2

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Why kefir grains and not starter?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 30, 2011 at 10:46 PM

A family member recently bought some kefir to aid intestinal distress. Of course, the only kefir you can get at my store is low fat. In the past, I used to make yogurt out of half and half, and I thought I'd do the same with kefir. Only, when I looked up instructions, it turns out you don't make it the same way, you use special grains, and also you don't have to heat the milk.

Well, I didn't have grains, and so I decided to try making it (almost) as if it were yogurt. I stirred a little kefir into some cold cream and put it in a jar behind my crock pot, which was putting off a gentle heat from the stock I was making. Sure enough, in the morning, I had some beautiful creamy... well, yogurt? It was thick like yogurt, mild tasting, and an instant hit.

My questions are, why don't people usually make kefir this way? What is the advantage of using grains? Is what I made kefir or yogurt? And also, does this imply yogurt would work fine without heating the cream first?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 05, 2011
at 03:48 AM

That's an interesting idea, too. I have to restart because I accidentally left my last batch so long that I got very sour curds and whey, so I don't know.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 01, 2011
at 01:12 AM

yeah, so if it keeps inoculating the next batch, soon you will start to see the grains growing on the bottom. those guys replicate fast, so you might have some to give away soon, too. or, just throw them out. no big thing. yogurt cultures are JUST bacteria, so they dont form en masse or anything so much. kefir grains are made up of all kinds of crazy things aside from bacteria that make them sorta big.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 01, 2011
at 12:19 AM

Interesting that yogurt doesn't develop grains.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 01, 2011
at 12:18 AM

Oh, cool! So I will make my own grains this way. That's excellent.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:52 PM

think like yogurt- its not the YOGURT that does the culturing, its the bacteria in the yogurt. so, whether youre using dehydrated bacteria, or some yogurt from the store, you get the same end result. whats making the kefir is the kefir grains. if you ahve kefir, it contains the kefir grains, whether you can SEE them or not. thats what kefir is. i guarantee that if what you made IS in face kefir, that you will soon have visible grains.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:46 PM

no i know you did. and im saying that if it keeps going, the grains will just form on their own. then you will be using grains to inoculate the next batch and the next and the next and the grains will multiply. IF it keeps going. same with kombucha- you can start it from a bottle of kombucha, but if you keep it going, you will get a scoby.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:31 PM

I always wondered if you could make kefir from kefir. I mean, I figured out how to make kombucha from a bottle of kombucha...

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:25 PM

But I didn't use grains at all, I just used about a quarter cup of liquid kefir!

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5 Answers

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3
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:14 PM

i think people often make kefir this way- you just start the new batch from the old batch. the grains will mulitiply as you make it until youre overloaded with them, and at that point you can save them, toss them out or give them away to someone else.

i dont really understand what you mean by your second question. kefir grains are the only way to make kefir. i think you will find, if you keep this batch going, that you will have a bunch of kefir grains at the bottom of the container. thats what you use for the next batch and the next and so on. if the kefir you used to inoculate the cream was heavily pasteurized, it might not make more than one batch. you can get the grains anywhere- cultures for health has them for sale, but you have to activate them which can be time consuming and waste a lot of milk, or you can get them from a friend who makes kefir. ive even seen them for sale on etsy!

i dont know if you made yogurt or kefir. im guessing kefir, since that is what you inoculated the cream with. time will tell!

different cultures work at different temperatures. i use a yogurt culture that cultures at 70-78 degrees so i can just leave it on the counter top in a mason jar overnight in summer, and in winter it takes a couple of days in my oven with just the light on. i used to use a culture that required being at 180 degrees overnight. it was, frankly, a pain in the ass.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:46 PM

no i know you did. and im saying that if it keeps going, the grains will just form on their own. then you will be using grains to inoculate the next batch and the next and the next and the grains will multiply. IF it keeps going. same with kombucha- you can start it from a bottle of kombucha, but if you keep it going, you will get a scoby.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 01, 2011
at 01:12 AM

yeah, so if it keeps inoculating the next batch, soon you will start to see the grains growing on the bottom. those guys replicate fast, so you might have some to give away soon, too. or, just throw them out. no big thing. yogurt cultures are JUST bacteria, so they dont form en masse or anything so much. kefir grains are made up of all kinds of crazy things aside from bacteria that make them sorta big.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:52 PM

think like yogurt- its not the YOGURT that does the culturing, its the bacteria in the yogurt. so, whether youre using dehydrated bacteria, or some yogurt from the store, you get the same end result. whats making the kefir is the kefir grains. if you ahve kefir, it contains the kefir grains, whether you can SEE them or not. thats what kefir is. i guarantee that if what you made IS in face kefir, that you will soon have visible grains.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 01, 2011
at 12:19 AM

