir will get thicker if you culture it for 24 hours rather than just 12; it won't really get very thick, though (it's more like a runny yogurt). I am guessing that if you wanted something thick, you could culture it until the whey separates and then strain off the whey and just use the thicker, white part for what you wanted...

Thanks that makes great sense! Also was wondering....I have only Kefir starter(first batch going now)...not the grains. I am having a hard time finding some to purchase. I have e-mailed a couple of people in my area but haven't got a response back yet. Any ideas or help would be deeply appreciated. Thanks Kelley

Hi Kelley,

Several people wrote to me and said they were having difficulty getting a response for purchasing kefir grains, so I started this post which links to a couple online sellers and sellers/buyers can leave their contact info in the comments... this was posted a week or two ago so you should get a good response if you contact someone listed. :)

I tell ya, every time I need information for my homemaking, you're ready with the answer. My kefir grains just died and I really wanted a new one! I do a google search, and here you are with the database. Your bread feeds my family every day, and we are so loyal to your pizza crust it's actually funny. Bless you bless you! ~Emma in Seattle~

Is it possible to make Kefir by adding a cup or so of store bought Kefir to a gallon of milk... Sort of the same way that people make Yogurt? Is this possible? Or do you need the grains?

To make "real" kefir, yes, you will need the actual grains or else a kefir "starter" which is a powdered substance that will only be good for a few uses, rather than growing and increasing and lasting "forever" like real kefir grains do! :)

Whether store-bought kefir added to some milk will start to culture the milk as well -- perhaps, but it won't really make kefir the same way that grains would. :)

Hi just found your site and very informative it is too.
I've been using Kefir for 2 years now in both Soya and cows milk with out any problems but I have noticed that within the last few months the cows milk kefir is becoming quite slimey. It tastes ok so I can only assume that it is. Can you tell me if this is a normal reaction and what if anything I can do to remedy it.
Thanks Lyn.

Not sure on that, Lyn. Perhaps you could try rinsing your kefir grains in some cool (not cold, not hot) distilled water to see if that helps; I assume the ratio of grains to milk has remained consistent during this time so I'm not sure what else it could be. :)

Thankyou for your comments, I'll try rinsing the grains and see what happens. The grains to milk ratio has remained constant so I assume that's a good sign.

Just started making kefir with our goat milk. I also make feta and other soft cheese and wondered if I could use the kefir in place of the buttermilk to make my cheese. Have you or anyone else tried this?

Hi Donna,

I haven't tried using kefir instead of buttermilk as a cheese culture. I'm sorry I don't have any more info on that for you! :)

I just received some grains in the mail. I have been out of town and have no milk in the house. I was wondering if I could use evaporated milk until I get to the store tomorrow?

I'm not sure what the evaporated milk would do to kefir grains; if it were me I'd just hold off until the next day when you said you would have milk for them. :) You could refrigerate in the mean time though! :)

I have the grains in the fridge with the same milk (1%)for a long, long time. Now I am worried about Listeria, Salmonella and other bacteria that can be dangerous for our health.
I am a senior affraid of getting sick.
Thank you for your help.

How long is "a long, long time"? :)

With food, it's usually best to be on the safe side... Here are some ideas for where to get more kefir grains, should you decide to toss your old ones and start fresh. $10 + shipping will buy you some fresh grains on Etsy...! :) (I am not that seller and do not know them personally at all.)

Dear Tammy:

Thank for your answer!

At least four months ago was the last time I cleaned them.

They look and smell OK.

What is your advice?


If they look and smell okay, I would say to rinse them off with cool (distilled is best!) water and put them in some fresh milk. If the milk doesn't turn to kefir, then, they're probably dead.

It may take a while for them to work up to the speed they were before though. So, I would recommend leaving the milk for 24-48 hours and if it doesn't seem like it's cultured at all, put on fresh milk and wait again. If after a few times it's still not doing anything, then they're probably not going to revive.

I just started make kefir and i have fresh grains put them in milk and on the second time around i fished out the grains with a metal spoon not thinking that i shouldn't. Is my Kefir going to survive or are my grains dead now????

I wouldn't recommend storing kefir in metal containers, but I have used a stainless steel slotted spoon to fish out kefir grains and they haven't suffered as a result. I think prolonged exposure to metal is different than using a metal spoon for a few seconds. :)

I had the same question and found this link:*Note

What he says makes a lot of sense, but I'm no expert so do with it what you will.

At a local store I purchased some sachets of what is labelled 'kefir' and what, after reading some information on the net about kefir, I think must be dried or powdered grains or, probably. a 'starter. '
A couple of days ago I used them according to the directions. The result looks just like homogonised milk, but maybe, perhaps, a tiny bit thicker than the milk was to start with. (The orginal milk was not homogonised) .
To me it tastes like sour milk but with some other, more unpleasant , taste in addition. Is that how it is supposed to taste - or would it be more palatable if I had made it with live grains? I do not love the taste of natural yoghurt , but at least it does not taste too bad, this 'kefir' I have made tastes awful!
What is your advice?

I'm not sure about the taste difference between kefir made with a "starter" versus kefir made with live grains, as I've only had kefir made at home with kefir grains, myself. Personally I'm not a fan of the flavor of kefir (or plain yogurt!) but find it easy to eat in a fruit smoothie. :)

Hi Tammy, I made Kefir using raw cow milk and let it sit for about 3 days before I realized it was done fermenting (my first time at this).... anyway, the yeast aroma was very strong and i got a little taken aback with how my body felt after I tasted it., it made me feel a littleweakened I guess... I've made Kefir since which only fermented 24 hours and did not have the same body sensation after... I kept the first batch that sat for 3 days... since it was a total of 3 gallons and I wanted to keep it just in case it could be used for cooking since it was so strong.

Now I've noticed it has a white powdery substance on the top....

does any of this sound familiar to you..

Additionally once I get grains to make future kefir... do you have any recipies for using the kefir in bread making or other cooking? thanks, Susan

Hi Susan,

I've not used freeze-dried kefir culture or "starter" powders, and have no idea about the white powdery substance on top (that has never occurred in my kefir). However, culturing for 3 days shouldn't ruin the milk/kefir, provided everything was properly mixed (i.e. enough grains/culture for the amount of milk).

I have recipes on this site for kefir smoothies and kefir pancakes! (Use the search box to locate them.) You can basically substitute kefir for buttermilk or sometimes sour cream in recipes, depending on what you're making. :)

Hope this helps!


Thanks for the wonderful info. I got some kefir grains from someone and the grains do not look like the ones you showed on your pictures. They look more like large sized clumps. Is this just how they started?

In my experience, kefir grains continue to grow and eventually separate into clumps after getting larger... if your grains look similar to the ones in my photos except the clumps are bigger, that sounds pretty normal to me! :)

I've been exploring various websites about different dairy products. And yesterday I was surfing "Kefir" sites and I came to yours. Let me say that you certainly have shared a lot of good information. I haven't read everything yet, but what I have read was helpful.

I don't have experience baking with Kefir and only tasted my first Kefir this week, so I'm very new with it. But I've been experimenting with yogurt and other dairy products for more than 40 years. And it is fun.

I think it was Susan that asked how you can use Kefir in cooking. Let me say from my own experience with experimenting with yogurt and buttermilk. You can substitute any of these instead of milk in a recipe and it will almost always work. It usually is a little different. And most of the time that will be good. But once in a while it won't work so well in a certain recipe.

For example, I've found that baked things, such as cakes, pancakes and waffles, are generally lighter and fluffier with yogurt and buttermilk than with milk. And I would expect a similar effect with Kefir. Sauces are a little thicker. The flavor is different, too. Duh. It is fun to experiment in this way.

Someone back in 2007 wrote you about making Kefir with raw milk but without the "grains". They thought they were making Kefir, but you corrected them. You were right: there is a big difference. Kefir has a certain combination of bacteria that makes it Kefir. Yogurt has a different group of them, and cultured buttermilk has still others.

One thing you said, however, wasn't correct. Raw milk IS alive. It naturally has many micro-organisms growing in it. Mostly they are friendly bacteria found naturally in milk straight from the cow. So, raw milk can turn into sour milk that is good for you. But pasteurized milk won't sour, but only spoil since all the bacteria have been killed in the pasteurization process.

Also, raw milk from different animals has different stuff in it. Raw goats' milk has different micro-organisms in it. The amount of various minerals, vitamins and trace elements is different. Goats' milk is higher in fat, but cows' milk is higher in cholesterol. And sheeps' milk is much thicker and has much more fat. I hear that some folks milk yaks and horses and water buffalo and camels.

