Kefir grains are white, cauliflower-like solids that contain billions of bacteria and yeast. I could write another paragraph describing kefir grains but a photo would probably do the job better:
The container on the right holds milk kefir which had been fermented over 24 hours. The kefir grains are the white substances on the right. They’re actually kind of translucent and get their whiteness from the milk. If you rinse them in water (not required at all for normal kefir making), you should be able to see that they’re not completely white.
What are they used for?
Kefir grains are what ferment milk into kefir and during the fermentation process these grains produce byproducts that can confer many health benefits.
The grains need to be strained from the fermented kefir and put into new milk to make a new batch of kefir. It may come as a surprise but some people make kefir without realizing that there are grains in them! They simply save some of the older batch of kefir and put it into a new one. This might work because some of the kefir grains are transferred, but if the batch they saved happen not to have any grains in them, the next batch of milk would not be able to ferment into kefir or it would give inconsistent results.
The best way to strain kefir grains from kefir is to use a strainer like the one in the photo above. Some people use a spoon to scoop out the grains but it’s a tedious method and doesn’t always get all of the grains out.
Now that you know what kefir grains are, find out more about how to make kefir.