Right off the bat we want you to know that we do take your concerns seriously and have lab tested numerous bottles in question as well as our regular testing as required by NSW Food Authority. None of these bottles have come up with any pathogens. The testing has come back with high amounts of lactic bacteria activity. These are the probiotic bacteria that makes the kefir so good for you. Let us try explain.
Kefir is a very aggressive, volatile and complex lactic bacteria. Unlike many yoghurts you find on the shelves today our bacteria is live and active. Many commercial companies pasteurise their yoghurt after it is made. It is also very common for those products with live bacteria, to be using cultures that are not especially active, volatile or probiotic. It is one thing to have live lactic bacteria ina tub of yoghurt, it is another thing to have live probiotic bacteria and it is another thing completely to have live probiotic bacteria in sufficiently high enough numbers to be beneficial. It is with these incredibly high numbers and in the nature of kefir that makes our Kefir consistently inconsistent.
We use a new dosage of freeze dried kefir culture for every batch. The culture we use is made in a lab in Poland. The lab grows kefir grains, (the same organic way we used to do at home) which are freeze dried and packaged for use in commercial production. During this process some of the more active yeasts are removed. These specific yeasts once active cause fermentation of alcohol in very low levels and this is something we don’t want in our Kefir. The use of freeze dried cultures as opposed to a mother culture of kefir grains is one attempt to ensure shelf stability and consistency of product. On our “how it all works” page, you can see a listing of all the lactic bacteria and variety of yeasts that are found in Kefir.
All of these strains and yeasts have their own benefits to you, but they also activate at slightly different temperatures, and have different affects on the taste and consistency of the product.
The other big factor that leads to inconsistencies is that Kefir is a mesophilic culture. This means its optimal temperature for growth is lower than normal yoghurt cultures that are thermophilic. Mesophilic cultures thrive at temperatures from 18C to 35C and thermophilic from 35C-45C. However these are optimal temperatures. Because of Kefirs robust nature and many different strains of cultures some will activate at temperatures as low as 10C
So let us start at the beginning of our process. We inoculate our kefir at 25C. During summer on a hot humid Sydney night the temperature is prone to creep up a little. (We incubate for 18-24 hours depending on PH levels) During winter we try to make sure that the temperature doesn’t drop. This being said, any variation in temperature will lead to slight variations of the bacterial make up of the kefir. The levels of lactic bacteria after our incubation is very high. After this process there are billions of bacteria in the kefir (as labeled on the bottle). It is when these bacteria start to increase in number in the bottle due to changes in temperature that cause the “blowing” look of the bottle and the inconsistency of the product.
The more difficult to monitor and the areas where there are greater fluctuation comes with logistics.
Once bottled the Kefir sits in our fridges at <5C until the product is collected for delivery nationally. From our door to the depot, in the truck to the interstate depot, to the distributor, to the retailer to your fridge. If at any point the temperature of the kefir increases to 10C then the kefir will activate and start to grow. So if a delivery driver leaves a box outside the fridge and the retailers staff are busy and it takes them half an hour to get round to it this is where the bacteria get active. Also many open fridges have higher temperatures than recommended. At these higher than recommended temperatures, the probiotic bacteria are now active in your bottle. They are eating the lactose in the yoghurt, creating lactic acid as a byproduct and multiplying in number. Now all those different strains of bacteria and yeasts some of which are more active than the other are alive and growing. As they grow the change the taste and consistency of the kefir. Often it becomes tarter, or cheesier in taste. Some of them help with coagulation of milk proteins and you get a thicker or lumpier kefir. It all depends on the variations in temperature all throughout the process and the various activity levels of the various cultures and yeasts that make the kefir so beneficial for you. We try our best to minimise variations in temperature in our process but these variations are inevitable from production to your fridge. As I hope you can now see, there are many factors that contribute to the inconsistency of our kefir. I hope we have also helped alleviate some of the concern you have about the inconsistency in your kefir. Of course this doesn't mean that there is no chance of anything pathogenic infecting the kefir. We comply with all the NSW Food Authority regulations and testing in order to make sure that the product is safe and healthy for you. If however you are still unsure, please feel free to contact us.