Then there is coconut milk. Now we're getting a little nuts. So, I'll stop.


I have been using my Kefir cultures for about 3 months. I received them from a friend. But recently I noticed that the cultures have a pink color to them. I think they might have gone bad. Any advice?

I am still wondering why you can't make kefir without "grains." I make what I think is kefir by using raw milk, adding some kefir and letting sit till it thickens. In other words, I make it just like I make yogurt, but with a kefir starter. Is this not kefir??

This is not anything scientific, but I have actually made kefir both ways. I started my first batches by using kefir added to raw milk. It would thicken somewhat and seemed to taste like store bought kefir. About 6 months ago I bought a kefir grain at my farmers market. I have been using it to make raw milk kefir and the texture is totally different. It gets way thicker and if I let it go for a couple days it will get thicker than yogurt. So with all that said, I don't know the technical differences, but consistency is way different. I like it better with the grain.

Oh, and as a side...I think it robbery for anyone to sell a kefir grain for $20 plus shipping online.

When I make kefir, I let the grains and 2% milk sit longer than 24 hours, until the whey separates from the new grains. The result looks more like cottage cheese. I can then eat it with salt and pepper like cottage cheese. I think the probiotic qualities must still be there because it always straightens out my digestive tract when I am having a problem. I use the whey to make bread in my bread machine on the dough cycle as follows:

1 Cup of kefir whey
3/4 cups warm water
1/3 cup kefir grains
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
3 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp bread yeast

Run machine on dough cycle.
Knead dough and form into rolls or loafs.
let rise about 1/2 hour and bake at 350 for about 25 min.

makes 2 small loaves or l loaf and 6 rolls


hi, i am new to kefir but i do like the taste. i am not sure about separating the grains once it is ready. after allowing the fermentation, do i mix every thing in the jar (the grains and all) and then separate the grains from the liquid? the grains are clearly visible but there is lots of stringy white stuff and then, of course, the fermented milk. (Before mixing, the clear whey is on the bottom then the milk and the stringy stuff and the grains.) I have been first stirring it all together then using a colander to separate the liquid off but this keeps the stringy stuff in the colander and the liquid separate. Is the stringy white stuff the beginnings of new grains? I am just not clear about separating it all before starting a new batch. Please help and thanks...your site is great.

Do the probiotic properties of kefir get destroyed when used in baking?

i have the same question as anon
if i put raw milk into a container of raw milk kefir that has a bit left and leave it out on the counter wont it become kefir?


Hi! I'm new to kefir and am trying to find ways to encourage my children to eat it. If I freeze the kefir in ice cube trays to use in smoothies, am I losing much of the nutritional value of using kefir?


I like yogurt so i will give this a try


I began making kefir just last week and the first couple batches came out great right away! Then the batch I just made today looked rather odd, though I had done nothing different to it (still let it culture for 24 hrs., used the same type/amount of milk, etc.)-- it was very, very thick on top, and there was a discolored film floating around on top, brownish-orangeish-pinkish colored.... I shook it up in the jar and then strained out the grains in a colandar, and it looked alright all stirred together (besides the fact that it was thicker than my other batches), and it smelled normal (like my other batches had), too.

So the main thing that concerns me is that odd discoloring right on the top of the kefir.... Is it safe to drink?? Or should I pour it out and just make a new batch. As I'm new to this, I don't know if it means there's "bad" bacteria that was growing in it, etc....? I'm pregnant and don't wish to give myself some bad disease!...

Thank you for your help!!


Hi Sandy,

I am not sure about the discoloration of your kefir. I have never had any color other than white in my kefir; brownish-orangeish-pinkish makes me think of mold/mildew, but I'm not sure how it would start to form on the top of your kefir! Was your kefir culturing uncovered, where something could have contaminated the top? Sorry I can't be of more help!


No, I culture my kefir covered with a paper towel/rubber band, so it shouldn't have gotten contaminated by anything. Thanks anyway though for getting back to me on this, even though you haven't experienced it before.

I do have one other question: my past couple batches of kefir have come out very thick and I haven't noticed any separation of whey in it. Is this okay/normal? Is it cultured properly? Still tastes/smells fine...


As long as the kefir smells/tastes/looks "normal", I think the thickness and amount of whey separation are variables that can depend on a variety of things. Exactly what and why? I have not studied kefir to that extent! :)

Can kefir be made with kefir (the liquid and not the grains) and fresh milk?

I am just getting started with learning about kefir. I am gaining several small batches each day and wonder if I don't use it up can it be combined.
Should I keep this in seperate batches or can I combine them in a container?

Yes, you can combine batches of kefir for storage in the fridge!


I am making my first batch using almond milk and it has been alomst 24 hours and it looks curdled not smooth, is this okay?

Your kefir should look curdled after 24 hours of culturing. Usually when I strain out the grains and then stir the kefir, it gets somewhat smooth-looking, like how yogurt looks smooth after stirring it.

Hello, I recently discovered this dairy drink and wondered if I could make some from the store-bought kefir(already made) the cultures should still be alive...Maybe it would take longer but does it work?

Hi all,
Thank you, Tammy, for all your effort answering our questions!
I love my kefir - use raw milk, got my grains from the farmer's wife where I buy my milk. She gave them to me. Sometimes she charges $1 for the jar. So definitely there are those out there who believe in sharing the grains, not making it into a profit center.
I've only been making kefir for a month. But plan to keep making it for my lifetime. I don't sweeten it to drink it. Haven't made smoothies yet, but may when the organic strawberries are available locally in a few weeks.
Have fun and enjoy!

sounds interesting i will have to give it a try

Help.....will I harm my family if we eat this stuff?????
I found a Yogourmet yogurt maker at a thrift shop. I knew nothing about this amazing world of making yogurt and kefir until I searched through forums to find out how to make the yogurt, since I had no instructions. The Lyo-san company emailed me instructions on how to make yogurt in the Yogourmet and I concluded that kefir and yogurt were similar enough so I purchased some store bought ready to eat kefir instead of yogurt. Prior to this, I had never even tried kefir and had only heard a nutritional doctor recommend it. I should mention that I live in Alberta, Canada where it is....not warm... and have noticed that most people in the U.S. are just fermenting it on their counter-top or in their cupboards!!! I followed the instructions on how to make yogurt but substituted it with kefir. The instructions for yogurt stated that if you were using skim milk and wanted a thicker consistency to add a cup of skim milk powder before you heat the I did! Then I heated the skim milk, but actually got it hotter than the 185 degrees F that is should stay at for the minute or two because I got distracted. I cooled it down to about 100 degrees F and added 1 cup of ready made kefir stirred it and put it in the yogourmet maker. After the recommended yogurt fermenting time of 4 and a half hours as per instructions from Lyo-San Inc. it had the consistency of milk so I decided to let it sit longer and took it out after 19 hours in the yogurt maker. I was shocked when I pulled out the inner container and found this separated mixture of golden water with thick almost swiss cheese(due to the little holes threaded through it) looking stuff floating at the top of the container.
When I researched and found a kefir cheese strainer sold at Alpha Health products their instructions read this: (copy and pasted)
Alpha Health Products Brand -Digestion-Friendly Bacteria. * Make kefir as instructed, but let the freshly produced kefir remain at room temperature for approximately 48 hours, or until the curds (milk protein) have separated from the whey.
* Place the Alpha Health Cheese Strainer over a bowl and ladle the curds into the strainer. The strainer will catch the curds or "cheese" and the whey will go into the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for 12 hours. Place the strainer on saucer and refrigerate for a few more hours. Remove the cheese from the strainer and store in a covered container. Keeps fresh up to 8 days.
* This cheese, known as quark, is excellent for making sweet deserts. Quark, when tossed into salads. It is also delicious flavored (e.g. chopped onions, garlic, sea salt, fresh herbs) and served with an assortment of vegetables.
* Once the kefir is placed into the refrigerator and cooled, the fermentation process is inhibited. You cannot then bring it back out to room temperature to turn your kefir into cheese. In Europe, whey is sold as a delicious beverage. Try sweetening it with honey, fresh lemon or lime juice, or a non-alcoholic flavoring.

So I think that I possibly made some cheese called quark or another possibility of what I see is just kefir grains expanded.
It is a crumbly type texture similiar to feta cheese.

