03 July 2015

Working on fermented foods with recipes!

Left to right-Strawberry vinegar, strawberry kefir(in foreground), cran-razz kefir soda, and kefir whey. 
I've discovered kefir! A friend of mine asked if I knew anyplace that sold kefir grains and I didn't really know. But, I was in the city at the time and I told her I would check at the health food store there. Well, she took initiative and called them to see. And they had it! So I went and pick up one for her and one for me.
She's made it before and knows a lot more about it than I do. She's given me instructions via text and has been VERY patient with me. (THANK YOU!)

Well, I think I finally have it! WOW, is it yummy!!It's slightly tart and a little sweet. I have a mild lactose intolerance so I'm really appreciating it too! DH has some issues with his health and I'm excited that he likes the taste of it too. It has good probiotics in it for the health of your gut. The fermentation eats the milk sugars, the lactose, which is the part that most people have trouble digesting anyways. So, good flora, less sugar and easy to digest! 

Things you can make with kefir: regular kefir, fruit flavored kefir,  kefir cheese, nut log with kefir cheese(pictured at left), kefir smoothies, kefir soda, kefir can be used in place of milk for recipes, kefir eggnog and much more that I've only begun to scratch the surface of possibilities of kefir. 

According to Donna Schwenk, who posts at www.CulturedFoodLife.com, (her recipes section is amazing! A lot of the things I'm making and mention above came from her site as well.You can get more if you become a member.I am not a member though, I think you have to pay for it. If I was going to do that I'd rather get a book.) these are some benefits of drinking kefir:

  • Eliminates constipation (better than activa yogurt!)
  • Reduces or eliminates allergies (This alone is worth it to me!)
  • Reduces or eliminates asthma symptoms
  • Reduces or eliminates cold and flu illnesses
  • Cures acne
  • Treats yeast infections
  • Promotes a natural “good” feeling (YES!)
  • Effective as the strongest natural antibiotic without side effects
  • Replenishes the body with good bacteria after antibiotic use
  • Treats diarrhea (good to know...)
  • Aids lactose intolerance (because the lactose gets eaten!)
  • Promotes deep sleep (YES, I have noticed this!)
Heals ulcers (DH has one...had one?)

She's not a Dr. (nor am I), nor have these statement been approved by the FDA (not that they know ANYTHING about how to stay healthy. They are all being paid off by the big pharma and big agro companies!) But, by making your own kefir you are taking your health in your own hands. I am not responsible (nor is anyone else) for the things you decide to put in your body. Choose for yourself and be responsible enough to accept the consequences, whatever they may be. 
That is my disclaimer. 

But, that being said Kefir has been helping me and my DH with all kinds of issues. And we feel great drinking it. If making a fermented product makes you nervous, just buy it at your local health food store. 

I am going to try and make more things with my kefir and the $17 I spent on kefir grains was well worth it to me. It is pretty easy once you get your grains hydrated properly. I can't stop drinking it and making easy and yummy, spreadable cheese. The next cheese I make I think I'm gong to flavor it with garlic and make a garlic cheese spread for some toast. That might be really good with my homemade spaghetti! 

This is a appetizer I made for us. It is ritz crackers with kefir cheese and slices of fresh strawberries on top. YUM! So simple and so good.

Kefir cheese 

The cheese is super easy to make. Just put a coffee filter in a wire/mesh strainer and set it over a bowl to catch the whey (that's the liquid that remains when the cheese is done.) 
Then pour the kefir in slowly, so it doesn't spill or slosh over. Open the refrigerator and set it in over night to drain. In the morning you will have a wonderful soft cheese that you can use for so many things. I'm not sure how long it will keep since ours never makes it to the end of the day. I imagine that it might keep up to a week. Just keep an eye on it and smell it to check it once in awhile. It really is wonderful on practically everything we've tried.  

Once the cheese is made you may ask what to do with the whey at the bottom. I have made a few things with mine. I've made Kefir rice pudding with it.  (Find the recipe  here.) This is really yummy. You can make it for people with gluten allergies as well. It's just rice, cream, egg, raisins and some spices. If you used kefir instead of the cream you might be able to serve it to someone with minor lactose intolerance as well. (check with them first)

I've made kefir soda. For kefir soda all you need are a few things. A thick glass soda jar like a Grolsch bottle or a Bormioli thick glass bottle. Bottles that you can buy at the craft store can and will explode.   You also need fruit juice, filtered water and your fresh whey. That's all it is-easy! And it's healthy!

Kefir Soda

2 Cups of the fruit juice (any flavor you like),
2 cups of filtered water and
1/2 cup of fresh whey. 

Put the whey in the bottle first, then the fruit juice and then the filtered water. Clamp it and leave it in a warm (but not hot!) place to ferment. 

It takes a few days to become fizzy, but check it a few times a day. You will hear and maybe even see, the bubbles. The whey takes longer than some methods, but I like to use what I already have on hand. Please be very careful if you are going to try this. Get the right bottles, check it often and keep children away from it. Remember I am not responsible for any accidents, you are. (see my disclaimer) But, please be careful! And don't leave this and go to the store or something. It needs to be watched and listened for carefully. 
My soda with the whey takes at least 2 days before it gets fizzy. (The fresher your whey is the faster it will bubble and ferment.) If nothing happens after about 5 days it is probably too old. Just try again.

Then set it in the refrigerator to chill and serve. Once you put it in the fridge you won't be getting any more fizziness so it is safer there. 

The strawberry vinegar from above is just a trial that I'm working on. I'm using strawberry scraps, just the tops cut off the strawberries I made jam with earlier. I am letting it sit for a week with a little sugar in the water and another week to gain that vinegary tartness we love. This is going to be so good on salads this summer! 
I've made ACV with apple scraps. It feels so good to be able to make some of these things from things that I was going to throw away anyways! Waste not want not! I will update on this later with my strawberry post. :)

I'm looking forward to starting on kombucha and cultured/fermented vegetables soon as well. Now I just need to get some 'Scooby' from someone to start my kombucha.

Are you making anything fermented? Would you be willing to try it out? Do you like kefir?

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