Kefir grains are a gift from nature, a complex balance of microorganisms and a fantastic source of nutrients. If you start using Kefir in your diet you will probably want to learn how to freeze it. Keep reading and we’ll show you how it’s done.
If you’ve ever made your own Kefir, you know how quickly the tiny grains can multiply. Before you know it, you will have more grains than you know what to do with.
And if you don’t use them all right away, they can start to go bad.
But that doesn’t mean you have to let them go to waste. You can freeze Kefir grains for later.
What are Kefir grains
Kefir grains are living microorganisms, first found in the Northern Caucasus Mountains.
The perfect balance of good bacteria, yeast and enzymes varies in different Kefir grains offering unique qualities from one Kefir to another.
Since Kefir grains are not man-made, you are only able to obtain Kefir grains from other Kefir grains clusters that are growing in cow or goat milk.
Kefir grains are just a name since they are not really grains, they look more like a white cluster or a cauliflower and the taste is similar to yogurt.
They can be used to make Kefir from any milk, including cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk.
Kefir grains will also ferment soy milk and other plant-based milk, like almond milk and coconut milk.
You can even add Kefir grains to coconut water to combine the goodness of coconut water with the probiotics in Kefir.
What are The health benefits of Kefir?
Kefir is high in protein and calcium and has been shown to have various health benefits.
Kefir may help to improve gut health, increase energy levels, and boost the immune system.
Also, it is a probiotic, meaning that it contains healthy bacteria that can help to improve gut health.
Further, it is a great way to get more probiotics into your diet and may help to improve your overall health.
The benefits of freezing Kefir grains
The first and most obvious benefit is keeping them in your freezer for a long time, and they will not spoil.
This is very convenient if you are going on vacation or just do not have time to make Kefir every day.
Another benefit of freezing Kefir grains is staying fresh for a long time. You can make a large batch of Kefir and then freeze it in small portions.
This is a great way to have fresh Kefir all the time, even if you do not have time to make it yourself.
Finally, freezing Kefir grains helps to preserve their nutrients.
Kefir is a very healthy drink, and it is essential to get all of the nutrients it has to offer.
By freezing Kefir grains, you can keep these nutrients intact for longer.
How to freeze Kefir grains
If you have an overabundance of Kefir grains, you may be wondering if there is a way to freeze them.
The good news is that freezing Kefir grains is easy, and they will remain viable for up to six months.
If you have a surplus of Kefir grains or are going on vacation and won’t be able to make Kefir for a while, you can freeze them.
There are several methods to complete the freezing process of Kefir grains:
The Strain and Add Milk method
Time needed: 1 hour
This method will work only for short-term storage, not more than a month.
- Rinse the kefir grains
All you have to do is rinse the Kefir grains in cold non-chlorinated water, strain and let them dry for at least an hour.
Once dried, sprinkle a little bit of milk powder (it will feed the bacteria while frozen) and place Kefir grains in a plastic bag.
- Seal and freeze
Seal the bag and place in the freezer.
Deep Freeze method
This method can be used for longer periods of time.
You will have to rinse the Kefir grains, strain them and let them air dry for 24 hours.
By doing this, you allow the yeast to produce the needed proteins to work as antioxidants, increasing the life of the yeast and helping with its reproduction.
Once the Kefir grains are dried you can add your powdered milk, place dried grains in a bag and freeze.
For best results, a good idea is to use an airtight container.
Dehydrate and Deep Freeze method
For this method, the best way is to use a dehydrator machine, set on low, use some wax paper and spread the Kefir grains until dry.
Once the grains are dehydrated and completely dry, sprinkle the dry milk powder, place in a freezer bag, seal and freeze.
Even if the Kefir grains are dry they remain active and by drying the grain you will minimize the damage caused by freezing.
Tips for keeping your frozen Kefir grains in good condition
- Freeze your Kefir grains in an airtight container or bag.
- Label the container or bag with the date you froze the grains.
- Freeze your Kefir grains in small quantities. You can use an ice cube tray. This will make it easier to thaw them when you need them.
- If you use your frozen Kefir grains within a month, you do not need to thaw them before using them. Just add them directly to the milk or juice you use to make Kefir.
- To use your frozen Kefir grains after more than a month, thaw them in the fridge before using them.
- If you will use your frozen Kerains to make a new batch of Kefir, thaw them in the refrigerator and add them directly to the fresh milk or juice.
- Do not re-freeze your Kefir grains after they have been thawed.
How to thaw Kefir grains
If you want to thaw your Kefir grains you can place them in the refrigerator in a glass container, a glass jar or a plastic jar.
Once defrosted, strain them and add a small amount of fresh milk to wash off the powdered milk and a little more to activate the grains.
Place at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
Observe the reaction of thawed Kefir and if it ferments a lot add some more new milk until your mixture starts to thicken and produce Kefir.
Usually, it will take between 3 to 14 days to obtain a perfect Kefir grain.
Things to consider when freezing or thawing Kefir grains
Take into account that if your Kefir grains have been frozen for a long period of time (over 6 months) you might have to add some sugar water to the milk before you add the Kefir grains.
This, to allow the yeast to recover faster when thawing.
Yeast is a problem when freezing since it may not recover fast or properly when thawed.
For this reason, it is recommended to dry your Kefir grains very well before you freeze them to avoid liquid crystals damaging your Kefir grains.
Kefir grains must be defrosted slowly. If you try to rush the process, you may damage your Kefir grains.
Also, freezer burn is a problem, and to avoid this to happen you can place your Kefir grains in double bags. Or even better, use a vacuum sealer.
Avoid keeping your Kefir grains frozen for periods of time exceeding 1 year.
When thawing your Kefir grains, room temperature will play an important role.
The recommended room temperature should be between 65-75 °F (18-25 °C).
Uses of Kefir grains
Kefir grains have many uses. You can eat them, they are a little gooey and acid but a great source of minerals and calcium.
You can also feed them to your pets (cats or dogs), most of them will love it.
But if they don’t, you can mix it in their food. It is great for their stomach and has great other properties.
Kefir grains are great when you prepare smoothies. Just add them to your blender with the rest of the ingredients, ½ a cup will be enough.
You can also add it to your fruit bowl with some honey on top.
Use Kefir grains to make extraordinary hummus dips for your friends. Just add 1 or 2 tablespoons to your favorite hummus recipe and you will enhance its flavor.
You can even add your extra Kefir grains to your compost pile. By doing this you will provide your compost with extra doses of bacteria.