Initial Step [done once only]. Pour contents in a clean 2-cup glass jar. Add 1-cup non-chlorinated water and stir contents. Place a saucer on the jar to keep out dust and insects. Let stand for about 2 hours at room temperature. Strain contents through a mesh-type sieve to retrieve reconstituted kefir grains. Discard strained solution. Rinse grains while they are in the sieve with *warm water, for about 10 seconds. Now please follow the next 3-step procedure.
- Place kefir grains in a clean 2-cup jar and add 1/2 cup fresh milk. [Whole milk, fat reduced or non-fat milk is suitable. Fresh raw milk is acceptable. Cold pasteurized milk straight from the fridge is also suitable].
Gently stir contents with a clean spoon, secure lid on jar but do not seal jar airtight, and let stand for about 24 hours at a temperature range of 19° to 25°C [66° to 77°F]. Keep jar out of direct sunlight. Gently stir contents with a clean spoon after 8 hours, and as often as you can or want to after that.
At about 24 hours, stir contents with clean spoon, strain, and then wash grains in *warm water while they remain in the sieve. ½ fill a bowl with *warm water, place the sieve holding the grains in the water and gently rub the grains between clean fingers. Then remove the sieve out of the warm water bath.
Repeat the 3-step process daily, omitting rinsing/washing the grains in step 3 after the 7th batch. Begin using 1 cup milk from the 3rd to 5th batch [in step 1] or when the culture shows **high activity.
*Do NOT use hot water to rinse/wash kefir grains, or the culture will die. Before rinsing, first check water temperature with fingers to be certain it is no hotter than body temperature.
**Coagulation A thick white mass (curds) usually found floating over a pale yellow liquid (whey) or, thickening and souring of the milk indicates high culture activity. When either of these occur at 24 hours fermentation or less, use twice the amount of milk [in step 1] to make your kefir.
Do not consume the first 3 to 5 batches, or until the culture stabilizes to produce a palatable kefir with a clean, sour aroma and flavour. To determine this, first observe for aroma, followed by gently stirring and then sampling a small amount of kefir with a clean spoon at 18 to 24 hours fermentation. Begin to do this from the 3rd batch.
Because the grains may break into smaller pieces within the 1st month, use a sieve with small holes to avoid losing smaller grains when straining. When your grains begin to grow in size, a sieve with larger holes MUST be used, so that straining is efficient, and any thicker curds can easily pass through the mesh.
During activation all or most kefir grains may remain at the bottom of the container during fermentation. This is normal. However, as culture activity increases, some or most grains will float in the milk.
When milk coagulates or thickens at 24 hours or less, use twice the amount of milk in step 1 and keep using that amount. Again, increase the amount of milk by about 1/2 cup say, every 3rd to 5th batch, until you are satisfied with the quantity of kefir you’re making per each batch. Then keep using that amount of milk each time to make your kefir.
If the kefir is very sour, or there’s a lot of coagulation at 24 hours or less fermentation, use only half the amount of grains for the same amount of milk you have been using. Keep removing a small portion of grains as they increase and grow over future batches This is to avoid overcrowding the grains,
Alternatively, if you do not want to reduce the amount of grains you have but you want to make larger volumes of kefir instead, then use double the amount of milk for your kefir making without reducing the amount of culture. Note that this is mostly relevant when the grains begin to propagate [grow]. However, if the culture is very active within the first week or so of activation, and in some cases even before this, then the above applies. Please consider that prominent coagulation is not a bad thing, nor does it impair the quality of the kefir or indicate a problem with your culture. It just happens that the kefir is most likely too sour for some folks to enjoy.
Kefir grains should become pearly white within a few batches and begin to grow within 4 weeks,
When a suitable ratio between grains-to-milk is found to produce kefir to your liking at 24 hours, it is advisable to try and maintain this ratio. This produces a similar kefir each time. It is advantageous to mark the outside of the fermentation jar with a permanent marker, to indicate the amount of grains taken up in the jar [step 1]. Then, as the grains grow in volume over future batches, simply remove that portion of culture that goes above the marker when the grains are put back in the jar in step 1. These excess or spare kefir grains can be dried and kept as a back-up culture.
The above is done about once a week to prevent overcrowding of kefir grains. Otherwise an excessively sour kefir with prominent coagulation occurs at 24 hours or less fermentation.
A ratio of 1 part kefir grains to 7 - 10 parts milk [1:7 - 1:10] by volume, is generally suitable in a moderate temperature environment.
During summer or in a tropical climate, a 1 : 20 ratio is best. Experimentation with ratios to find what works best for you, is highly recommended.
1/4-cup kefir grains with 2-1/2 cups milk is a ratio of 1 : 10 by volume.
Where temperature is 28°C [82°F] and above, it is advisable to culture kefir in the fridge during the heat of the day, and transfer the jar to room temperature when the temperature is cooler, to set overnight ready for straining in the morning. Or brew your kefir in an ice chest with an icepack. Otherwise an excessive sour kefir results, and the grains may suffer irreversible damage due to excessive heat over time.