Basically, science was not a subject I even accidentally excelled at. I don't know if I've caused bad bacteria to grow and if any of this is safe. I wish I could somehow test the mixture to see what has grown?
Smell is not a good indicator because cheese normally has a stinky smell and this mystery substance does have a distinct smell but I'm not convinced I would called it a sour or expired smell.
Basically, if I have made something nutritious and edible like a cheese I will make it again exactly the way I made the first batch because it will be the most economical and healthiest, lowest sodium, and laziest way to make cheese around!!!!

another possibility of what I see is just kefir grains expanded.

But I thought you just used store-bought kefir in place of yogurt in the recipe. Ready-made kefir from the store doesn't contain any kefir grains, so if you didn't use kefir grains, there's no way there are any now in your mixture. :)

My guess is that what you made is safe to eat, from what you have described! Kefir at room temperature stays good for quite a while (over 24 hours). How warm does the yogurtmaker stay inside? (I've never used one.) :)

I know with yogurt just like with sourdough you can take a portion of your "starter" and add it to "fresh" ingrediants and it will reproduce. My questions is since I already have some kefir (the drink but not the grains) can I add some fresh milk to it and let it sit in a warm place until it becomes kefir? This is how I make my homemade yogurt. Can I do the same for kefir?

Hi, I just bought some Organic Kefir from a health food store. It's the first time I've ever tried Kefir and from what I heard it's supposed to taste similar to plain yogurt however this one has a kind of cheesy taste to it (which I really don't like). It comes in a jar directly from the farm and the expiry date on it is June 14th (it's presently the 1st). I'd like to know if Kefir usually tastes like that or might that be what it tastes like when it goes bad? I've tried the natural yogurt that comes from this same farm and it was delicious and tasted nothing like this Kefir. Please Help!

Hi there,
I'd been making kefir for a while, and then i got really busy and have had a jar of kefir grains covered in milk sitting in the fridge for a few weeks, I also have another jar of strained kefir that has also been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks. Are these okay to consume? i read on the site that kefir can sit in a closed jar in the fridge for several months, so I'm guessing the strained jar is okay. Please let me know and also about the jar that still has the grains in it.

thanks so much! i don't want to mess with fermenting my own milk products as I have a fairly weak stomach.


i've been trying to get hold of grains for at least three years (you can't buy them here, and the diary factories use the starter)... two years ago I finally succeeded in smuggling some grains from spain. :)

I make two liters every day (sometimes three, if I separate some grains, before giving them to friends) and even this amount seems to be insufficient (although it's only two of us)... you can drink it, you can mix it with fruits, use it for cooking.... i cannot even try to explain what this means to me... living as a vegetarian with a celiac disease (and a partial lactose intolerance) in a country with basically no gluten-free products is a great challenge....

since i started making kefir, both my mental and physical health greatly improved, i never feel tired (although I rarely sleep for more than 5 hours), and I never got a flu or got sick in any other way. I also had arrhythmias for years, and I was using a permanent treatment (drugs) with a very little relief. i strongly believe that kefir was to blame for no arrhythmias today (and cease of usage of my medications).

i hope more people would try to improve their lives with such a simple thing.


I have been making kefir for some time now using raw milk. I was just wondering if you knew exactly how long it stayed good? Also I was wondering how do you normally store your grains? What I do is while I am finishing the two jars I normally make I store the grains in a small jar with about half the milk I would use in a batch in the fridge. I started doing this once I had like five bottles at a time sitting in my fridge. Your thoughts?

Hi Tammy - I'm fairly new to making kefir and I think I'm having a problem. My 'kefir' smells sour and has a look that is more akin to curdled milk - not like cottage cheese but more like when slightly off milk is boiled. It doesn't have a smooth consistency and taste just a little too sour that makes me suspicious. Any ideas?

Dave, your kefir sounds fairly normal to me. How long did you culture it? If it smells too soured for your preference, you could try culturing for a shorter time.

Hi Tammy-I'm totally new to kefir grains. As in this is my first week. I seem to make the kefir just fine, but I'm having problems finding ways to eat it. I've found many recipes for smoothies, but due to some stomach issues I'm on a pretty restrictive diet for now. This is the reason I found kefir and I'm trying to use kefir instead of taking a probiotic pill, but I'm also 10 weeks pregnant and just can't stomach the taste or smell of the plain kefir. Any tips or advice on how to actually eat all this fabulous probiotic stuff I'm making??? Right now I'm limited to processed flour, sugar, cooked veggies, and the only fruit I can have are cantelope, honeydew, and canned peaches. Lame, I know, but hopefully only temporary. Anything you could help me with would be greatly appreciated!

I noticed you mentioned that the kefir feeds on lactose in milk. I've recently become lactose intolerant due to a hospital stay with lots of antibiotics (I wish I would have felt well enough to be more proactive during that time to keep my "guts" healthy with extra doses of good bacteria - maybe I wouldn't have this problem now). Anyway, I'm wondering if kefir is lactose free since the lactose is fed upon? I'm wondering if I dare try eating/making some and see how I react. Can you purchase ready made kefir? Would it be similar enough to homemade that I'd react the same to it? I'd rather purchase ready-made and try it, rather then purchasing grains only to find I can't handle it. Thanks for your help!!

I do not know if kefir is completely lactose-free. Joshua is lactose-intolerant but he has refused to try my homemade kefir beyond a sip!! :)

I have not had kefir from a store, so I do not know how it compares to homemade. As with a lot of things, homemade can be a lot BETTER than store-bought, depending on the quality of milk you use. I wonder if you have a friend or someone nearby who would be interested in making kefir with you? The grains are fairly affordable and you could share the expense and results. :)

i live in guatemala and it very seldom gets under 80, and during the day up to 90+...i made my first batch of kefir yesterday and mixed it with mango for a tasty first batch was real small, maybe a half cup as my kefir grain size is very small. i'm also planning to ferment some cabbage. everything i read says 70-75 degrees is optimum for fermentation. my question is: will the high temps make a difference in my process? and what can i do about it if it is? i have a cooler i could put some ice in, but i'm afraid it would be too cold, and very hard to maintain a constant temp.

so i'm looking up kefir because it's supposely good for add/adhd! did u know?? i'm very excited!! i need to find kefir now! along with all you've said it is also high in protein and tryptophan ( the sleepy stuff in turkey) which has amino acids that help creat serotonin in the brain!! this is apparently GOLD!!!
ALOHA Ashley

i also read the most lactose intolerant people can ingest kefir just fine and is really good for them!!!
aloha again ashley

Hi Tammy,
Thanks for your wonderful insight on Kefir. I would like ot start making Kefir and a heard that you can start it from store bought yogurt that has live cultures and no gelatin. They said to scald the store bought milk which I will use then ad a few tlbs of yogurt from the store and keep this on a hot plate of some sort at 110-116% for 12 hours or so. I never saw this method. Can you make Kefir this way and without regular coliflower like cultures?

Thanks Ann for AZ

Hi Ann,

I believe the process you described would be making more yogurt, not making kefir. :)

Many, many people have asked about using a little bit of store-bought kefir to start another batch of kefir. Yes, this will "do something" to your milk. But it is not exactly what kefir grains will do to make kefir.

You can make/drink whatever you wish -- kefir, yogurt, etc. -- but true kefir is made with the kefir grains. (A powdered "starter" for kefir is sold as well, but it is only for 7 [?] uses and will not grow in your milk, as kefir grains will.) :)


Can you make Kefir without grains?? If so how?
There has to be a way someone did?? What you think?

Hi Tammy, I was away for two weeks and left my Kefir in milk in the fridge, since returning when
i make the yogurt it is very runny and tastes quite sour, are the grains o.k.? my son was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease in April this year and reacted to each medication he was given but he did tolerate a eight week course of steroids,the doctors said as he reduced the dose to half, the symptoms would come back, well I started him on kefir four months ago and he has been off all medication now for 6 weeks, I really believe it's because of the Kefir and a lot of prayer. Thanks for this wonderful site. God bless you. babs

So wonderful to hear of your son's health improvement!!

I am guessing your kefir grains are simply re-adjusting after a period of rest. I'd toss the kefir that doesn't smell right (or as good; it is probably not harmful) and continue making kefir with the grains. It *should* be back to "normal" soon! :)

Also, I have found that after a certain time (of culturing) (about 24 hours for me) the kefir stops getting thicker and actually gets more runny/thin!

I just have to share this recipe. It is soo good with kefir. Definitely try it if you like orange julius type stuff: Oh and thanks much on the kefir recommendation. I've got my grains and am going strong now. So happy.

