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Kefir Support Page

First and foremost thank you for your support and your patience. 

We are a small mom & pop online shop (since 1997). We pride ourselves for being a Place of Culture. We will always try our best to help you get started wilth probiotics. Our goal is to help folks maintain or achieve their personal health goals.  

The best way to be in touch with us is via text 919-518-3336  

Thank you,

Ed and Sue,

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

 

Huge Thank You DR Berg for your recommendation and encouragement.

Health tips: take 1/2 cup of kefir at night to help with sleep. 

plus a great many more helpful Health information https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM3stM3uI00

 

What is kefir?

Kefir GRAINS or seeds, as they’re sometimes called, contain Billions of probiotic lactobacillus bacteria per gram that form small clusters or colonies of Grains (seeds) that have been used for centuries to make our food safe & healthy. There are roughly 5 grams per teaspoon. 

KEFIR is the fermented milk.

Kefir is not yogurt. Kefir is not spoonable. Although there are recipes to make your kefir thicker, the typical kefir recipe produces a drink a bit thicker than milk but less thick than a milk shake. Slightly sour. The longer the ferment the more sour.   Kefir that is fermented longer - past the Kefir stage becomes Curds and Whey and the longer Curds and Whey is fermented the more whey. Curds and Whey is how cheese is made. 

Homemade Kefir is NOT the same as Store bought Kefir. 

Store bought kefir has been neutered, slice & diced,  standardized and altered for a longer shelf life, and for taste. 

Homemade KEFIR is the fermented milk, harvested at the right time of your choosing.
To produce 1 cup (250 ml) of Kefir it takes about 2-5 grams kefir grains/seeds at a proportion of 2–5% grains-to-milk. A teaspoon of kefir grains contains roughly 4.2 grams. Depending upon how active the kefir grains/seeds are one teaspoon may produce 1-2 cups of kefir on a daily bases -to grow and multiply - forever!


Kefir is a ongoing, continuous ferment. Starts with milk then kefir then curds & whey and then cheese. You choose when its right for you. There are variables such as Time, Temperature, ratio of grains to milk, type of milk and personal preferences. Unlike store bought kefir, which is neutered, treated, and altered to stay "frozen" in time in taste and texture, living, live Kefir Grains are all natural and continues to ferment through all its phases and each phase is healthy and beneficial - without any additives, chemicals or alterations. Just natural functional real food.

Package of Milk Kefir Grains shipped fresh by the HappyHerbalist

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Kefir GRAINS (seeds) are like pieces of rice or popcorn. or small pieces of tiny cauliflower which  ferments milk into kefir.

To produce 1 cup (250 ml) of Kefir it takes about 4-12  grams of kefir grains/seeds at a proportion of 2–5% grains-to-milk. A teaspoon of  kefir grains contains roughly 5 grams. Depending upon how active the kefir grains/seeds are one teaspoon may produce 1-2 cups of kefir. 

We have several pages of information on Kefir. This is just one of many. To the novice reading through it all for the first time may read all the information as confusing and different. Yes and No. We think we 're saying the same thing but in a different way, sometimes that rings the bell. What we present are different approaches that we have tried over the last 20 or so years. What we hope you gather form all the readings is an idea on how to ferment - ZYMUGY.  Zymurgy is most often the last word in a dictionary. That makes it easy to find but understanding all the nuances leads you back to Murphy's law - and realizing Murphy was an optimist. 

First please do not throw out our Kefir before you text us 919-518-3336  or email us, eddy@HappyHerbalist.com notably with a picture.

Our Free Kefir revised  eBook 

 Worried about shipping Kefir in the Heat?   Lactobacillus bacteria (Kefir Grains) can live and thrive and be fermenting from 41F to 138F

We ship our Kefir Grains packaged in FDA approved heat sealed packages. Our Kefir pH is < 4.2 which is recommended by the FDA to ward off pathogens. This leaves our Kefir Grains, containing BILLIONS of Lactobacilli surrounded by a rich environment. There are plenty of nutrients, sugars, proteins and fats that help the Lactobacillus bacteria (Kefir Grains) grow strong and make wonderful healthy Kefir - for a lifetime!

