Questions on Milk Kefir Grains

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  • From Bill at 4/17/14 1:00 AM
    • Great Site!
      Is the protein in milk broken down or digested when being made into Kefir? The casein in milk is really hard to digest and is why many health professionals recommend giving up dairy. Thanks!
    • During the culturing process lactose is consumed by the grains. Casein still remains.
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  • From Chris at 4/16/14 3:39 PM
    • Is it normally safe to drink the milk used to activate the kefir grains? Also, what must be done to start making kefir with grains that were put in the refrigerator for a break?
    • We do not recommend consuming the milk used to rehydrate the kefir grains. Kefir is ready to consume when it is thickened and has a pleasant aroma and taste.
      Milk from grains stored in the fridge is generally not pleasant to drink either.
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  • From Dan at 4/10/14 9:46 AM
    • Can I use organic ultra pasteurized 2% milk with the milk kefir grain? And how do I know the kefir grain is activated? Thanks!
    • The results with ultra pasteurized milk can be a little unpredictable. Some brands seem to generate better results than others so you might need to experiment to find a brand that works well for you. Yes, you can use 2% milk. The texture is generally a little thinner than whole milk but will still result in a delicious, tangy flavor.
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  • From Bernard at 4/9/14 2:25 PM
    • Hi, I am here in Texas and will be traveling to Mexico in about a month and a half when I will start to make my Raw Milk Kefir. Will the Milk Kefir Grains that I order last that long or what do you recommend I should do? Can I pay using Pay Pal
      or how do I pay? Thank you Bernard.
    • Your milk kefir grains should be stored in the refrigerator when you receive them. When at room temperature, the grains are shelf stable for 12-18 months. As long as they are not exposed to temperatures above 85º F, they should be fine. Payment options are listed here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/ordering-information#Payment_Methods
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  • From Brenda at 4/7/14 2:06 PM
    • Can I add organic sugar to milk kefir during the culturing process? If so, will this make the final product sweeter?
    • When culturing milk kefir, there should be milk and milk kefir grains. If you want to flavor after, that is best. We don't recommend adding sweetener during the culturing process.
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  • From Cynthia at 3/12/14 7:23 PM
    • What is the sugar/carb content of the kefir?
    • The nutritional profile of your finished kefir will depend on many factors. The milk you use is the biggest factor of course.
      Temperature, length of culturing and use of a second fermentation will also affect nutrient content.
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  • From my kefir grains are getting tiny and most have disappeared at 3/11/14 9:30 AM
    • The title says it all. My grains, after a period of flourishing, have grown gradually tiny and their mass has diminished over the last month and now they are almost gone entirely.The only variable I can identify is a change from one brand of whole milk to a another--the brand I changed to has a website that promises that their farmers pledge not to put bovine growth hormones into the feed of their cows and that was why I made the change. Anyway, Why have my grains gone away?
    • The most likely cause would be that your grains are not getting enough fresh food. To ensure that your grains are getting enough food, stop the culturing process when the milk thickens to a buttermilk like consistency. If you prefer a more tangy flavor or for your kefir to separate, you can complete a second fermentation on your milk kefir after you've put your grains into a fresh batch of milk. A second fermentation on your finished milk kefir is also a great opportunity to add a little flavoring. This article has helpful hints for encouraging the grains to multiply: http://blog.culturesforhealth.com/three-tips-for-getting-your-milk-kefir-grains-to-grow/ If you have any questions or problems, please be sure to contact customer support at: customersupport@culturesforhealth.com
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  • From Sybil at 3/2/14 11:56 PM
    • Do you need to refrigerate milk kefir after culturing before you drink it?
    • Finished milk kefir may be enjoyed right after culturing at room temperature or refrigerated and consumed cold.
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  • From dave at 2/17/14 7:00 AM
    • Would you know if the grains will work in Rice Dream?
    • There are quite a few Rice Dream products to choose from. Select one that is unflavored and organic would be preferable. Be sure to put the grains back into diary when your rice milk kefir is finished.
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  • From Yan at 1/23/14 1:15 PM
    • Hi I've been using the kefir grains for about a months now. My grains have a yellowish color. Is that normal?

