Can Kefir Be Frozen

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!

Taking a Break- A Kefir Vacation

A Water Kefir Vacation

Storing Kefir Grains When On VacationSometimes looking after your kefir grains can seem a little like having a pet! They need to be fed and watered, and kept in a warm place. What happens when you want to take a break from making kefir? Do you have to get a babysitter? Thankfully, the answer is no.  There are several ways that you can keep your grains safe and store them for a week, a month, or even up to a year! 

Scenario #1– You are going away for a week or so, and want to make sure your grains stay healthy until you can get back to your routine. It is really easy to store your grains for a short break. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with a cup of water in a glass jar with your grains. Put the cover on the jar and place it in the refrigerator. That's all there is to it!

Your grains will ferment and grow much more slowly in the refrigerator and they have enough food for a week. In fact, they will likely be fine for a month or two like this.  When you return home, and are ready to start making water kefir again, simply dig out your old recipe and carry on. The first batch may not be up to standard but it will not take long until they are up to speed. 

Scenario #2– You are really excited about being a Canadian snowbird this winter! From the first of January until the end of March you plan to be laying on the white sandy beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. How can you keep your kefir grains healthy if they won't be fed for 3 months? Is storing kefir grains for longer than a week very difficult?

There is an easy solution here too! Freeze them! Your water kefir grains will last for a short time- 3-6 months at a time, in the freezer. Take 3 tablespoons of water kefir grains and put them in a ziplock bag. Then put the closed bag in a container and place in the freezer. When you want to start making kefir water again, simply take them from the freezer and allow them to defrost at room temperature. Then make kefir as usual. As above, it may take a batch or two to get your usual batch of kefir because they have been dormant for a bit.

Scenario #3– You are tired of kefir and don't know when you may want to make it again, but you want to keep some water kefir grains in case you want to start up again at a later date. In situations where you do not know how long it will be until you make kefir again, the best thing to do is to dehydrate some grains. You will need a dehydrator so if you don't have one, perhaps you could borrow one from a friend. Place some grains in a single layer in your dehydrator, set the temperature at the lowest setting (if it has a temperature guage) and leave until the grains are completely dry. Then place in a clean dry jar, cover the jar tightly and put it in the fridge.


The grains can keep up to a year like this.  So there you have it. If you need to take a vacation from water kefir making there are several ways to ensure you have healthy grains to continue getting good quality probiotics.  At this moment I have grains in the refrigerator in sugar water, grains dehydrated in a jar AND grains in the freezer. I want to make sure I have some back up in case anything happens to the batch I am currently brewing with.