Kefir Grains v Kefir Powder - The Fermented Foody

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kefir grains

Kefir Grains v Kefir Powder

kefir  grainsBefore I explain about the kefir grains and powders, please keep in mind that it’s only the FIRST time you look for suppliers that will take you a little time.

As soon as you have:

  • Chosen a supplier
  • Sampled and like their product

you will be likely to buy from them regularly and it’s as easy as popping to the shops or purchasing any other goods on-line!

  • No changes in direction (home/work/health) are without an initial effort, but it’s always worth it. 🙂
  • No new car, or fancy dress or suit, will return your investment as making positive food changes will do long-term.
  • There is no better investment, time or money-wise, in your body.

Kefir Grains v Kefir Powder Starter Culture

Kefir grains

Kefir grains resemble rice pudding (or cauliflower florets.  See photo of these grains, clumping nicely, sitting in a drop of milk in the glass bowl.

They will be much smaller when they are first sent to you and, if cared for the right way, should last you a life-time.  This makes them a very low cost investment!

For around £12 (circa $19) you will receive enough grains to make your first batch of kefir and these will keep multiplying over time until you have enough to give to friends as well. How dudey? 😉

Most people don’t know what to do with their excess grains eventually and that’s why kefir communities have sprung up online around the world, with people either selling or gifting their grains in their local area.

You can try searching for communities near you .. or opt to buy from a regular on-line supplier.   Who knows? You may have a neighbour who makes kefir and you have yet to find out.  It’s worth a quick look!

How are Kefir Grains Made?

Grains tend to be cultivated (from symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast) in either goat or cow’s milk.  Some suppliers offer both.  Many only  offer cow’s milk.

You will want to take this into consideration if you have an intolerance.

If you are intending to buy grains, first think about the above, then consider that grains thrive off the lactose in milk.

There is no lactose in nut milks, so you will need to refresh the grains once or twice a week in a dairy milk of your choice.  Without this, your grains will struggle to produce kefir and eventually die.  (Awww, poor babies ..)

I’ve only used mine for cow’s milk to date and I find that once I’ve made a batch of kefir milk, I can leave the grains sitting in the same milk for a week in the fridge without them suffering.

If I don’t need another batch of kefir after a week, I just strain the grains, discard the old milk and replace it with new milk.

They’ve been fine that way for 3 weeks or so, but I haven’t left them longer.  I would try though! I love to test them. 😉

I’ve not frozen my grains to date, but the best known way to store them longer term is in the freezer.

All in all, they’re pretty hardy! (I have a story to tell you during this series that explains just how hardy, hardy is. Let’s just say I haven’t always treated mine with warmth and love!)

Kefir Powder Starter Culture

Kefir powder starters are freeze dried, contain a good number of friendly bacteria and (see the sachet in the photo) will make a limited volume of kefir.

You can usually buy single sachets and boxes containing 3 or 5 sachets.

One sachet will be added to your milk for a typical batch of kefir.

Eventually the milk will stop culturing with that sachet of starter culture.  But you’ll get a whole load of kefir from it before that happens.  Each product may differ in volume.

The great thing about powder cultures is their ease of use and the fact that they work easily with a variety of milks.  No refreshing required.  Just use a new sachet and keep using that for your chosen flavour (rice, soy, coconut, hazelnut).

Wondering what Kefir Milk Tastes Like?

How about buying a store bought milk first?

May I just say this before you do ..

Store bought food and drink go through processes in order to give them a shelf life.  They won’t contain the same number of probiotics as home-made drinks for this reason and they are likely to taste very different to anything you make yourself.  Indeed, every powder starter has a variant on flavour, so don’t expect your bought milk to be the general taste.  It would give you an idea though, if you’re feeling a little nervous!

Or … be bold, dive in, buy 1 packet of kefir starter culture or some kefir grains and wait till tomorrow when I show you have cheaply you can make it yourself! 😉

Here’s an on-line UK store bought kefir (I’ve not tried it, but if you do, please let me know what you think!):

Okay. So you’re ready to source and purchase your cultures. Yayyy!

kefir grainsGrab yourself a cup of tea (forget that iced doughnut though 😉 and follow these instructions:

Wherever you live in the world, there will be a local community or supplier of grains of powder cultures.

Just tap these words into Google:

  • kefir starter culture
  • kefir grains
  • kefir communities

and you will find a host of names appear.

The best way to determine a good/reliable supplier is to look at all your available choices.

Looking to source from your nearest local supplier is likely to be your most cost effective option.

If you’re opting for ‘live’ kefir grains, they will be sent to you by post, in a little milk.  If you opt to buy from abroad, they will be freeze dried.

All kefir grains/cultures come with instructions on how to make your first batch.

But I’ll talk you through it here, because from my research to date, what some people doesn’t work, has worked really for me.  As I will always feel about fermenting, there are no real rules.  Once you understand the basics, it’s chocs away! You just do whatever works best for you.

Ain’t that just beeeeautiful? 🙂  (Makes life a whole lot easier, that’s for sure!)

