Milk Kefir Grains

Milk Kefir Grains

Shipping Milk Kefir Grains In Canada

Milk kefir grains require special treatment for shipping to ensure they arrive ready to go to work in their new home. Milk kefir grains can be shipped either partially dehydrated or fresh.

If you want to ready milk kefir grains for shipping, first take about a tablespoon of fresh milk kefir grains. Milk kefir grains look a little like little cauliflower florets. They feel squishy, like soft gummy candies. They can grow to quite a size too. I have seen some the size of my thumb. They tend to work better if they are smaller though (about the size of my baby fingernail) so if they get too big I usually just break them up by squishing them between my fingers.

Put the kefir grains in a plastic or nylon mesh strainer and gently rinse them under cool water. I use water straight from the tap as we have a well that is spring fed. If you are on city or town water where there is chlorine or fluoride added to the water, you should buy bottled water. Chemicals like fluoride and chlorine can damage the grains.

Milk Kefir Grains Rinsed in Water

Next pat the grains dry and then into the dehydrator they go. You are only going to leave them for a couple of hours. You want the outside of the grains to dry, while still leaving the grains active on the inside. They will feel dry to touch, but spongy when squeezed between finger and thumb. When they come out of the dehydrator, they are a yellowish color.

Patially Dried Milk Kefir Grains

I then cover them with dry milk powder to keep them safe during transport. The kefir grains and milk powder should be double bagged in zip lock bags, and placed in a padded envelope for the trip to their new home.

Kefir Grains in Powdered Milk

How To Make Kefir from grains shipped in milk powder

When your grains arrive, you need to try to get them into milk as quickly as possible, so it is a good idea to make sure you have the equipment you will need. Really, what you need is very minimal.

  • A glass or ceramic or porcelain vessel to hold your milk. (I just use a mason jar)
  • A plastic or nylon mesh strainer
  • A coffee filter, paper towel or light cloth and something to secure it with. (coffee filter and mason jar metal ring is my stand by) 
  • Milk (full fat milk or even half milk half cream gives the thickest kefir) 
  • Your kefir grains that have been packaged in powdered milk

Kefir Making Equipment

Method – 

DO NOT RINSE- There is no need to rinse off the milk powder as they were rinsed prior to drying! Just place them in the jar, milk powder and all, and add only 1/4- 1/2 cup of milk changed every day until the grains are culturing. This could take up to 10 days but usually only takes a few days. Cover them with coffee filter (or whatever you gathered as above) and secure. Change the milk every 24 hours.

Set somewhere not too warm or cold. Check every few hours or so and stir or gently shake. If your product is fermented in 24 hours you can strain the grains and use 2 cups of milk. The general rule of thumb once your grains are re-hydrated is 1 tablespoon of grains for 2-3 cups of milk. NOTE: I used to recommend 1 tablespoon per 1-2 cups like everyone else on the internet, but after reviewing the scientific data, it appears that the grains grow faster and stay healthier in MORE milk! So I now put my grains in more milk. 

What To Expect-

They may have frozen… this is ok! 

The grains will probably smell like sour milk. They often smell like baby spit! (yummy sounding eh?? ) teehee 

The first few brews could smell yeasty, or sour. They could be frothy or fizzy or bubbly. All of these things are quite normal. The grains come to life in different stages… some bacteria and yeast activate faster than others and they need to find their balance again. 

Change the milk every 24 hours and expect a proper fermentation in 2 to as many as 7 days! PATIENCE! 

How To Make Kefir From Fresh Live Grains

and see video below so you can see just how easy it is.

  • DO NOT RINSE the grains! No matter what anyone tells you, do not do it. The only time the grains need to be rinsed is if you are drying and storing them, you dropped them on the floor, or the dog licked them! 
  • Put your grains in a glass jar
  • add milk  (1 TBSP of grains for 1-2 cups of milk)
  • cover loosely, and walk away.
  • stir or gently shake once in a while
  • 12-24 hours strain off the grains. You now have kefir. Use the grains to start again.
  • OPTIONAL- After I strain off the milk kefir grains, I like to put the kefir in a lidded jar and refrigerate for a couple of days. This “second ferment” is an optional step that will increase the fizziness of your kefir, and cause it to thicken more. I like the taste much better… it becomes ‘tangy’ rather than ‘sour’. 

Milk Kefir Tips:

Milk grains often pick right up and culture the first or second batch perfectly, but they can take up to a week to recover from the trip. They get used to a certain food, and milk varies by region, so they sometimes need time to adjust.

Here in Canada, my kefir is thicker and more viscous… quite like a thick cream, in the summer! In the winter, it is thinner. 

