on April 23, 2013
at 12:43 AM
You can buy grains and have them mailed to you on eBay and Amazon, look on your local Craigslist or ask on Freecycle. I got a good deal on Kefir grains, $6 from an Amazon seller including postage and the have been good, vigorous grains which are going strong 1 year later. Money well spent, plus I've shared my extra grains with many people.
I don't know what the starter kit you're referring to is. If it's a powdered kefir starter (vs. a living "grain") it will only work for one batch or so. I make a batch DAILY with my grains. They took a few days to get started from the frozen grains I received in the mail, but once they got going they've been going gangbusters since.
My kefir grains double every week, so you can give the extra away, eat them, compost them, etc. I use more grains in the winter when the fermentation is slower because my kitchen is cold, during the summer I keep the "population" small.
And you don't need any fancy equipment, either. Here's all I use: 1 Quart-sized canning jar with lid. 1 pint sized canning jar with a piece of clean cloth over the top, one small strainer (fits over the mouth of the Quart sized jar), one small spatula. You can get the strainer and spatula at the Dollar store, canning jars can be repurposed from your pantry (use a spaghetti sauce jar and a big jam jar, for example). They say you are not supposed to use metal with kefir, and my strainer is nylon and my spatula is plastic, but I don't think it really matters as the contact with the kefir is pretty brief. The concern is that prolonged exposure to metals might leech metal into the kefir because the acids in the kefir react to certain metals.
I put milk and grains in the smaller jar, cover with a cloth, and let it sit at room temperature until the whey starts separating from the grains. Then I strain into the larger jar which collects the kefir I make in and stores it in the fridge for drinking. About every week, I replace these jars with clean jars and use the dishwasher to sterilize the used jars.
It's really easy, not rocket science!