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My life is becoming very cultured these days!

I have milk kefir, kefir cheese, raw vegan cheese and kombucha all underway – oh and lets not forget my bubbling fermented veggies!
Everything is chugging and fizzing along nicely! It is such fun and takes no time at all so no excuses.
kefir

Making Kefir

I ordered the kefir grains online. I decided in the end to use milk kefir grains rather than water, the overriding opinion is that the milk kefir has far more of the good bacteria we so need than the water kefir – although both have their benefits (varied benefits too) and it is highly likely that when I really get proficient at all this I will add water kefir back into my repertoire.

I have made it before with coconut water, which though delicious does get expensive when living on this side of the world. And I am after maximum nutritional benefits.

So many people now are buying and taking powders and pills for the good flora in their gut to help with IBS, weight problems, various intestinal disorders etc. but often the actual benefits are so low due to time in bottles, heat, processing, all sorts of things.

Fermented foods are so much cheaper, more immediate and fuller of what we are looking for! And there are WAY more reasons to take them than I mentioned above. The good bacteria supports our whole systems, enhances our immunity,supports our healing, helps us sleep for goodness sake. Just google it and see. If people ask me what to take to enhance their health one of the things I say is get more good bacteria in your gut. (I’ll talk about the rest another time;) I do talk quite a lot about this sort of thing if given half the chance.

Day 1. So, the lil’ grains arrived, like tiny, mini cauliflowers in a pouch.
kefir grains
I just had to pop them into some milk and wait. And joy of joys for anyone like me, I only had to wait one day 🙂
I expected lovely thick kefir but no….. It was pretty grainy and curdled and smelt like gone off milk. I looked through my new book by Donna Schwenk and then went onto her (amazing!) site Culturedfoodlife.com and then researched more on various sites on the web. Seemed all was fine. My new little friends had been on a long journey and just needed to settle down a bit. I used this first batch (OK, only a drop of it) in a smoothy, I thought the rest would be really good for our septic tank (good excuse?!).
First I had to find the little grains and scoop them all out and into another jar. A spaghetti scoop was perfect.

Fishing for grains.
Fishing for grains.

Day 2 – Same thing. Hmph. I was not to be discouraged. I whisked it up a bit and did a double ferment ‘for a thicker kefir and milder flavour’ says Donna. I put lime rind in with it for flavour and left it another 24 hours along side my new batch.
I couldn’t sleep that night and whilst I made myself a cup of tea I gave the littlies more milk – gives a whole new meaning to finding something to help you through empty nest syndrome. I told husby “It’s fun, it has given me new purpose. I fed them more milk in the night” he groaned. I can see how it sounded.

Day 3 – All split, lots of whey, some of which I strained off as I wanted to use it as a starter culture for fermented veggies.
cultured veggies
See recipe below.
Mixed what was left so that it looked better and we drank some. I used the remainder in a batch of raw cheese – see recipe below.

Day 4 – And the new lot was just like the previous ones!

The double ferment had a nice lime tang but wasn’t really thicker, maybe milder though. We drank that (and we are off!). I decided to use half the new batch to double ferment and the other half I strained to make curds and whey. The whey is virtually tasteless. The curds I left to turn into kefir cheese.

Day 5 – I’ve changed the milk. I am using a half cream organic Jersey milk from the health food shop (rather than the supermarket French milk which isn’t so creamy). Hurray, the little chaps seem to like it better! Still not thick and creamy and it’s still grainy but having said that the grains haven’t been multiplying as they should but today they do seem to have started so I just hope they are getting adjusted to me, our kitchen and getting over their upheaval (it does make a difference I am told).

Day 6 – Same old, same old. Maybe I’ll get used to the texture! We have aquired the taste so just drink as it is. I have a bottle of whey in the fridge ( it will last a month) and I am just adding it to anything like salad dressings, smoothies and this morning I put it in our almond milk.

I also have a tiny pot of kefir cheese ready to eat!
kefir cheese n chives
Here’s the recipe for that and some of the other bits and pieces. I’ll let you know next time anything exciting happens in my new cultured world! Next post kombucha.

Kefir cheese ‘n’ chives.

Strain any amount of kefir through some muslin or nut milk bag into a bowl.
Take the cruds ( the white stuff left in the strainer) and put in a bowl.
Save the whey for something else or drink it.
Add to the curds a sprinkjle of salt and some chives.
Mash up with a fork and leave with lid on in the fridge for a day or two.

Fermented veggies.

Veggies fermenting
Veggies fermenting

I sliced up lots of red cabbage and carrots, packed them down into a preserving jar with some grated ginger, salt and a couple of tablespoons of the whey then topped up with pure water. Pulled the lid back on and its sitting ‘doing’ for the next 6-10 days.

Raw cheese sauce for pouring, topping or dipping.

Half cup of cashew nuts
3/4 cup of water
1 small carrot,
2 tbsp sweet miso
Pinch of salt and black pepper
Tiny garlic clove (I’d use lots another time when I want a really garlicy sauce)
Tbsp of whole linseeds (flax)

Blended in Vitamix till smooth and creamy.
Poured into a bowl and added

2 tblsp Nutritional yeast
2 tblsp Kefir whey

Stirred it all up, covered and popped into the dehydrator for a few hours to warm and start to ferment.

Result – divinely scrummy light, yellow, almost stretchy sauce ( like melted cheese sauce or slightly warm fondue). Recipe coming up for what I used it for another day but really anywhere a cheese sauce is needed and you don’t want to feel any guilt at all – alleluia THIS IS IT!
The following day it had fermented a little more (it had been in the fridge 24 hours whch slows down fermentation of anything) giving it real substance and enhancing the texture and flavour. Gorgeous!
Sorry, there was meant to be a stunning photo but we ate it all before I could take one.

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