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If you are hoping your milk kefir grains will grow and multiply, there are a some things you can do to encourage them. Giving them everything they need while protecting them from stress is a must. Keep in mind that milk kefir grains are living things. The more grains you have, the more milk you will need to culture every day.
Although milk kefir grains often multiply, we can’t necessarily guarantee that they will. Even if they don’t, they are perfectly viable and will continue to make delicious milk kefir.
Starter cultures thrive in a consistent temperature. Too cold and they are sluggish and slow to culture; too warm and they are very active and culture quickly. Both extremes can put strain on the culture. Avoid strain on milk kefir grains by keeping the culturing temperature within range, 68°- 85°F. Avoid drafts and keep away from direct sunlight.
If your home is too warm, you will find solutions in our article, Warm Weather Care for Starter Cultures. If your home is too cool, check out our article, Cold Weather Care for Starter Cultures. These articles offer ideas to keep your milk kefir grains happy.
Milk kefir grains can be used to culture coconut milk, but it can be hard on the grains if not done properly. Wait to culture coconut milk until your grains are fully active and culturing well. Be sure to alternate batches of coconut milk with dairy milk. If your grains are struggling, try several back-to-back batches in dairy milk.
As kefir grains turn milk into kefir they are consuming the lactose in the milk. After a period of time, they may run out of food. If the grains do not receive new food (fresh milk), they can become stressed, and eventually they may starve and die. Giving them a consistent food supply by separating the grains and feeding them every 24 hours, or more frequently if indicated, is imperative.
Just as the grains need the proper food, they also need to be able to take in the nutrients in the food. When you first receive your milk kefir grains they are very small. As they rehydrate and gain vigor they may grow in size and in number. If you find that your kefir grains are getting larger but are not multiplying, very gently break them apart by rubbing them between clean fingers. Culturing with smaller grains increases the surface area exposed to the milk, which increases their ability to take in nourishment from the milk. More nourishment encourages the grains to multiply.
Sometimes the grains can stagnate either at the top of the culturing jar or the bottom. Giving the jar a gentle shake every now and again through the culturing process will allow the grains access to the milk in other areas of the jar. Fresh milk means more food for the grains to feast on, which makes them happy and may encourage them to multiply.