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Are My Water Kefir Grains Dead?

by Amber Fairweather |

Generally, kefir grains are buoyant, resilient, and can stay alive for years.

However, if they are abandoned by not regularly feeding them or keeping them in the fridge for too long (6+ weeks), they can become weak and eventually die. To begin with, it is very important to know what your kefir grains look like when they are healthy, so you can easily tell if something goes wrong.

All Symbiota cultures are fed and nourished right up to the time of dispatch.

What should my kefir grains look like?

Kefir grains can vary in color depending on the sugars they are fed. From white translucent to a yellow/brown color. Kefir grains, otherwise known as kefir culture, can vary in size and shape.

How do I know if my kefir it fermenting?

Normally, if the water kefir grains are able to turn sweet water into tangy kefir within 72 hours at temperatures between 22-26 degrees Celcius, then they are fine. 

To know if your water kefir grains are dead, use them to ferment a new batch and repeat this cycle at least 4 times. If the grains are dead, the water will remain sweet, and there wouldn't be a sign of fermentation. Another way to know is the appearance of mold on the surface. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything when this happens, you would have to buy new grains and start again.

Should my kefir culture be multiplying?

Please note that culture multiplication is not necessarily an indication of your grains' health. If your sugar water is changing in flavour and fermenting, this is your most reliable indicator for alive grains.