I have received several questions/comments about my "How To Make Kefir" post over the past few days, in person and via comments...so I thought I'd post them here, as someone else may be thinking the same thing.
When I leave my kefir on the counter for more than 24 hours it starts separating. What is that? Is it still safe to drink?
That, my friend, is how you make whey. You can ignore it and proceed with your kefir-making as planned, and just stir the kefir so that it is all uniform and creamy white looking again...or you can pour it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth (or a clean kitchen towel) and have the clearish, liquidy whey drip on through, and keep the "Kefir cheese" that was caught in the cloth (mix it with herbs for a spreadable cheese). The whey can be used to lacto-ferment veggies or fruits, or mix it in with some freshly made juice for a probiotic kick in your juice. So, not only is this safe to drink, it is downright wonderful for you!
(Whey can be made either will regular raw milk or kefir. In both cases you just leave a container of it on the counter until it separates, then pour it out like I detailed above. I used to use raw milk to make kefir but it can take up to a week to separate, and kefir is much quicker so I use kefir now. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH STORE-BOUGHT MILK, IT WILL PUTREFY AND KILL YOU (well, you won't feel good for a while anyway!) IF YOU LEAVE IT ON THE COUNTER LIKE THIS.)
Wish I lived closer to you. I've been wanting to make kefir, but have no idea where to buy the grains to get started.
Yes, getting grains from a kefir-making friend is the cheapest and easiest way to get started. BUT, if that is not an option, I highly recommend Cultures for Health. This company is a superb source for supplies for all things fermented and cultured. Kefir, Kombucha, Yogurt, Sourdough...you name it. I'm not an affiliate or anything, just a very happy and impressed customer. They have tons of free information and video tutorials available on their site also.
A sketchier way to buy grains would be off Ebay. This is where my friend Kris and I got our grains originally almost 6 years ago. (Hadn't heard of Cultures for Health back then.) We've just kept those grains going ever since. Obviously, just check the seller's ratings to make sure you're buying from a good dealer that has lots of happy customers.
Your third option, Cara, is to move back...please, please!
Where did you get your strainer? I need one that will "sit" by itself like that, but I haven't found one yet that doesn't just fall off the container because of the weight of the handle...
I got my strainers at, drumroll please....Wally World. It actually comes in a four-pack that has graduated sizes in it. It is FABULOUS! As I mentioned, I like using the biggest strainer I can simply because it makes the whole process quicker...but it is so nice having multiple sizes available and I use those other sizes all the time for other kitchen tasks. AND, the pack costs $1.98. THIS is the set I have, and I see that it is only available in stores.
Cultures for Health also sells two sizes of plastic strainers. I've never bought these, but I'm sure the quality would be good.