1. Place kefir grains in a jar with milk, cover and set on cabinet to ferment (varies but about 12-18 hours). When it starts to thicken put it in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours to finish the ferment. It gets thicker than if you leave it on the counter the entire time.
2. Before using, remove the grains with a spoon. They will be on top of the kefir as pictured below.
2. Place grains in a new jar of milk and leave on the counter to ferment as above.
3. Stir the kefir you removed the grains from and use as desired, Cover and keep refrigerated once fermented.
If the whey (clear liquid) separates from the thickened milk it will be a lot more tart. If you don’t want it to be tart don’t let it set as long. The temperature will affect how quickly it ferments. Cooler temps take longer. Warmer temps are a lot faster. I usually leave it on the counter about 12 hours and then put it in the fridge when it starts to thicken to finish fermenting (about 12 more hours). This results in it being thicker and less tart.
To ferment, I use a wide mouth quart jar and fill it 2/3 full. (Any jar is fine it is just easier to lift out the grains with a wide mouth jar.) That is enough to last us 2-3 days. The longer you go without feeding the grains the longer they take to ferment. I have gone up to 10 days without using and they were still good.
You can mix in juice, fruits, etc in a blender with the kefir to make a smoothie. These are just for flavoring. I use a stick mixer with a blade but a blender would work as well to make smoothies with orange juice and bananas or strawberries. Some people like to blend ice into it as well. I make it at night and put it in the fridge to get a second ferment but that is not necessary. You can make it without a blender it but the texture is chunky.
My typical recipe is
1 C kefir,
1 C orange juice
You can use just banana or just OJ or any other fruit. You can also do green smoothies. I don’t. The other stuff is just for flavor and added nutrients.
The yogurt looking pieces are the beginnings of new grains. The soft cottage cheese looking pieces in the kefir are older versions of the baby grains. You can save them to grow new grains or mix them into the kefir. I only keep them when I want to grow new ones to give away. Mature grains are solid and rubbery. Most websites will tell you to strain the kefir with a mess strainer to remove the grains. It takes a very long time so I use the stainless steel spoon to lift them out a discussed above. I have been doing it this way for months with no problems.