OK, Kefir-making mamas, a few questions... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 38 Old 08-20-2004, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello

I just got some kefir grains from Ms. Doula (thank you) and have brewed one batch (just need to find a non-metal strainer).

From my reading, it looks like I have to brew every day. Is that right? Since I might be the only one eating it, I'm not sure how I'll get through 2 cups a day. What's your routine like?

TIA
Angie

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#2 of 38 Old 08-20-2004, 06:50 PM
 
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The 'Dom' King of Kefir has some great info on all of that. That being said, it's a BIG site and can get a bit overwhelming....

http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

I have been using my grains for about 3 weeks now (wow, time flies).

I have tried many ways of making the Kefir:

Soaked in 2 cups coconut milk, overnight on counter. YUMMY coconut flavor to it!

Soaked in 2 cups Whole, organic milk, overnight on counter - Yum, more tart and 'plain' tasting.

Soaked in 2 cups reconstituted Coconut Cream Concentrate, overnight on counter - mmm, unusual. When I refridgerated it after 'brewing' the oils thickened up and there were little 'coconut oil' lumps in it and it made it taste strange to the 'tongue' but flavor was fine.

Brewed in whole milk in refrigerator, took about 3 days to get to the point where I had it overnight. So would be good way to take a mini break.

Let sit in 2 cups clean, filtered water in fridge for almost a week to test it. Made regular Kefir with milk and it took a few hours more than 24 to 'brew' up just fine.....The 'Dom' has instructions to make a 'back up batch' of grains that are dried and then frozen.

I pour Kefir into a fresh glass jar and keep adding to it in fridge. If I can't use it within 3-4 days making morning smoothies or soaking grains in it, I strain it through cheese cloth and make the absolute most fabulous 'cream cheese' (will keep in fridge for about a month, if you don't eat it all up the next few days). Add a pinch of sea salt to the cheese, stir, store in glass container in fridge, and wa la...instant yummy stuff!

I save the 'whey' from this process in a seperate container (6 month storage life) for using for lacto fermenting foods/grain soaking. (See Nourishing Traditions Thread or the Book).

I tried Kefir Egg Nog this morning. Different! It's more 'tangy' than regular egg nog, but I got used to it after a few 'swigs'....I added some cinnamon and that helped too!

I would suggest the cream cheese for 'first timers'....I had several guests over and they thought I had bought 'gourmet' chevrie cheese for their crackers!

hth

Oh, regarding a non metal strainer, I cut a piece of the plastic netting that elephant garlic bulbs come in (and some other onion type veges) and used that with a rubber band on lid of my Kefir mason jar.
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#3 of 38 Old 08-20-2004, 06:53 PM
 
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Is the cream cheese on Dom's website?
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#4 of 38 Old 08-20-2004, 06:56 PM
 
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The cream cheese is on Dom's site. But if you have the NT book, just use the recipe for making 'cream cheese and whey' from yogurt, but use your Kefir instead.

I add the pinch of sea salt as it really kicks up the flavor and makes a big difference. You will never want to eat that insipid store stuff after tasting this Kefir Cheese!

He has recipes for making other cheeses with it too.



A pinch of fresh ground herbs in it would rock too!
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#5 of 38 Old 08-20-2004, 10:02 PM
 
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Angie,

I have about 3 cups of grains and it's about 100 degrees here. What I do is put all of the grains in a gallon jar with about 3/4 gallon of milk and let it sit for a day. I strain it then or stick it in the fridge as is if I don't have time. I typically make a batch every 3 days or so. We go through a lot of kefir here.

You have the grandchildren of my grains, by the way.

Amanda

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#6 of 38 Old 08-20-2004, 11:01 PM
 
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I eat it on my morning cereal and will go through a batch in a couple of days (I've given grains away twice so my batch is pretty small right now).

To tell you the truth I don't even bother straining. I have my grains in a glass pitcher and after letting them do their thing for 24 hours at room temp I stick the whole thing in the fridge and pour out the kefir (without pouring out the grains) onto my cereal. When it's time to add more milk I take it out of the fridge and let it warm up again. The grains seem to be doing fine.

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#7 of 38 Old 08-21-2004, 01:56 AM
 
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Quirky,

That's a GREAT idea!! I will have to get a glass pitcher now!
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#8 of 38 Old 08-21-2004, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the advice on this and the other thread.

I like the idea of just storing it in the fridge grains and all until I need to use it, quirky. I hate to have to buy a piece of plastic just for these buggers (though the netting idea is also a good one).

