Milk Kefir: Removing the Grains from the Finished Kefir


Making milk kefir is so simple, and that is one of the many reasons I love it. However, the one part of the process that can become difficult is removing the grains from the finished kefir.

I’ve used a few methods over the years and all have worked for me at various points of my kefir-making career. I really think it just comes down to personal preference, what you like and what you don’t like.

But for those who commented on struggling with this, I thought I’d share three popular options.

The Strainer


I have used strainers of different varieties to strain off the kefir. This works well, depending on the viscosity of the kefir, which is usually a factor of how long you allowed your kefir to culture.

If you are culturing a thin, drinkable kefir at only 6-12 hours culture time, then a strainer is super simple to use and will just “catch” the grains as the kefir passes easily through.

If, on the other hand, you are making a thicker, longer-fermented kefir, then this can get a bit trickier. The thick kefir will collect in your strainer like a thick yogurt and you must find the kefir grains within.

To achieve this, I find that stirring with a small plastic spoon allows the kefir to break up and pass through the strainer, leaving the larger kefir grains behind.

Brand new kefir grains that are still rehydrating or are just still very small can be sensitive to the stirring process, though. So I personally like to save the stirring and straining for when the kefir grains are mature and large enough to withstand the stirring.

The Muslin Bag


Another option is to use these small muslin bags. Placing the milk kefir grains inside of them contains them, separate from the surrounding milk, and easy to fish out at the end of the process.

I can only recommend using this with mature, healthy grains as their is a possibility of restricting milk flow to the kefir grains, which could be hard on new, developing grains.

The Hand-in-Bowl Method

This is my go-to method when I’m in a hurry, frantic in the kitchen, or just plain need to get those kefir grains out of there now.

I just pour my quart of cultured kefir into a medium glass bowl, put my clean hand into the kefir, and fish out the grains with my fingers as I break up the texture of the kefir.

It isn’t always pretty, but it gets the job done when you’ve got three little ones tugging at your apron.

How do you remove the kefir grains from your cultured kefir?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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  1. L Nood says

    Hope Cultures for Health has a coupon code for kefir starter cultures soon. I’d like to try water kefir.

    Any different advice about removing the grains from water kefir?

    • Rosalyn says

      Removing water kefir grains is easy! Just pour the finished kefir into a clean jar through a mesh strainer, and the grains will stay in the strainer. Water kefir grains tend to be much bigger to start with, and of course the water pours through easily.

  2. Gustav says

    I’m just starting to rehydrate my milk kefir grains you sent me. Any advice for fishing out the small grains. Also how long does it take for them to be large enough to not go through the holes in my plastic strainer?
    Thanks and good website.

    • Rosalyn says

      A very fine-mesh strainer should catch even the tiniest grains. Another way to find them are by pouring the kefir into a shallow bowl and just fishing around with your (clean) fingers! Kefir grains will tend to grow faster if you change the milk more frequently – at least every 24 hours, but as soon as every 12 hours. You’ll get thinner kefir (which also makes it easier to find the grains), but the grains will get fresh food more often. You can also try stirring up the kefir while it’s culturing to expose more of the grains’ surface area to the milk.

  3. ardea says

    There’s a neat little sprouting gizmo out there called the “Easy Sprout Sprouter” that consists of several pieces of plastic that fit together to coordinate incredible sprouting goodness. I can’t say enough positive things about this contraption, but that’s not why I’m here today. Today I’m here to tell you that one of the lids, the measuring cup, works perfectly for straining out milk kefir curds. I dump the kefir (I like mine thick and strong) into the cup (which is sitting inside my mason jar funnel which is sitting on my mason jar) and stick in my index finger and wiggle it about until the deed is done. Works like a charm. I have various other straining devices but this works best for me (it’s inverted in this pic):,d.cGE&psig=AFQjCNHaOG1eCXTXXwcvFBa_9wRhqWoNNg&ust=1370668276626255

  4. Jamaica says

    Interesting series on milk kefir, thank you! I have dairy goats, so I make kefir with unpasteurized goat’s milk.

    I have a kefir “mushroom.” It was given to me about a year and a half ago by a lovely Russian woman, who in turn had acquired it from a Chinese gentleman. She fished it out of her kefir jar, cut off a hunk for me, and gave me several verbal instructions.

    I have nearly killed it a couple of times by leaving it too long. But by babying it with fresh milk for several days it starts making proper kefir again after a few days. When it is doing it right, my husband loves to drink it straight, as he says it tastes like the best fresh buttermilk. I use it for smoothies, pancakes, dips, etc. As far as I know, the mushroom doesn’t multiply with “grains” but simply grows into a bigger and bigger mushroom. Right now it is about the size of the last two thirds of my pinky finger. It has two lobes, and has a lot of folds so it seems to have a lot of surface area. I did cut it in half sometime last year, but I managed to permanently kill one of the halves by leaving it too long in the fridge. The half that survived has doubled in size.

    My question is: do you think I should be cutting it, or breaking it, into smaller pieces to get better, more consistent results? Is it possible it is a different strain that doesn’t create grains but simply grows? The Russian woman was very insistent that the correct term for it is “mushroom” rather than “grains.”

  5. Liz says

    Thank you for this blog, it is really useful. I have been making the Kefir for about 3 mths now. I do not live in a hot area, South West of England. I have no problems with my grains multiplying, I have just increased the milk as the grains increase. I have now separated some into a new batch as they just grow rapidly. I leave it on my worktop in the kitchen up to 24 hours. I put it on a shelf near a heater in winter.

    I just spoon the larger curds into a clean bowl and then strain the rest through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl/measuring jug. I then strain it again into a clean jar for drinking. I put the curds into the measuring jug and put new milk into it and pour back into clean jar. I keep the made Kefir in the fridge as it becomes creamer.
    I like the idea of wrapping a towel around the jar to keep it warm in colder temperatures but I just find it just takes a little longer without. I do stir it gently to mix the thick with the thin.
    I love everyone’s ideas and tips on here, thank you. I would like to know what to do with with all the extra grains as I have no one who wants them. Also, what is the right amount to drink daily. Is it okay to drink on empty stomach in the morning and before you go to bed. There seems to be many opinions about this.

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