Culturing your kefir in the fridge will slow down the fermentation. When I get too much ahead I just put my new batch in the fridge with the grains in it. 

If your kefir thickens to curds and separates with a clear yellow fluid on the bottom (whey) you can still drink it. Just stir the whey in before you strain the grains. Your kefir will be much more sour though. You can also strain off the whey and use the curds as cream cheese (just add a little salt) Use the whey for bread making, in smoothies, or as liquid in baking. If you don’t want the curds and whey next time, culture less time or use less grains.

I don’t like the taste of milk kefir plain. I find it has a yeastier taste than yogurt. (I don’t like plain yogurt either though!) Just kefir, strawberries and vanilla protein powder makes the best strawberry milkshake I have ever had! If you don’t care for your kefir, it doesn’t take much to make it delicious! I think it is well worth the experimentation to find some blend that you like. The health benefits are well documented!  

Here’s a little video from Tammy over at Tammy’s Recipes (dotcom) showing just how easy it is to make milk kefir. Tammy’s kefir is very thick as you can see in the video. My kefir is like that in the summer when I use milk mixed with cream. Tammy uses full fat milk for her kefir (I think…. ).


Find out more about the history of kefir on Wikipedia.

38 thoughts on “Milk Kefir Grains”

  1. I would like to order Milk Kefir. How long does it take to receive an order to British Columbia and where is it shipped from please.

    1. Hi Richard Thanks for your query. It takes about a week to 10 days – shipped by Canada Post

      Kefir Nurse

  2. Hi my kefir grains arrived about a week ago and I have been tending to them daily. I use raw milk normally but put the grains in store bought for the first week to acclimatize them. Now they are working on some delicious guernsey milk so I hope to get a nice thick kefir. The information you provided is clear and the comments and responses helped me ease into making my own kefir.

  3. Hi, I got my grains about a week ago and they seemed to start working right away, ie I got a tasty fermented product after 24 hours and each time after that. I don’t really see them growing much but I think they are doing what they are supposed to do. Thanks.

    1. Hi Dale Milk kefir grains grow very slow compared to water kefir. They only double once a week or even longer… and they still need some time to get acclimatized to their new conditions, so they may not start growing right away. So glad you got them and are enjoying tasty kefir!

      Kefir Nurse

  4. Hello, I would like to buy the milk kefir grains, but I’m just wondering how healthy the kefir is when made with store bough pasteurized milk. I currently make my own coconut milk, I stay away from “regular” milk. I realize Water Kefir is also an option, but would be nice to make milk as well.


    1. Hi Petra Thanks for your email. There is lots of info on this site about the health of kefir. Let me know if you have other questions.

      Kefir Nurse

  5. Hello, I would like to know if I can use milk kefir with water instead milk, please. If not, do you sell water kefir as well? Thank you very much, Mariangela

  6. I just bought some grains from you, and have a question. During the first days to wake up the kefir, what do you do with the half cup of milk you change every 24 hours? Seems like a lot of wastage.

    1. Hi Kelsey- You will discard the milk until you are making kefir. The bacteria will be imbalanced for the first few days.

      Kefir Nurse

  7. Thank you again for the speedy reply. Yes I do believe that it could be a change in temperature because of the season change. I live in the North of Canada and it is very difficult to anyone with Kefir grains. Thank you for your time. Sincerely sastified

  8. Thank you Kefir Nurse with the swift response. The changes that occurred was the milk kefir was not producing any change in the milk. I have not change the type of milk I use, the place, the temp or lighting. The only change I can think of is that I did not wash out the glass jar from the time the milk kefir was made last. Would using a metal (stainless steel) strainer possibly cause the kefir to stop producing? Thank you for your your info.

    1. Hi Damase It is possible that the stainless steel strainer has some zinc or tin in it and could adversely affect the grains. But there is no way that should be a permanent thing. They may just be stunned. it is also possible that they are adjusting to the change of seasons. Grains are sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity etc and I have noticed that certain times of the years they produce less, or grow much more slowly. As long as it doesn’t smell horribly off, I am sure this is a temporary cycle and they will be back to serving you very soon!

      kefir Nurse

  9. Hi there, my kefir milk grains have been doing great for the past year however it has been 4 days where nothing is happening. I have rinsed them out with fresh milk and still nothing is happening. No colour or odor changes has been noted. Am I giving you enough info to render a cause? Any help is gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hello Damase Thank you for your email. It is not possible to know unless I know what has changed. As a suggestion, you might try to put a little milk on them and put them in the fridge for 3 days to a week or so, then take them out and try to make kefir again. The refrigeration will cause them to go dormant and have a little rest. Then when you resume, if they are going to recover it could take another 3 days to a week, just like when you first got them. 