Thanks, Gale Force, for your progeny. You guys definitely do go through a lot of kefir. I'm hoping that it'll catch on here eventually...

and thanks for all the links xenabyte and advice. The coconut milk idea sounds yummy and so does the cream cheese

And boy do they seem to grow quickly. I feel like if we keep operating at this pace, I'll have to be giving them away to unsuspecting souls within a few weeks...

Best

Angie, Mama to Finn (6/01) and Theo (4/05)
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#9 of 38 Old 08-21-2004, 03:30 PM
 
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I just got some grains from gale force and will be trying my first batch this weekend. What do you mean by "they seem to grow quickly"? Do they multiply? I really need to go to the website and read more. But dd#2 is calling...
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#10 of 38 Old 08-22-2004, 12:54 PM
 
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mamaMAMAma,

They do multiply. I got my grains last fall and have given them to everyone I know who is interested, we eat them periodically (tell that to your husbands LOL) and I still have three cups right now. I started with about half the amount I sent you.

Anyone else interested in grains? My cup floweth over.

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#11 of 38 Old 08-22-2004, 11:23 PM
 
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I MUST have the kefir egg nog recipe!!!!!!!!

Pretty Please!!!!

Zia+Lane+Sonora=Mi Vida Loca! :
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#12 of 38 Old 08-23-2004, 11:18 AM
 
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I'm drinking it right now...mmm, it's getting better and better!

Kefir Egg Nog

1 cup fresh made Kefir (aged stuff it too tart IMHO)
1 raw, free range type egg
1 Tbls Rapadura Sugar or Honey
*optional* pinch ground cinnamon to help with tartness
Fresh grated nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Blend Kefir, egg, sweetener and cinnamon in blender on medium. I drop in two pieces of ice and turn blender to high(just enough to make it cold and frothy) and blend until ice is gone. Pour in a glass, grate nutmeg on top and drink.

The 'Mama Nog' recipe suggests adding 1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast and 1 Tbls blackstrap molasses for iron to the above. I have not tried this yet...but hey, might be tasty!

Note: If you are super worried about raw eggs, you could use the 'pasturized' egg stuff they sell in stores.
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#13 of 38 Old 10-26-2004, 04:03 PM
 
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I managed to get a few tiny grains (about 3mm each) and put them to work right away. When I was straining my second batch of kefir, I think I shook the strainer too hard. The grains must have broken up and fell through the strainer because what remained in the strainer were only a few curds. I could not find the grains inside of these curds.

So I put the few curds in milk to start the next batch. I''ve been making a new batch every 2 days for about 4 weeks now. I now strain very carefully but still cannot find any grains. I always leave some curds behind in the strainer and use that to start the next batch.

My question is, is it possible that the bacteria that makes the kefir is not "clumping together" to make grains? Or, are the clumps so small that every time I strain, they go through the strainer? How can I get grains to start forming?

Thank you
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#14 of 38 Old 10-26-2004, 08:24 PM
 
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I've been using my kefir grains for a bit now (tthanks Gale Force!) and really liking it with cow's milk. I decided to try some Goat's milk so that I could make some goat cheese. I've seen people on other threads using goat's milk with kefir but mine doesn't seem to be setting so quickly. does the goat's milk take longer or is it runnier than the cow's milk?
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#15 of 38 Old 10-27-2004, 01:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinsegae
I managed to get a few tiny grains (about 3mm each) and put them to work right away. When I was straining my second batch of kefir, I think I shook the strainer too hard. The grains must have broken up and fell through the strainer because what remained in the strainer were only a few curds. I could not find the grains inside of these curds.

So I put the few curds in milk to start the next batch. I''ve been making a new batch every 2 days for about 4 weeks now. I now strain very carefully but still cannot find any grains. I always leave some curds behind in the strainer and use that to start the next batch.

My question is, is it possible that the bacteria that makes the kefir is not "clumping together" to make grains? Or, are the clumps so small that every time I strain, they go through the strainer? How can I get grains to start forming?

Thank you
Sorry, meant to get to this question yesterday, but had a total crash and burn of my computer yesterday...we had to reinstall everything. But it's working great now!

If you had a VERY tiny amount of grains, and you put in too much milk, it will take longer to convert the milk. If you are grainless at this point (no sticky, rubbery feeling things in the milk) then you definitely need to stop using just milk curds to convert your milk.

Even if you started with small grains and only a few, they should be growing much faster than what you have said (especially at room temperature). You will want to change the milk every day, until they get going strong.

If they did go down the drain, I'm surprised you are still able to 'culture' the milk into Kefir, before it goes 'icky'.... Eventually the 'kefir' bacterial/yeast strains will not be able to continue to make it, without living grains.
It will slowly degrade to the point where you would not want to drink it.

