4 Effective Ways To Improve Sour Kefir

A wooden spoon with kefir grains lifting out of a jar of sour kefir in the background on a dark wood surface with a natural cloth napkin underneath.

Kefir is a fermented milk-based product used by people worldwide who are following a healthy, balanced diet. Milk kefir contains probiotics and various vitamins and minerals. Kefir can be used in many ways to produce tasty drinks, yogurts, and cottage cheese. But what can you do if your batch of kefir turns out to be too sour for your taste?

Kefir is an acquired taste. If the kefir culture is too sour for you to eat or drink, the flavor can be improved by following these four easy steps:

  1. Check the kefir grains daily.
  2. Check the temperature when fermenting.
  3. Ferment a second time.
  4. Add flavor to the kefir culture.

There are many ways to use kefir grains to produce the final product that we eat or drink, but what happens if the kefir is too sour for us? Are there ways that we can improve the taste so that we can use the product and not discard it? We have put together some ideas to reduce the sour taste of your kefir and suggested ways that you can make use of the kefir other than simply drinking it.

Why Is My Kefir Sour Sometimes?

There are many reasons why your kefir could be sour to the taste and even have a sour smell. Kefir ferments quickly when not kept in the refrigerator, especially if your room temperature is on the warm side. If left out on the counter for longer than usual, the grains could grow and multiply at a rapid rate, using up the milk before you can top it up, and make it taste sour.

When it is left in the refrigerator for a time, the kefir ferments at a slower rate. This gives you more time to manage your kefir ferment if you are not using it every day. 

The longer the kefir is in the fridge, the more the bacteria will consume the milk’s sugar and it will become more sour and thick. Thus, the refrigeration ferment may still get too sour for you, but it will take a longer time to get to this point.

Cow or goat milk is needed to feed the kefir grains, but you can substitute the dairy with other products like coconut milk or almond milk. The kefir grains need lactose in the dairy milk to stay active, so don’t use more than 50% non-dairy in your mix.

NOTE: Interested in water kefir? Check out my water kefir guide including benefits, recipes, FAQs, and more!

4 Quick Ways To Improve Sour Kefir

If the taste of sour kefir is too much for you, there are ways that you can remedy the taste so that it is more suited to your palate and can be used rather than thrown away.

Try out our suggestions to see which one works best for you and improves the sour taste of your kefir.

#1: Check The Kefir Grains Daily

Making kefir maintenance part of your daily routine is the best way to prevent your kefir culture from becoming too sour, so check the grains daily. The longer that the grains are left in the milk to ferment, the stronger and thicker the kefir culture will become. 

You may need to split the grains into two bottles the next time you strain them, to thin them out a little. If the fermented culture turns lumpy or resembles cauliflower, there are too many grains in the bottle, and they need to be separated into different bottles before the next use.

The more kefir grains that are present, the more bacteria there are, and the faster the ferment will occur. The faster the ferment happens, the greater the chance that your kefir will become too sour for your preference.

If you have had your grains for a while, they can become sour just because they are older. To help bring down the grains’ acidity levels, you can drain them from the milk and place them into a bottle of spring water for 24 hours, which you can buy on Amazon. Place them back into fresh milk, and they should be fresher and less acidic.

HOT TIP: It is important to use pure water or filtered water that has no added chemicals since tap water with its added chlorine and fluoride will kill your kefir.

#2: Check The Temperature When Fermenting

If your countertop or pantry shelf temperature is a little too warm, the grains will use up the lactose in the milk quicker than on a cooler day. If you cannot strain, feed, and attend to the kefir grains every day, leave them in the refrigerator in a jar until you have the time. This should slow down the fermenting process for a while.

Colder temperatures will slow down the growth of the grains. Separate the kefir liquid from the grains by pouring the liquid into a clean jar like this one on Amazon, and storing it in the refrigerator for a few days until needed.

NOTE: The longer the kefir is unused, the sourer it will become.

