I had convinced myself that my kefir grains were not working properly. Every picture you see of grains, they look like milky or translucent mini cauliflower florets.
I was disappointed when I received mine to get a very small packet of milk with a couple of grains about the size of rice pudding before cooking.
Anyhow, I carried on, being very careful to not sieve as they suggest (press hard to get the liquid out), otherwise I would have lost them. Instead I carefully let them drain and used the resulting sludge. This eventually turned into a cream cheese consistency.
However, after freezing some and thawing one cube in milk for 24 hours, there was a difference. The milk had not thickened, so again, I thought it was dead. However, you need to drain and feed daily so I did. I was totally amazed to find 3 very small, firm, translucent florets. Yeah!
Now to answers. Angela asked 3 questions:
1) How much does it cost to make versus buy?
A tricky one to answer. It costs, after the initial payment to buy your grains, the cost of the milk you buy to make it. I started with semi skimmed and the end result was thin and fizzy, like milky lemonade. I changed to whole milk and got a better result. Now, after nearly 2 weeks, I am finally getting the florets.
The best kefir comes from raw milk but I don't fancy that. No milk is wasted, even from the first few batches when you are getting started. It is best flavoured with something such as maple syrup or honey to get used to it and drank in very small amounts. I got tremendous wind the first few days and occasional, thin stools (maybe drinking to much) but that has now settled.
Again cost wise, you don't have to keep buying kefir, the grains will last a lifetime if properly used. A) Drain and feed each day using non metallic items. B) Divide the grains when they get too big. Read, read and then read some more to understand what and when to do things. I am still learning a lot!
2) Has it helped me sleep?
No, but then again, I have not tried it consistently every night before retiring so maybe it will when I settle down to it.
3) What quantity of grains did I buy to start with?
I bought 10g but 5g is the minimum you can buy. Just remember, that most grains come in a sachet with milk and the whole things appears to weigh what you buy. You don't appear to get 5g of just grains, not from what I have ready anyway.
Hope that answers your questions Angela. If you want to send me your address in a comment, it won't be published, I have one spare culture I can send you to try. No guarantee it will work but you might be okay. Be more patient than me and allow about a fortnight for the grains to start growing properly. Anything they make in the meantime, can be drank.
I am away at the moment but due to visit a friend in Norfolk in a few days.