What Are Kefir Grains ?

Kefir grains are the natural mother culture of both milk and water kefir. They are not actual grains as in rice, millet or other such grains. Rather, they look kind of granular, hence their name.


These grains are naturally occurring in nature and they cannot be made. Only starter cultures in powder form are made in the laboratory.


Both milk and water grains composed of a number of bacteria and yeasts living together in a symbiosis relationship.  Each batch of kefir grains may differ from another in the number of bacteria and yeasts strains. Kefir grains feed on the food derived from the milk or sugar-water in which they are placed in. This process of them eating and feeding will cause byproducts such as enzymes, lactic acid, carbon dioxide and a little ethanol (alcohol).


Kefir grains digest the lactose in milk which is why kefir is usually suitable even for those who are lactose intolerant. When all the food present in milk or sugary-water is consumed, there is no more food left and the beverage is considered done.

Long Live Kefir Grains !

As the grains feed on food, they will grow and reproduce. This means to say that with proper care, live grains will last forever. So, if your grains are healthy, they will serve you and your descendants for years to come!

water grains Malaysia.jpg
milk grains Malaysia.jpg

Can The
Grains Be Contaminated ?

You bet they can! The good news is that this very seldom happens. The bacteria and yeasts that makes up live kefir grains are strong and resilient. They usually overcome pathogenic bacteria, which is why candida sufferers use kefir as part of their regiment to combat candida.


However, if you are unable to care for the grains properly, you may face issues such as grain contamination or your grains start to ‘die-off’ (due to starvation!),  You will know your grains are contaminated if you see colors that is not native to the grains present such as yellow, orange, blue, green or gray.

The complexity of the milk kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, lipids [fats] and soluble-polysaccharides.


While milk kefir has been compared to yogurt (though it has superior properties compared to yoghurt), Kefir’s microflora is much more complex. The exact composition of microorganisms that form the grains usually varies slightly, depending on the media where they are cultured, and so water and milk kefir differ in some microorganisms that may specifically grow on milk and not fruit, and the other way around. Also, depending on the fruits used to culture Water Kefir, we may be adding new friendly yeast and bacteria to our grains.

The Complex Microflora
Kefir Grains 

Milk Kefir Grains Composition

Below is a list of the bacteria and yeast strain that is commonly (though not exactly the same in every batch) found in a batch of milk grains. 


Species : Lactobacilli (Lb)

Strains  : Lb. acidophilus

Lb. brevis

Lb. kefiri

Lb. casei subsp. casei

Lb. casei subsp. rhamnosus

Lb. paracasei subsp. Paracasei

Lb. fermentum

Lb. cellobiosus

Lb. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus

Lb. delbrueckii subsp. Lactis

Lb. fructivorans

Lb. helveticus.

Lb. hilgardii

Lb. helveticus

Lb. kefiri

Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefirgranum

Lb. kefiranofaciens subsp. kefiranofaciens

Lb. parakefiri

Lb. plantarum



Species : Streptococci (S)

Strains : S. thermophiles

S. paracitrovorus


Species : Lactococci (Lc)

Strains : Lc. lactis subsp.

Lc. lactis subsp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis

Lc. lactis subsp. Cremoris


Species : Leuconostoc (Leuc)

Strains : Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. cremoris

Leuc. mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides

Leuc. dextranicum


Species : Enterococci (Ent)

Strains : Ent. Durans


Strains : Dekkera anomala / Brettanomyces anomalus

Kluyveromyces marxianus / Candida kefyr

Pichia fermentans / C. firmetaria

Yarrowia lipolytica / C. lipolytica

Debaryomyces hansenii / C. famata

Deb. [Schwanniomyces] occidentalis

Issatchenkia orientalis / C. krusei

Galactomyces geotrichum / Geotrichum candidum

C. friedrichii

C. rancens

C. tenuis

C. humilis

C. inconspicua

C. maris

Cryptococcus humicolus

Kluyveromyces lactis var. lactis

Kluyv. bulgaricus

Kluyv. lodderae

Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Sacc. subsp. torulopsis holmii

Sacc. pastorianus

Sacc. humaticus

Sacc. unisporus

Sacc. exiguus

Sacc. turicensis sp. nov

Torulaspora delbrueckii

Zygosaccharomyces rouxii


Strains : A. aceti

A. pasteurianus

A. rasens

Water kefir grains contain bacteria from the lactobacilli species, streptococci and leuconostoc and fewer strains of yeasts compared to milk kefir grains.

Live Grains VS  Starter  Culture Packs

So, is it better to use live grains or starter culture?

Advantages of using live grains

Advantages of using starter culture packs

1. Health Properties – live grains contain many more strains and species of probiotics and need not be replenished. In fact, they reproduce.


2. Cost – starter culture packs are much costlier and needs to be replenished after a few rounds.

1. You know what exactly are the strains of culture used (for those who wants to avoid certain strains or yeasts)


2. Convenient – not much care needed