Strained kefir grains alongside a bowl of honey and kefir liquid in the background.
A second ferment can help the flavor of sour kefir

#3: Ferment A Second Time

Sour kefir will taste better if you ferment it a second time. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Drain the grains from the liquid.
  2. Pour the liquid over the grains once more.
  3. Add some fruit peel.

The bacteria will feed on the fruit peel, making the kefir less sour and giving it a sweeter taste.

The next time that you pour the grains through the strainer, discard the peels or replace them with fresh peels if you enjoy the added taste in the kefir.

This method is not only effective, but you may find that you prefer the additional fruity flavor that the peel adds to the kefir!

#4: Add Flavor To The Kefir Culture

This is the fun part of improving the taste of sour kefir. You can add many ingredients to the sour kefir to give it a more pleasant smell and a fantastic taste.

After the grains have been strained out, add your own favorite ingredients or anything from the list below to your kefir:

  • Fruit: Chop up your favorite fruit and leave whole slices in the kefir culture, or mashup and mix into the liquid. This makes a delicious milkshake.
  • Make tasty smoothies: Many of your favorite fruits can be added to a smoothie. Add the kefir culture to taste, along with a spoon of sugar or a drop of honey.
  • Add vanilla or lemon extract: A teaspoon or two added to the sour kefir culture will significantly improve the flavor and make it less acidic.
  • Honey or sugar: Added directly to the kefir culture a teaspoon at a time, not only to be used in a smoothie.
  • Cocoa: Chocolate makes everything taste better! Add according to your taste.
  • Mix into yogurt: Add a tablespoon full into your favorite flavored yogurt. Not only will it taste fantastic, but the kefir culture will add additional probiotics to the goodness of the yogurt.
  • Use over cereals: Your daily bowl of cereal or oats will become a superfood with a tablespoon of kefir culture over the top.
  • Add seeds and mix: Chia, pumpkin, or even sunflower seeds can be mixed into a kefir drink. Try adding honey for extra flavor.

What Else Can I Use Sour Kefir For?

While sour kefir has many uses, it does seem to be an acquired taste amongst kefir lovers. Sour kefir is a flavor that can be used in many dairy-based recipes or enhance the taste of other kefir-based products.

To remove some of the sweetness from the original product, many people like to mix sour kefir into:

  • cottage cheese
  • cream
  • yogurt

Used as a base product, sour kefir can be turned into a healthy way to make:

  • cottage cheese
  • cream
  • yogurt
  • starter culture for sourdough bread
  • used in cooking and baking

NOTE: Check out our sour kefir recipes later in this post!

Adding flavors to the kefir will take away some of the sourness and make it sweeter so that it can be used as a milkshake or simply as a glass of healthy kefir.

Dairy products that could be made with kefir.
You can use sour kefir in different ways

Is Sour Kefir Good For You?

The name “Kefir†is translated from Turkish to mean “good feeling,†so it doesn’t matter whether you like to eat your kefir when it is sour or a little sweeter. Kefir is great to eat at any stage of its development.  Kefir is known to promote good digestion and gut health as it contains around 30 unique species of probiotics or good bacteria. 

Kefir is used as an alternative treatment for many modern-day ailments. Many studies have been done on the healing properties of Kefir. Kefir truly is a superfood and can sometimes aid and benefit the treatment of several health issues, such as:

  • osteoporosis
  • digestive problems, including IBS
  • relives allergy and asthma symptoms
  • blood sugar control
  • lowering cholesterol

Disadvantages Of Sour Kefir

The only disadvantage that has been reported for using kefir is from people who have digestive and stomach problems and are intending to use kefir as a supplement to their usual medication.

The probiotics in the kefir can cause gas and bloating at first until the gut becomes used to the kefir. This generally stops once the gut is used to the probiotics. If not, stop using the kefir and consult your doctor.

NOTE: If you do buy commercially grown kefir products, check the labels for the sugar content, as sugar is often added to sweeten the product.

Some people do not enjoy the taste of sour kefir and may be dissuaded from ever using the product again, despite its wonderful health benefits.