      Thanks,
      Yan
    • Yes, kefir grains can be white to yellowish in color. That is normal.
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  • From Kayt at 1/2/14 8:53 PM
    • When you make a batch of kefir and take the kefir grains out, do you have to make a batch right away, or can they sit out for a couple days/weeks? I don't think I need to be making kefir every couple days/weeks, so I was curious!
    • Kefir grains are a living colony of bacteria and yeast. In order to thrive and make great kefir, they need to be placed in fresh milk as soon as they are removed from the finished kefir. In general, this will happen every 24 hours.
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  • From Kaytlynn at 1/2/14 8:22 PM
    • Can you use unsweetened coconut milk that comes in a carton, or does it have to come from a can? Also, when you buy kefir in the store it's 99% lactose free, so when you make your own is it also lactose free?
    • We recommend using coconut milk with the fewest additives possible. If you can find unsweetened coconut milk in a carton with no additives other than guar gum, that will work great.

      As culturing time and temperature varies for each person, it is nearly impossible for us to say how much lactose will remain in your kefir. For more information, please see our article about lactose in kefir: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/reducing-lactose-content-kefir/
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  • From Sonal at 12/5/13 8:15 AM
    • We've been making milk kefir for nearly a month now, and the grains are proliferating nicely. My question is, are they supposed to look like cottage cheese granules, or do healthy grains look like cauliflower florets? Mine look like a tablespoon of cottage cheese. Did I mess them up?
    • When the grains are a little larger, they will look more like cauliflower florets. When they are small, they are usually surrounded by curd so they will look more like cottage cheese. To be sure that the grains aren't trapped in too much curd, you can put the grains in the nylon/plastic mesh strainer and gently stir with a rubber or silicone spatula. The grains are firm, they will stay in the strainer, the soft curd will fall through. Removing excess curd will ensure that the grains have better access to the milk. This article is very helpful for encouraging small grains to grow: http://blog.culturesforhealth.com/three-tips-for-getting-your-milk-kefir-grains-to-grow/

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  • From Melissa E at 11/29/13 6:04 PM
    • I see you keoger grains are processed in a facility which also processes wheat. Do you also process any other gluten containing grains on the same equipment with the Kiefer grains? What, if any, steps are taken to prevent cross-contamination? Are these grains considered safe for someone with gluten intolerance or celiac disease?
    • We are required by law to state that the products we manufacture or repackage are manufactured or packaged in a facility that may process wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, and fish. We use dedicated equipment and we are meticulous about cleanliness. Cultures are separated to avoid cross-contamination for the sake of the cultures' health as well as to reduce allergens.
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  • From Melissa E at 11/28/13 7:36 AM
    • I see these grains are packed with a powered milk, are they gluten free?
    • The grains are grown in organic milk and packaged with a small amount of organic powdered milk to extend the shelf life and protect the grains during shipping. Milk Kefir grains are gluten-free.
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  • From rita v at 11/27/13 6:05 PM
    • can you make kefir with skim milk>
    • Milk with any fat content ranging from fat-free to whole milk may be used with Kefir Grains. While Kefir made with reduced fat or fat-free varieties of milk will have a thinner consistency, the fat content itself does not influence the effectiveness of the Kefir Grains or the culturing process.

      We do recommend rehydrating the grains in whole milk, for best results. Once rehydrated, the grains may be used in milk with any fat content.
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  • From Cheryl at 11/21/13 7:29 PM
    • I've made great kefir with raw milk but can't seem to get it to do anything in regular cow milk from the store, but everyone says that regular homogenized milk works. Mine works the first couple days but then dwindles to not doing anything. Any suggestions? I'd like to buy some grains and start again if I knew it was something I could fix.

