Freezing Kefir Grains – How to Freeze & Store Milk Kefir

Can you freeze kefir grains? Yes, you can freeze milk kefir grains. How to store milk kefir grains by freezing them is explained in the following 4 steps.

1. Step
Place the milk kefir grains in new milk and let them ferment for 2 days.

2. Step
Separate the milk kefir grains from the milk using a plastic strainer. Shake the grains in the strainer in order for some of the attached milk to fall. Shake for at least 20 seconds.

3. Step
Place the grains in a small plastic bag and add a very tiny little bit of new milk to it. Only use a very tiny little bit of milk such that the kefir grains are still mostly exposed to the air in the bag and not swimming in liquid.

4. Step
Put them in the freezer.

Here is a picture of grains I have frozen.

Kefir Grains Frozen

Freezing Kefir Grains

With this process you can store your kefir grains for multiple months.

How to defrost milk kefir grains
Take the grains out of the freezer and let them slowly defrost in the fridge. Once they are not hard any more, place them in cool (fridge cool) new milk and place it somewhere warmer 65-75°F (18-25°C). Let it ferment for 2 days. Discard the first 2-3 batches and then try if it tastes again as you know it. If it does not, then continue discarding batches until it is again tasty.

My experience freezing milk kefir grains
I froze the grains as in the description and had them at 0°F (-18°C) for 9 months and they recovered. However, it took me 7-10 batches until the Kefir tasted again as before the freezing. I made the mistake of washing them with water every time, but as soon as I stopped, it started to taste good again. Some people recommend adding milk powder before freezing – I have no experience with that and usually also no milk powder available at home.

Have you frozen your kefir grains? The most interesting will probably be what the maximum possible time duration is. For how long did you freeze them and did they work again afterwards? Or have you got any other tips?


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Comments

  1. Jackie -

    Thanks for the article!

    Is it possible to freeze them without adding the little bit of milk? My mum took out the fermented milk, washed them in water and then put them in a little plastic bag in the freezer without milk. The next time she thawed them was like a week later, and added milk to ferment. A day later I opened the container and though the milk around the kefir was more yoghurty, 90% of it was just sour tasting milk it seemed. 90% of it was really watery, but when mixed in it seemed of similar consistency to previous batches before the freezing. Could some of the kefir grains not have survived the freezing process. Is it safe to drink? And how do I know if some grains are dead so as to throw the dead ones out?

  2. antonio -

    Hi Jackie, thanks for your comment!

    I would be careful with drinking it if it does not taste, smell, and look like usual. Better to throw away a batch too much than not enough. Food poisoning is nothing enjoyable.

    I do not see any benefits in taking risk.

    If your kefir tastes similar to what you are used to, after throwing away batches for a week or even two, you can be reasonably sure that your kefir grains are fine (again).

    Another thing you can do to limit risk, is to start with drinking only a bit of kefir and then increase the amount with each following day.

    That your kefir is not as usual probably has more to do with the grains being frozen and having been washed with water than with the missing milk. So far, I only made bad experiences with washing kefir grains in water (the next kefir batch turned out unusually sour afterwards).

    I do not think that the “missing” milk played a role in it.

    After being frozen, it may take some time for the kefir to get back to its old strength. It is a living organism that has gone through a rough time by being frozen.

    Kefir grains are made up of many very small bacterias and yeast (fungi). Some bacteria and yeast probably died during freezing. But also during regular usage (without freezing), some bacteria and fungi will die. These small dead parts may be dispersed throughout all of your grains. If after a week or two, your kefir tastes, smells, and looks similar as you know it and the kefir grains look as you know it (firm), then you should be okay. If you find that some or all of the grains are unusually soft or otherwise non-normal, then be careful. I would separate non-normal grains and throw them away. But if the grains are non-normal, then I would also expect the finished kefir milk to smell or taste non-normal.

  3. Valerie Rosel -

    Hello!

    I live in Italy and received grains from a little old Italian lady. lol. She gave me grains that were frozen and told me to just leave on the counter and lightly cover with milk. I decided to add a cup of milk and was checking it. It looked amazing and tasted great, until I noticed it started separating.
    When I changed the milk I noticed at least 1/3c of kefir granules!!! Some looked long and stringy, while others resembled grains like in the photos. I grow my own sourdough starter, so I just knew you have to discard some grains or they will take over. I cannot make 4cups of kefir daily, so I still kept a lot- roughly 3-4 tablespoons and added 1.5cups of milk. I know, not enough.
    But tomorrow I’ll separate them into two jars and increase the milk. I believe the granules are still good, because at one point when I tasted the kefir (maybe 6 hours later) the taste was delicious. After 10 hours, however, the taste was terrible and I couldn’t drink it.

  4. Diane -

    I have frozen milk kefir grains in a mason jar filled with whole goats milk and 4 years later thawed them in the frig rinsed them off and placed then in about a cup of whole (store bought) milk. I had to make several small batches each time adding more milk but after about 4 batches the kefir was working and tasting great! The grains have multiplied enough that I will have to split them and share with family since there’s too much for just one person.




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