Three Tips for Getting Your Milk Kefir Grains to Grow

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One of my favorite things about milk kefir is the continual growth of the grains. It gives you the option of making as much kefir as you could want, sharing the kefir love with friends, or using those kefir grains for something totally different, which we will be exploring later on in this series.

While the grains can be perfectly healthy without multiplying, I love the encouragement it gives me when I see them multiplying – they just seem happy.

But it’s not always as simple as keep on feeding them. Last time we explored how you need to increase the volume of milk you culture as your grains increase. This time lets explore a few other tips that I have found helpful in encouraging those grains to grow.

1. Agitate them.

Don’t annoy them, shake them. Rosalyn, a contributor here on the blog and a Customer Service Rep for CFH, gave me this little tip and it really did help. Sometimes the grains can get stagnant either at the top of the culturing jar or the bottom. Giving the jar a gentle shake every now and again through the culturing process will allow the grains access to the milk in other areas of the jar.

Fresh milk equals more food for the grains to feast on, which makes them happy and want to multiply.

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2. Keep them cozy and consistent.

One of the biggest struggles I have had is keeping my milk kefir grains at a consistent temperature in the winter. If your home has cold swings, say at night or between stoking a wood stove, then you’ll want to find a place to keep them that is as insulated as possible. Wrap them in a towel or keep them near a heat source, but not too close. Temperatures over 90 degrees can also negatively effect milk kefir.

3. Keep them small.

When you first receive your milk kefir grains they are very small. As they rehydrate and gain vigor they usually grow in size and in number. If you find that your kefir grains are getting larger but are not multiplying, you could try very gently breaking them apart by rubbing them between your fingers. This increases the surface area which increases their ability to take in nourishment from the milk, which may result in grains that multiply.

So, those are my main tips.

Do you have any tips for helping milk kefir grains multiply?


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. Jennifer says

    Thank you so much for these tips. I’ve never heard these before. I think I’m ready to retry milk kefir!

  2. says

    Yes, thank you! I am getting ready to start round 2 of kefir culturing at my house. My first batch never grew at all, and very so tiny after a too-long hibernation in the fridge that I gave up on them.

  3. Robin says

    i keep the grains in the fridge (covered with fresh milk) in between making batches of kefir. Should I actually be keeping them in a warm spot all the time?

    • says

      Robin – I believe you can do it either way, so long as you feed them frequently enough. The refrigerator slows down the fermentation process rapidly, so you don’t need to feed them daily in that scenario. How long do the kefir grains go in the fridge between making batches?

  4. Maryann Letkeman says

    What is the best way to get the grains out of the kefir? I have the white plastic strainer from Cultures for Health and it does not work to pour it thru….thanks

  5. Debra Bell says

    I am still in the rehydrating phase I think. It’s day 4 and today I got my first batch with the slight sourness to it. Yesterday it was too warm and I made curds and whey…should have stuck to the12 hour vs the 24 hr marker. But my grains are SO small I can’t hardly even tell where they are. I mean I think they are about the size of a grain of sand. I feel like I am trying to distinguish them from the curds. Is this normal and when will they become large enough to really identify? Thanks.

  6. Michelle says

    I have learned over the past year that fresh raw milk will make them grow beautifully. I have used store bought organic milk for the past year while making my kefir milk and they never grew. I recently found raw milk close by and they absolutely love the raw milk. After the first fermentation I noticed my grains plump up.

    • Alan says

      Thank you Michelle.
      I will go with the shaking and raw milk.
      I came here looking for answers and I do believe I have found them.

  7. Nan says

    Thanks for the tips! My grains have been getting large and unwieldy. They seem to work fine but I wondered if I could break them up and the best way to do it.

    Ultra Pasteurization is the problem with Organic milk – at least the milk I’ve found at Costco and other local stores. Kefir doesn’t like ultra pasteurized milk at all.

  8. says

    I make the creamiest Kefir ever! Fill a 1.5 cup Mason jar with 1/3 of grains-add fresh whole raw grass fed cows milk to neck of jar (where jar begins to narrow at top) ccover tightly and put n dark cabinet-shake every few hrs then open jar and let air exchange- the moment you see a bit of whey shake jar vigorously-it may be 10 tyo 12 hrs or a little less-open jar and stir well-lightly press the grains with clean spoon-re-cover and put in fridge overnight-give jar a gentle swirl from time to time. My grains multiply by about a tablespoon and the Kefir is fizzy, silky smooth, tangy and thicker than top grade buttermilk. I now use a clamp trop jar that makes about a quart of Kefir using the same measurements-1/3 grains-2/3rd apprx. milk. Before Kefir my grandchildren were getting ear infections and colds over and over-since Kefir no one has been sick! One grand son-3 sneaks in refrigerator and drinks out of the jar-others I put in their smoothies -Kefir instead of milk or water makes the best Corn Bread ever! I have cancer and Kefir made the side effects from the chemo less severe and gave me great strength and stamina-before Kefir I could hardly get out of bed-a year later I consider Kefir a miracle and some of my at first skeptical doctors are now recommending it to their patients!

    • says

      Frank – This is such a wonderful testimony! Thank you for sharing your love for and experience with milk kefir. I share in your love for this fermented goodness!

    • Lynda Smith says

      Frank…could you please give your method a step one, two etc. I’m a little unsure as to when I open jar to let in air etc. I’d really like to give your method a try. Thanks, Lynda

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