      Thanks,
      Cheryl
    • When switching milk kefir grains to raw milk or to pasteurized milk from raw milk, it helps to introduce them slowly. Here is a link with more information on that process: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/introducing-milk-kefir-grains-raw-milk
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  • From Sara at 11/12/13 7:19 PM
    • Which country are the grains grown in?
    • Our grains are grown in our U.S. facility, in Oregon!
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  • From Anita at 11/11/13 9:27 PM
    • How do I make yogurt from kefir grains? I read in Q&A for VIILI yogurt starter I can use kefir grains and not have to heat anything.
    • There is a bit of clarification needed here. The Q & A you are referring to is in regards to a customer who wanted a truly raw milk fermented product. With the Viili, you must heat the raw milk for the mother culture. If you do not want to heat your raw milk at all, then the best answer for that is to use milk kefir grains because you can simply put them in raw milk and let them culture at room temperature. No need for heat. You cannot make yogurt from milk kefir grains, as they are two different organisms with different bacterial make-up.
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  • From Juliet at 11/5/13 7:00 PM
    • Can you use rice milk with the milk kefir grains?
    • While animal-based milks are the healthiest for the Kefir Grains, alternative types of “milk” (coconut, soy, rice, nut, etc.) can also be used under certain conditions. Generally speaking, Coconut Milk, Soy Milk, and Rice Milk can be cultured using Kefir Grains as long as a revitalization period is observed (see below). While some people report success culturing Kefir Grains in seed and nut milks (e.g. hemp milk, almond milk, etc.), these varieties tend to yield more inconsistent results.

      Revitalization Period. When using a non-animal variety of milk, it is important to occasionally allow the Kefir Grains to revitalize in animal milk for 24 hours. We recommend allowing the Kefir Grains a revitalization period at least once every few weeks and ideally more often. To revitalize the Kefir Grains, simply place the Kefir Grains in 1-2 cups of animal milk for 24 hours. Once the process is complete, the Kefir Grains can be returned to use with an alternative variety of milk.
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  • From Joe at 10/29/13 5:05 PM
    • For rehydrating the kefir grains, I must place them in a "lightly covered container.'
      What does lightly covered mean on a glass canning jar?

