Milk Kefir Grains Troubleshooting FAQ

You've finally gotten you hands on some Milk Kefir Grains and you're ready to take a crack at making homemade milk kefir.

You follow the included instructions to a "T" and yet you can't help but wonder if something's not quite right with your grains...

Take a deep breath, it happens! There's no need to be alarmed if there's a bit of learning curve when working with kefir grains, especially if it's your first time culturing at home.

With our comprehensive list of FAQ's about kefir grains, we're here to help you with all your troubleshooting needs. If you've still not found the answer you're looking for, browse our collection of Expert Advice on Making Milk Kefir for more tips on making kefir at home.

Make the most of your milk kefir grains with our experts' troubleshooting FAQ tips and tricks. Click to download your Milk Kefir Guide and Recipe Book today and start enjoying milk kefir's delicious and healthy benefits!


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Q. I just received my milk kefir grains and they don't appear to be working.

A. Milk kefir grains generally take 3-7 days to activate and properly culture milk kefir. Culture according to the instructions. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to contact Customer Support. 

Q. My milk kefir is forming very quickly. How can I slow it down?

A. There are two factors that determine how quickly kefir forms: room temperature and the ratio of kefir grains to milk.

To slow down kefir production, either lower the temperature at which the kefir is culturing, use a smaller amount of kefir grains, or increase the amount of milk, up to 4 cups of milk.

Keep in Mind: It is important for the health of the kefir grains for kefir to form within 48 hours of culturing. If you need to safely slow down the process or make less kefir, please follow the tutorial below and avoid trying to slow down the process past the 48 hour point.

LEARN MORE: How to Slow Down Milk Kefir + Make Smaller Batches 

Q. My milk kefir is forming very slowly. How can I speed it up?

A. There are two factors that determine how quickly kefir forms: room temperature and the ratio of kefir grains to milk.

To speed up kefir production, either raise the temperature at which the kefir is culturing or use a smaller amount of milk for the portion of kefir grains you are using.

Keep in Mind: It is important for the health of the kefir grains that kefir does not form in less than 12 hours (the preferable culturing time frame is 14 to 16 hours). While an abundance of fresh kefir is certainly tempting, please avoid trying to speed up the culturing process to this extent.



Q. My milk kefir seems to have separated into curds and whey. Why did this happen?

A. Kefir will separate if it over-cultures. This usually occurs when the ratio of milk to grains is not in balance. To prevent this from happening, you can:

Q. I've been making milk kefir for awhile but the taste of my kefir seems to have changed. Why?

A. The taste and texture of kefir depends on several factors. The culture time, the temperature of your home, and the ratio of kefir grains to milk.

If the temperature of your home has changed, you may need to adjust the culturing time. If your kefir grains have multiplied, you may choose to either remove a portion of the kefir grains or increase the amount of milk. Extra grains can be used to start a second batch of kefir, given to a friend, or dried and stored as backup

Q. My milk kefir grains were working but the last batch didn't thicken at all. What went wrong?

A. Changes in culturing conditions (different milk, new spot for culturing, season, temperature, etc.) can change the result of your kefir. The reality is, that it may be difficult to determine the exact reason for the change.

If the problem persists, reduce the amount of fresh milk by about 1/8, replacing that amount with finished milk kefir from the previous batch. Repeat 1-3 times, or until milk kefir begins to thicken.

For Example: If culturing 2 cups of milk, in your next batch use only 1 3/4 cups fresh milk (reduce by 1/8), and replace the 1/4 cup you reduced by 1/4 cup finished kefir from your previous batch. 

Q. My milk kefir smells like yeast. Is that normal?

A. Kefir will often smell like fresh yeast. If your kefir smells like spoiled yeast (rotten), that can be a sign of either contamination or that the yeast and bacteria which comprise the kefir grains are out of balance. Please contact Customer Support for assistance if you have concerns.

Q. I forgot my kefir culturing on the counter for several days. The milk has separated and smells funny. Are the kefir grains okay?

A. The grains are most likely fine if this has happened one time. The biggest danger with leaving the kefir grains in the same milk for more than 48 hours is that they may begin to starve, which can damage the kefir grains. Separate the grains and put them into fresh milk right away. As long as the finished, separated, kefir smells and tastes okay, it can be consumed.



Q. I think I have mold on my milk kefir. What do I do?

A. While it is uncommon to find mold developing on a batch of kefir, it may occasionally happen. Mold may appear as white, green, orange, red, or black spots on the surface of the kefir, or a pink discoloration of the milk. Kefir grains that turn pink, orange, red, green, or black may be contaminated.

Yellow or yellowish-white kefir grains are not a bad sign but rather a normal variation. New grains that are light orange/carmelized-colored are also normal. Orangey grains AFTER using for awhile may not be normal, and Customer Support should be contacted.  White formations on the surface of the kefir may be mold or may be yeast. Please contact Customer Support before discarding anything.

If mold does develop, immediately toss the entire batch, including the kefir grains. Do not try to salvage a moldy batch, even if you do not see mold on the kefir grains themselves. Doing so may be dangerous to your health. Obtain a new set of kefir grains, clean the jar thoroughly, and try again another day. 

Q. Is there something I can do to prevent mold if I’ve had it previously?

A. If mold has been a problem in the past, or if you know there is mold in your environment, dip, drizzle or spray the jar cover (coffee filter, cloth napkin, etc.) with distilled white vinegar. Follow up by spraying the cover every other day to deter mold formation.



Q. Some of the milk kefir sticks to my kefir grains. Is that okay?

A. It is normal for kefir to cling to the grains and it does not present a problem. Strain the grains as best as you can and don't worry about smaller layers that remain on the kefir grains.

Q. My milk kefir is thick and coagulated. How do I find my kefir grains?

A. It can be a challenge to separate the grains from very thick milk kefir. Our article, How to Strain Over-Thickened Milk Kefir, offers helpful tips. 

Q. I am culturing milk kefir using raw or non-homogonized milk. My grains get lodged in the cream as it separates to the top and it is particularly difficult to fish them out. What can I do?

A. Stir, swirl, or shake the kefir periodically, 3-4 times in a 24-hour culturing period to lessen the extent of the cream separation and prevent the grains from getting lodged in the thick cream at the top. Once the culturing period is up, stir or shake to incorporate separated cream, then strain out the grains as usual. 

Q. My milk kefir grains aren’t growing. What can I do?

A. Milk kefir grains are known to multiply, but at times they are reluctant to do so. Even if they do not multiply, with proper care, kefir grains can be used indefinitely to brew milk kefir. Generally kefir grains take 6 to 8 weeks following rehydration to begin multiplying. Learn more about Encouraging Milk Kefir Grains to Multiply.

Q. I left my kefir grains culturing on my oven and the oven was accidentally turned on so the kefir grains got very hot. Are they dead?

A: While kefir grains are very resilient, excessive heat is one thing that can kill them. Exposure to oven temperatures is too warm. The milk kefir grains will no longer culture and need to be replaced.

Q. My kefir grains have multiplied and I'd like to save some as a backup. How do I do that?

A. Kefir grains can be stored short-term in the refrigerator or long-term by drying them. Follow the same procedure for Taking a Break from Making Milk Kefir 

Q. My kefir grains are multiplying. What can I do with the extras?

A. Kefir grains make a wonderful gift to friends. Alternately, they can be eaten, blended into smoothies, or shared with chickens or pets.


If you are experiencing difficulties with your milk kefir grains, we have a troubleshooting FAQ just for you. Download our Milk Kefir Guide and Recipe Book today!


download our milk kefir guide and recipe book today