We have been making kefir for a while now, and love it. We store it at room temperature in an old honey jar. But we are looking to use our more asthetically pleasing and larger stainless steel container instead. We are curious to know if this will affect the quality or process of the kefir in any way.
Do you know the answer to this question? Or who else to ask if you don't?

Thank you,

PS Please e-mail me as it will asure that I receive your response. Thanks again!

I have been making kefir for about five years now with pasturised milk, it was OK but I thought it was quite smelly at times and had a cheesy smell sometimes, but I persevered with it. However recently I started getting raw milk and oh what a difference, I am absolutely delighted with the result. I drink it, use it just like yoghurt, no need to buy yoghurt anymore.The grains are multiplying so much faster, and it cultures faster too.The milk has so much cream , which I skim off and make a little butter. I make rye sourdough bread, had'nt thought of using kefir for that but will be experimenting. Watch this space.
From Win

i have some kefir grains (in liquid) given to me; i have about a quart or so of raw sour milk (about 2 1/2 weeks old) is it possible for me to put the kefir grains in the already soured milk? i don't know wha tto do with it. this is all fairly new to me

can you use a small amount of kefir as a yogurt starter? I would add this after I have heated my milk for the yogurt. This seems like it would make a more nutritious yogurt. I give some of my yogurt to my mother and it has improved her intestional problems, adding a small amount of kefir would probably be even better. Thanks.

Can you freeze fresh kifer from the health store? Thank you

I freeze my extra kefir all the time.....whatever the normal size I would want it to be...ex. 1 cup, 2 cups, ets. After it thaws, I use it for cooking or smoothies. I have also frozen it in ice cube trays to use with fresh (warm) fruit for fine.

I freeze mine in zip lock bags....and for some reason, after they have frozen, when it comes time to thaw...the seals always seem to leak. So if you use zip locks, I recommend standing the bags upright when you thaw it, so it won't leak in your fridge.

Debbie J.

I don't know that I have the time or inclination to make my own keifer on a daily basis - but I love kefir, unfortunately the expense is too much for me - I just take organic plain yogurt and ad water til it's kefir consistancy - it may not be exactly the same - but it sure is good! I put a couple drops of stevia in to sweeten it alittle and pour it over my cereal.


When i received my kefir grains from a Russian friend, it came with instructions on making kefir, but also on how to make cottage cheese from Kefir.

You heat the strained kefir over low heat until you start to see it separate a little and then strain it through cheese cloth. The whey is great in cooking and baking, and the remaining cottage cheese is a cross between cottage cheese and cream cheese. Yummy with fruit or if you cook it a little longer it becomes a feta like add-on for pizzas or ricotta-like cheese for lasagne.

Hi...I'm not too familiar with the internet, but I am curious about what to do with my starter.

I started a Kefir starter from Yogourmet, and I used both the meat and water of a young coconut. I put it in the fridge after 2 days, and I have just got back from holidays...two weeks later. Is it still good? I hate wasting food, but am not sure what to do.

Please advise

I just got my keefir grains a couple of days ago. Directions on caring for them were sketchy...saying that 4- 6 oz. of fresh milk should be added each day saying it takes 4-6 weeks before they looked plumped up (like popcorn). Should I dump the previous day's milk off of them (until they are "plumped up") before adding the fresh milk. Also, do you know how to flavor the kefir so it is more desirable for a toddler? I do daycare for our (almost) 3 year old granddaughter, and would like to try to add it to her diet as well.

1 tablespoon of grains will culture one cup of milk. You should see growth in a week or two at the least. Culture the milk for 24 hours and change the milk. The result should be kefir--just taste it and see how you like. You can sweeten kefir for a small child with maple syrup or pureed fruit.

My Kefir mostly looks good but some of the grains have slim filled bubbles. should I try to sort those out or just keep them.

The "slime-filled bubbles" are completely normal! Handle them gently, and keep using them! :)

I noticed you mentioned that the kefir feeds on lactose in milk. I've recently become lactose intolerant due to a hospital stay with lots of antibiotics (I wish I would have felt well enough to be more proactive during that time to keep my "guts" healthy with extra doses of good bacteria - maybe I wouldn't have this problem now). Anyway, I'm wondering if kefir is lactose free since the lactose is fed upon? I'm wondering if I dare try eating/making some and see how I react. Can you purchase ready made kefir? Would it be similar enough to homemade that I'd react the same to it? I'd rather purchase ready-made and try it, rather then purchasing grains only to find I can't handle it. Thanks for your help!!


Hi Sarrah,

Kefir is not lactose-free, although it has less lactose than milk since the cultures do feed on some of the lactose. From my research, kefir does still contain a fairly significant amount of lactose, but since people have varying degrees of lactose-intolerance it seems that different people react differently to kefir. (We wrote more about lactose intolerance in our article about making lactose-free milk.)

Kefir can be purchased ready-made, and I think it is similar to homemade (but different brands could be different). Another option is to purchase "kefir starter" for making your own, which would cost about $5+ and could be used to make 7 batches of kefir. Depending on how cheaply you can find kefir in the store, getting a "starter" just to try it could be similar in price. (Would any of your friends or family members be interested in trying it with you?) :)

Another thing to consider is that homemade kefir can be cultured for 12 hours, 24 hours, or 48 hours -- and the longer it cultures, the less lactose there will be (and the kefir will be more tart). So homemade is "customizable" to a certain extent. :)

I am a newbie but having fun learning about kefir. It was easy enough to add the milk to the starter and see if form curds & whey in less than 24 hours. But the part I get after straining is not thick. Even after letting that sit at room temperature, it separates, but does not get thick. What am I doing wrong? (I am using pasteurized cow's milk)

I also use pasteurized cow's milk for my kefir (just regular "whole milk" from the grocery store).

Is your finished kefir like a runny yogurt, or does it not thicken at all (basically just like milk at the end)?

In my experience, I have had kefir that was fairly runny and it was completely "normal". My current kefir grains produce a thick kefir, but even it varies a little -- sometimes "stringy" and sometimes not so "stringy". I do think that healthy kefir grains should produce a thicker kefir than unhealthy grains... and the way to keep them "happy" and healthy is to regularly care for them (I change the milk every 24 hours).

Although -- I see you are using starter, not kefir grains... so in that case, I'd recommend reading the directions carefully to be sure you're following times and temperatures, and then contact the company where you got the starter if you still aren't getting the results you expect! :)

Hi Tammy

Just had to tell you that kefir makes the most delicious biscuits! I just used the Betty Crocker recipe from the red book, left out the sugar (I don't know why they put that in) and used kefir instead of the buttermilk variation. They were soft and luscious, and rose well, and stayed fresh longer as well. I definitely recommend it!



The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee; and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:22-26)

Can you make kefir with JUST dry milk? I know it's not going to be the ideal method, but I am researching for someone in another country (India) where they don't have a ready dairy source, but do have powdered milk. I know people sometimes add dry milk to their milk for making yogurt, but have no idea if it would be possible to use reconstituted dry milk as an exclusive source for making kefir. This is more about a way to get them probiotics than a way to get a great dairy source.

I'm going to try making some of my kefir with that way, if I can find out that it could work, and try it out before getting dehydrated grains sent to them. they have medically fragile children and I don't want to suggest anything anyone hasn't already tried and found successful, and that I haven't tried drinking, myself, first. :)

There is an enthusiastic chap called Dom who has a website all about kefir. I was looking at it yesterday to find out about making a type of feta cheese from kefir, and he did not recommend making kefir from dried non-fat milk. I cannot remember exactly what he said, but it might be worth looking at. Just google him.

I don't know if it is helpful at all, but I have heard of people making kefir from coconut milk and soya milk, I don't know if that might be easier to obtain for your friends in India. However, due to the lack of lactose in the milk, the kefir will not reproduce. Do they have access to goat milk, perhaps?

Hope this helps.



The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee; and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:22-26)

I purchased the grains from Cultures for Health, things seem to be going well for about 2 months, the grains didn't seem to really multiply but not decrease either. Now I seem to have about 1/2 the amount I originally had. Here is what I do on a daily basis:

I drain the grains using a mesh strainer and then scoop the grains from the jar using a plastic spoon add them to a clean mason jar and add about 2 cups milk, place a coffee filter over the top and place in the cupboard for use 24 hours later. I seem to be following what I've read and learn but like I said the grains seem to be decreasing - any advice?

Thanks & awesome site! - Jodi

Hi Jodi...

You didn't say in your post......what kind of milk are you using? And, what temp is the cupboard where you let the milk culture? is the taste and texture of the kefir you get? Has that changed any since you started making kefir?