      Thank you!
    • A coffee filter or cloth, secured with a rubber band is sufficient. It allows the fermentation gases to escape while protecting the kefir from debris and pests.
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  • From Sean at 10/11/13 10:40 AM
    • does rinsing the grains in tap water destroy them?
    • Tap water is not usually recommended unless steps are taken to remove any chlorine or fluoride but a quick rinse in tap water wouldn't destroy the grains. Spring or filtered water usually works better however, the grains can also be rinsed in milk which would be more mild. Rinsing is only encouraged if the kefir has an "off" or overly yeasty smell or flavor.
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  • From Gabrielle at 8/30/13 10:55 AM
    • Hello,
      lovely kefir, but its just me and its producing so much I can't keep up. I'm not finding instructions about how to let the kefir grains go dormant on the package. I assume if I refrigerate them in a few cups of milk that will slow things down? Is there another way?
    • Even with the ice cream: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kefir-ice-cream-recipe Cheese: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/herbed-soft-kefir-cheese-recipe and chocolate bread: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/chocolate-kefir-bread-recipe it is still possible to end up with more than you can use. You can slow things down a little by culturing at a slightly cooler temperature (not below 68°) or removing some of the grains and placing them in storage in the fridge until you're sure you don't need to add them back in. The milk should be changed weekly while the grains are in storage. The best kefir is made by keeping the grains out of refrigeration but it is helpful at times.
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  • From ROBERT DICKINSON at 8/23/13 10:24 AM
    • WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN;
      KEFIR GRAINS, USING A LIVE / ORGANIC KEFIR FROM A STORE , OR A POWDERED KEFIR STARTER PACKAGE ?
      & WHAT MAKES THE KEFIR FORM GRAINS ?
    • Excellent question! Milk Kefir Grains are a made up of a combination of different strains of bacteria and yeast. With proper care, the grains will last indefinitely. Milk Kefir Starter is a limited use culture that can be used to make kefir without grains. It is helpful for those who love kefir but do not wish to care for grains. Store bought kefir does not contain grains and may or may not be able re-culture for a short time. You will find more information about the differences here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/choosing-kefir-grains-versus-powdered-culture
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  • From Nathalia at 7/30/13 4:20 PM
    • Can I make the kefir with Lactose free milk (lactaid)? If not is Kefir ok for lactose intolerants?
    • You could use milk kefir grains to culture Lactose free milk but the grains would need to go back into dairy to refresh (they need the lactose). You can cut down the amount of remaining lactose by culturing your kefir for a longer period (a second fermentation keeps your grains safe) but you would need to discuss any lactose issues with your Nutritionist or Health Care Provider to determine if it would be feasible for you.
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  • From pauleis at 7/14/13 11:38 PM
    • Will kefir grains work with non-fat milk?
    • Milk with any fat content ranging from fat-free to whole milk may be used with Kefir Grains. While Kefir made with reduced fat or fat-free varieties of milk will have a thinner consistency, the fat content itself does not influence the effectiveness of the Kefir Grains or the culturing process.
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  • From jasmine at 7/11/13 7:33 AM
    • I have always wondered about the nutritional contents of kefir. I you make your own at home, do you go by the nutritional contents on the carton of milk you are making it from? I've been told the culturing process eats up some of the carbohydrates. Is that true? and is the sugar content the same as it would be in the milk used (natural sugar) or has that been eaten up by by culturing process? thank you.
    • The nutritional content will come from the milk. The grains consume lactose (milk sugar) so the carb content could be a little different in your finished kefir depending on the temperature and the length of time cultured which would make determining the final amount difficult without a lab analysis. To minimize the lactose left, let your kefir culture until it just begins to separate and keep in mind that the separation into curds and whey also means that the grains are running low on food.
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  • From Claudia at 6/26/13 12:37 PM
    • I am hydrating my milk kefir grains. I have been doing this for 4 days now. I was wondering what is the easiest way to strain the grains out? I have one of your plastic mesh strainers. I don't know the best technique to capture the grains and still be able to use the kefir. Thanks
    • The easiest way to strain the grains out would be to stir up your kefir gently but thoroughly and then slowly pour it through the strainer while stirring in the strainer gently with your finger or wooden spoon.
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  • From Angela S. at 6/14/13 10:40 AM
  • From Suzan at 6/14/13 8:36 PM
  • From Alicia at 6/11/13 4:18 AM
    • After straining my kefir I put my grains (after rinsing them off with water) I put them into the grains into a cup and somehow got sidetracked and forgot to put milk in the cup and back into the fridge for my time out while using the already prepared kefir Have I ruined them I didn't realize my mistake for over 24 hours of the grains just sitting in the open air unrefrigerated and not cover with milk.
    • It shouldn't be a problem although you may want to give your grains a gentle rinse (spring or filtered water) before you put them into milk to minimize possible contaminants. You basically started a dehydration process so it may take a few batches for the grains to readjust but they should be back making great kefir very soon.
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  • From Zoe at 5/31/13 8:52 AM
    • I just wrapped up day two of rehydrating the grains. I woke up this morning (less than 20 hours after they were placed in fresh milk) and the liquid has completely separated to whey and a frothy curd layer on top. Are the grains ready to make kefir already? It doesn't smell bad. Tangy/yeasty. I strained out the whey and tried to fish out the grains the best I could, which was hard to do in all those curds.

      I think I need to store them in a cooler place to slow it down a bit, instead of right next to the stove/oven.

      Did I do something wrong?
    • You didn't do anything wrong, the grains are now working and ready for an increased amount of milk. It does sound like your temperature may be a little too warm so your kefir may culture more quickly than 24 hours. We recommend increasing the amount of milk slowly, about 1/2 cup more with each new batch. Your other option is to culture for less time and stop the culturing process when your kefir reaches that wonderful thickened milk stage. If you have any additional problems, please e-mail our customer support department at customersupport@culturesforhealth.com. We would be happy to help.
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  • From SJ at 5/22/13 11:29 AM
    • If would like to make non-dairy kefir (ie almond milk kefir), should I use water kefir grains or milk kefir grains?
    • If you do not have dairy allergies, you can certainly make non-dairy kefir with milk kefir grains. However, you must refresh them in dairy milk every 1-2 batches as the grains require the lactose from dairy milk to survive. So you can alternate between non-dairy milk and dairy milks!