If you need more grains, PM me. I always try to include a few 'fat juicy' grains so they will not get lost in the straining process, assuming you use a strainer that isn't too big.

Are you using cow or goat milk? Soy or something else? Is the milk organic?
Do you wash the jar in hot water, then allow it to cool before adding the grains? Are you fermenting at room temp, of just the refrigerator method?

Just some troubleshooting questions, trying to figure out why the grains didn't grow. Within two days, they should have been fattening up nicely! Did they sit in the mail for a long time during shipping, etc.

Hth
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#16 of 38 Old 10-27-2004, 01:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hrheka
I've been using my kefir grains for a bit now (tthanks Gale Force!) and really liking it with cow's milk. I decided to try some Goat's milk so that I could make some goat cheese. I've seen people on other threads using goat's milk with kefir but mine doesn't seem to be setting so quickly. does the goat's milk take longer or is it runnier than the cow's milk?
I haven't used goat milk yet. But the milk is different enough that it could be the grains are trying to 'convert' to using goat milk. You will probably notice some difference until they adjust. Eventually the 'curd and whey' will achieve enough seperation to strain it through cheesecloth for making cheese.

Maybe brew with grains 24 hours, then remove grains and allow it to 'ferment' for another 12-24 hours at room temp. You definitely should see seperation and large curds forming so you can make your cheese.

I love they Donvier yogurt cheese strainer. Even with 'milky' creamy Kefir, it will strain off they whey nicely.
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#17 of 38 Old 10-27-2004, 02:09 PM
 
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I was thinking the same thing xenabyte about it needing something thats not in the goat's milk. I actually added a bit of cow's milk this morning hoping that would help it along a bit. It still smells like kefir, not bad or anything so I think I'll let it brew a little longer.

I actually had been letting my kefir brew for two days at room temp, it would separate but then I'd stir it up and it would be fine, really not a any stronger tasting. So if you are getting too much kefir you can just let it go an extra day, mine has seemed fine.
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#18 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 12:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xenabyte
Sorry, meant to get to this question yesterday, but had a total crash and burn of my computer yesterday...we had to reinstall everything. But it's working great now!

If you had a VERY tiny amount of grains, and you put in too much milk, it will take longer to convert the milk. If you are grainless at this point (no sticky, rubbery feeling things in the milk) then you definitely need to stop using just milk curds to convert your milk.

Even if you started with small grains and only a few, they should be growing much faster than what you have said (especially at room temperature). You will want to change the milk every day, until they get going strong.

If they did go down the drain, I'm surprised you are still able to 'culture' the milk into Kefir, before it goes 'icky'.... Eventually the 'kefir' bacterial/yeast strains will not be able to continue to make it, without living grains.
It will slowly degrade to the point where you would not want to drink it.

If you need more grains, PM me. I always try to include a few 'fat juicy' grains so they will not get lost in the straining process, assuming you use a strainer that isn't too big.

Are you using cow or goat milk? Soy or something else? Is the milk organic?
Do you wash the jar in hot water, then allow it to cool before adding the grains? Are you fermenting at room temp, of just the refrigerator method?

Just some troubleshooting questions, trying to figure out why the grains didn't grow. Within two days, they should have been fattening up nicely! Did they sit in the mail for a long time during shipping, etc.

Hth

In reply to your trouble-shooting questions, I'm using 3.25% homogenized non-organic cow's milk. After washing the jars, I let them sit overnight to dry (and cool off). I 'm fermenting at room temp. I guess the grains didn't have a chance to grow because I seemed to have lost them the second day. I had picked them up fresh locally so they were not dry or ever sitting around.

I've been culturing a new batch every 2 days for over a month now using only curds, and the stuff still tastes allright. I am sure that there are no grains because I have looked through the few curds that I have, only to have them dissolve and fall apart, leaving no grain behind.

I guess what happened is my 2 or 3 little grains that I initially started with managed to slip through the strainer on that fateful 2nd day .

Thank you for the offer of sending me some grains. The problem is that I'm up in Canada near Toronto and I don't know how easy it would be to get it across the border. I may be better off finding some more locally, this time from someone who has larger grains. Thanks again
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#19 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 12:54 AM
 
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....I erm...got the cross the border, Canadian thing figured out...so if you need some.... I'm sure I can get you some.... I'm waiting to hear from CJR if she got hers...and if she gets them no problems and no horrible wait time...then I'm good to go shipping there...

I just need let my grains have a few days rest and recreation....I sent out 5 boxes Monday, so they got to work hard to get me in good shape for this coming Monday :LOL I was down to barely a Tbs left!

Yes, you need a good, definitely visible clump, to give you a good start!

