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Straining kefir?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Ok, I must be doing something wrong. I had this problem with my last kefir grains (which I, regretably, allowed to die off), and now again with the grains that tofumama sent me.

The kefir is too thick and chunky to strain through a strainer. Between the grains and the chunks of curd and the gloppy cream (I use raw milk), it just doesn't drain through any strainer I've tried. By the time I use a mesh large enough to allow drainage, I end up loseing my grains. I've tried stirring it with a chopstick to break up the curds and reincorporate the cream, but that didn't liquidize the curds so they still blocked up the strainer.

In my previous batch of grains, I had three huge lumps of grains that I could easily fish out with a spoon, so I'd just throw any smaller new grains into the blender with the kefir for my smoothie. Very healthful, I know, but not very productive when I'm trying to grow my grains a bit so I can split some out and store them! My new grains from tofumama are numerous, but small. I spent a long time this morning fishing through some kefir picking out grains for my next batch. So, what am I doing wrong? Am I using a too-large proportion of grains to milk, that the kefir is turning out more curd-y than it should? Am I just using the wrong mesh-size strainer? Can I stir the kefir more vigerously to break up the curds without pulverizing the grains? (I imagine I'd have to fish out larger clumps before doing that.)

While I'm on the topic, when my grains get huge, should I be breaking them up into smaller pieces? Last time 'round, I had three huge clumps. When they grew a little bigger, I gave two away and broke the largest in half to expose more surface area. But I wondered, was the center of that large clump still viable? Should I keep my grain lumps small-ish to keep the center of the clumps healthy?
post #2 of 6
I can't help you with all your questions, but when mine ends up curdy, I take a small wooden spoon and stir it up in the strainer. The curds easily break up and go through the strainer. The grains are firm and do not. I also pour in a little kefir at a time so I can do this. Plus my strainer is small and won't allow for more. Does that help at all?
post #3 of 6
Sounds like you're letting the milk culture for too long. This can happen if you have too many kefir grains in the amount of milk, or just culturing it for too long. I have about 1/4 cup of kefir grains to culture 2 cups of milk in a 24 hour period, but I like my kefir with that tart bite to it. My culture is just starting to separate when I make our morning "moo-mees". I put an empty garlic mesh bag over the top and strain it through that, it works great for us.

I'd suggest adding more milk, taking out a few grains, or just not letting it culture for as long. That should solve the problem. And I've gotten a little rough with our grains from time to time when I let them culture for too long. Just keep shaking the plastic collander around and the curds will eventually sift through.
post #4 of 6
I always shake my kefir while it's culturing and then just before straining it. Sometimes it pretty thick, but I just shake the strainer back and forth and it eventually all goes through.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the advice! I'll see how tomorrow morning's effort goes
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by tboroson
While I'm on the topic, when my grains get huge, should I be breaking them up into smaller pieces? Last time 'round, I had three huge clumps. When they grew a little bigger, I gave two away and broke the largest in half to expose more surface area. But I wondered, was the center of that large clump still viable? Should I keep my grain lumps small-ish to keep the center of the clumps healthy?
Can anyone answer this part? I'm in the same boat. I've got two huge grains that just keep growing and no little ones (or else I'm just straining them out and not knowing it). Should I break them up?
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