How To Know If My Kefir Is Off

Occasionally, kefir grains can go bad or die. If and when this happens, you will know about it by the following signs:

  • If it smells terrible, much worse than the usual kefir smell, chances are it is off.
  • The sour taste is too acidic even for the seasoned tastebuds!
  • There is mold on top of the kefir culture, fuzzy growth, or pink and orange spots on the top. This should be discarded immediately.
  • If it has separated into water and heavy chunks, it is definitely off!

Before discarding the kefir due to any of the above reasons, check to see if it can be salvaged first. You might be able to use it in baking and cooking if it is chunky but not if it is moldy. Giving it a good shake should mix the water and chunks back together, then perhaps it could be used to make cottage cheese.

Recipes Using Sour Kefir 

Homemade kefir is one of the best products to use in your cooking and baking. For healthier recipes, you can use kefir culture to substitute for:

  • eggs
  • milk
  • oil

I’ve put together some of my favorite, easy-to-make recipes using kefir, particularly sour kefir culture.

#1: Kefir sour cream

Use your own homemade kefir to produce rich, thick, creamy sour cream to be used in any sweet or savory dish—a great way to use your kefir culture if it is a bit too sour for you.


  • 1 pint (560ml) heavy cream – preferably organic
  • ¼ cup milk kefir grains


  1. Pour the cream into a glass jar.
  2. Add the kefir grains to the jar.
  3. Cover the top of the jar with a paper coffee filter and an elastic band.
  4. Place on the counter away from direct sunlight for 24 hours.
  5. After 24 hours, if the cream is thick enough and sour enough for your taste, strain out the grains using a nylon mesh strainer like this one sold on Amazon. If you would like the cream to become thicker or sourer, leave it for a few more hours. Check regularly to keep it from going bad.
  6. Put the grains into fresh milk and store them in the refrigerator until you want to use them again.
  7. Use the thick sour cream as you normally would.
A clear glass bowl of kefir yogurt with a small wooden spoon stirring it, on a dark wooden surface with a natural cloth surrounding.

#2: Kefir Yogurt

Yogurt made from kefir is delicious! The process may take a while, but it is well worth the trouble for healthy homemade yogurt!


  • 1/2 gallon (2 liters) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) kefir culture (not the grains)


  1. Pour the milk into a pot and place it on the stove.
  2. Warm the milk over warm heat, constantly stirring for 30 minutes. The longer that the milk is cooked, the thicker the yogurt will be.
  3. Take the pot off the heat on the stove and leave the milk to cool.
  4. Add the kefir culture to a glass jar and pour the cooled milk over. Mix.
  5. The lid of the glass jar should be covered with a paper coffee filter, and an elastic band.
  6. Keep the filled jar in a warm spot for 24 hours.
  7. Wait for the mixture to thicken, and it is ready to eat.
  8. Spoon out small portions at a time into a clean bowl, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

#3: Kefir Cream Cheese

This is a very clever way to use up really sour kefir culture. The texture of the cheese is perfect for spreading on bread and crackers and keeps in the fridge for a long time. Check it often, as it may get thicker over time.


  • 1/2-gallon (2 liters) kefir culture (not the grains)


  1. Place two layers of clean cheesecloth, sold on Amazon, over a strainer.
  2. Pour the kefir culture into the strainer, and allow the whey to pass through the strainer into a bowl.
  3. Gather the cheesecloth around the kefir and squeeze to get rid of any more liquid.
  4. Pour the kefir into a container.
  5. Add chopped onions, chives, bacon, or any flavoring of your choice to the kefir cream cheese.
  6. Use as desired.
  7. Store the whey for later use.
2 glasses of sour kefir with on a wood surface, with grains sitting outside the glasses. and wooden spoons resting near them.
Kefir is healthy and it is good to get used to the taste!


Kefir is versatile, healthy, and with so many good properties it is hard to think of it as a food that some people cannot eat because of its taste

Using sour kefir is a matter of personal choice. While there is no good or bad reason to use kefir when it is sour, there are no harmful side effects if used before it goes “bad.†If you are not sure about the quality of the grains or the kefir culture, it is best to throw them out and start again. 

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