I'll be in touch....
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#20 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 12:56 PM
 
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Erika,

How much milk are you trying to culture? And what is room temperature there now? It's getting very cold here and my batches are going a lot longer.

Amanda

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#21 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 02:45 PM
 
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I would like to try this. someone pm me if you would like to get rid of some. Thanks
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#22 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 03:21 PM
 
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GaleForce,

Mine are 'growing slower' too lately. It's been COLD here though, and I am putting them in a new spot that isn't as warm, I guess (and there are less grains to do all that work). I usually have thick Kefir by morning, but this afternoon, it was still fairly milky, and just starting to thicken.

Mamacarey, you should PM Gale with your info...as it might be longer for me to get enough to start sending out again...I hadn't realized what a difference it would make with this cold front we have here atm...

Gale, heck, I might need to PM you myself to get enough for some 'Kefir d' Aqua!!' heheh
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#23 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 04:16 PM
 
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I would like some grains. I am in MN.

what do I need to make this stuff - (I have been buying it pre made from my local co-op - helliouse (sp?) brand)

xenabyte did you get your grains from a store? I have read there is a freeze dried version that is only for one use.
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#24 of 38 Old 10-29-2004, 05:22 PM
 
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Suseyblue sent me my first Kefir grains. I have tried the powder packets too, but the live grains are SO much easier:

Just add cold milk from the jug to a jar, add in the kefir grains, close jar and let it sit on your counter from 12 - 48 hours. Decant the Kefir, repeat.

There are some other ways to do it, but that is the 'basic' way.

You will be hard prtessed to find live kefir grains in a store, usually you have to arrange for someone with extras to mail you some. It'll be at least a week or two before I will have enough grains to ship again, so try Gale Force, heck, I might be trying Gale Force too if mine don't start growing fast enough again!
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#25 of 38 Old 10-30-2004, 01:48 PM
 
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I'll be mailing Monday with proper education of the local postmaster, Tuesday otherwise with a more friendly postmaster. PM me with your addy and you can paypal shipping or send me a check ($3.85 out of Calif)

Amanda Rose, author, Rebuild From Depression: A Nutrient Guide. Don't miss this opportunity to build a business telling friends about probiotic foods and grass fed meats: Beyond Organic Review.

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#26 of 38 Old 10-30-2004, 02:49 PM
 
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GaleForce,

I spoke to our local postmaster, and as long as the box is marked 'Perishable', jic it ends up in the 'dead maill' area, and they know to toss it, so it doesn't stink up the place, we are ok. If there is a LOT of milk, you need to mark it, 'contains liquid', also jic of spills, so they know it's not a toxic substance.

I mark the outer baggie, Kefir 'yeast' grains in whole milk, so if it is opened, they will know it's harmless and not a toxic substance (or some other funny stuff).

If going 'across the border' I mark the customs slip, 'Kefir Sourdough Yeast Starter' - Perishable' and that way customs officials will know it's not some toxic or other wierd stuff (I didn't figure many of them would know what Kefir grains are, so I just called it a sourdough starter as most folks know what bakers yeast is.

So far, this complies with shipping regulations. Hope this info helps anyone wanting to ship Kefir grains and was worried about all the regulations they have now days.
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#27 of 38 Old 10-30-2004, 07:05 PM
 
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Thanks Heather. I am about to write a note to the postmaster put in each package as well. We have an itty bitty PO here and as much as the postmaster loves controversy in the community, he doesn't want to be the center of it, so he's just extra paranoid. I haven't attempted to educate him, we've just used other POs (and explained what was in the package). I think simply showing him that most of what is in it is grains, not liquid, is probably enough.

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#28 of 38 Old 10-30-2004, 07:07 PM
 
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Oh, and a tip for expanding your grain stash: put the grains in a lot of milk and let them sit for 2-3 days, strain and do it again. When I started with about 2 tsp I did this until I ended up with about a cup. It took 2 weeks or so. Luckily I've got some nice gallon glass jars so I am able to brew about 3/4 gallon in on jar.

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#29 of 38 Old 10-30-2004, 11:32 PM
 
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would a sprout jar work for brewing and straining this stuff?
like this
http://www.sproutpeople.com/devices/jar/jar.html

what else do I need.

I need to get everything together before I order some.
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#30 of 38 Old 10-31-2004, 12:18 AM
 
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Deb -- Any old jar will do, so I'd save the sprout jar for its job. I use a glass jar and put a loose fitting lid on top. I use a plastic lid and when none are clean, I just put a plate on top. So you can see, no high tech equipment is necessary. You're ready. PM me your address and you'll have it next week,

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