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Making milk kefir from OLD grains  RSS feed

 
Beyla Wayne
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Hi everyone, I am new to Permies, and pretty new at fermentation. So, about a year ago I was given some kefir grains in a small jar of milk. It happened to be a very complicated time in my life, and they got put into the fridge where they migrated to the back and got forgotten about. Every so often I would spot them, think "I should do something with those", and then forget about them again. Well, about a week ago they surfaced again and I was just going to chuck them into the compost. When I opened the jar, I was expecting a really putrid rotten milk odor, but to my surprise there wasn't much odor at all. It smelled a little tangy, maybe a little yeasty, and not unpleasant at all. So I decided, what the heck, I would put it into some fresh milk, leave it on the counter, and see what happened.
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!
Thanks,
Beyla
 
r ranson
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Please don't chuck them. I think I can help you revive them. Give me a few hours to deal with something on the farm. I'll tell you more tonight!
 
Brad Wilson
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This is so us! My wife made kefir at the end of last year and we still have a sorry-looking jar of kefir. Haven't dared to look inside recently, but we'll be very interested to see whether they can be revived.
 
r ranson
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The theory is, if the kefir grains are still grainy (not melted) and they don't smell horrid, one can in theory revive them.

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
use
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.
 
Beyla Wayne
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R Ranson, Thank you so much for getting back to me (especially since you sound like you have a super-busy life!). I am actually reading "The Art of Fermentation" now, and will definitely check out the cheesemaking book. It sounds like I am doing sort of what you say to be doing. 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? Also, I've been changing it more like every half day instead of every 2 days, maybe that's why it hasn't thickened; I just haven't been giving it long enough. I will try that. And the stirring, which it never occurred to me to do. I think the grains might actually be growing, they certainly aren't getting smaller. One thing that's changing, when I first took them out of the jar a week ago they looked yellow and rubbery, then as I kept changing the milk I noticed that they started looking like they were getting coated with white softish curdy looking stuff.. I'm hoping that means that they are getting healthier? that they are getting what they need from the milk to make themselves less naked? maybe? What is certain, though, is that there is no sign of mold at all, and it continues to smell good and to taste delicious. I will definitely continue working with it. Just one question: when you say "toss the liquid" do you just mean don't use it again in the kefir, or do you mean it is actually not safe for consumption? Again, thank you so much for taking the time to help me out!

Brad -- Be brave!

Cheers,
Beyla
 
r ranson
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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.
 
Beyla Wayne
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"There are thousands of 'correct' ways to do this. " That's what I love about this! That there are so many ways to be right. That there's not just one perfect way, and everything else is a failure. Experimentation is good! In the meantime, I'm glad you confirmed that the product I'm getting now is safe to drink (it'd be a bit late now to find out that it wasn't, since I've been drinking it for over a week now.) As I've said, I find it delicious, and as a matter of fact, I'm finding it hard to resist the temptation to guzzle it every time I uncover it to stir it. Waiting two days will be hard!
 
r ranson
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Hm, I'm wondering if I'm leaving mine to ferment too long. Mine has a bit of a yeasty taste to it which I don't like. I'll have to try a shorter ferment and see what it's like.
 
Beyla Wayne
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Huh! Let me know.
 
James D Young
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Location: Brantford, ON Canada
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I make a batch of kefir daily. A tablespoon of grains some whole homogenized milk temperature 25C and every morning I have a new batch. A tablespoon of grains from the previous batch seeds the new batch.

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.


 
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