Although kefir grains (both milk kefir and water kefir) can be used to make back-to-back batches of kefir, at some point most people will need to take a break.
Cold temperatures greatly slow the culturing process for both milk water kefir grains, so the refrigerator is a good place to store grains when a break is necessary.
Short Breaks, up to 3 weeks
Add milk kefir grains to 2-4 cups fresh milk. More milk for longer breaks is best, to keep the grains well fed.
Add water kefir grains to 1 quart fresh sugar water (1/4 cup sugar dissolved in 1 quart water)
Put a tight lid on the container and place in the refrigerator. The kefir grains should be safe and healthy for up to 3 weeks.
When ready to make kefir again, separate the grains from the storage liquid and place in fresh milk or sugar water at room temperature.
The storage liquid should be fine to consume, as long as it has a pleasing aroma and flavor.
Long Breaks, up to 6 months
If a longer break is required, we recommend drying the kefir grains.
Rinse grains thoroughly with filtered water
Lay them on a piece of unbleached parchment paper in a safe location.
Dry at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, depending on humidity and room temperature. Or, use a dehydrator as long as the grains do not get heated above 85°F.
Once the kefir grains are fully dried, store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Add a small amount of powdered milk to dried milk kefir grains.
When ready to make kefir again, rehydrate the grains according to the instructions that came with the culture originally, or follow the activation instructions for milk kefir grains or water kefir grains on our website.