Keeping Kefir Under Control

Several months ago, we decided to venture into the world of kefir.  While new to us, it was apparently a pretty popular item in the world of raw milk and kefir lovers.  We ordered some kefir grains online and were really excited when our little tablespoon arrived.
IMG_1044 I remember we chuckled at how small the amount was.  The instructions that were included warned that the grains would eat us out of house and home.  Again we chuckled.  As the weeks progressed we did notice that they had multiplied a little.  But, you know, when you watch something grow on a daily basis, it is not as impressive as when you look away for a period of time and then come back to it.

Well, our daily jars started requiring more and more milk and we had to transfer some of our grains to a separate jar.  We placed those extra grains in the fridge (still being fed by raw milk) to keep them in a dormant state until we might need them.  We do rinse them and replace the milk regularly.  Would you like to see just how much our kefir kids have grown?  Here’s the little tablespoon we started with:
IMG_1049And here they are after a crazy growth spurt:
IMG_2187And to think we weren’t really noticing the growth!  I think we may need to start selling some kefir grains (they usually run about $10-$15 per tablespoon).  Why not?–we’ve got extra!

Now, if you’re not familiar with kefir (it tastes a lot like yogurt with many more healthy benefits) or have just seen the flavored stuff in the grocery dairy department, you may be wondering how we use our kefir.  Well, we make daily smoothies at breakfast.  We load them with fruit and whip them up in the blender.  Some of our standard flavors are banana/apple and banana/apple/blueberry.  It’s a super healthy breakfast.
IMG_1050We also use our kefir in pancakes on the weekend (shhhh!….the kids think they don’t like pancakes this way, but they actually love them.)
IMG_1687Sometimes we use the kefir whey to make other items, like ginger ale and salsa.
IMG_1258    IMG_1244
If you’re interested in the benefits of kefir, do a little research online.  You’re body will thank you!  If you have any questions for us, let us know.  We’re not experts by any means but we can tell you what has worked for us.

Kefir Krazy

Recently, we’ve started experimenting with fresh kefir grains.  The instructions included in our kefir purchase said they would eventually eat us out of house and home (it’s like having another growing child around!!) and that was pretty accurate.  We feed them daily with our raw milk, but they have quickly been devouring all the lactose.  So much so that we noticed over the weekend that our kefir had completely separated; so instead of kefir, we actually had a container of cheese and whey.  Mr F decided to just go with it…

After draining off the whey, we were left with some kefir cheese – sort of resembles the consistency of cream cheese or a thick ricotta.

Now, what to do with the kefir whey??  Well, let me just tell you, our kitchen looks like a small laboratory filled with various experiments….My husband even asked for “more beakers!” yesterday!!  In addition to the cheese, we are in the process of making lacto-fermented salsa:

We also have a little lacto-fermented ginger ale brewing:

And last night, Mr F began his latest experiment, sour dough starter.  This morning it was already bubbling…kefir whey at work!

If this project works out, we’ll be sure to give an update on the sour dough bread we plan to create with it.  *Fingers crossed!*

(Update: Over the weekend of September 8-10, we attempted our sour dough bread.  Several of ’em.  Not one was fantastic.  After the all the work put into it, we were quite disappointed that none of the recipes were what we’d hoped.  We tried a no-rise method, a bake-in-a-pot technique, loaf pans, kneading, no-kneading.  Aggh.  For now, we’re taking a sour dough break, although our starter is still looming about waiting to be fed and put to work again.  We’ll see…)

Finally, on a non-kefir note, another project hit a little road block cat paw.  Yes, Luna decided to take a nighttime prowl and destroy the puny little broccoli sprouts we were working so hard to grow.  Albeit small, they were on their way to bigger and better stalks:

And then this happened:

Time to start all over!  They were just babies!  Silly cat.

It has yet to start feeling like fall here; it’s still super hot!  But we had some luck with our little garden last fall, so over the weekend we got a little jump start on this year’s autumn crop.  So far, we are trying out two tomato varieties: summer set and solar fire.  We’ve also planted some Thai basil, sweet basil, and thanks to Luna, we started some broccoli out in the garden (i.e., away from her grasp.)  More to follow!

Stay tuned for the latest on the kefir experiments.