Thinking about making your own probiotic kefir? Or perhaps you already have kefir grains and are wondering how many times you can use them!
Either way, it’s an important question as you don’t want to use kefir grains that are no longer fit for use. Kefir grains are supposed to be healthy, after all, and are one of the most nutritious grains you can include in your diet.
The simple answer is that you can reuse kefir grains indefinitely. However, this depends on how well the kefir grains are kept and looked after.
So for more information on kefir grains, including how to reculture kefir grains and when to replace kefir grains, keep reading for everything you need to know.
What Are Kefir Grains Exactly?
Kefir grains are gelatinous, sticky grains that look like cauliflower clusters. They are composed of living yeast and bacteria and have been around for thousands of years as a food source and ingredient for making kefir – a nutritious probiotic drink.
In fact, that’s what kefir grains are most used for today. Probiotic kefir is easy to make and offers a host of benefits, which include improving gut health and digestion, bone health, organ health, and more.
The living microorganisms (yeast and bacteria) in kefir grains are fermented and activated when put in milk or water. This is how to produce kefir: a creamy, tangy beverage that’s full of nutritious probiotic content that’s good for general health.
Can Kefir Grains Be Reused?
If you have kefir grains, you’ll be glad to know that they can be reused. Kefir grains are a living culture, after all, so they can be reused as long as they are properly cared for. Always remember that kefir grains are living things!
Looking after kefir grains is also known as reculturing, which means looking after the kefir grains in a way to encourage their health and multiplication. This includes keeping them at an optimal temperature, feeding them, and more.
With good care and optimal conditions, kefir grains can stay alive and last indefinitely for years, even decades, at a time.
How Many Times Can You Reuse Kefir Grains?
You can reuse kefir grains indefinitely. This will come as good news if you own kefir grains, but this will depend on how well you take care of them.
With each batch of kefir you ferment and activate, the grains will continue to grow and multiply, eventually producing enough grains to be used to make larger batches of kefir.
The exact number of times that kefir grains can be reused may vary depending on a number of factors, including the quality of the grains, the care they receive, and the conditions in which they are stored.
Some kefir enthusiasts claim to use the same kefir grains for years, while others find that their grains lose vitality or become contaminated after a few months.
In general, kefir grains can be reused for as long as they remain healthy!
When To Replace Kefir Grains?
If you suspect that your kefir grains may not be as effective due to taste, small, or consistency (or, admittedly, a lack of care), it is a good idea to replace them with fresh, healthy grains to ensure the quality and safety of the kefir you’re making.
Typically, kefir grains can last for two to three months without proper care. In this case, they can be revived, however, by separating them from the old milk, rinsing them, and placing them in new milk.
Signs that kefir grains may need to be replaced include a loss of activity, mold or other contamination, or a change in the flavor or consistency of the kefir.
How To Take Care Of Kefir Grains
If you want your kefir grains to last as long as possible, it’s important to know all the best ways to look after them to keep them healthy and active.
The most important way is to keep them at an optimal temperature. Cold temperatures will make the kefir grains slow to culture and multiply while hot temperatures will put stress on the microorganisms, which can cause them to die.
The rule of thumb is to keep kefir grains at a temperature of between 68 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and away from direct sunlight.
You’ll also need to feed and nourish the kefir grains with dairy milk, or coconut milk if you prefer non-dairy kefir. Ideally this should be done every 24 hours.
Lastly, once the kefir grains grow in size, it’s recommended to separate the grains into smaller pieces so that the grains can nourish and thrive properly.
When fermenting, it’s also a good idea to lightly shake them around to make sure the milk is getting to all the grains.
How To Use Kefir Grains
Using kefir grains to make kefir is, thankfully, a straightforward process. First you’ll need to obtain kefir grains from a reputable health store or obtain them from someone who already has them.
The next step is to simply add milk. Most kefir grain users use straight from the refrigerator, after which they’ll stir in the milk before letting it ferment.
In general, kefir grains take 12 to 14 hours to ferment and form. The longer the kefir grains ferment, the tangier the taste will be.
After this process, simply strain the liquid mixture (kefir) from the kefir grains and repeat. Although dairy milk is recommended, you can also use non-dairy milk to make coconut kefir or even almond milk kefir.
The Benefits Of Kefir Grains
Kefir grains have a number of benefits. The most common benefit of kefir grains is their probiotic properties as a beneficial bacteria that can help digestion and improve overall gut health.
Kefir grains are also rich in common essential nutrients, such as calcium, protein, and B vitamins.
On top of that, kefir grains are considered to improve general immune health, as well as anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Consuming kefir grains can not only improve bone health and muscle health, but also organ health.
As for nutritional value, kefir grains are also low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, as well as low in lactose.
This makes non-dairy kefir made from kefir grains a great substitute for people with lactose intolerance, helping to prevent negative symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating, excessive gas, nausea, vomiting, and more.
To summarize, kefir grains can be reused – something you’ll be glad to know if you have bought kefir grains! They can even be reused indefinitely, as long as you take the correct steps to look after them and keep them in a healthy state.
You can maintain the health of your kefir grains by fermenting and feeding them regularly, keeping the kefir grains small so that all the pieces are properly nourished, and storing them at an optimal temperature of between 68 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, away from direct sunlight.
Just remember: kefir grains are living organisms despite their cauliflower-like appearance!
If you do notice a bad taste, bad smell, or an unusual consistency with your kefir grains, it’s best to strain, clean, and reculture them in new milk or replace the kefir grains altogether.