Khoollect in the kitchen: caring for kefir grains

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

You may have seen this interesting fermented beverage lining the shelves of your local health food store or supermarket and wondered, ‘what in the name of fizzy drinks is that?’. Well, kefir is a deliciously tangy, fermented drink made from kefir grains. And, someone who knows much about this ancient ingredient is Hayley Barisa Ryczek, author of Fermented Foods Every Day. You can try making Hayley’s basic kefir recipe, and once you’re in the swing of kefir making, you’ll want to make sure your kefir grains are in tip-top condition. Here’s how.

Hayley gives Khoollect her tips on caring for kefir grains:

  • Kefir will ferment slower in a cool environment and quicker in a warm room. If you want your kefir to have a thick consistency, allow it to culture for longer.
  • If you have kefir grains and you’re not ready to ferment a new batch, store them in the refrigerator covered with milk. They will enter a dormant state.
  • When you’re ready to ferment a batch using the refrigerated grains, the process will take a bit more time. If you’re starting a new batch of kefir using grains from a previous batch, it’s not necessary to rinse the grains. When a little bit of the last batch of kefir clings to the grains, this keeps them strong and hardy.
  • If you drop your grains on the floor, the kitchen counter, or in the sink, or add the wrong type of milk, rinse them promptly to remove potentially harmful bacteria.
  • When rinsing grains, always use fresh spring water or distilled water, because tap water contains minerals that can interfere with the fermentation process.

Recipe and images taken from Fermented Foods at Every Meal by Hayley Barisa Ryczek, published by Fair Winds Press (£12.99)

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Try making kefir at home.