      Water kefir grains are specifically for sugar water.
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  • From Luke at 5/22/13 8:39 AM
    • My kefir went a little long and seperated into curds and whey. Now I can't tell what is curds and what is the kefir grains. Any suggestions?
    • If you have the nylon / plastic mesh strainer, gently stir the curd in the strainer with a rubber spatula. This should remove some of the curd, then use the rubber spatula to very gently press down on the curd. The soft curd will go through the strainer and the grains will remain. Be sure to make kefir cheese out of the curd! You'll find the recipe here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/herbed-soft-kefir-cheese-recipe/
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  • From SB325 at 5/21/13 5:04 PM
    • Thank you for promptly answering my last question. I have another.
      I received my grains and began revitalizing them. I began changing the milk every 12 hours, for 3 days. Then let it ferment for 24 hours. Now, about 5 days later, my grains are growing/plumping up and make about 1.5 cups of milk nice and thick in 24 hours. Quite unexpectedly, I must leave town and will be unable to tend to my kefir for about 10 days. I read the link provided regarding taking a break from making kefir. My question, should I use the same amount of milk I have been fermenting (about 1.5C), or should I use more? Will the fact they are just getting restarted effect how well they survive storage? When I bring them back out of storage, will I need to revitalize them like I did the dried grains?
      Thank you!
    • You can use the same amount of milk you have been using. Sometimes if they are brand new they do not do as well in storage. Especially since they are new, revitalizing them would be a good idea. Just use new milk and do 2 or three batches or until they are making good kefir again.
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  • From SB325 at 5/18/13 9:18 PM
    • I believe I will consume about 1C of Kefir per day. Can I culture this small amount daily, or should I plan to culture more milk less often?
    • To make smaller batches, you'll need to reduce the number of grains you are using, or else the milk will kefir too quickly. For more information about timing milk kefir, see this article: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/timing-milk-kefir

      While you can take an occasional break, such as for a vacation, the cultures are healthiest when they're active. It's best to make a smaller batch every day, than to rest the grains too often. Here are other suggestions for taking a break from making kefir: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/how-to-take-a-break-from-making-kefir
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  • From non dairy girl at 5/10/13 7:16 AM
    • I am lactose intolerant and use lactaid milk on mt cereal. It is skim fat free milk with lactose added. Will this still work?
    • Lactaid milk, with added lactase, can be used to culture milk kefir as long as it is not ultra-pasteurized. Skim milk will yield a much thinner consistency that milk kefir made with a higher fat content.
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  • From Bethany at 5/4/13 9:36 AM
    • Can I add water to my coconut milk to "stretch" it out before I add my kefir grains? Also, can coconut milk turn to curds and whey...I guess I am wondering if I can over ferment coconut milk?
    • Adding a small amount of water would likely be fine since coconut milk is a combination of coconut meat and water that has been blended. You can even make your own coconut milk! Coconut milk kefir can separate, so it is important to stay within the recommended culture time as well as keeping an eye on the process.
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  • From Jeanne at 4/28/13 1:59 PM
    • I have been making my kefir with raw goat milk and kefir starter that someone gave me. I have been using my yogurt maker because the temperature in the house is quite often below 70 degrees. It has almost always have the same wonderful thick consistency and very good. Now I just read I should not be using my yogurt maker. What was made was too thick and good to be soured milk.

