Encouraging Milk Kefir Grains to Multiply
If you’ve started making milk kefir then you know that the grains involved in the process are a bit of a miraculous thing. These tiny little gelatinous things contain yeasts and bacteria and convert milk into the “feel good” beverage kefir.
What’s even cooler is that your milk kefir grains may multiply. We can’t necessarily guarantee that your milk grains will multiply and even if they don’t they are perfectly viable and will continue to make you delicious kefir.
But, if you are looking to multiply your kefir grains in order to share with friends, then there are a few things you can do to encourage your grains to multiply. Giving them everything they need while protecting them from stress is a must if you want growth.
Give Them an Optimal Temperature
All culture starters thrive in a consistent temperature. Too cold and they slow way down, too warm and they speed way up which can put strain on the culture. Room temperature is ideal for kefir grains and keeping the temperature between 68° and 80°F degrees is ideal. Also, try to keep them in a draft-free space away from windows and doors.
Feed Them What They Need
Milk kefir grains, like all living organisms, need nourishment. The proper food will feed them and encourage growth. Milk kefir grains will thrive on either goat or cow milk. Some people find that the grains prefer raw milk over pasteurized.
Feed Them Frequently
As kefir grains turn milk into kefir they are consuming the lactose and other elements in the milk. After a period of time, 24 to 48 hours, they actually run out of food as the milk becomes kefir. If you don’t feed them you can put strain on them and eventually they can starve and die. So giving them a consistent food supply by straining the grains off and feeding them every 24 hours is imperative.
Keep the Grains Smaller
Just as the grains need the proper food they also need to be able to take in those nutrients. In order to encourage the grains to take up the most nutrients from the milk try to keep the grains on the smaller side. This may mean gently breaking them up if they are larger to begin with or pulling attached grains apart.
This works because smaller grains have more surface area to contact the nutrients in the milk. To further assist the grains in taking up nutrients, you can stir or shake the jar (with a cover on) to agitate the culture. This helps distribute the bacteria throughout the milk as well, and will not interrupt the culturing process.