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Kefir Grains vs Kefir Starter

Fresh Kefir Grains

Kefir is my family’s #1 favorite ferment for many reasons.  It’s very very simple to make.  It’s incredibly nutrient dense when made with an organic, grass fed, fresh from the farm milk.  It’s versatile, drink it, strain it for cheese, make salad dressing with it, make yummy smoothies with it.

There are 2 different way to make kefir either using kefir grains or a powdered kefir starter.  Both have their pros and cons and I’ll take you through them so you can choose the right one for you.

Powdered Kefir Starter

You can find this in many grocery stores in the health section.  In my hometown’s health food store, it was located in the baking aisle next to the rennet, pectin and such things.  If you can’t find it there, Cultures for Health carries 2 different kinds.  Their powdered starter is only $5.99 and makes a minimum of 4 batches (it can be recultured multiple times).  They also carry Body Ecology’s Kefir starter for $26.95 which contains 6 packets that can be recultured an average of 7 times each (that’s about 42 quarts).

Pros:

  • General easy to find if you have a good local health food store.
  • If you don’t want to make kefir on a daily basis, this might be a good option.  You can make 1 quart at a time that will last a couple weeks.
  • More mild flavor. If you don’t like a very sour kefir, this is great. It tastes more like the pre-made kefir you can buy in the dairy section.  I actually prefer the flavor of kefir made with a powdered starter than the grains, but that’s just me.
  • More reliable flavor.  The flavor doesn’t really vary from batch to batch.
  • Cheaper than buying kefir ready made.
  • Super simple.  Just open a packet, add to room temperature milk and let set for 24 hours.
  • No need to strain, just drink.

Cons:

  • Not as biodiverse as kefir grains.  Only 6-9 strains of bacteria but that’s better than yogurt!
  • You can’t make infinite batches of kefir.  Depending on the brand, you can only reculture the kefir so many times (just add 1/4 cup of cultured kefir to a new quart of milk).
  • No kefir grains to share with friends.

Kefir Grains

Kefir grains are not actually grains but a colony of yeast and bacteria held together by kefirin, a polysaccharide goo.  The grains of yeast and bacteria eat the lactose out of the milk and convert it to B vitamins and into galactose which is more easily digestible. The best place to get kefir grains is fresh from someone already making it but if you don’t know anyone who makes kefir, you can get dehydrated grains from Cultures for Health: Kefir Grains.  I’ve used grains from them and have had great success rehydrating them.

Pros:

  • Infinite kefir!  Your grains will continue to produce kefir as long as you feed them.
  • More biodiverse.  Each batch of kefir grains are different and can contain between 30-50+ different yeast and bacteria.  All good stuff.
  • Stronger.  If you like sour kefir, then you’ll love this.  If you like it more mild just let it ferment for a shorter time.
  • The grains themselves multiply and you can share them with friends.
  • Extra grains are good for you or your pets to eat.

Cons:

  • They need to be fed on a regular basis.
  • Grains need to be strained out before eating.
  • Stronger flavor.  If you like a mild taste just remember to ferment it shorter.
  • The taste of this kefir can vary from one person’s batch to another and can change over time since the bacteria in the grains can vary.

Which do you prefer?  Kefir grains for kefir starter?

 

 


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7 comments to Kefir Grains vs Kefir Starter

  • Fresh grains – always! I’ve spread them around too!

  • Allen Dyer

    Fresh living grains…
    Nothing gives me more pleasure than starting someone out with their own Kefir from my surplus grains. And the gift just keeps on giving…
    Very good Karma.

  • We consume both tipes of kefir in our household.
    My wife and my boy like the purchased one, I preffer kefir made my own grains.
    If you live in or around Australia, I am happy to give soem away anytime, I got lots of it.
    Just drop me a line.

  • Delandra

    Hi Very nice website! I don’t know who else to turn to…can’t find what I need readily on the internet. I need a list of people (& their phone #s or email addresses) who are willing to sell their homemade organic Kefir to me or typically sell at local farmers markets or neighbors. I have no time or equipment to make it & I know homemade is superior to commercial. The area local to me would be San Jose CA and surrounding area. If you can’t get a handle on this list, please let me know who could help me along the journey. I read articles of people who make it at home, but they live way far away so I don’t want to pay a lot of shipping & by the time I received the Kefir, it would be rotten anyway.

    Thank you very much.

  • Hi where can i find these grains for purchase.
    Thank you in advance

  • Jan

    I would like to make some kefir using powdered starter and raw milk. Should I let the raw milk sit out for a while and come to room temp or can I mix in the powder with cold raw milk (straight from the refrigerator)?

  • Gail

    Love making kefir with the fresh grains and raw milk! I also make yogurt from powdered starter for my husband, who refuses to use raw milk (?).

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