I let my husband play with some of the grains we have....he put them in soy milk....and they seemed to stop growing too. I don't care for soy milk or soy kefir. I'm sure you are being careful when you spoon the grains out of the strainer....that was another thing my hubby was doing to his grains....being very rough when he transferred them to the next jar. Eventually, his grains just went belly up and he quit fooling with them.

I use raw goat milk for my kefir. I like really thick kefir so I use double the amount of grains that is generally reccomended. I use a metal mesh strainer to strain mine, with no ill effects. And, if I need to wash off some of the cream and stickiness, I use roomtemp filtered water.

I like my kefir to be thick, creamy, slightly sweet still, and to be made very fast! I make it ice cold when I drink it! I puree a little bit of sweetened fruit, and stir that in's like drinking a shake almost. It's really that thick and creamy! I know that using the full fat goat milk really helps make it so creamy!

Jodi, how much grains do you have? Have you always used 2 cups of milk? When I talked with Cultures For Health, I think they said they send about enough grains for 1 cup of milk. If you have about a tablespoon of grains, use 1 cup of milk and perhaps that will encourage them to grow a little! :)

If you're using a strainer, it doesn't seem that any of the grains could be mistakenly left in the kefir. How big are the individual grains?

I would also suggest calling Cultures For Health and ask them what they would suggest! :) They have a toll-free number. :)

I remember having kefir in my childhood. I just bought some powder in the local health shop, put it into the bottled 1 l milk into to the glass jar and left in the room temperature it for 24 hours. I did not cover it though. The result was a weird tasteless substance, no taste at all, not sour, not tangy, just bland. It ended up in the drain. Any idea what I did wrong?

Hi Karin,

I've not made kefir using the starter powder. What brand did you buy?

If you followed the directions on the package, I'm not sure what else to suggest.

Are you able to contact the company? :)

I order some milk kefir grains on ebay from someone and I just got them in the mail after waiting 11-12 days. They still looked good and I rinsed them in some milk and put them in a jar and covered them with milk to see if they are still alive. Should I not waste my time and my milk? Is 12 days too long to be in the mail? They were mailed in a little zip bag (the kind jewellers use)with some milk but had very little, and was in a box well taped. I live in Canada and its been pretty cold the last few days but there were some warmer days too in those last 12 days. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

The best way to see if your grains are still alive is put them in some heavy cream. It will thicken the cream up like a cream cheese. This will also feed them the fat that they were missing from being in the mail for 12 days.

If you decide just to use whole milk then it will take about 3 or 4 times in the milk. Also go to Yahoo groups and look up Kefir Making groups. They are alot of great information and they will answer any questions that you have about Kefir and all of the other fermenting items.

I think there is a good chance you could revive those kefir grains, even after being in the mail for a couple weeks. I'd definitely use them and see what happens... I'd say to allow a couple weeks (e.g. change the milk every day or two during that time, of course) use and see if they can be nursed back to health! :)

I have been given kefir grains from a friend 5 days ago. I have kept the jar in the fridge, the grains are in milk. I was wondering if they are okay and do I strain the grains and then make my kefir, or do I have to rinse them first? Thank you for all your advise and help on this sight!

I would just strain the grains and get started making kefir; 5 days is really not too long!

You could rinse them if you wanted (it wouldn't hurt them). Filtered water or boiled tap water (cooled, of course, so as not to kill the grains!) is best! :)

Great site. I have been making kefir for over two years and love it. However, lately, it seems to have stopped "working". For some reason it is not separating from the bottom and not culturing or whatever the term is. I have not changed anything in the process and it has not been sitting for almost 36 hours with no sign of separation. It's like something happened and they've just quit working. Help, please.

Hi Jerolyn,

Unfortunately, if you've been making kefir for a couple of years with success and haven't changed anything about how you make it, I have no idea why your kefir grains would have died!

You mentioned "separating" a lot... is the milk getting thick, but just not separating? Because my kefir doesn't currently separate until it's been sitting for a couple days (48+ hours)... never within 24 hours. :)

Hi Tammy,

I will be away for more than a month, how do I keep the kefir grains "alive" ? shall I drain it and keep it in cooler or freezer ? Thanks for the help !


I have gotten to go on vacation twice in the last fourteen years.....but every so often, I need to quit making kefir for a while anyway.

I have dealt with this by several methods....

I always keep a supply of frozen kefir grains on hand. I take my kefir grains, wash them really clean with fresh milk, then put them into pint size ziplocks. I put about 1/2cup of grains in with 1 cup fresh milk. Then pop it into the freezer. I always try to make a "brick" shaped block.....not a flat frozen package. Then when I need to revive them, I take them out of the bag, still frozen, and place them in cool milk. After they thaw in the fridge, I start working with them as I normally do. Sometimes I have to do 3 or 4 milk changes to get them going again, and other times, they perk up after only 1 milk change.

For shorter storage periods.....I take my kefir grains and put them into a gallon jar and fill it with cool milk. I put a tight lid on that, and set it in the fridge. It will keep very well.....I really don't know how long exactly, but I have kept some going this way for over a month. (like a week before Thanksgiving to the week after NewYear) The trick here is to have a large volume of milk, so they never go hungry, and to keep them very cool which slows their metabolism down. To revive them, strain the milk, then start your normal process. It seems to take about 2-3 times to get back to normal. I have noticed also, that sometimes the 'balance' in the kefir changes a little this way....kinda like how Sour Dough Starters will change. I haven't been unhappy with the new balances, but sometimes, I go ahead and put a frozen pack of grains back it too.

I have also dried my kefir grains.....but I really don't recommend that for you for just going on vacation. It takes some time, and you need to be careful not to dry them at too high of a temperature, and reviving them is less predicatable for me. The time of year seems to effect them a lot for when you dry them.....this is my least favorite method. Pollen, humidity, mold, yeasts, and other tiny beasties seem to give me troubles.

If I were you, I'd split my grains.....freeze a portion, and put the rest in the fridge for hibernation. One more tip....I have the best luck reviving them when I don't try to let the first couple of batches of kefir age too long. 24 hours a batch is all I do for the first few times. I don't know why, but it works well for me.

Enjoy your vacation!!!!

(I forgot to login)

i had to be away for a week and left kefir grains in a glass jar eith about 2 cups of milk in the fridge. when you say strain the milk does that mean you can't drink it? is it ok for pets? or do I throw it away?

You should taste the probably will be just fine to drink as kefir.....might need some sweetening or flavoring. But, it can be used for cooking for sure! Oatmeal, bread, cornbread, waffles......whatever you usually use milk/kefir/yogurt in. Your pets will love it too if you decide to feed it to them. I wouldn't throw it out, cause it is not spoiled if you left it in the fridge. Your grains will probably not even need any time to get back to being regulated and performing just great for you!

I cleaned out my fridge on Tuesday....and I found a 8 ounce jar of heavy cream that had one big fat kefir grain in it. I thought my son had gotten that cream.....early last summer.....for some fruit. So I took the grain, rinsed it off, and have it setting in fresh goat milk. In the two days since I found has done 'something'.....but I will be changing the milk on it today, and again a few more times before I decide if it's dead or not. I can't wait to see if it comes around and starts producing again.......I'll post something on here again in a week or so.

I meant to get back on here and post about that one is doing great!

He has become kind of a "pet" kefir grain and gets all kinds of special treatment. He lives in the frig and gets fed about every two weeks or so....and he is growing. I am trying to see how big he can get!

So don't despair and give up if you find forgotten kefir grains in your frig! They are quite tough!

Thanks for your quick response Tammy. It's really wierd because I'll have a normal batch and the next one not. Plus I also noticed that it has a different smell to it. I guess I'll just keep working with it. I just hate losing all that milk. :-((

Three questions with all of this...cause I too am a newbie!
This is fascinating to me because after dealing with IBS issues for over 6 months without much relief, I have determined that milk is one of the biggest culprits. after removing milk, and sticking with Yogurt for dairy in my diet, I'm beginning to feel much better. The kefir... bought some from the health food store this week to see if I would like it enough to make my own. And I'm hooked. So, while waiting for my grains, I'm researching.
Q 1-- When straining, what is the best way to strain? Coffee filter? Cheese cloth? Other method?
Q 2--When first getting the grains and you talk about changing the milk. what are you doing with the milk that you are removing? Can it be used in recipes? Fed to my livestock?
Q 3--Keeping the jar on the counter and covered.... If I'm using a canning jar, should it be covered with a canning lid, just fit loosely on it? Or should the 'cover' be breathable, i.e. coffee filter, cheesecloth, paper towel?
Thanks for the information I've already obtained! :O)

Hi...I make lots of kefir and I can tell you what I do....

