What's the difference between kefir grains and the Easy Kefir starter culture? Our Easy Kefir powder is made from freeze-dried kefir grains. It therefore contains all the strains and yeasts present in dairy kefir grains.
Do I need to pre-heat the milk? No, you don't have to. You can use cold milk from the fridge.
Why is there maltodextrin in the Easy Kefir starter culture? Every starter culture requires a 'carrier' for functionality and performance. In this product, the maltodextrin is there to add bulk to the powder (otherwise it would be too small to manipulate), and to provide energy for the fermentation to proceed.
I live in a hot place. Is the starter still active by the time it gets to me, if it was shipped during hot weather? Yes. Our starters are designed to stay fully active in transit, even in warm weather, without the need for express shipping or refrigeration. The formula and the packaging combine to protect the live strains. When your order is shipped, we send you the tracking number so that you can see when it is due to arrive. Once received, the starter should be refrigerated for the long term.
Is the Easy Kefir starter culture non-GMO? Yes, the Easy Kefir starter culture is non-GMO.
Is the Easy Kefir starter culture dairy-free? Although the Easy Kefir starter culture contains no actual dairy, it is not completely dairy-free. The starter is packaged in a facility that also handles products that may contain milk, and the grains themselves were originally developed on milk. The final powder, however, contains no perceptible dairy. (Ingredient list: Active bacteria strains [Lactococcus lactis, Lactococcus cremoris, Lactococcus diacetylactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Kluyveromyces lactis], kefir grains, maltodextrin.)
Can I make non-dairy kefir with the Easy Kefir starter culture? The Easy Kefir starter culture is designed for dairy milk fermentation. It's therefore difficult to predict how it will perform with non-dairy beverages. Some of our customers have had occasional success with fermenting non-dairy drinks, however since the product is not really designed for these, the results could be inconsistent. On the occasions when the non-dairy drinks did ferment, this was achieved with the addition of a tablespoon of sugar or honey per quart of liquid, to replace the naturally-occurring lactose (milk sugar) that is present in dairy milks and is required to provide energy for the fermentation to happen.
Where should I store the Easy Kefir starter culture? In the refrigerator or in the freezer.
Is the fermentation affected by temperature? Yes. Ideal temperature for kefir fermentation is 72°F to 75°F. Overall, fermentation is faster in warm weather and slower in cold weather. If the room temperature is below 72°F let the kefir ferment a little longer than the recommended 18h-24h. During summertime, if the weather is really hot, check your kefir after 12 hours.
Can I use metal utensils and lids to handle ferments? Overall yes, because the metal used in utensils and food-grade lids is most probably acid-resistant, and the utensil is not going to touch the ferment for that long. Metal lids can be used provided that they are acid-resistant and do not directly touch the fermented product for an extended period of time. Opt for the type of lids with a waxy interior, used for pickles, for example. If that interior is corroded though, better not use them. Also: the jar should not be full all the way to the top, to avoid direct contact between the ferment and the lid.
Why has my kefir separated into liquids and solids? Separation into curds (solids) and whey (liquids) is fairly common, and is the result of over-fermentation. Either the kefir has been fermenting for too long, or the ambient temperature was too warm, or too much starter has been used per the quantity of milk. Separation is even more common in subsequent batches (when a previously-made kefir is used to start a new batch), as the kefir tends to get stronger with each batch. If it smells good and tastes good (a tangy-yeasty, pleasantly-sour flavor and aroma), you can still use it. Some people like to mix the curds back into the whey; others drink the whey, and eat the curds as soft cheese.
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