Milk Kefir: The Common Mistake You Might Be Making


Cultures are living organisms. As such, no two batches of anything are always alike. You might have success, at first, and then find that your culture is struggling. Milk kefir is no exception. While it is a fairly hardy culture, it has its needs just like all of the others – food, temperature, and attention.

If you’re following along with our series on making milk kefir (see part one for rehydrating the grains and part two for making kefir), then you might be getting into a rhythm of making milk kefir every day.You might desire to continue making lots of kefir and have your grains multiply in order to start new batches, pass them around to friends, or use them to ferment something else.

This is often where folks hit a wall, I know I have. There is a common mistake people make right about now that, if reversed, could help you keep your grains healthy, strong, and multiplying. Wanna’ know what the most common mistake is when it comes to keeping your grains healthy and strong?

The number one mistake people make is not increasing the volume of milk used in culturing once the grains become active.

As your grains multiply, they require more food to keep them healthy and to continue their multiplication. Continuing with the original volume of milk with an increased volume of kefir grains can strain the culture and put you at a stand-still with your grain multiplication.

According to Bonni, a CFH Customer Service Rep and blog Contributor, it is best to increase the amount of milk incrementally. So, as your kefir grains grow, so should the volume of milk they are culturing.

If you read through the directions that come with the kefir grains, you will see that it states that one to two teaspoons of grains are sufficient to culture one quart of milk. Too many grains can create a stronger yeast flavor or undesired physical changes in the kefir.

The bottom line: feed your milk kefir grains more milk as they multiply. A couple of teaspoons of grains per quart is a good ratio. That way you’ll have plenty of kefir grains to share or use for different purposes, which we’ll discuss next time.

I know I’ve made this mistake before. Have you?


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. Diana Curtis says

    Thank you for this timely info, I was running out of ideas how to use up the slightly to yeasty for smoothies kefir! The kefir grains thank you too.

  2. Angie says

    Once my grains multiply past my need for them, what can i do with them if i have no one to share them with?

  3. Amanda B. says

    I have had my grains since January 2012 and love them – until I accidentally ate all but one. I now have one lovely little grain, but it doesn’t want to multiply (he’s been on his own since last summer). I put him in a quart of milk and give him his time, but after checking batch after batch, he has no friends. Would you have any guesses as to why my grain doesn’t multiply (but still does his job well)?

    • Marie says

      Amanda, try putting you tiny little bit of grains into just a cup of milk, then when he starts growing again, increase the milk to two cups, then three, until you have two tbsp of grains – then you can go back to a quart of milk. Give them time & they’ll perform.

  4. sonya says

    Great info. I hadn’t thought of the ratio issue. It’s tangy but I like it that way. I’m new to kefir (started in Feb.) My kefir grain is the size of a golf ball now and since we don’t use a whole lot of it at once I’ve kept the batches fairly small. Can I break apart the large chunk without making it “upset”?

  5. Kathryn says

    Perhaps this is why my milk kefir tastes so strong that no one will drink it. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Jen says

    Yes, this makes sense. But if I am to apply it I’d have to make a quart each time, which is way too much kefir for us. We drink about a 1/2 cup a day. What routine would you recommend if you don’t want to make a quart every 24 hours?


  7. Jax says

    Have you considered using the extra kefir for a facial? Leaving it on to long can leave the skin red for an hour or so, but the results will be worth it. It can also be included in a lukewarm bath for a nice soak. It will help to to remove the dry skin that many have during the winter months.

    • says

      Jax – That’s such an interesting idea. Whenever I strain kefir by dumping it into a bowl and removing the grains with clean hands, I always notice that the hand I used is always in great shape afterwards.

  8. Cindy says

    In my state, raw milk is illegal, I have been told. What then is the best kind of milk to use to make milk kefir? I have been dying to try it!


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