1) I use a fine mesh, stainless steel strainer. I like stainless steel. I have a plastic mesh one, but I don't feel that it gets as clean as my stainless steel one. I use full fat goat milk to make my kefir, and it is very rich. I don't think you'll be happy straining through a coffee filter.....would take too long. (but it is handy when you want to make a simple cheese) Cheesecloth costs too much to use everyday for me. I am happiest with the stainless steel strainer.

2) You should taste the kefir after each batch. If it tastes ~off~ give it to your livestock...especially chickens....they love it!

If it tastes ~OK~ but not great.....use it in waffles, pancakes, or bread. It will get better.

Also...try to use a full fat milk for the first couple of weeks.....your kefir grains will like that.

3) I cover my jar with a paper coffee filter and screw the metal band over it. It lets the kefir breathe, but will give you a second to pick it back up if it gets knocked over (I have bad kitty cats). I don't use paper towels. I have put canning lids on with the flats, screwed them down and gotten lightly 'spewed on' when I opened the jar from the pressure inside. I have never had a jar break from the pressure, but I do use only canning jars for making most of my kefir. I don't like to use kitchen towels because I don't wash mine separate from other clothes in the laundry, and I don't want the dust / lint / other particles getting into my kefir.

Have fun and enjoy your new Kefir making endeavors!

Debbie, just wanted to say thanks for all your help in answering the kefir questions! :D

Thank you so much Debbie, the tips will be followed for sure, thanks again !

your kefir grains ... so healthy ... :)

This is probably a newbie question (but as I AM a newbie maybe I can be forgiven for it :P) but my first batch smelled pretty yeasty and didn't thicken up much. I used 2% pasteurized cows milk (cuz I couldn't find raw). I let it sit for about 24 hours. Did I do something wrong? Or is it supposed to smell yeasty? Did it not thicken because I used 2% milk instead of whole?

Thanks for your help,


Hi Angie!

Sometimes the first batch of kefir smells yeasty because the kefir grains have been "waiting" during shipping or between owners... keep making kefir and the taste/flavor/smell/texture should improve and even out!

after i strain i have a milk and clear liquid in my glass


I'll like to ask if there is any recipes for Kefir Grains? like the pancakes with Kefir grains. Have you tried them with eg, saladsor soups. Do you eat them on its own?

Thank you!

Hi! My kefir milk (the finished product) always comes out clumpy. Is this okay, or is it supposed to be smooth? What I do is put two cups of milk in a glass jar, leave it on the counter for approx. 24 hours, and then strain it with a plastic strainer and use a plastic spoon to help separate the milk from the grains. Then I either do two more cups, or I store the kefir grains in the same jar in milk in the fridge. Am I doing everything right? And is it okay if it's clumpy and not smooth? Thanks!

Try giving them a real good stir with a rubber spatula before you strain them. Or use a whisk after you strain to incorporate the whey into the mixture. I always stir mine before straining.
A fine metal strainer works much better than plastic. Push the grains gently against the strainer.
You won't hurt them and they like it...:)

Hello, I just foolishly put a metal spoon in my bowl of live kefir. What does that mean? I have heard that we want to keep it away from metals and so I am wondering if my batch of grains is ruined or not? If so, how do I tell?

Any information would be most appreciated.



I've been making kefir for three years using a fine metal strainer and stainless steel spoon to move the grains after they've been drained, as well as stirring with a rubber spatula that has a metal handle which touches the milk/grains. I've read that it's just not true that metal harms kefir grains, and I have never once killed any of my grains using stainless. I push them slightly against the metal strainer too! I find that this keeps them from getting too big, and I seem to get thicker tastier kefir that way. I've read that if they get too big you can even give them a little whirl in a blender with milk to break them up. A blender has a metal blade...:) Rest easy! I just wouldn't store them in a metal container though. Tip: I use the half gallon Ball jars to make my kefir as well as store it after it's made. I've found that these work the absolute best verses anything else I've tried. (crocks,...etc) I can "see" when the kefir's ready. They're easy to run through the dishwasher. The plastic caps that go with them make them very user friendly! They are hard to find but some hardware stores sell them year round. (Maybe Amazon)

If your grains turn a strange color that might mean some are bad....they are pretty hardy though.
I once had a few turn a pinkish/yellowish color after forgetting about them and going on vacation leaving them out too long. I just threw the colored ones away and threw the first batch of kefir that I made away, then kept the next batch. All was fine! good luck!

Thank you very much, we are new to this and you hear that kefir should "never" touch metal. I am relieved also that these aren't as fragile as I had originally thought.

They love full fat raw milk! I have kept mine in the fridge for 4 months before without feeding them, covered in raw milk which I get from my farmer. I've done them both with pasteurized as well as raw. There is no comparison....the raw milk grains go crazy, and the kefir tastes SO much better!

if metal is not to be used what would i put on the top of my jar

How would I know if my batch is bad? How do I know the grains are safe to use?

How would I know if my batch is bad?
I had never had any bad kefir, but just a couple weeks ago, I had a jar that was NOT good.
How could I tell? Well, I decided to give the jar a little shake about half-way through culturing, and when I shook it, it got a bunch of pressure inside and when I loosened the lid afterwards, foamy milk spilled out.
I took off the lid, and the jar was filled with foamy, rotten-smelling milk. It didn't smell like kefir or yogurt -- it smelled rotten (very different smell). It was very strange! I took out my grains, rinsed them gently, and put them in fresh milk.
Everything has been fine since then; it was just that one batch, so I'm not sure if maybe my milk was bad, or what. I was thinking it was "the end" of my kefir grains, but nope. :)
Oh, one other thought was that the jar was sitting close to my crock pot on the counter, so perhaps it got too warm and the milk turned bad before the grains had a chance to culture it.
Since then, I've made sure that they're not in too warm a place -- while kefir grains like a warm room-temperature environment, I'm thinking that really warm (like near a heat source like a crock pot, or the stove when the oven's turned on) may not be good for homemade kefir...

Hello, I stored my kefir grains in the fridge in milk many, many months ago. Many. I never did anything to replenish them and when I took them out today to see if they were still viable, there was a nasty yellow slime all over the top layer. They didn't smell "bad" just super sour. I drained them off, took the nicest grains that were not touching the yellow slime, washed them and put them in some milk to see if I could get them going again. I get a little funny about food and was wondering if you or anyone you know has encountered this and if they will be safe. Thank you!

Hi! Before you ditch them...give them a chance to revive. I didn't see your post until after I wrote a reply for the next post down, but all the things I said there...I would say to you.

I have left mine brooding in the fridge slightly before Thanksgiving until after New Year, with no lasting ill affects. But once, I did have one really big fat grain that I had put in a jar with heavy cream that was 'lost' in the back of the fridge for over a year......and it recoverd just fine.

Good luck!

I stopped by a a farm that sells raw milk, they also sell kefir. The girl that was there doesn't make the kefir. She found a bottle in the refriderator and stirred and drained some for me. It kind of looks like pictures i've seen but I'm not sure if they are true kefir grains. I think it looks more like cottage cheese then cauliflower. I have now put them in milk and we'll see what happens in 24 hrs. Any thoughts are appreciated.....
I'm so excited to make kefir for the health benefits!

I was making kefir regularly but had to set it aside for a while. I left the grains, in milk, in a container in the refrigerator for about 4-5 weeks. When I took them out the other day to start making kefir again, the grains were a fairly solid gelatinous blob, much more like rubber than they were originally, and the milk around them wasn't thick at all. I rinsed them and put fresh milk with them and placed them on the countertop; after 24 hours the milk had not thickened and didn't even smell particularly sour. I took the grains out and put them into fresh milk on the countertop, and today it looks like the same result. Have I ruined my grains? I did store some in the freezer, but I'd like to know if these are done for.

Hi! I have treated my grains pretty rough at times....and they have never quit on me yet. Don't give up on yours yet! I still have the same line of grains after 4 years!

Keep doing the fresh milk changes, and make sure that you have them somewhere where the temp is steady and around 75*, if possible. If there is any way you can get some raw milk....that will kick start the grains again much faster.

Don't change the milk out so quickly till they start waking up.....I have even left mine setting on the counter for a whole week. I also find that if I put them into a half filled jar, and lay the jar on it's side (just be sure to screw on the lid tightly so it won't leak) that the milk is only about 1.5 inches deep...they revive much quicker that way too. I don't have a clue as to why this is so, but it works for me, and has worked for two of my friends who had similar problems.