When you receive our Kefir its OK to leave in the refrigerator until ready to start. No worries if it has been left out.  Seems like the first contradiction!  Well, the kefir was/is alive and active although may be starving. Giving them a nice glass of milk is just what they crave. Where in the fridge the Kefir will go dormant and then one has to wake up those sleepy guys. But being dormant - being asleep is less stressful and kinda cozy. What Milk to use?

Does matters? Our Kefir Grains will grow + multiply … forever. With the right care
Active kefir grains - seeds to milk at a proportion of 2–5% grains-to-milk.or a teaspoon (12 grams) of Kefir seeds to a cup of milk. (250 ml) for a ~10% ratio

To Start and to confirm our Kefir is healthy please use Whole Milk. 
Whole Milk - Vitamin D - Pasteurized - Homogenized is all Whole Cow Milk.

Whole Milk. Available at your local grocery stores and cows everywhere. 

If at all possible avoid for now; Goat Milk, Raw Milk, Ultra Pasteurized Milk, 1%, 2%, Non Fat, Half&Half, Lactose Free, Dry Milk, Coconut Milk, Soy Milk, Nut Milks. Any of these you can use later, but today its Whole Milk - please. note: all commercial milk is pasteurized - which kills things. But avoid the Ultra Pasteurized as it creates inconsistent ferments. Pasteurized milk leaves the cream at the top - hides the grains and appears to be separating.  Homogenized simply blends the cream with the milk more evenly and easier to determine whether Kefir Grains are working or not. Vitamin D is added to all milk for health reasons. Raw milk has "life".  Its own life which dose not go "bad" it simply sours and Clabbers almost as if its Kefir.  Many brands of Organic Milk contains additives simply to extend shelf life - some for 6 months! Coconut, Rice, Soy and nut milks may be used later but Milk Kefir Grains do their best in real milk with Lactose (milk Sugar) 

Kefir will work with the other milks, but for us its very predictable and consistent and faster and easier for us to confirm that our Kefir Grains are healthy and safe. 

Not all milk is the same. Same type of milk but different Brands may produce different results as well. To discover the best milk contact your local cheese-making group. They will know which and where to get the best milk to make the best kefir - which really is going from milk to curds and whey and on to cheese from there. 

When you're ready to start,

Use a 12 oz or larger Glass Jar. 

Pour our package into 8 oz of  Whole Milk stir, cover with a cloth or paper towel, coffee filter, etc, and set on the counter at room temperature and until you see  follow the 6 signs of a finished kefir ferment listed below. 

If you want to watch the difference between Kefir and Milk is simply to have a second glass of just milk (same as the one with kefir grains) but without anything added (just milk no Kefir Grains) , side by side. Regular milk will go rancid where the milk with Kefir grains will become healthy Kefir.  

 milk-kefir-a-simple-start-by-happyherbalist.jpg 

The signs of a ready to drink Kefir. 

24-36 hours is where most people harvest their Kefir. By waiting till Whey appears it confirms our Kefir is healthy.

The typical signs of a good ferment

1, when you tilt the glass the kefir sticks more to the sides than milk (which would be runny)
2. The glass of kefir feels heavier than when it was milk
3, The smell would be on the pleasant side - different than the aroma of milk
4. The taste would be Bland to slightly Sour
5. Kefir would be thicker than milk, but not as thick as yogurt. More like a thin milk shake.
6. Not rancid (as regular Whole Milk) would be.

All the above is very subjective, and not conclusive, especially to those that are not familiar with Kefir.
Kefir Grains in milk will turn milk to almost all Whey - over time., and thats not going bad - its what Kefir Grains do. And it's all healthy. 
People choose not to let it go that long. Typically they harvest 'Way before Whey' even appears.

Variables
Temperature warmer faster, colder slower
Ratio of Grains to Milk: More grains faster: More Milk slower
Grains themselves: change in environment slower. No changes consistent
Type of milk Whole Pasteurized best; Less fat less performance: UHT inconsistent: Raw competitive; Plant Milk limited exposure fine, prolonged not recommended
Stirring: more often more small growth. No stirring larger Clusters less new growth

If you are unsure if your kefir is ready or even if its working

Simply allow the ferment to continue. Watch for the appearance of WHEY. Whey is the clear liquid that separates from the Curds, which is like white cottage cheese.  As mentioned Milk kefir GRAINS turns Milk to KEFIR to Curds & Whey to Cheese. When you see Whey, it means your Grains are alive and working and its good to partake at any point before or after the formation of whey. 

