Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Favorite Friendly Flora Source: Kefir

Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars.

I make my homemade kefir by fermenting the kefir grains in either an animal milk (goat, cow, etc.) or in a vegetable or nut milk product (coconut, almond, oat, etc.) along with (maybe) some whey powder or whipping cream to aid in thickening the mixture. I set the grains suspending in the milk product for 2 days on countertop (at room temperature). This allows the mixture to ferment long enough to become a good kefir. After fermenting, strain the mixture through a plastic colander to remove the grains. A thicker kefir makes a great homemade sour cream.

My "nana" likes to make labne (kefir cheese) by fermenting the kefir, removing the grains, and then running the mixture through a cheese cloth and allow to drain. What is left in the cloth (the sediment) is the labne. My sister and her husband, ferment juices into wines, spritzers, beers, and also to ferment herbs with. Kefir needs sugar to survive. Lactose or fructose both work; however, once you transfer a portion of your grains to fructose, you shouldn't go back to a milk product with these grains. Discoloration generally occurs in the grains by taking on the juice's tint. The more you use your kefir grains in a milk mixture, the more the grains will grow.

I like to make a coconut milk kefir and gently fold in my homemade marshmallow fluff. This makes a very tasty fruit dip. Serve chilled. This recipe can deflate if exposed to heat. To help prevent this, you may want to add softened and whipped cream cheese to you coconut milk before or after fermenting in kefir grains and folding in fluff.

My Marshmallow Fluff recipe:

3 egg whites
1 tbs. vanilla extract
2 cups homemade light corn syrup substitute:
2 cups white sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, and a dash of salt
2 cups homemade powdered sugar:
2 cups white sugar, 1 tbs. corn starch, and 1 tbs. tapioca starch/flour

1 comment:

  1. I love kefir! My husband, Joe, likes to make fermented herbal and/or juice blends with kefir grains that are converted into water (with a little sugar). I love to bake with kefir (although the negative to this is that many of the beneficial enzymes get baked out when the food is baking)...yet in cakes and breads kefir is a great substitute for buttermilk and it makes the finished product soft, moist, and spectacular!

    Here is one of my favorite kefir bread recipes:

    Kefir Banana Nut Bread

    1/2 cup butter
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 large egg
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 1/4 cup mashed ripe bananas
    1/4 cup kefir
    Add chopped nuts if desired

    Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, bananas,and kefir; stirring just enough to mix. Add banana mixture to the other mixture, stirring enough to combine well. Turn into greased 9x15 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on a rack. Eat and enjoy!