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Are you talking milk or water? I've tried making the kefir water before. It wasn't bad but I'm sure I could've done better. I made it in the summertime and then when winter came, I made it so seldom that I killed the grains. I thought I had stored them properly but failed.
I'm thinking of giving it another try this spring.
Some people just need a sympathetic pat... On the head... With a hammer.
We got a kefir starter from a local person on craigslist who had hers going for a while. I think we got it about a year ago and have been making our own ever since.
My routine is to add milk to the starter in the morning, a bit over half a quart mason jar, lightly put the lid on (more to keep out airborn cooties than to seal it off), and leave it over night on the kitchen counter. By the next morning it has done its magic, and I pour it through a colander with fine holes, set over another bowl. I use a spoon to flip the grains around, bang the colander on the bowl, to get most of the kefir off the grains. Then I scoop the grains into a clean mason jar and repeat.
Eventually the grains build up to a bigger pile, so I toss some in with the kefir in our smoothies. Otherwise you could portion some out to make a new starter to share.
I've let it go a couple days without straining. Sometimes we don't have smoothies on weekends. If it's really warm I'll pop the jar in the fridge Sunday night to slow it down, then use as usual on Monday.
I think there are some forums and websites where people share starters, and you can try craigslist locally. I've read that dried grains and anything storebought don't have the full range of cooties as do homegrown starters, but who knows.
You just keep reusing the grains from the kefir to culture fresh milk. The grains end up being weird gooey blobby clumps that separate from the cultured milk. So once you drain the cultured milk from the grains, the grains go into a clean jar with fresh milk.
I think if you add back cultured milk or reuse the jar without washing, funky cultures can start to accumulate and 'take over' the grains. At least that's what I've read. There are supposed to be all kinds of strains of bacilli in kefir, both wheat and dairy 'eating' and that can fluctuate based on local conditions like temperature, kind of milk used, time of year etc.
I do notice a difference when I use different brands of milk, but nothing negative.