We guarantee success when you follow our directions. Feeling its not right, not working as expected ? Please do not throw anything away. Text 919-518-3336 or email HappyHerbalist@me.com. Send us a picture and let us know what you think the problem is. 99% of the time we get it to work. 100% of the time we help.  

kefir-to-curds-to-whey-how-to-know-when-your-kefir-is-ready.jpg

One advantage to waiting is that the more WHEY the more sour. The more sour the less sugars (lactose) and the more the beneficial acids: Lactic, Acetic, Butyric Acids. .  Curds & Whey is normal. Whey is healthy and very usable. Curds are healthy and very usable. Separate or mixed together healthy and usable. Just depends upon what you want. Of course you can drink your Kefir way before it separates. - all up to you. 

Taste it. If it's still not sour enough for you let it go a bit longer. If too sour then next time ferment for less time. Or add some fruit, smoothies, give to your pets. Now you have benchmark and you can go from there. Different milks, and the different variable (see below) will all change your kefir - just for you. 

Most people do drink their kefir before separation into any Curds and Whey. You may also go directly into cheese making before separation or whenever that sweet/sour balance is right for you. Some folks only go for the Curds (remember Little Miss Muffet). Curds are sweet with low sugar (lactose) content, and the milk fat. Also where the Kefir Grains hide out so carefully remove them unless you're eating them specifically for their health benefit. The Whey has most of the minerals and complete proteins as it contains all the 9 essential animo acids. You can find Whey in Health Food Stores sold in its powered form.  

Kefir Ready When You Are.

kefir-ready-when-you-are.jpg

Now we know it's safe let's start fermenting.  Stir & Strain.

First stir to break up any curds. Then Strain: Any household strainer works but be sure the holes are small enough that those small rice size pieces of Kefir Grains can be retrieved. Grains are rubbery and bounce back when pressed (gently with the back of a spoon)- Curds are soft and disappear under slight pressure. Grains typically hide in the Curds. Do not rinse the Grains with water. We suggest pouring fresh milk over them, which reduces the Curds, and find the Grains is easier. then recycle that milk into the new ferment.  Grains that have Curds on them is normal and will work with the Grains in your next ferment. Grains with more curds will produce a faster ferment or you can add additional milk to increase the total volume 

Separate into Milk Kefir and Milk Kefir GRAINS. Drink the Milk Kefir. SAVE the GRAINS.  

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Options that make it easier to retrieve those Kefir Grains. More choices 

 

Milk Kefir OPTIONS: like stainless steel tea balls, Stainless Steel filters, sprouting caps, muslin, cotton, or mesh bags, or your own cheesecloth Kefir Bags all make retrieving those Kefir Grains much easier. Simply place your Kefir Grains /seeds in the tea ball or bag and place into your fresh milk to ferment. Pull the ball / bag out - place into  a bowl standing next to the ferment. And you're ready for another ferment. Additionally you can dip and rinse your ball / bag into a glass of fresh milk and allow that glass to sit on the counter. It'll ferment a little slower  but typically makes a good second cup of Kefir.  Retrieving the Grains / seeds form their container is easier with the Stainless Steel, and you can easier store your Grains / seeds for later if you wish.  

- You can refrigerate the kefir or the grains until ready. Separate the Milk Kefir and the Grains. For the Milk Kiefer cover with a tight fitting lid preferably in a glass jar. The Milk Kefir will will continue to ferment even in the fridge, albeit slowly, getting a little bit more sour and thicker each day. For the Grains  see below "How to Store the Grains to use latter" 

Now that you know that our grains are alive and how the process works you’re free to develop your own method - and we’re here to help with that if you wish. There exist a wide selection of MILK to choose from (and to avoid) and different regions have their differences. Raw milk even varies upon season and what their feed. Cow, Goat, Sheep. Pasteurized High, Low, Ultra, Homogenized, Non fat, 1%, 2%, Half & Half, Can Milk, Dry Milk, on and on.  Each creates a different Kefir. some creamier, richer, tastier. Plus TIME and TEMPERATURE will vary your kefir. Just like cooking and baking (yes you can use kefir in cooking and baking).

