Kefir grains are small, white, and gummy, and they look a little bit like cauliflower florets. They’re also packed full of good things, and it’s the hard work of the grains that transforms milk into kefir.
However, as you use kefir grains, they grow and multiply. Even if you only enjoy a cup of kefir a day, you’ll eventually find yourself with a grain surplus.
Kefir grains don’t die if they’re looked after correctly, so there’s no clear use for the new growth when you can keep using your original batch.
There are plenty of ways to use surplus kefir grains, from enjoying them as a snack to putting them in the freezer.
In this guide, we’ve explored some of the best methods for using your excess grains.
Why You Have So Much Surplus Kefir Grains
If you’ve been making kefir for a little while, you might have noticed that your grain stocks are overflowing.
This is because kefir grains are living organisms, and they continue to grow for as long as they’re being fed. Every time you make kefir, the grains get fed, and continue to grow!
Kefir grains also last indefinitely, as long as they keep getting fed. So, you can technically keep using the same base grains every time you make kefir.
These will keep on growing, so the more you make kefir, the more grains you have!
The grains might be growing, but they aren’t needed for your kefir fermentation. Adding more grains will change the flavor, making it more pungent.
Most people prefer to keep kefir mild, so these extra kefir grains become surplus.
How To Use Your Surplus Kefir Grains
If you’re finding your fridge is becoming overwhelmed with stored kefir grains, these methods can make good use of your surplus grains.
If you have surplus kefir grains that you’ve yet to find a use for, one of the easiest things you can do is freeze them.
Kefir grains are surprisingly resilient, and can put up with a lot while still maintaining their potency.
It’s easy to freeze kefir grains. Place your surplus grains in a colander or sieve, and rinse them with cool water. Pat the grains dry with a clean towel, and place them in a freezer-safe bag.
Add dry milk powder to the bag — you only need enough powder to cover the grains. Seal the bag, and place in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use the kefir grains, take them out of the freezer, and allow them to defrost completely.
The grains need to be reactivated before they can be used again. Simply place them in milk, cover with a filter, and leave for around 24 hours.
If the milk thickens, they’re ready to go. If there’s no change, place the grains in a fresh batch of milk, and start the process again.
2. Add To Smoothies
Kefir grains are edible as they are, and they don’t have a particularly strong taste. They do, however, have quite a strange texture.
They’re gummy and gelatinous, and not everyone will enjoy popping a kefir grain as a snack.
If you find the thought of eating kefir grains off-putting, try blending them into a smoothie. This way, you still get all the nutritional benefits, without the strange gummy sensation.
3. Give To A Friend
You know the wonders of kefir, so why not introduce a friend to this exceptional drink! Kefir is quick and easy to make, and it comes with some impressive health benefits.
If you know someone who enjoys store bought kefir, but hasn’t tried making their own, you can always gift them your excess grains.
Even people who’ve never tried kefir can make their own easily with your surplus grains.
Place your surplus grains in a jar, and fill the jar with your chosen milk. When you give the jar to a friend, they’ll have kefir ready to go, and the grains to make the next batch!
4. Add To Kefir
Don’t add more kefir grains to your currently fermenting batch, because this will affect the taste. However, you can blend your kefir grains, and use them to add a nutritional boost to your kefir.
Simply place your surplus kefir grains into a blender or food processor, and blitz them into your preferred texture. You can then mix them in with your kefir, and enjoy.
5. Make Into Fruit Gummies
The texture of kefir grains is often off-putting for even ardent kefir lovers. They also don’t have much of a taste, which can make it hard to convince yourself to start snacking on the strange grains.
However, you can use your kefir grains to make a version of fruit gummies.
Try soaking your kefir grains in fruit juice, so that they take on the sweeter flavors. Alternatively, sprinkle the kefir grains with some coconut sugar.
The enjoyable flavors can help mask the unusual texture, so you can get the benefits of the grains without the strange eating sensation.
6. Make A Dip
There are lots of ways to turn your milk kefir into a dip, and recipes such as kefir tzatziki are a fun way to experiment with your brew.
A quick way to use up any surplus kefir grains is to blend them into a purée, and mix the paste into your kefir dip.
You can also experiment with turning the grains into a dip. Again, blend the grains to your preferred consistency. Then, stir through your flavorings.
Garlic is an easy way to add flavor quickly, and with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt, you have a basic dip.
7. Make “Cheese”
If you have quite a lot of excess kefir grains, you can try making your own kefir “cheese”. To do this, place the surplus grains in a cheesecloth or strainer bag.
Tie a loop in the top of the bag, and hang it over a sink or bowl so that the liquid can drain. Leave this for a few hours, or overnight.
When the grains have drained, mix them with chives, and mash them into a paste. You can then spread this onto your bread like a cream cheese.
8. Eat With Parfait Or In A Smoothie Bowl
Eating surplus kefir grains is the easiest way to put them to good use, but as previously mentioned, not everyone likes the texture.
Try using your surplus kefir grains as a layer in a parfait. Between the granola and the fruit, the texture of the kefir grains becomes masked.
You can enjoy all the benefits of the kefir grains, alongside your favorite treat.
Kefir grains can be used in a similar manner in a smoothie bowl, yogurt bowl, or açai bowl. Basically, any food that uses layers and contrasting textures.
When your kefir grain is scooped up alongside soft fruit, crunchy granola, and smooth yogurt, you’ll hardly notice it’s there.
9. Feed To Your Pet
Yes, pets can eat kefir! The probiotics in kefir can benefit the gut health of your furry friend, and these can also be found in the kefir grains.
In most cases, dogs and other pets are less fussy than humans when it comes to texture, so you can easily add the grains to their regular feeds.
Be careful when introducing kefir grains to an animal’s diet. Kefir grains should be eaten as part of a balanced diet, and if you plan on giving them milk kefir, only do so in small amounts. Speak to your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
Quick, easy, and good for the environment, composting kefir grains is an obvious choice! Kefir grains can be tossed onto your compost pile, where they can nourish the soil.
Kefir grains are unlikely to attract vermin, but if you have a particularly large batch to get rid of, you might want to be careful.
11. Make More Kefir
If you have lots of surplus kefir grains, then this might be the perfect opportunity to start experimenting with what you make.
Try using the grains in different types of milk, such as almond milk, and coconut milk, and see what you can create.
You can also try adding different amounts of grains to your kefir, to see how it affects the fermentation process and final flavor.
Alternatively, you can try to find new ways to use your standard milk kefir.
This can be used to make dips and sauces, mixed into smoothies, and even made into baked goods. Kefir can also be added to a sourdough starter.
Of course, experimenting with all these kefir methods will only result in even more surplus grains as they continue to grow.
There are so many methods for using excess kefir grains, however, that this shouldn’t hold you back from trying new things with kefir.
The more you make kefir, the more kefir grains you’ll have. These are living organisms, and making kefir feeds the grains, causing them to grow and multiply.
The grains are edible, even if the texture is strange, and they can be blended and enjoyed in smoothies and dips.
If you really don’t know what to do with your grains, try freezing them for later, or passing them onto a friend.