Suddenly my kefir grains are very, very happy. Today I decided to dry some to freeze for those times when I lose my marbles....er....my grains. Yes, you can lose your kefir grains. For me, it usually happens when I am in a hurry and have multiple jars to fill after milking: a jar for kefir, a jar for us, a jar for the folks, a jar for the bulk of the milk to save up to make a big batch of cheese. The grains go into the wrong jar, and the next day I have a jar of clabbered milk on my counter. Sheesh.
If....when....this happens, I simply reach into my freezer for the little jar of dried and frozen kefir grains. They are my kefir insurance and also a stash of grains for sharing with new kefirites. These teensy, cream-colored bits will remain viable for a couple of years, and since mine are two years old now, it is time to replace them.
Drying them is amazingly simple. I simply scoop out the amount of grains I wish to dry....I used about a third of a cup or so....and rinse them well with filtered water. I normally don't rinse my grains, but for drying I do. Then I simply spread them out on a folded paper towel and set it in a safe container to sit near my woodstove for a week or two, checking and stirring them daily.
When they seem to have no moisture left, I put them in a little glass jar and put that in a bag, marked with the date and contents, and put it in the door of my freezer (so that I will have a prayer of ever finding it again.) To share some, I simply wrap a few bits in a clean bit of tissue paper and put that into a small container for safe travel. We don't want them to arrive at their new home completely powdered, or for someone to grab a tissue and see little dried....er....bits fall out. Eek.
Rehydrating is a simple as placing the grains in a cup of milk and straining them out daily and placing them into a cup of fresh milk, left at room temperature in a jar with a lid. Give these first changes of milk to the dog or to the compost pile. When it is kefir, you will know. You will no longer question the smell but will be strangely drawn to it. Even if you, like me, don't care for the smell, you will be attracted and fascinated by it. It is very good for you. I promise.