First Ferment 1-2--3-4.  

note:   You can also use cheesecloth to make a Kefir Grain Bag making it easier to retrieve your grains. Be sure to rinse your kefir grains+bag in fresh milk every cycle. Careful to keep the cheesecloth Innside the jar as it will wick (capillary action) drawing the milk up out of the jar and onto the floor. Use a rubber band to hang Bag inside the jar. We offer cheesecloth and mesh bags and strainers online for convenience.  

 After you recaptured the Grains  Follow Basic folk recipe:

1. Add one spoonful (teaspoon) of milk kefir grains to one cup of milk.

2. Wait until the taste is to your satisfaction. This depends upon the degree of sourness you enjoy. Now you no longer have to wait for the ferment to separate into Curds + Whey.  Its ready when the sweet/sour balance is perfect for you!

3. When finished RECAPTURE the GRAINS. Drink the Milk kefir, and start a fresh batch.   

Our grains will grow and multiply - FOREVER. At some point depending upon Time and Temperature, and the ratio of grains to milk, you’ll find that your kefir is ready sooner - which means your Grains have grown / multiplied . Adjust accordingly. More grains means more milk. If you don't want more kefir (this time) you can reduce the amount of grains. below are the variables we have better control over:

The warmer the faster the ferment

the colder the slower the ferment

The longer time the more sour

The shorter the time the less sour

The more grains in the milk the faster the ferment

the less grains in the milk the slower the ferment

The more milk the slower the ferment

the less milk the faster the ferment

Different Milk Different Result. 

Raw Milk, Dry Milk, Half & Half, Goat, Cow, Sheep, 1%, 2%, Non Fat ...A1, A2, ... note: not all "Organic" milk is equal or "pure". Many contain additives that are added (as in most Commerical milks) to extend the shelf life.

You can alternately use Coconut, Rice, Soy, Almond, Plant Milks, Fruit Juices (pasteurized, preservative  free) however in all cases  we recommend to refresh your Milk Kefir with real milk every so often, say once weekly. Remember our Milk kefir Grains are meant for real milk and real milk has lactose (milk sugar) which Milk Kefir Grains thrive on. 

Consistency = Predictability = Happy Kefir Grains = Better Kefir 

Not Working ?
We have been shipping worldwide for over 15 years as well as locally. Our Kefir and all our probiotics have survived very well. Yet there are times when things go wrong. Sometimes it may be the heat, sometimes the cold, sometimes the post office, UPS, FedEx, sometimes the individually makes a mistake, and sometimes the live probiotic just decides not to work as expected - that’s zymurgy. We have shipped Kefir worldwide since 1997 when we first went online. We continue to unconditionally guarantee our customers satisfaction. If our Kefir fails we’ll send out free replacements or issue full refund at our customers direction. Sometimes some folks find that the process of making and taking care of their live, raw organic probiotic confusing- it is a learning curve like baking or anything new and we are committed to your success.  Sometimes, everything is good, but the process is not for them. We still offer a full refund. BUT you have to Text us first before you throw anything out. 919-518-3336 and You must submit a refund request via our Shipping and Refund Page

A simple test to see if the grains are alive, dead, or missing in action is by waiting until WHEY appears. This may take a day or 3-4 days. Place the grains (even if they are small tiny pieces of rice-like) into a glass of milk. Mix one time.The caveat here is that by stirring that mixes the whey and curds, so don't stir more than once at the beginning. WAIT it may take 4 days.( the warmer the temperature the faster: 74-80F best) If only milk it'll go rancid. If kefir then WHEY will appear. BUT we understand your frustration and if our Kefir fails we'll replace or refund as you choose.

Grains Not Multiplying or Disappearing ?

The number one reason for that of course is Humans. Smashing, eating and ignoring.  However there are other serious concerns. The number 2 reason is STRESS.  To see why your Kefir Grains are not multiplying and Disappearing please read our BLOG:  Milk Kefir: Care and Feeding.  

How to Store the Grains to use latter.

The Milk Kefir GRAINS may be stored in the fridge until ready to use. 

To store for a day or two, maybe 3.

Place the grains in milk, as if you were going to start another ferment. Recommend Glass Jar with a tight fitting lid. Do not fill to the top be sure to leave an air space of 2 inches or so.. When you're ready simply take our of the fridge , remove the cap and replace with a paper or cloth cover secured with a rubber band and place on the counter  and follow your basic recipe for time - which may be done a little sooner. 

