If you own healthy water kefir grains, they will continually grow and multiply as they feed on their food source. In this case, the food source is the sugar water. But, how to store water kefir grains? There are so many ways in which you can store your kefir grains. Storage of kefir grains is important as it helps you save the backup in case you need new grains. It is also useful if you are going to travel and you wish to take a break from producing kefir. In this article, we will look at some methods you can use for storing your kefir grains.
Methods for Storing Water Kefir Grains
If you consider using this method, there are a few things that you need to do. First, put the grains in a clean lidded container with double the amount of sugar used in preparing the water kefir. The extra amount of sugar ensures that the kefir grains have sufficient food source. This will ensure they will last for a longer period.
Then use a plastic wrap to cover the jar. Do not use a breathable material, to prevent the evaporation of water. Plastic wraps will also help in preventing any explosion from the pressure of fermentation. This means that the jar lid should not be sealed. The plastic lid will vent with the increase in pressure. Then place the water sugar solution with kefir grains in the refrigerator. Set the temperature at 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit (2-4°C).
The cold in the fridge slows down the process of fermentation. This allows the grains to survive for a longer period in one batch of sugar. In case you lose track of time and you end up leaving the grains for longer than it is recommended, you do not have to worry. Simply give them a new batch of sugar on a daily basis for a few days. They will get back to normal. You can refrigerate your kefir grains for three to four weeks without any consequences. It is important to change the water once a week.
Reactivating Refrigerated Water Kefir Grains
After the rest period is over, you will need to separate the grains and discard the preserving water. Put the grains in a sugar-water solution. Ensure that you maintain the proper proportions of water, sugar and the grains.
There are times when a second resting period is required. If you find out that the grains still look slimy, white film or if they have a bad smell after the initial rest period, it is necessary that you make a new batch of the preservation solution and repeat the process.
Freezing is the most effective and simple way of storing kefir grains. It is ideal for storing the grains for two months but you can also store them for longer periods.
When preparing them for freezing, you will need to rinse the grains well in water. The water needs to be previously boiled and cooled. Strain any liquid off the grains and dry them using an absorbent lint-free material. Ensure that this material is well sterilized using a clean porous paper towel and a hot iron. Complete drying of the grains is important. Any water molecules that remain will expand once frozen which may damage the microorganism in the kefir grains.
Once dry, place the grains in a clean container that can be sealed, preferably in a ziplock plastic bag or a glass jar with a lid. Place the jar in the freezer at temperatures between 0° to 25°F.
Reactivating Frozen Water Kefir Grains
To reactive kefir grains that have been frozen, just put them in the fridge or soak them in a container of cold water for a few minutes. Then wash them in a sieve to get rid of any sugar that might be sticking on to them. They are now ready to be put back in their water-sugar solution where they can start feeding again.
Within a week, your grains should be ready to make kefir. In some cases, they can take a little longer if the temperature is low. You should continue adding the sugar solution to the fermenting grains until the point where you are satisfied with the number of kefir grains produced.
Dehydration of the kefir grains allows them to be deactivated. Then you can store them for up to one year or more if they are maintained under optimal conditions.
To store the grains, rinse them well in a boiled and cooled water. Pat the grains gently to get rid of any excess water and then spread them to dry on a parchment paper of nylon fabric. Cover them with another layer and tie the edges to avoid contamination by insects or dust. Ensure that there is air circulating above and beneath the grains and that they are kept in a warm/dry place. If these conditions are met, they should be dry within three to five days. You can also use a dehydrator but avoid overheating the grains above 85°F.
When dried, the grains will be quite brittle thus make sure that they are handled with a lot of care. Now put them in either a ziplock plastic bag, an airtight container or a jar and put them in the fridge. It is safe to put the dehydrated grains in the fridge for six months but they are still viable even when left for longer periods.
Reactivation of Dehydrated Kefir Grains
Put the grains in a clean jar and add the sugar water solution to allow them to soak and slowly reactivate. The sugar water should be replaced on a daily basis despite the level of fermentation they are showing. When it starts producing clean sour flavor, you can then increase the amount of liquid back to the regular amount. The process takes from four to seven days.
Equipment Needed for Storing Kefir Grains
Kefir grains are quite sensitive. Because of this, you need to ensure that proper care is taken when handling them. When storing these grains, you need to use the right equipment. It is recommendable that you use containers that are either plastic, wood or glass. Glass is the most suitable material as the kefir grains cannot easily stick to it. At all cost, avoid using metal. Metal can cause harm to the grains as they can disrupt their probiotic properties.
Kefir grains when stored properly can be used again even after a long period. They can be passed down from generation to another and they will continue multiplying for as long as they are in the use.
Kefir grains can be stored when not in use without any problems. There are three methods that you can use to preserve these precious kefir grains. You can opt for freezing, dehydration, or refrigeration. When you dehydrate, you can store the grains for six or more months, while refrigeration allows you a couple of weeks. Depending on your time needs you can choose either one of these methods. Dehydration is the most recommended as you can easily transport the grains to other places and also they can stay for longer periods when in this state.