The consensus seems to be from general writings about kefir grains, that they contain more probiotics than the powder starters, although I don’t believe I’ve seen any academic papers to confirm this fact.

Kefir grains are much more fascinating than a powder. To watch them multiply, clump and do their work is completely fascinating!

I use them to make cow’s milk for my husband, but since I don’t drink cow’s milk myself, I have only used powders for my own kefir.

The regular colds, flus, viruses and chest infections I was dogged with for years before drinking this wonderful milk have gone.

I’m not saying I will never catch another (that would be temping fate!) but I’ve gone from totally dreading the winter to thinking: ‘Bring it on!’ .. 15 months in and not a whisper of a germ.  So for me, the powders are certainly good enough!

Which one are you going to try first?

Please do let me know!

Tomorrow I’m going to share the simplest recipe for making kefir milk.  Baby steps.  Then we’ll ramp it up a bit when you’ve had your first try at this.


KISSES - CBemail-signature1

About the Author Sarah Jackson

I love to experiment with food, write poetry, read, walk in nature, take iphone photographs, sing, cycle, watch good movies, documentaries, dramas and comedy.

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Leave a Comment:

Therese says

Hi Sarah, I have a question about making milk kefir from kefir powdered starter and subsequent batches. I have had great success doing this, and after regular use for 8 wks. or so using a portion of kefir from the previous batch, I am wondering when/how I will know when it is no longer working. So far, each batch continues to thicken, and develop that lovely tangy taste.
Thank you, Therese

    Sarah Jackson says

    Hi Theresa, Apologies for my later reply. I’ve not checked in here since losing my father in February.

    You’ll know the powdered starter has seen it’s life through when the milk stops thickening and turning tangy.

    I hope this answers your question. Glad you’re enjoying kefir!

Whitney Hansel says

Hi! I have my very first batch of kefir from powder on top of my fridge just finishing up now, so excited to try it! My question is: Is it possible to keep culturing new batches of kefir from my first batch? I’m talking about NOT starting by adding another powder packet to milk. I’m wondering if I can add a spoonful or so of my current batch to a new jar of uncultured milk to carry on indefinitely? Or do I need to be using the grains for that sort of continuous method? I’ve been making yogurt for years and kombucha too, so I’ve done a bit of fermentation, but I’m a kefir newbie so I’d really appreciate your expertise!

    Sarah Jackson says

    So sorry not to have replied before now Whitney. I’d recently lost my father when your message came in and haven’t checked my blog until now.

    You can use a few spoonfuls of milk from your dairy free kefir to culture the next batch. 6 tablespoons from a 1 quart jug is sufficient. When it stops fermenting, that’s the time you’ll need to use a new sachet. 1 sachet will make many litres before needing replacement. I hope this helps!

Wendy says

Hi from down under Sarah. I’m enjoying your blog.
Re going ‘silver’. My hairdresser told me when I was considering it….
‘As long as you get a funky cut, so that you don’t have the ‘nanna’ look’!
I’ve never looked back, get lots of great comments, and love it.

    Sarah Jackson says

    Hey Wendy! Good to see you hear. Thanks for joining me. Would love to see your haircut! Please feel welcome to send me a FB friend request. I have 100’s of friends from the silver community on my personal page. 🙂

Monique says

Thanks for the article! I’m about to try and make coconut milk kefir and this read has been super helpful! 🙂

    Sarah Jackson says

    You’re very welcome Monique!

bonnie rogers says

I’m researching Kefir and on the Wikipaedia site it had a reference to the origin of the grains and that worried me .i don’t know whether it quotes a myth but something about sheep bacteria and I got worried .could you read that bit .i got it up on google on my iPad thank you because I’m interested in health benefits but not if it started with sheep bacteria .thankyou

    Sarah Jackson says

    Kefir powders and grains are a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast Bonnie. I’m not sure that anyone truly knows the origin of the first kefir grains. People will hypothesise. Without concrete evidence, we are better off not assuming anything.

    If you would like to use plant based kefir starter, buy a culture starter powder by searching that term on the internet. Do check with any supplier that no dairy is included in the formula. It’s not always obvious before you buy.

    The health benefits seem to be numerous. Healing stories abound worldwide. I hope you enjoy your kefir and come back to tell me your own healing story before too long. 🙂 Thanks for writing.

Janice B Gordon says

I enjoyed reading your blog but then I had to go back to find out what Kefir is. I have forward on to my friend and will continue learning with interest – Thank you Sarah

    Sarah Jackson says

    Hi Janice, Thanks for your feed-back. I’ve added some links to a previous post that called ‘What is Kefir’ so it’s easy for readers to refer back. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I thought I’d already done it!

    I hope your friend finds the blog content helpful. There’s LOTS to come in the next few weeks and months! Looking forward to sharing it with you. 🙂

Judy says

I like the line ‘no new car or fancy suit or dress will return your investment as making changes to food long term’. It’s very true!

    Sarah Jackson says

    Thank you Judy. I think it sometimes takes a health crisis for us to realise it’s true. I hope people reading this blog will want to take action before they get to that point. 🙂

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