Interesting that yogurt doesn't develop grains.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:31 PM

I always wondered if you could make kefir from kefir. I mean, I figured out how to make kombucha from a bottle of kombucha...

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on June 30, 2011
at 11:25 PM

But I didn't use grains at all, I just used about a quarter cup of liquid kefir!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 01, 2011
at 12:18 AM

Oh, cool! So I will make my own grains this way. That's excellent.

3
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on July 04, 2011
at 05:33 PM

What you did makes sense but in the kefir/fermentation classes I have taken they state clearly that kefir is different from yogurt in that you cannot make it from a former batch or purchased kefir. You must start with grains. No one ever offered explanation as to why this is the case so I don't know for certain. I know kefir using very different bacteria than yogurt but I am guessing it's the yeast component (kefir grains are bacteria and yeast) that doesn't transfer so effectively you may be making a kind of yogurt when starting with store bought or a kefir finished product of some sort.

I'd be interested to see if grains actually do form in your concoction. Seems to me if they did they all these supposed experts are nuts, lol.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 05, 2011
at 03:48 AM

That's an interesting idea, too. I have to restart because I accidentally left my last batch so long that I got very sour curds and whey, so I don't know.

1
8d454fc50d6d58643d6f8b0d1e7ea8ea

on October 18, 2011
at 02:25 PM

From what I've read, if you make kefir using kefir, there's a good chance that the bacteria will peter out after about 6 innoculations (at least that's what the box of dried kefir starter says). As for growing grains from kefir, Wikipedia says "kefir grains cannot be produced from scratch, but the grains grow during fermentation, and additional grains are produced" but I'm wondering where kefir grains come from...unless they are all grown from the original kefir grain from the Caucasus mountains (which came from...?)?

I've made kefir using both dried starter and grains and the dried starter had a much better flavor and texture. The grains do multiply fast, and they seem to need a whole lot of milk, and you have to give them fresh milk every 24 hours. I got a palatable result once out of many, many innoculations, but I do plan to give it another go sometime. Meanwhile I've let my grains dry out and am back to yogurt.

A really good source on all things kefir is http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html and my source for grains was http://www.kefirlady.com/, just in case you're interested.

1
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on October 18, 2011
at 01:18 PM

Kefir grains are beneficial bacteria living in a symbiotic relationship with beneficial yeast. So when you make kefir using grains your kefir will have both the bacteria and yeast in it.

From what I have read kefir grains have about 30 to 40 different types of beneficial bacteria.

If you used store bought kefir as a "starter" you most likely only had about 10 strains of beneficial bacteria and no beneficial yeast in your culture. The yeast is not added to commercial store bought kefir to prevent the production of alcohol from what I understand.

So your homemade kefir is probably more like yogurt than true kefir.

0
Be8e882e66a1c0924b4b3f3e1ae1f851

on July 09, 2014
at 11:02 AM

store bought kefir is a probiotic drink made from a mix of bacteria and yeast (3-10 strains @ 2 billion cfu per gram) to give it a kefir like flavor but isn't true kefir, and only has a fraction of the bacteria and yeast strains of kefir grown from actual kefir grains. You can usually propagate a culture started from store bought kefir for up to 6 batches before it becomes predominantly a single strain due to competitive inhibition between the strains. At that point it will pretty much just be a yogurt. True milk kefir grains are symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast (30-50 strains @ 5 billion cfu per gram), so they actually developed to live and thrive together supporting each other and do so in the body as well. True kefir grown from grains is far superior, but the stuff grown from packets or store bought is still pretty darn good for you. You can always enjoy them both! :-) Cheers.

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