domingo, 13 de janeiro de 2013

Travelogue of a Life Scientist: How to Make Kefir

Today I made Kefir and it felt like a religious experience. I'm listening to Andrew Bird's The Water Jet Cilice and reading Dom's blog about Kefir-making. Apparently the people who first discovered and used Kefir grains told microbiologists the grains were a gift from Allah. For all the grains health benefits, I'd say that's not too far off.

A year ago I fell down the fermentation rabbit-hole, but really only for the past three weeks have I felt the benefits. Sugar, how I both love and loath you. My sugar obsession counter-acted the health benefits of the probiotics I made and ate. Maybe it's genetics. My YiaYia grew up in a candy shop her parents owned. My mom cannot resist a bowl of ice cream, or two, or three. Both YiaYia and my mom passed the sweet tooth along to me. Though I still eat some sugar, I now eat much less.

When it comes to sweets, I now try to
  1. not fall asleep with candy bars in my mouth
  2. avoid smitten kitchen's home-made oreos which I made for the holidays and are absolutely divine
  3. and keep a good walking-stick distance between myself and Rachel's ice cream maker.
So far, so good.

2 health benefits of my sugar divorce:
  1. clear skin (no zits for like over a month)
  2. improved digestion (seriously awesome poos)
2 future health goals, hopes and dreams:
  1. improved mental acuity (Did someone stay STATA?)
  2. Find a boyfriend
Kefir (pronounced Kuh-fear) supposedly derives from the Turkish word Keif, which loosely translates to good feeling. Kefir is a cultured milk beverage which originates from the Caucasus Mountains in modern-day Georgia. Some say the mountain tribes-folk discovered this process over 1,000 years ago. Kefir grains are not actually cereal grains but instead a symbiosis between lactic acid bacteria (LAB), acetic acid bacteria and yeast strains. Traditionally, the tribal people of the Caucasus mountains poured fresh goats milk into a leather bag and stirred in the Kefir grains with a wooden spoon. The grains cultured the milk, and the people drank this leather-y goat-y goodness 24 hours later. I don't have such a fine leather pouch nor my own goat (yet) but I do have the ridiculously named Pickl-it jars and raw cows milk.

So, here's how Brenda and I made the Kefir:

  1. Kefir grains (not processed)
  2. Milk (preferably raw)
  3. Pickl-it jar (1L size)
  1. Pour 2 cups raw milk into the Pickl-it
  2. Add Kefir grains (Brenda and I did not rinse them, it sounds like people go either way on this)
  3. Wait 12-48 hours.
Pickl-it Jar with Kefir
Why hello there, cupboard of fermenting things.