      Let us know what works!

      Kefir Nurse

  10. Hi Kefir Nurse,
    I recently purchased some dehydrated milk kefir grains from Cultures for Health online (quite expensive) and have been trying to activate them for nearly a month, they just won’t thicken or make my longed for kifer. What am I doing wrong? I have been following the instructions to a tee. I live in Vancouver and the temperatures have been a little low lately, do they need more warmth to activate? I have been leaving them in my counter in room temperature. Please help as I don’t want to spend more money in sending for new ones.

    1. Hello Soledad Thanks for your email. It is impossible for me to know what’s wrong with such a small amount of info. 🙁 The first question that comes to mind is- did you buy starter culture? Or Kefir grains? The best thing to do would be to contact Cultures for Health. They would be better able to help OR give me some more info… what did you buy, what instructions came with them, what does it look like, smell like. Like that and I will for sure help if I can! 

      Kefir Nurse

  11. I am trying my first go at kefir. I ordered my grains online. They seem to be active but my kefir seperates into curds and whey and smells like rotten milk sometimes less than 24 hours. I put it in a less warm spot thinking it was over culturing if it was perhaps too warm. I finally got a thin batch that soft separate and smelled nice and yeasty, rather than like foul milk. And that curdles in the fridge overnight even though I had strained the grains and put them into a new jar with fresh milk on the counter. Why would my kefir keep curdling? Help!!

    1. Hi Shari Thanks so much for your email. I don’t know how long ago you got your grains so my answer might be different if you JUST got them. It sounds like you just need to culture for a shorter time or add more milk (or both). What you have there are some very potent active probiotic bacteria. Indeed they are over culturing. This is not a bad thing! It means MORE kefir! YAY! 

      Kefir Nurse

    1. I can’t see any reason to use a dehydrator to make kefir. Unless perhaps the idea is to keep it a little warmer than your kitchen? It is possible that yogurt, and powdered kefir cultures work better in a dehydrator which, because of the heat, will provide an incubator-like environment, but for the live grains we sell on this site, NO dehydrator needed or recommended! 

      Kefir Nurse

  12. Hi there, my kefir milk grains have been doing great these past few weeks but I happened to leave it in the fridge for approximately a week (or perhaps more) and have now realised some of the grains have a green bacteria growing on them. How can I treat the kefir? I can only find rehabilitation info on water kefir grains (applying sugar water) – but I’m not sure it’s the same for milk kefir.

    1. If they are growing green mold it is likely they’ve sat for a very long time. Either that, or have been cross contaminated with something.

      Put them in a plastic strainer. gently rinse them with cool water. put them in a small bowl and cover them with a little milk. Wash and rinse your hands well. Now lightly massage the grains in the milk to clean off any problems. strain them and rinse with a little more fresh milk. 

      Now put them in a sterilized jar and begin making kefir anew. If they grow green mold again, throw them out and start over. 

      They should be fine though.

      Kefir Nurse

    1. Hi Jennifer… NOTHING is wrong! That is the infamous kefiran at work! That is the consistency everyone else is looking for! Your kefir is very healthy! 

  13. I have some MK grains that have been in use for at least 3 months. I am wondering if you know why they won’t multiply? I have put them in Half and Half, Heavy whipping cream and regular milk, but they do not multiply. Is there such a thing as grains that don’t multiply? They make great MK and I use it daily, but would really like for them to multiply so I can have a back up if something goes wrong with them. Any help is gratefully appreciated. Thanks!!
    Great information here by the way.

    1. Hi Sharon Thanks for your question. Sometimes MK won’t multiply under certain conditions but will start later. Here are some things that could help. First, stick to the same kind of milk. Don’t rinse them between batches. Try coating them with powdered milk before adding your milk. This gives them extra food. Make sure they are in an even temperature area, not too warm or cold. If you don’t mind missing out on a couple of batches of drinkable kefir, change the milk after it has separated into curds and whey… like change milk only every 3 or 4 days for a couple of weeks. Try these things and let me know how you make out! 🙂

      Kefir Nurse

  14. Just finished my first batch of milk kefir and think it turned out well. I’m just wondering the best way to flavour it – I’ve never really liked plain kefir or yogurt either. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jacqui I am not real fond of plain kefir or yogurt either! I don't know if there is a "best" way as it is really a matter of personal taste. My favorite way is to use my kefir in my morning smoothie. Something as simple as kefir, strawberries and a little honey is delicious to me! But you never know what might make its way into my blender to keep my kefir company! 

      Kefir Nurse

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