First Lesson of the Week: winging it when doing DIY fermented milk probably won’t kill you but success can be more readily assured if you do your homework first. I’ve been making what I thought was Kefir for the past 3 weeks. Mistake #1: I’d never had Kefir before. Ever. So I had nothing to compare it to other than having read that texturally it was somewhere between milk and yoghurt and shouldn’t smell nor taste worse than yoghurt (and any tongue tingly sensations are a no-no too).
Not sure what Kefir even is? Turns out me neither! 😉 Actually, that’s not entirely true. I knew that it was fermented milk; a drinkable yoghurt, with lots of good bacteria for helping to ensure a healthy gut. I’ve had Lassi (Indian drinking yoghurt) and I’d seen bottles of flavoured Kefir sold at health shops and had a friend rave about the stuff she’d been buying. I didn’t like the ingredients list on the pre-bottled ones and they’re also not that cheap, but I did see a box of Kefir granules nearby and thought ‘I’ll give that a go! How hard could it be?”.
This gets us to the second lesson of the week: Kefir milk should have a fairly smooth creamy consistency but if yours (or mine in this case) looks like little lumps and has a layer of ‘water’ all by itself, you (I) took things a step too far resulting in mistake #2. Little lumps are actually ‘curds’ and the ‘water’ is actually ‘whey’. If you want Kefir with a nice smooth consistency, apparently you (I) need to stop at the point where it actually looks like yoghurt and is thick and creamy when a spatula or spoon is run through it, not at the point after this. I now know this because of a nice and easy to follow video here. Which brings us to mistake #3 and the title of this post: you have to strain your Kefir milk so that you end up with a nice smooth yoghurt drink in a jar, with ‘little cauliflowers’ i.e. ‘Kefir grains’ leftover for further use. I totally missed this point as the starter box of powdered Kefir grains I used made absolutely NO mention of straining. The packet assumed I knew what I was doing. And let me be clear, I actually DID read the instructions on the pack and not just once, but thrice and on the third reading there was still no mention of straining. It just says to keep half a cup of Kefir grains for the next batch, so I reserved half a cup of my curd/kefir/whey mix for the next batch once I’d finished drinking the rest of it.
Third lesson of the week: accidentally drinking Kefir grains won’t kill you; won’t make you sick; won’t even seem wrong if you’ve no idea what you’re doing anyway. Or at least it didn’t in my experience. Results may vary between individuals, so make sure you do your homework. 😉
I made the first batch of Kefir with Elgaar farm organic pasteurised unhomogenised milk. The second batch was made with biodynamic pasteurised homogenised milk. The third and pending fourth batch (result of what I sieved out the batch 3 curd/whey mix – really curious to see how this turns out!) were made with raw organic ‘Bath Milk’. I’m hoping this latest batch will finally get me a creamy smooth drinking yoghurt, with some lumpy cauliflowers in the sieve ready to go for round 5. I’ve actually seen the creamy stage three times already but as there was always some ‘water’ (whey) at the bottom of the jar, I just stirred the creamy bits into the liquid assuming it just needed a little more time for the Kefir to work …
Fourth lesson of the week: you can freak out a few friends if you tell them you’re making fermented yoghurt at home by adding white bacterial powder to raw milk then leaving it on a bench for 24-36 hours until it transforms into something you intend to consume. 🙂 You may even discover that one of your friends is already making Kefir and you’ll wish you’d known that 4 weeks ago…
Overall Kefir Lessons:
Will let you know if I survive batch #4.
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