I would wait for a little while to get out the frozen ones. If you do need to get them out, you might want to combine the old and new grains together. I have done that too....and it seems to get every thing going quickly too.

Don't despair! Be patient! Try as hard as you can to find raw milk...if you can get it warm from the much the better!

Good luck!

Thanks for your reply. My second batch didn't thicken after 24 hours so I left it for 24 more hours. The product after that was completely separated in to yellowish liquid and thicker cheesy kefir-like stuff (not like the nice, milk-shake type kefir I was getting before, but a thicker cheesy stuff). So I rinsed the kefir grains with milk and am doing another batch with fresh milk. I didn't drink the separated stuff although it smelled okay - it just looked like poor texture; I decided to pour it down my drain and give the septic tank a good probiotic push.

I've noticed on this last batch that the kefir grains are loosened up, not rubbery and tough like they were before, so I think they are recovering. Hopefully this batch will bring 'em back to normal. If not I can always take your suggestions and add the frozen ones. I did take your advice on this batch and put in less milk, about 1.5" deep in the pint jar. Crossing my fingers.

Thanks again!

Glad to hear it. The milk you poured down the drain would have been fine for baking.....or making pancakes. When I get the separated milk layers, I just whisk them back together and cook with it. I also really like it in cream or potatoe soup......sort of reminds me of sour cream flavor. I also use it to make buttermilk salad dressing......the extra tang goes well with the herby flavors.

Give your grains at least three batches before you add the frozen ones back.....they sound like they are going to make a full recovery to me! Don't rinse them too often're probably washing away micro colonies that you want to re-establish! I try to only rinse mine when the butter fat starts building up on the grains. I use raw, whole goat milk and that can be problem when the milk has too much cream in it. Probably not an issue if you use store bought milk.

Have a great day!

I make kefir using fresh goats milk. I had to let the grains sit in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks unable to change the milk on the grains. The milk on the top turned a bit orange, I drained the milk off the grains, rinsed the grains with distilled water and put fresh milk on them and let the jar sit at room temp. Will the kefir be useable from this batch?

Hi Dea...

I use fresh goat milk too....and I have had that happen when I left it in the fridge in storage. Your next batch of Kefir should be just fine....maybe not as thick as you'd like it to be, but it should be usable. If you don't care for the texture of it, use it to bake or cook with. I had written some things about that in the post above this one.....and it would apply here as well.

Good luck with getting your grains happy again. Be patient! It will happen!

Debbie, have I mentioned that I love having you as my "kefir support person"?! :) You're awesome. :)


The kefir will be usable, but it may not taste quite "normal", since the grains will probably need a little bit to get going at full force again. In a few days, they should be completely recovered! Whether or not you use the kefir before then is a matter of preference. (Personally, I would save it and use in cooking/baking or a smoothie!) :)

Hi Tammy...

I love your site so much...and with 4 kids and one on the way, I know you are one busy lady!
If I can help with some of the kefir questions, I am happy to do so.

You had asked a while back if I would send you some of my chinese recipes....and I haven't forgotten. I just have had to put it on a back burner till after the new year. I just love January and February....those are the two months I have every year that don't have major gardening chores, canning chores, animal care know what I mean. Once the does start kidding and the seedlings have to get gets busy around here, but you are just as busy and all the time!

Enjoy reading about your shopping adventures! If I ever get to visit the Seattle area again....I want to take you and the kids out for lunch! I feel like you're practically family! Tell Josh *Hi* for me!

Has your bread making gotten back on track? I hate it when the *normal* things get out of whack.

Have a great day!

Thank you, Debbie! :) And if you ever are in the Seattle area, definitely do let me know! We love company. :)

I'm waiting to get some more hard red wheat before I make more whole wheat bread... I actually used my whole supply except for what is packed in Mylar bags in buckets, and since it's some work to pack them (and costs a little bit for the bags and oxygen absorbers) I don't want to open them right now. :) Hopefully soon though! :D Even though I wasn't making bread all summer, we ate lots of pancakes and used a bunch of wheat! :)

Hey Tammy...

My in laws live in Lehi Utah, and they can get 6 gal buckets of hard, white wheat. They may can get the red too, but I prefer the white wheat. I can't believe how great the price is on it! They bring my 5 or 6 buckets everytime they come to our house. Love it. Your costco prices are fantastic! We only have a sam's close to us.

I hope to make it back up that way one day is so pretty and I loved living there!


What kind of question is that, Debbie? ;)

I wish our Costco had buckets of wheat! :)

Hi, I have enjoyed the posts but don't have time to read all to see if this question is answered. I have been making Kefir since Sept with grains shared with me by a sweet new friend. Question: the past few days, my Kefir isn't as thick. I haven't done anything different, it is just not as thick. I am hoping nothing is wrong! Any suggestions? I do have to use pasturized milk, all i have available. Thanks!

I find that my kefir does change in thickness at times. I'm not sure what affects it, but it seems to go through stages/cycles where it is thicker or thinner than other times! :)

I've always made kefir at home by using kefir itself as a starter. I usually use about 8 tablespoons of kefir per 1 liter of milk. I boil milk, let is cool, add kefir, mix everything together, cover with cloth and put it in a warm place overnight. Kefir is ready. Never used kefir grains. You can use Lifeway plain kefir as a starter.

Hi! Some of my kefir grains are pinkish in color. What is this? Is it harmful? How do I get rid of it? Any help is appreciated!

If I have cultured my milk for too long or at too high of a temp....I occasionally will have some pinkish colored kefir grains.

When I see that happen, I know that there is something else growing in those colonies. I just pitch them out and let the chickens eat them.

I don't know that it would hurt you to keep using them, but I would rather not. But I wouldn't throw out all the grains, just the pink ones. It's usually just the ones closest to the top that have pink to them. You might also change how you are covering your kefir while it is making....put saran wrap or jar lids on them to keep out air borne microbes.

Make a couple of 'test' batches of kefir where you keep it in the fridge or slightly cooler room temps, and see if everything goes back to more turning pinkish. If any more go may need to get some more grains. If all stays normal....great!

Do remember to keep a backup supply of kefir grains in your freezer so that if something ever happens to your main culture, you will not have to hunt down more grains.

I make my own butter from sweet raw cream I skim off the top of raw milk. Can I use the remaining liquid (non-cultured buttermilk) to make milk kefir? I would like to be using this liquid for more than baking as I don't bake very often and I have lots of it and dont want it to go to waste. Would also like to save the staight raw milk for drinking and not use it to make kefir if I can utilize the "buttermilk" instead for the same purpose. Thanks!

Hi...since you can use skim milk to make Kefir....I am betting it will work great. Are you allowing your cream to age a little bit 'old' before you make butter? If you are letting your cream age a bit, your kefir will probably be a little bit stronger flavored. I use 'fresh' cream, and the resulting buttermilk is what my grandmother called 'sweet buttermilk'.

Your buttermilk is still raw and unpasturized, right? So while there won't be any creaminess from the butterfat, the milk should still culture up very nicely. Still get nice and thick, but not have quite the same mouth feel. Should taste good.....

Please try it and let us know how it goes for you!!! I am looking forward to hearing how it goes for you...

We got kefir grains for free, so I'm finally able to give them a try. We've been using them for weeks. I really have to disagree with the idea that if you like plain yogurt, you will like kefir. Kefir has a yeast taste to it, which yogurt does not. It's better cultured 12 hours instead of 24, but I still can't stand it plain, whereas I can eat plain yogurt. None of my children like kefir to drink, even with sugar added. And they like yogurt.

So far, I have used excess in cooking oatmeal or pancakes, but I would assume that the vast majority of probiotics are killed off by the cooking.

The only good way I've found to use it is smoothies, which makes it tolerable. But I don't want to be using the fruit for that every day. So, I may step back production so that it's a 3 times a week thing.

I'm thinking we may give up on kefir and get back to trying to perfect our yogurt making process. I had just hoped kefir could work since it's so much easier....

Heather (married Aug '00, mom to 6, ages 10 and under, baby #7 due in June)

Hi Heather...

I agree with you about culturing the kefir for 12 hours instead of 24. We like it that way too. But I also use three or four times as many grains in each batch that I make makes the milk thicken up much faster, and makes a much milder tasting kefir. Even folks who don't like the taste of buttermilk usually can take my mild kefir.

