Monday, February 15, 2010

The House Around the Corner - Kefir

Note from Cindy:  If you have a way to drink kefir, we would all appreciate your sharing of that information.  Jamie has added a cool way to drink it, but if you can make a comment with your recipe, it would be great.  Maybe Apryle will share her smoothie recipe that she used it in.  It is yummy. I don't want to say kefir is gross, just a really new flavor and texture.  Any helpful tips are appreciated.  I changed the settings so you can do an anonymous log in and post.  If anyone leaves something weird, I will just delete it.... but why would they  :)  I can then gather them into a top ten ways to add kefir to your life or something like that.
Jamie's Kefir Recipe

My kefir grains arrived by mail, sealed in a double plastic bag and shipped in a plastic bubble envelope. Not very impressive are they?  These grains were shipped with a little milk added to feed them during their trip and when you first open the sealed bags you'll notice a sour, yeasty odor, don't panic, that's normal.

 The first thing you want to do is clean your grains. This is really easy. First take a sieve and dump them in, if you have trouble getting them out of the bag just pour a little milk in to loosen things up. After you've gotten the little grains out of the bag you want to pour a little milk or distilled water over them while gently shaking the sieve.

This is what they look like once they're all cleaned up.

 Now you simply dump them into a clean jar, the one shown is quart size.

Another picture of the clean grains.

 Here you'll see that I've added two cups of whole milk. Ideally you would want to use raw milk, but since it's unavailable in my area I've used organic whole milk instead.

You want to cover the jar with a cloth, you can't seal it up tight, kefir needs to breathe. Notice my high-tech dishcloth and rubber band combo, it worked great!

 Kefir actually likes to be disturbed so I would give the jar a little shake everytime I walked through the kitchen. It's quite cool in my house so it took almost two whole days for my first batch to culture.

Here it is, almost two days later, ready to strain. Notice the streaking on the jar.

It will be quite thick at first, you'll think you messed up. You didn't.

You'll need your sieve, large bowl or measuring cup and a wooden spoon now. Place the sieve over the bowl, dump in the cultured kefir and you might have to stir gently with the wooden spoon but eventually all the kefir will strain through leaving only the grains, which have multiplied! Wow, busy little critters.

Here is the strained kefir, lousy picture, I know.

Here are the kefir grains that have increased in numbers by almost half!!

Here is my second batch of kefir set up and ready to culture again.

The finished product! If you haven't followed the baby steps to cultured foods I would recommend you start slow, just a couple tablespoons at first.  For a great breakfast drink blend one cup chilled kefir with blueberries and some honey, it's wonderful!

Directions for Raw Cultured Butter

If you are interested in reading about the beginning of my raw milk adventure, go here.

So, step one... acquire some raw cream.  I got mine at the Whole Foods Depot for $10.65.

Step two..  put it into a glass jar and mix it with some cultured milk... I used creme fraiche ($5.79) to culture mine.  Leave it on the counter.  I left mine out for about 12 hours.  I don't know if that is how long your are supposed to leave it out.  If I ever find out, I will let you know.  You can also use buttermilk from a previous batch of butter.

Step three.. pour through a strainer and the clumps of stuff go into a small jar, along with some of the cultured cream.  Label it.  This is your starter for next time so you don't need to buy the creme fraiche again.  I think if you leave it out longer, you end up with a clabbered cream, which is creme fraiche.

Step four... put the cream into the fridge and get cold.  You might also want to refrigerate or freeze your kitchenaid bowl and your wire whisk.

Step five... put the cream into the bowl and it is just like making whipped cream.  It took less than four minutes for mine.  It passes the stiff peak phase and moves right into the really, really stiff phase and suddenly - BAM - you have butter.  Just like a miracle.

Step six...  I don't know if this is the right way, but I just poured mine into the wire mesh strainer over a bowl and let the buttermilk drain out.  Then I bottled up the buttermilk and eventually used it to culture a loaf of bread.  It was so good.

Step seven... wash the butter.  VERY important.  I need to find a better way, but I used my wooden bowl and just used running water and kneaded and turned it until the water ran clear.

**Changing this a little bit.  I forgot something... so sorry.  I put my butter back into the mixer and added about 1 tsp of sea salt.  This is for preservation and for flavor.  THEN move on to...

Step eight...  If you want to mold it into pretty shapes.... this is the time.

Step nine.... ENJOY!

Note:  I just kept a little on the counter in my butter dish at a time.  Then it was soft for use, but the bulk of it I kept in the fridge in a glass jar.   Some of it I mixed half and half with my organic, but not raw or cultured, butter.  I try to just have enough out for the day.  I like to put some into my little butter crock at night and try to estimate how much I will need for the next morning.  Remember, if it sours, it is still healthy and good... just sour.  Disguise it in something:)