Here are the 5 signs that your kefir milk grains are in poor condition:
1. **They have shrunk**
- The reduction in size of kefir grains is primarily due to low temperatures or poor nutrition. Therefore, it's necessary to evaluate the care you are giving them and make the necessary changes before they deteriorate.
- Keep in mind that kefir grains thrive in environments with temperatures between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (70-80 Farenheit) , as long as they are kept away from direct sunlight.
- Additionally, your culture requires the correct proportion of milk for your kefir grains to remain in good condition. It is suggested to use one tablespoon of kefir grains per half-liter of fresh milk, whether it's whole or pasteurized (boiled first). Do not use lactose-free, skim, or plant-based milk.
- Use a glass jar for kefir production and make sure to cover it with a thin cloth secured with a rubber band. This way, gases won't accumulate inside the container, and your beverage will be protected from contaminants.
2. **The milk separates**
- When milk separates, it means there is a noticeable division between whey and casein, a protein found in dairy products from mammals. This separation doesn't necessarily mean your kefir grains are going bad, but it is a warning sign that you are not taking proper care of them.
- To prevent this, change the milk for the kefir grains more frequently. It's recommended to do this every 24 to 36 hours, depending on the consistency you desire in your kefir.
- If you have an excess of kefir grains, wash them with chlorine-free water, bottled water, whey, or fresh milk. Put the surplus in an airtight bag and store them in the freezer.
3. **They smell bad**
- Typically, kefir made from kefir grains has an odor similar to fresh yeast, cheese, or buttermilk.
- However, when kefir smells rancid, it indicates that the environment for your kefir grains is unbalanced, or some contaminating microorganisms have entered your culture.
- If you separate the kefir from the kefir grains and they continue to emit a bad odor, do not attempt to revive them with more fresh milk. It's best to discard them and obtain new grains for a fresh culture.
4. **They changed color**
- Although mold is uncommon in kefir production, it's important not to take any chances. Dangerous mold can appear on the surface of kefir grains in the form of green, orange, red, or black spots.
- In such cases, it's urgent to discard both the kefir grain culture and the kefir immediately. Do not try to salvage them or consume milk derived from grains with mold, as it could pose serious health risks.
- If your kefir grains appear yellowish, it's an indication that they are undernourished. Simply provide them with the appropriate amount of whole or pasteurized fresh milk to help them recover and give them the necessary care every day.
5. **They no longer produce quality kefir**
- Kefir grains are quite resilient and can survive if you forget to change their milk once in a while. However, leaving them in such conditions frequently could permanently damage them, affecting the quality of your kefir.
- If, after "reviving" them in fresh milk for a week, the consistency, taste, and smell of your kefir do not improve, it is highly recommended to discard that culture and start anew.
- Follow these tips to ensure your kefir grains remain in good condition and provide you with kefir that offers multiple health benefits.