How to Activate Dehydrated Milk Kefir Grains

Have you just bought some dehydrated milk kefir grains? Read on to find out how to activate them so they’re ready for making homemade milk kefir.

⚠️ It’s essential to read this entire guide to understand and master the activation process.

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Activate Dehydrated Milk Kefir Grains

How to Activate Your Dehydrated Milk Kefir Grains

Do you have dried milk kefir grains and are ready to make your homemade milk kefir? The first step is simple: rehydrating and activating your grains. After a few easy steps and a few days of patience, you can start your first milk kefir production.
5 of 4 ratings
Preparation Time 10 minutes
Fermentation Time 7 days
Course Drinks

Equipment

Ingredients
  

Steps
 

Activating Milk Kefir Grains (7 to 14 days)

  • Pour the entire contents of the sachet of milk kefir grains into the jar.
  • Add ½ cup of milk (120 ml).
  • Mix well (with a spoon or by shaking the jar with a lid).
  • Cover with a cloth or lid and leave at room temperature.
  • After 24 hours, filter through a sieve and discard the milk.
  • Repeat these steps every day, gradually increasing (by ½ to 1 cup) the quantity of milk when it solidifies or curdles.
  • You can start drinking the milk kefir as soon as its aroma, taste, and texture are satisfactory. Reactivation generally takes between 7 and 14 days.

Notes

Most sieves work very well, whether stainless steel, or plastic. The same goes for spoons: it makes no difference whether they're made of wood, stainless steel or plastic.
If your kefir doesn't taste good, the milk should be discarded, as it will not have fermented and may have been contaminated. If it smells good, however, you can use it in recipes that require cooking or boiling.
Milk can be cold (out of the fridge) or at room temperature.
It is important to use pasteurised milk when activating milk kefir grains. The microorganisms in raw milk could destabilize the ecosystem of your grains.
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Activating Milk Kefir Grains
Photo of milk kefir with activated grains ready to be harvested.

After Reactivation

Follow these instructions to increase the quantity and quality of the kefir produced.

  1. If everything looks good after 24 hours of fermentation (smell, taste, texture), increase the quantity of milk used to 1 cup (250 ml) and stir well. Similarly, if the kefir becomes very acidic or separates (coagulates) quickly in less than 24 hours, this is a sign that you need to increase the quantity of milk.
  2. Gradually increase the quantity of milk by ½ to 1 cup, waiting a few days between each adjustment. You can double it but don’t increase it all at once.
  3. To make it easier to filter and recover all the small grains, stir your kefir well before filtering.
  4. As the kefir thickens, you may need a larger-mesh sieve. But watch out for any small grains you may lose!
  5. The higher the fat content of the milk you choose, the smoother and thicker the resulting kefir will be.

Regular kefir production will allow the grains to grow and multiply, but noticeable growth will only be visible after three months following activation.

👉 To find out everything you need to know about making homemade milk kefir and how to store your grains, read our complete guide on How to make your own milk kefir!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Normal for Milk to Separate and Solidify?

Yes, this is normal. It means that your milk has fermented, perhaps a little too much! Gradually increase the quantity of milk to be used and, if necessary, reduce the fermentation time.

If your grains are stuck in the solid part, stir the mixture well before filtering and, potentially, consuming it.

Separated milk kefir

What Smell/Taste/Texture Should Kefir Have?

Milk kefir should have a sweet, slightly acidic smell. As soon as you are satisfied with the smell of your kefir, taste a small portion.

Kefir should have a slightly tangy, creamy taste, with hints of yeast. The smell of kefir may initially seem strong, especially when the culture is reactivated, but it will change over time. The type of milk used also influences the kefir’s aroma and flavour profile.

How Do You Know if the Grains Have Been Activated?

To determine whether your grains are properly activated, and therefore whether you can consume your kefir, rely on your senses.

If it smells good, taste it. If it tastes good, drink it!

My Kefir Smells Funny

Does your milk kefir have a strong smell, like that of a stable, goat, or strong cheese? This is normal during the reactivation period.

Continue to change the milk every 24 hours. The smell should dissipate after a few days.

My Kefir Tastes Like Curdled Milk

This may be normal because as explained further on, homemade milk kefir doesn’t taste like commercial kefir. However, various solutions can be applied to improve the taste of kefir:

  • Reduce the fermentation time (check the kefir after 12 hours of fermentation)
  • Increase the quantity of milk used
  • Reduce the number of grains used

If you have not yet produced 1L of kefir, continue to gradually increase the amount of milk used.

If you are happy with the amount of kefir produced, apply the 1st or 3rd solution.

My Kefir Doesn’t Taste the Same as Commercial Kefir

Commercial milk kefir is not made from grains but from powdered culture containing a small variety of selected cultures. Kefir grains contain a wider variety of wild microorganisms, giving kefir a funkier taste and much greater health benefits.

For this reason, your homemade kefir will probably never taste exactly like commercial kefir.

My Grains Don’t Look Like the Ones in the Photos

Milk kefir grains need time after activation to start growing and multiplying. So, give them time to adjust to their environment and make regular recipes.

As long as your grains are capable of fermenting milk, there’s no need to worry about their appearance.

Healthy milk kefir grains

Should the Equipment Be Washed Between Recipes?

You don’t have to wash your equipment every time you make a recipe, but using clean equipment is always more pleasant 😉

If you don’t want to wash it, remember to rinse your fermentation container after each recipe.

Should the Grains Be Rinsed Between Recipes?

We do not recommend rinsing grains between recipes.

📖 Want to know more? Read our complete guide on How to make milk kefir.

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