Behind the Scenes at The Chicago Green Festival with Jerri


Note from Shannon: I am pleased to bring the voices of our lovely contributors to this space every Tuesday. Please welcome Jerri, CFH Customer Service Rep & cultured kitchen-keeper.

I love people! What an amazing weekend. The excitement, curiosity, and gratefulness of the visitors to our booth at the Chicago Green Festival were astounding. Being my first experience at this kind of venue, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Although pretty worn out by Sunday evening, I had a fabulous time meeting folks and working the booth with Julie, Rosalyn, and Suzanne. Chicago, as much as I enjoyed sharing my culturing knowledge with you, you enlightened me as well!

So many interactions are embedded in my memory…


… “I can make my OWN kombucha, really?”

… “My job as a kid was to scrape off the mold from the barrel of sauerkraut each week…blech!”

… The looks on a young couple’s faces when I said, “Oh yes, I feed extra kombucha scobys to my golden retriever!”


… “You look so healthy!”

… “You EAT so healthy!”

…The incredible eagerness of Suzanne’s #1 fan, clapping her hands at Suzanne as she playfully ordered, “Hurry, hurry! Why aren’t you ready for the demonstration? Let’s go, I’m ready to learn!”

… “I incubate my yogurt in a microwave.” (Wow!)

…A sweet grandmother coaxes her granddaughter to purchase a Grolsch bottle so she can further her kombucha culturing experiment, reassuring her she can simply wrap it up in the clothing in her suitcase so she can take it on the plane, saying, “I’ll pay for it darlin’! If you want it I’ll buy it for you. Go on now!”


But, my all-time favorite interaction – the one that made instantaneous butterflies explode in my stomach? After a tip on rehydrating milk kefir (increase your milk by ½ cup each time it cultures the milk before the 24 hour window is up), I was asked to be video recorded so my instructions wouldn’t be forgotten!

This was completely out of my comfort zone, and I believe I bumbled my way through…but my dear customer, if it made your milk kefir successful, it was worth every topsy-turvy feeling.


Thank you Chicago!



Jerri is a wife and mama. Her culturing adventures began several years ago with other moms who were seeking a healthy way of feeding our families. Together they dabbled in milk kefir, yogurt, sourdough, kombucha and sauerkraut. In the past year she's expanded from sauerkraut to other vegetables, and has grown a passion for water kefir!

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  1. Virginia Gardner says

    “increase your milk by ½ cup each time it cultures the milk before the 24 hour window is up” … rehydrating grains is my nemesis. My grains just never grow! I get plenty of kefir, that’s not the problem… but I want to share! I don’t understand the sentence. Do you mean, for example — put grains in the milk that morning, place on shelf; that evening before bed, add 1/2 cup milk to the jar. ??



    • says

      Hi Virginia!

      Jerri passed along the following response to your question:

      My apologies for the confusing sentence! And equally sorry the rehydrating phase plagues you! Generally what some people see happen in the first few days of rehydration, is that their milk will be thickened before the 24 hours are up, or it has even overcultured (super thick like cottage cheese) when they go to change it at 24 hours. If you find this happens, on your milk change, increase the milk amount by 1/2 cup. You are giving the grains more food to consume! So if you were using 1 cup and it thickened before the 24 hour window, remove the grains, and go ahead and give it 1 1/2 cups of milk. If you then see that with this 1 1/2 cups of milk that it again thickens before the 24 hour window is up, increase your next milk change to 2 cups. After several increases in milk and usually by Day 5 your grains are ready to go.

      So really it’s a matter of seeing what your grains do, to determine if you need to supply more milk. Although we cannot guarantee grains will grow and multiply, healthy grains should continue to make wonderful kefir. But please, feel free to contact us via Live Chat, email, or by phone! We’re happy to talk you through it. No one should go through rehydration alone. :).

    • Rosalyn says

      Virginia, the way to increase milk as the kefir grains get stronger is by using a little more milk in each batch. For instance, when the grains have successfully cultured one cup of milk in less than 24 hours, when you make the next batch, use 1-1/2 cups. Then when that amount cultures successfully in less than 24 hours, use 2 cups. Each time you get to the point where the kefir is culturing successfully in less than 24 hours, use an additional 1/2 cup in the next batch.

      Ultimately you should be able to culture 1 quart of milk in about 24 hours using about 1 teaspoon of grains. Culturing more than 1 quart at a time can be tricky because it’s hard for the culture to circulate in all that milk, but you can do it (if you want to make a lot at once) by stirring up the milk during the culturing period.

      If you have more than 1 teaspoon of grains in each batch, the kefir might culture too quickly and start to separate, so that’s part of your calculation too. If the grains start multiplying quickly, you should separate them, and either store the extras (in milk, in the refrigerator), or share them with friends.

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