For longer periods 1-2 weeks 

Rinse the Kefir GRAINS in Spring Water / non-chlorinated water. Remove most of the Curds and store the GRAINS in spring water in glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  

For longer period

Rinse in spring water, removing all the Curds where possible, and pat dry and store in an air tight jar with some wadded paper towel to absorb excess moisture 

Freeze 

Some people freeze their grains - we don't recommend as they often fail to come back or never grow back, although once their working the kefir is good. To freeze rinse in spring water and pat dry. The grains should be as dry as possible. to avoid freezer burn. wadded paper helps collect moisture and keeps the grains dryer. But will stick to the grains and harder to remove when reviving. Store in double Freezer Palastic zip locks. To revive place in glass of spring water with a pinch of baking soda, for a few hours, then add to a glass of milk. Change the milk every day until the Grains are looking like their back and the milk is kefiring, Again the appearance of Whey is a good sign. Rancid stinky milk is not a good sign. 

Dehydrate 

Works but not recommended as when/if they revive they tend to stay hard and never grow. Follow the same procedure for freezing but use wax paper top and Botton and dry slowly and completely. Keep out of direct sunlight and low heat as possible. Always under 103F. Revive same as above. 

Beyond Basic Recipe

Recall the "basic kefir recipe" is one spoonful of grains to one cup of milk and ferment for 24-36 hours.

Beyond Basic is how you choose to create your kefir. Zymurgy is the science of fermenting. Murphys Law states "anything that can go wrong will". 

You do have control over the variables stated above, and the Live Kefir Grains will pretty much do what they want.

Finding the Happy Place. 

You only have so many Grains. But want more Kefir. You can "train" your grains to ferment more and faster. As Live Bacteria they check out their neighborhood. They sense so much food. Overfed they may become a lazy couch potato. Underfed and they become VORACIOUS. Alternating their environment, including amount of food they get daily and gradually increasing that amount they'll usually adjust. A small amount of Kefir Grains like  a spoonful, may now ferment a larger amount of milk than just the one cup. You may be able to get the one spoonful to ferment a pint or even more. There may be noticeably changes - as you hoped for, or changes in their physical growth such as flattening out, or not increasing in size, or producing less new kefir grains. They may produce "better" kefir.

Some folks want to actually eat the Grains. Farmers often feed Kefir Grains to their farm animals for health reasons. people eat the Grains also for health reasons especially noted for cancer issues. One popular method is to have a certain amount of large Kefir Grains, and use a larger strainer (like a Spaghetti Strainer) which catch the larger Grains but allow the smaller grains to pass through. They then drink the Kefir Milk that has the small grains. There is a sensation of sand or grittiness to the Kefir Milk. 

The more SOUR the kefir, the less the lactose and greater the perceived health benefits. You can also "train" your kefir Grains to keep fermenting to the desired sourness without stressing out the Kefir Grains anxiety for more food. Keeping all the other variables constant while increasing the time gradually to the point of sourness your desire will help the Kefir Grains in what to expect and when. 

 A word on Straining

Separating the Kefir Grains form the Curds.

This is the hardest part of making kefir. Getting the Grains to use again. This is also the most common cause of Kefir Grain Death. or losing your kefir. other than your spouse, neighbor, house-sitter tossing out that "stuff that went bad in the fridge" thinking they did you a favor. We do offer some products that may make your like simpler.

Our product selection on STRAINERS. 

 

and more choices are Living Probiotics like Caspian Sea Yogurt, Jun, Ginger Beer, Water Kefir, Kombucha, Japanese Water Crystals

Water kefir.  While Milk kefir is extremely healthy and has tons of research on health-related issue, it can become cloying or bloating and constipating, where too much of good thing is a bad thing. Or where people prefer not to use Dairy Products - a better choice may be WATER KEFIR. Water Kefir is more energetic - where milk kefir is more calming and helps sleep. Water Kefir increases one's energy and helps a poor digestion - especially related to malnutrition (malnutrition may also be related to eating enough food, but the food is poorly digested and assimilated). Water Kefir are small grains that you add to water and sugar. The sugar may be any of about 50 fermentable sugars and / or different fruits and vegetables. Like Cayenne, chill peppers, Ginger, lemons, limes, figs, raisins, apples ... or fruit juices (without preservatives).  

We have gathered many herbs, spices, teas and fruits TEAS AND SPICES - GRUITS 

 

Enjoy the day. 

Ed and Sue. 

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