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Milk Kefir & Milk Kefir Grains
I have changed the milk 3 times and my grains are the same size, are they dead?
  Milk kefir grains are known to grow quickly. Usually the grains will begin to grow after about 6-8 milk changes, the larger they become, the faster they grow and the more quickly they will ferment the same volume of milk. If you have done over 8 milk changes and your grains have not grown at all, please verify that you are not using "ultra-pasteurized" milk.
What are milk kefir grains? They are very strange.
  Milk kefir grains, also known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast) are used to make milk kefir, or bulgaros. Milk begins to ferment once kefir grains are added. Kefir grains have their origins in the north Caucasus Mountains. Milk kefir grains are not actually grains at all. Only commonly referred to as "grains" they have a gelatinous or rubbery texture and are usually described as off-white.

Kefir grains are a combination of lactic acid, bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. This symbiotic matrix, (SCOBY) forms "grains" that resemble cauliflower. Once healthy and active kefir grains are introduced into mammal milk, the milk rapidly begins to ferment. Ferment times typically range from 8-36 hours depending on many variables.
How do I use my milk kefir grains?
  Fermenting milk from kefir grains is rather simple, really. Milk kefir grains thrive on lactose, so it is best to use a milk containing lactose. Make sure that your milk is not "ultra-pasteurized" or "UHT", use regular "pasteurized" milk or even raw milk.

1. Place your kefir grains directly into 1-2 cups milk
2. Stir as frequently as you like
3. Wait and observe the kefir
4. Let ferment for 8-36 hours (varies by personal preference) feel free to taste and smell the kefir every few hours
5. Once the kefir becomes palatable to you, it is time to strain the grains from the kefir
6. Strain the grains from the kefir with a nylon or stainless steel strainer, sifting the grains with a spoon may help
7. Take just your grains and place them into a new 1-2 cups of milk
8. Repeat the process for each new batch

Rate of ferment can change drastically depending on many variables, especially warmer temperatures. If you find that your grains are fermenting your milk too quickly, try to place them in the fridge to help slow them down. Alternatively, you may also use more milk or less kefir grains to slow ferment. Healthy kefir grains are very potent and powerful, even a small amount of grains are capable of fermenting relatively large amounts of milk quickly.

When allowed to ferment long enough, the milk kefir will separate into curds and whey. A separated kefir is commonly known as an over-culture/ferment and is a good indication of a very thoroughly cultured/fermented kefir. It is not necessary to ferment until separation, many brewers find the kefir to be most desirable hours before separation occurs. A kefir that goes to separation will be thin, lumpy and bitter. Milk kefir before separation will taste sweeter, be creamier and will pose less of an issue when it comes time to strain the grains.

Please HELP! My kefir separated into curds and whey, where are my darling grains!?!
  Relax, please do not worry, this is very common. Kefir will always separate to curds and whey if allowed to ferment for long enough. When this happens, the curds will build up around your grains making it difficult to find or even strain them out. Follow the below steps to retrieve your precious, little milk kefir grains.

1. Stir the curds and whey back together the best you can
2. Pour it all into a strainer
3. Add a small amount of milk or filtered water to help moisturize the curds
4. Sift around with a spoon inside of the strainer until the curds break down and fall through
5. Add more liquid if needed and continue sifting until only the kefir grains remain
6. Put only the kefir grains into more fresh milk and strain before separation occurs

It is important to avoid excessive curd build-up. It is recommended to only add the grains and not the curds to new batches of milk kefir. The more the curds are allowed to build-up, the more curds you will end up with and it will eventually lead to foul tastes and odors. Rinsing the grains repeatedly will stress them, only rinse when there is a lot of curd build-up.
I received my kefir grains yesterday, it has been almost 20 hours and nothing has happened, are my grains dead?
  Probably not, kefir grains are incredibly resilient and we source all of our grains from a very large, healthy and thriving culture only hours before shipping them out in the cool evening.  However, the grains can become stressed and dormant during transit.  Sometimes the grains need a milk change or two before they rejuvenate themselves and become fully active once again.  It is not at all uncommon for the milk to smell and taste completely unchanged during the first batch.  Some grains may take up to 3 or 4, 24-hour milk changes to become entirely revived.  Please be patient and allow your grains time to recover from the strenuous journey across the globe.
My kefir grains are floating and are an odd shape, are they dead?
  Probably not, kefir grains will grow in all shapes and sizes, this is completely normal and natural.  Kefir grains will also sink and float as they grow and ferment, again, this is entirely normal and should not cause reason for concern.
My kefir smells and tastes bad! ; (
  This is almost always a result of curds continuously being added to new batches, mixed with over fermenting.  Try to rinse your grains of all curds and then ferment for less time.  You should begin to get a better tasting and smelling kefir after a few shorter ferments without the curds.  It may take a few batches before the bacteria and yeast balance out once again.  Always remember, kefir grains are alive, they react to your particular care and brewing techniques.  Please exercise patience, practice and persistence.  The taste and consistency of your kefir will evolve over time, no two batches will be exactly the same.
My kefir isn't thick like the kefir from the store?
  Milk Kefir will thicken naturally a bit.  Milk kefir will be thickest several hours before separation.  Keep in mind, you should ferment your kefir to taste rather than thickness.  Commercially manufactured kefir has "Pectin" added to it, Pectin can be found at most stores and can be added at will. Additionally, kefir manufactured for commercial purposes does not contain nearly the number of bacteria/yeast strains that kefir from grains has, this also contributes to the different taste as well.  Our understanding is that commercial kefirs are not fermented from actual, naturally occurring, kefir grains.