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?