Do your kids like the taste of Malted Milk Powder? I make a chocolate malt kefir that is really a hit with kids and picky adults. I use coco powder and the malted milk powder, and what ever kind of sweetner they want...sugar or stevia. It tastes good. And when it's thick and ice's like a milk shake. But it does need to be the extra mild flavored kefir.

I have a son that makes his kefir taste like egg nog.....but I don't like egg nog, so I don't know exactly what he puts in it.

One more didn't say what kind of milk you are using, but from my experiences.....using whole, raw milk makes for the best tasting kefir. I have milk goats, so we drink goat milk kefir.

Have you tried making Hidden Valley Ranch dressing with your stronger flavored Kefir? That works quite well too. Your kids probably would eat it that way!

Tammy has some good advice on yogurt sure and check out all those pages too!
Have a great day!

A friend gave me some kefir granuals (the milky colored balls) as a starter. My first batch, using whole mile from the store, was mild flaveored & tasty,as was the second. By the time my 3rd batch got going, in a warm kitchen after 18 hrs. the whey & curds had seperated. So I made smoothies & made up a cheese spread. Now ,after several more batches,all tasting good, I can not find any of the granuals! The cottage chees on the top is getting thicker & thicker so I am making more cheese.
Have I killed off my granuals? Is this milk the cheesey stuff is making still kefir?
Thanks for a great web site!

Coasty Mom

Hi Coasty Mom....since Tammy may be tied up right now....thought I'd jump in and share a couple of ideas with you. Is it very warm where you live...and especially in your kitchen?

I have seen kefir get the curdy/cottage cheese look when my kitchen was getting too hot during the day. I had let the house heat up to the 90's, and making kefir was not going too well for me.

I took a stainless steel knife, and made a small hole in the mass at the top of the jar, and drained off all the liquid whey. Then I took the mass of curds, and placed it into a clear, glass pie pan. I sat down at the table and started gently, gently mashing on each of the lumps of 'cottage cheese'......some of them would smush out flat and stay solid white. Others would be sort of 'bouncy' and I could knock off some of the cheesey part, and still have a small kefir grain. After I determined which ones I thought were Kefir grains....and had cleared off the most cheese part that I could, I gently washed them in the pie pan with filtered room temp water. I did it several times. Then I was able to see the little grains very well.

You may have eaten some of the grains in the cheese you have made....which is not a bad thing, as long as you can find some to keep your culture going.

After you have gotten the grains cleaned off....try making the kefir in a cooler enviroment. I tried using a cooler with a gallon milk jug of frozen ice....and it was cooler, but it never got to the same *right* consistincy for each batch.

Then I tried making the kefir with cold milk, letting it stay in the fridge until just before bedtime (around 10pm) and then setting it out on the counter to ferment until mid morning. I would put it back in the fridge in the morning when the house started heating up again, and repeat it again a second day. If you like a well flavored kefir, this worked pretty well....but my kids and I really like a very thick mild flavored kefir. My husband thought that this was the best kefir he had ever tasted.....
I eventually turned on the A/C again, set it on 78* and started making good thick kefir again.

One more soon as you are able to make enough grains, you might want to freeze some or keep some in the fridge in cold milk. I find that mine 'store' best in the fridge when I pasturize my goat milk. (I think that the pasturizing helps keep the kefir colonies more pure than when I store them in unpasturized milk. The storage milk should also be whole milk, in my opinion. ) When I freeze some grains, I put them in store bought half n half or heavy cream. I think the extra fat keeps them better at frozen temps....but I don't know that that is true. (When you wake them up from the deep takes making a few batches of kefir before they get back to normal.) I keep backups in my freezer and fridge at all times. (same thing with sour dough starters)

I hope this might help you with your kefir making....sorry I went on so long. Have a great day!


Thanks Debbie for getting back w/me so quickly! I did as you suggested and was able to find some small clusters. They have since grown beautifully & I now have some in both the fridge & freezer for back up. The upside is that the cottage cheese stuff on the top makes a wonderful cheese & is very easy! Strain thru a paint stainer! A 5 gal. size is what I used. Available in the paint dept. at the hardware store they are a fine nylon mesh with a a thin elastic at the top. Washable & reuseable they beat cheese cloth for ease & price.
Pour the cottage cheese thru the cloth to drain the whey, twist the bag firmly & hang over a bowl to catch the drips. I keep mine in the fridge for 2 days. The result is a crumbly mixture much like feta which can be used as is over salad etc. I have also used the seasoned mixture (adding what ever spices you like) pressed into a a flat patty & drizzeled with olive oil & spices I have had great success with mashing about 2 tbls. olive oil, salt & pepper to taste & then forming into small balls. These I marinate with roasted garlic & rosemary in enough olive oil to cover. The longer they sit the more flavor...they just get eaten quickly around here. The cheese has a mild creamy flavor that is good with veggies, crackers & chips. Hope you get to try it. Thanks for such a great web page.
Coasty Mom

That is great Coasty Mom....glad to hear that your grains are doing well. I am also going to look into that paint strainer thing.......I need something like that. Cheesecloth can get expensive quickly!

I enjoy that cheese also....just as you describe it.

Hi Tammy,
Great article!! I'm wondering if we can use kefir we bought at the market, to start/make some kefir from raw milk? I did order some grains, but it will be a bit before they get here and my son is just nuts for the stuff ... so feed him already, right? :-)
Thanks much,

Hi Tammy,
Any idea how to use the whey to make sour cabbage?

I am going out of town for two weeks! I keep my kefir in the back of the pantry and drink it every other day, and replenish the milk. If I am gone for two weeks, what will happen?? will it die if it doesn't get fresh milk?

Just put your kefir grains into the fridg while you are gone. Give it a generous quanity of fresh, whole milk to keep it happy while you are gone. When you get back, use that kefir for baking with (or you can drink it...but it might be a diffferent texture from what you normally get)....and start making it again like you always did. You will probably get a good batch the very first time you re-start making it. If not, make it a couple of times and it will be back to normal in no time at all.


I just made my first batch of kefir using whole milk and Yogourmet freeze-dried kefir starter, letting it sit out at room temperature for 24 hours, and then sitting in the fridge overnight. This morning, I enjoyed kefir for breakfast and 6 hours later, I had to make several trips to the bathroom for diarrhea. Could there be a link? Have you heard of cases or experienced illness from kefir? Perhaps I did something wrong?


Hi Jenn!

Are you lactose-intolerant? My husband is lactose-intolerant, and kefir contains enough lactose to cause gas and bloating for him, so that was my first thought when I read your comment...

Your process sounds fine, and unless the kefir smelled/tasted rotten, it should have been just fine too. In my many years of making kefir, I only one time had the milk go "bad" and smell rotten. It smelled BAD, not the tart yogurt-y smell it should have. I didn't taste it. (I had cultured it near my crock pot on a warm day and I believe that is what caused the milk to get bad.)

Hi there!

I love taking milk kefir. Thing is I'm not sure anymore if I'm doing it right. I know raw milk is best but it's hard to come by raw milk here hence I buy the one that is pasteurized.
Here's my prob: before I strain my kefir after a 24 hr fermentation I notice that the top part is a bit hardened and when I begin to strain it, the watery stuff comes first and then the milky stuff follows. Is that still ok and edible? Are my kefir grains alive and happy and have not gone bad? They are extra creamy too. Pls help me understand my kefir more.

Thank you,
Tracy Que

When the milk curdles and separates it is curds and whey! Cheese! strain the whey and use it to culture veggies or add to foods such as broth to enrich them. Put the kefir grains and curds in cold water until they separate and take off the kefir grains using a small strainer spoon or even clean hands. Drain the cheese curds and use like you would use ricotta.

A cousin mailed me both milk and water kefir grains. We haven't the foggiest how to know it they're past the initial waking up stage, and when it's safe to consume the kefir. How often do we have to rinse and strain? I'm afraid that due to work and kids and life, we've ignored our poor kefir jars for almost two weeks. Does milk kefir HAVE to be kept refrigerated? How can we tell if they're alive again? We're trying to find out some information before we admit to the cousin we let her gift to us go to waste!

I'm seeing the last post in here was in November, I hope someone sees my question and is able to answer it. My e-mail address is

Hi Tammy

Would soyamilk stop my grains from growing and let them die eventually?

Can I use just whole milk from the store? I don't have fresh milk.

I'm not Tammy, but you can use whole milk. I'm not sure what you mean by 'fresh' milk. Are you referring to raw milk? Or Milk bought at the store? I've made kefir for a while, and we have used regular whole milk, powdered milk, organic whole milk, raw milk, and even coconut milk.


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