Well, what's been happening is that the milk is definitely turning into something else, but I'm not sure what. There is absolutely no smell or taste of what I would call "sour milk", that is, milk that's gone bad (yes I did, after sniffing it, cautiously taste it); it smells and tastes tangy and "yogurty". I actually find it quite delicious. Every 8-12 hours I give it new milk, and I've been happily drinking the "old" milk, which is tangy but not too tart, and mildly fizzy. It does remain quite liquid, though; it hasn't ever really thickened into what I understand kefir texture is supposed to be.
So, any thoughts about what might be going on with my Lazarus grains here? Any advice about how to continue? Any help for this newbie would be much appreciated!
Your best bet is to go to the library and check out a copy of Katz's Art of Fermenation or better still, Natural Cheesemakingby Asher. They know so much more than I do. Asher makes almost all his cheese with kefir! He has a whole chapter devoted to it.
Failing that, here's what I've had success doing.
Get some good quality, hopefully organic, not-high pasteurized milk.
Per 1 tsp of kefir grains
2 cups of milk.
Combine kefir and milk, mix every few hours when you remember. Keep at room temp, where you see it and remember it.
After 2 days, strain. Keep the grains, toss the liquid, add 2 more cups of milk.
Repeat, changing the milk every 2 days until your kefir becomes thick and happy.
It may take a week or so, but so long as your grains aren't getting smaller, you're on the right track.
White fuzzy mold is fine, black mold is a sing to toss the whole thing and get new grains.
These are the instructions (paraphrased) that the shop I got my kefir gave me. It's worked really well for restoring old grains.
Any more questions, feel free to ask.
Brad -- Be brave!
I never even thought of having to know how much grains I'm working with. It's kind of hard to figure, because they are in 3-4 largish clumps, but I guesstimate about a tablespoon. I've been pouring 1-2 cups of milk on that -- so you say it should be closer to about 6 cups
Hmmm, that's a good question.
The theory I've read says yes, it should be more milk. My experience suggests it's not so important. How about this. Put the largest of the lumps in about 1/4 cup of milk in the back of the fridge and ignore it for now. With the rest, try the 2 cups. Maybe change every day or every two days as you desire.
When I revive my forgotten lumps, it usually takes several changes of milk. I'm pretty lazy so I usually change mine less often than the books suggest. My instinct is that when waking up the grains, it helps to wait longer before changing the milk.
The liquid should be safe for consumption. I think it tastes pretty chalky when reviving my grains (but yours may taste different as you have different milk and different grains).
As for mold, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Keifer contains in it several different kinds of beneficial molds (mostly the kinds used to make cheese, like that white fuzzy coat on the outside of brie). Black mold is usually your deadly mold, so look out for that, but white and blue mold can be quite alright (use your best judgment of course).
There are thousands of 'correct' ways to do this. It might be worth splitting your grains into a couple of batches, try one one way and another a different way. See what works best for you.
http://durgan.org/2016/April%202016/22%20April%202016%20Kefir/HTML/ 22 April 2016 Kefir
I had three batches of kefir fermenting and getting too much ahead. The three jars were strained and the grain all mixed in one jar, milk added for food, and stored in the refrigerator until needed for a new batch. This will be my seed grains for all future batches. It appears about half a liter per day will meet my requirements. The grains will be a mixture of some from a local supplier and some from a commercial supplier.
http://durgan.org/2016/April%202016/15%20April%20Kefir%20From%20Grains/HTML/ 15 April 2016 Kefir From Grains
A tablespoon of kefir grains was purchased for $5.00 from a seller off KIJIJI in Kitchener. Apparently these grains are older than God, and will be used for my future seed to make kefir. Milk was added and they were fermented at 25 C for about 20 hours when separation of whey began. The whey was siphoned off and the solid material (kefir) strained to make a drink. The whey was drank. The grains were removed and used to start another batch. Pictures depict the simple process.