Warm weather has finally arrived in my corner of the country, and that means short pants, barbecues, and adjusting my cultures, especially water and milk kefir.
From the Editor: Please welcome Suzanne, Cultures for Health Customer Support Rep and Cultured-Kitchen Keeper.
In the cool springtime, I can get away with a 48-hour ferment for my water kefir. But when the weather warms and the kitchen temperature finally begins to creep up to the mid-70s, I notice that my water kefir grains are hungry. If I leave them for 48 hours, I get a lot of yeast formation, globby, stringy, brown guck. While I know it’s not harmful, it definitely does not have a good mouth-feel. So I try to remember to reduce my culturing time to around 24-30 hours, and keep my family hydrated with lots of water kefir, flavored with fresh berries or lemon juice, our favorites.
Milk kefir is another story, especially if there are great temperature swings. I find that it requires much more vigilance to make good, smooth milk kefir in warm weather. First, it’s time to increase the volume of milk for each batch. In cool weather, I can make a pint each day. Once summer weather hits, I increase to 1 quart per day, and on really warm days, I’m lucky if I can get a 24-hour ferment from those hard-working grains. They often culture the milk more quickly, so I make sure to check on the milk kefir as often as I can. Once it has reached a nice thick, smooth consistency, I separate the grains and get them into some fresh milk.
Since we usually don’t drink so much kefir each day, I keep a jar in the refrigerator and just add a bit to it from each batch for a few days, then make kefir ice cream or chocolate kefir popsicles, both big hits in my house.
We have lots of delicious greens from our local CSA, so I also use the kefir to make salad dressings regularly, ranch is my favorite.
While it seems like a lot of work at the beginning of summer, after a week or so, it’s simply the routine again, and making kefir is no more work than usual. But the rewards never change!