Why is my kefir bitter?
February 23, 2012 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Why is my milk kefir bitter?

I purchased a package of a half tablespoon of milk kefir grains mid-February. They were shipped USPS from Texas and remained in my mailbox for at least three days in 28F-50F weather. These were not dehydrated, and came in a sandwich bag filled with a thick milky liquid (whether it was a thick powdered milk paste or just milk, I do not know.)

I came home and placed the grains in 8 ounces of pasteurized, 1% milk. This milk was sweet and unspoiled.

I used a cool porcelain teacup (which I first sterilized in boiling water) for the grains and milk, covered the top with a paper towel and rubberband. This remained undisturbed on my counter in 72F temperature for 24 hours.

Tasting the kefir afterwards, I noticed it was mildy bitter with the consistency of thin yogurt. I strained out the grains, discarding the original milk and rinsed the grains with new milk before placing the grains in a new teacup and fresh milk. I was not going to be home for 2 days, so I left the teacup covered with a paper towel in my refrigerator. I came back to see the milk had become SUPER thick, almost like regular yogurt. The taste was more bitter than ever.

I have since repeated the milk rinse and placed the grains in sweet, new milk in my fridge.

The grains have not increased in size or quantity. They remain as they have arrived in the mail; whitish jelly chunks. They do not look like cauliflower florets.

What am I doing wrong? Why does my kefir come out bitter?
posted by ayc200 to Food & Drink (4 answers total)
The bitterness in dairy products comes from high acidity. You may be letting the little yeasties warm up for to long.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 6:21 PM on February 23, 2012

Response by poster: But the milk was in the refrigerator.
posted by ayc200 at 6:30 PM on February 23, 2012

IIRC the grains may require a period of adjustment after being posted; I seem to recall having to discard my first few batches for reasons of taste (not sure if it was bitterness as such). Give them a few more cycles, preferably using whole milk instead of that 1% cloudy water, leaving them at room temp for a few days.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:35 PM on February 23, 2012

Yeah, traveling is hard on them. I just got some grains last month and mine made weird kefir for a week. Yours may be similarly out of wack, especially since they sat in the mailbox a few days too.

I would follow Kandarp's advice and keep letting them cycle. Mine were fixed up in about a week.

Also, have you ever read the Dom's kefir website? It is a great resource for kefir information.
posted by feets at 5:25 AM on February 24, 2012

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