I bought kefir starter from the refrigerated section of the local health food store. The instructions say to heat it in milk to make kefir, but all of the instructions I'm finding online indicate that if I want to grow them as kefir grains I should rehydrate them on the counter in milk, replacing the milk every 24 hours for 3-7 days.
The problem I'm having is that at the first 24 hour point when I was supposed to replace the milk, I couldn't find the grains in the milk. So I strained the milk through a sterilized cotton t-shirt and am hoping for the best - that the kefir grains are still in the thick white slurry at the bottom of the jar.
Day 2, the new milk smells wonderful like buttermilk and is completely thickened. Again, I strained it through the cloth but can't find the grains. This time I'm just adding new milk in the hopes of not washing the tiny grains out into the milk discard (that I'm fed my chickens on day 1, no wasting of course!)
So the question is, has anyone come across this before? Am I doing something wrong? And when will my grains be big enough to see?
An aside: can I personally drink the discard milk as I rehydrate the grains? I've only heard of feeding it to chickens but don't understand why I couldn't have it when it smells and tastes good.
We have never bought kefir grains before, but we have had kefir grains that appeared to "melt" or "disappear" in the milk (maybe too much milk and too little mature grains?) Try switching the milk at something like 48 hours and not 24. The only real concern is that the grains will consume all the sugars in the milk, but that takes some time.
If this doesn't work, try to get some kefir from a friend or someone in the area. If you can't find anyone, then let me know and we can send you some - we have kefir coming out our ears.
Thanks Justin! I looked into my source further and learned that it's not real kefir grains that I bought, but rather a powdered "starter" that you cook to make a single batch. Kefir grains don't grow from it. I'll see if I can find kefir grains locally, but if not, thanks for your offer to send some! I'll let you know!
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