      Your thoughts.
    • If you were getting good results with your yogurt maker, it may be fine. Normally, yogurt makers maintain 110ºF, which would be too hot for milk kefir. Milk kefir prefers to stay between 68-85ºF. Higher temperatures may kill the kefir grains. As long as it was working for you and making good kefir, your method should be just fine.
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  • From Nancy Shaeffer at 4/24/13 4:49 PM
  • From Logan at 3/26/13 10:00 PM
  • From patricia at 3/23/13 7:30 PM
    • If i want to take a break from making kefir how do i go about doing that? Will i lose my kefir grains and have to order more? I work and it is not easy for me to keep making it just for myself. I don't see an answer to that on the instructions for milk kefir grains.
    • For an occasional break, you can try the following: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/how-to-take-a-break-from-making-kefir

      However, we recommend that you keep your kefir culturing at room temperature, as much as possible, to avoid stressing the grains.
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  • From Jackie at 3/19/13 3:28 PM
    • How many different strands of bacteria is in your kefir grain?
    • While a highly complex and variable community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts can be found in kefir grains, this is a list of the specific set of active bacteria and yeast generally known to comprise Milk Kefir Grains:

      http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-grains-composition-bacteria-yeast
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  • From Mae at 3/15/13 11:43 AM
    • when you talk about using coconut milk, are we talking about the milk in the can (Thai Kitchen) or milk from the refrigerated section (Silk/So Delicious)? or does it make any difference? i tried using both types and the consistency isnt coming out as well as using regular milk
    • You may use alternative milk, canned or boxed but try to find the most pure form possible, the grains aren't fond of some additives. The alternative milk will not usually coagulate and thicken like dairy milk does but it will ferment and result in a delicious cultured flavor.
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  • From John at 3/13/13 4:53 PM
    • We just got our kefir grains in the mail two days ago, and the milk has thickened after only two days. We have changed the milk once, and the thickened milk tastes sweet. Is that normal? Should I assume that it's finished rehydrating and start using it? I've always assumed that kefir should be sour.
    • It sounds like your grains are progressing normally. Now that they have started to thicken the milk, it may take another batch or two to develop that wonderful tangy flavor. Be sure to begin increasing the amount of milk you're using to avoid overculturing. Curds and whey is great if you want to make kefir cheese or use the whey to culture vegetables but for drinking, that nice thickened-milk stage is best. The thickened milk stage also makes it easier to strain your grains out to start your next batch.
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  • From Marg at 3/12/13 10:20 AM
    • Not certain which to purchase, Milk or Water kefir grains.

      I am not diabetic, and cow’s milk causes mucus and some swell of the eyes.

      Can you help me to best choose?
    • If you are sensitive to milk, you should check with your Heath Care Provider or Nutritionist before making a dietary change like adding milk kefir. That being said, you might enjoy this article on the differences between water kefir and milk kefir: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/compare-milk-versus-kefir-water-kefir
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  • From linda at 3/11/13 9:25 AM
    • how can "fruit or other flavors" be added to the kefir
    • You won't want to add anything with the milk kefir grains but you can create amazing flavors on your finished kefir during a second fermentation. You will find information here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/second-fermentation-milk-kefir
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  • From Kaylyn at 2/25/13 12:58 AM
    • Are your kefir grains certified gluten free or just gluten free?
      -I noticed on the website you state: "Milk Kefir Grains are produced in a facility that also processes soy, wheat, nut, and fish products."
      -Are they processed or shared on same equipment as wheat or any way there could be cross contamination?
      Thanks
    • Our kefir grains are not certified gluten free. They are produced in a facility that also processes soy, what, nut and fish products however, they are processed on separate equipment.
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  • From Michelle at 2/21/13 2:24 AM
    • Can this be used with goat milk?
    • Yes, Milk Kefir Grains can be used to make delicious goat milk kefir.
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  • From Amber at 1/10/13 12:23 PM
    • Once you make the kefir, do you have to make a new batch every 24-48 hours? (I probably will anyway, but just wondering). Also I want to ferment mine so that there is no lactose in it, and I've read it takes 24 hours of fermenting for that to happen. Does "ferment" just mean the 24 hour natural process it takes to make the kefir by leaving it out?
      Thank you!
    • Yes, the grains should be added to fresh milk to make a new batch every 24-48 hours, to keep the grains healthy and well-fed. That's correct, the fermentation process takes place as the grains sit in the fresh milk on your countertop, converting the milk to kefir.
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