How long does kefir last?
Good question, and I get it a lot. And most recently from Lori L.
Lori, I have good news…
…homemade cultured dairy usually lasts longer than anything you could purchase at the store.
How long, though? It depends on whether you're keeping it at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.
And sometimes it's still good even though a lot of people would have tossed it out already! (There's no need to waste good kefir!)
I'll share the answer below — it's the topic of this week's #AskWardee.
Lori L. asks:
How long can I keep homemade kefir in the fridge?
Lori, you're asking just about the fridge, yet I'm going to include timing for all storage methods (room temp, fridge, and freezer).
The simple answer for how long kefir lasts is:
- at room temperature (68 to 78 degrees F) — 1 to 2 days
- in the fridge (40 to 50 degrees F) — 2 to 3 weeks (or longer)
- in the freezer (0 to 25 degrees F) — 1 to 2 months (or longer)
Basically, that's the timeline for how long kefir lasts.
The Long Answer
Notice I put “or longer” after the fridge and freezer specs.
Kefir can technically last longer than the official timelines suggest.
Here's the scoop.
In the fridge, the kefir activity slows down, yet the culture keeps working (albeit slowly) so the kefir will get more and more sour and “cheesy”. Even though it hasn't technically gone bad, a lot of people don't care for it when it smells or tastes this strong. It could completely separate into curds and whey, or it could just thicken up considerably and get quite strong. As long as it doesn't smell repulsive (like rotten repulsive, not strong repulsive) then it can be used as kefir cheese, in dressings, in smoothies, or even eaten by someone whose palate can stand it. (Here are 8 other yummy ways to use kefir!)
If the kefir ever develops mold on top, it's possible that could be skimmed away and the rest is fine. (A smell and/or little taste will tell you for sure.)
In the freezer, the biggest issue with kefir “lasting” is freezer burn. (Plus, there may be some loss of probiotics.) Freezer burn doesn't taste great, as you probably know. To fend this off as long as possible, double or triple bag your frozen kefir or consider vacuum sealing it.
What About Yogurt?
Homemade yogurt and other cultured dairy have similar timelines for how long they last.
If you haven't yet grabbed my Free Raw Milk Yogurt Recipe, please do! There's a secret ingredient that keeps it thick instead of runny. Plus, it's faster and easier than most recipes — and you can make it with pasteurized milk, too.
- How To Make Milk Kefir (and why it's so good for you)
- Free Yogurt Recipe — it's faster and easier than most recipes, and you can make it with pasteurized milk, too!
- Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eBook & Video Package
- Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse (included with TCS membership)
- 8 Yummy Ways To Eat Kefir
- Many of these probiotic salad dressings are made with kefir!
- Kefir Cheese Balls
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I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
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How do you store your kefir? How long does it last for you? What do you do with it if it gets too strong?
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