Can Kefir Be Frozen

Frozen Kefir Grains

Frozen Kefir GrainsCan Kefir Grains Be Frozen?

Kefir grains can be frozen for extended periods of time. Once thawed, they will continue to work. I have done this numerous times. Let's face it, living in Canada, the ability to ship viable grains would cease once winter began. Kefir grains shipped via Canada Post during winter months will almost definitely be frozen at some point on their trip.

Once I froze kefir grains and forgot they were in the freezer. I found them a full year later and put them in milk. The result was delicious kefir!

Can You Freeze Kefir Milk?

Sometimes you want to make a batch of kefir for storage. Or you just have too much on hand and do not want to throw it out. I often make smoothies and freeze the extra for those super busy days when I need to "grab and go".

So I wondered… if I freeze the kefir milk, will I lose the probiotic bacteria and yeast? Will they somehow diminish or die off, thereby negating the good benefits of the kefir?

I am happy to report that this has already been scientifically evaluated and the answer is… yes you can freeze kefir and it will retain the bacterial counts. In fact, in this study (which is a very good read by the way) the author stated "the traditionally produced kefir was shown to have significantly viii (P<0.05) higher counts of bacteria and yeast at each sampling". It was tested at days 0, 7, 14, and 30 of frozen storage.

That means that when you freeze kefir for storage, the probiotic benefits actually INCREASE over time!

Does Kefir Lose Value During Refrigeration?

So what about simple every day cold storage? I keep my ready made kefir in the refrigerator, sometimes for long periods of time. How do the probiotics do in cold storage? This study found that there was no significant loss of probiotic activity after refrigeration.

It is important to note however that these studies found that this was the case only for traditionally made kefir using heirloom kefir grains such as the kefir grains for sale on this site. Kefir manufactured for resale and kefir made with powdered culture lost probiotic benefits over time both in refrigerator and freezer storage!

14 thoughts on “Can Kefir Be Frozen”

  1. I am purchasing kefir starter and fresh raw goats milk from a farmer. this is my first time making Kefir. Can I make small batches and freeze it? I am making it for my dog who has a very sensitive stomach. She is only 9lbs and I only want to give her a tablespoon a day.

    1. Hi Shona You can freeze it. The texture will change- it may become quite watery- but the bacteria remain intact. 🙂
      Kefir Nurse

    1. Hi Paul Buttermilk has a different bacterial profile than kefir. I would not use it to store kefir grains.

      Kefir Nurse

    1. Absolutely! If you put frozen grains in milk, and the make kefir after a few days of recovery, then you know the probiotic vaue has been retained. Otherwise you will end up with sour milk, and you will definitely know! 🙂

      Kefir Nurse

  2. Hi,
    For long term storage of milk kefir grains is it better to dehydrate them or just rinse them, pat them dry and and mix with some powdered milk?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Alina Either way is fine, but to clarify… rinse them, pat them dry, mix with powdered milk and freeze them, or dehydrate. Both have a risk of failure. Frozen grains don’t take as long to come awake. Having said that… you need to define “long term”. Dehydrated grains could stay dormant for year, frozen grains have a high risk of failure after 6 months to a year.

      Kefir Nurse

    1. Hi Teresa I don’t recommend you freeze water kefir grains. For long term storage they are better dehydrated. For milk kefir grains, rinse them gently in fresh clean water. pat them dry a little with a paper towel. Put them in a clean jar or ziplock freezer bag. add a couple of tablespoons of milk powder, and pop in the freezer. 

      Kefir Nurse

  3. Could you let me know how to freeze milk kefir? I am going away for 12 days this summer and 2 months next summer. Results from the kefir I received from you have been delicious Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Carole Thanks for your question!  I wouldn’t freeze the grains for a 12 day vacation. Simply strain them, cover them with fresh milk in a sealed mason jar and place them in the fridge. They will keep like that for up to a month or 2. When you return, strain them and resume your regular recipe. It may take a brew or two to become used to being in the warmth again.

      For a longer vaycay I would prefer dehydration, but you can also simply pack them in milk powder in a ziplock and put them in the freezer. Fuss free storage! 

      Kefir Nurse

  4. hi I got my milk kefir 6 days ago when i got it from the mail its all squish and flat i thought that was normal but until now still squish and flat and nothing is happennimg my milk become sour and liquidy i have been changing my milk everyday and its still the same maybe my grains are dead from shipping …pls help me..mary jane

    1. Hi Mary Jane Thanks for your email. Based on your description, I am not sure something is wrong. I am not concerned about the shape of the grains. Flat or round, if they are making kefir, they are fine. So the questions is… Are they making kefir? In order to know how to answer this question I need a favor from you. I need you to describe exactly what happens to the from the time you put the grains in milk, until you strain the grains 24 hours later. Does it curdle on top? Do the grains float? Does it get clear and watery on the bottom with milk floating on top? Is it bubbling? Does it change color? Please tell me exactly what you see and smell. 

      Thanks,

      Kefir Nurse

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