Note from Shannon: I am pleased to bring the voices of our lovely contributors to this space every Tuesday. Please welcome Rosalyn, Cultures for Health Customer Representative and Cultured Kitchen-Keeper.
I admit it: I have been bitten by the culture bug. I have been making yogurt and pickles for many years, but since coming to work at Cultures for Health, I have been trying out lots of our recipes and products, and now I can’t imagine not having three or four culturing projects going on at one time!
I love this drink! It is light, tasty, fizzy, and full of probiotics and electrolytes. I use a quart of water for each batch, with 1/4 cup sugar (half evaporated cane juice, half Sucanat). My water comes straight from the tap, filtered through a charcoal filter to remove chlorine, or just let to stand for 24 hours.
The water where I live is very soft – almost no minerals – so I add either a pinch of baking soda or 10 to 15 drops of ConcenTrace. To this mix, I add 3 tablespoons of water kefir grains, and cover with an unbleached coffee filter. I put the jar on the top shelf in my kitchen cabinet to catch a little extra heat.
After 48 hours, I strain the grains and add them to a new batch, then add some flavoring to the fermented water kefir (usually a few chunks of candied ginger and a couple tablespoons of fruit juice or lemon juice), then cover it and let it do a second ferment for another 2 days. It’s my favorite summer drink! When my grandchildren visit, they always ask for some of my “special soda”!
I don’t know where I’d be without my kombucha! It’s more robust than water kefir, because of the tea, and a great accompaniment to practically any meal. I have four half-gallon jars that I brew in rotation, usually for about 2 weeks each.
In each batch I have 2 teabags of green tea, and then 2 bags of other teas: pomegranate white, black cherry , pear-ginger, raspberry, Darjeeling, oolong, English breakfast, pu-erh, etc. Sometimes I throw in an herbal tea as well, like honeybush or lemongrass.
My scobys really like the pu-erh (a pre-fermented robust Chinese tea that comes in a little rolled up lump wrapped in paper). When I ferment with pu-erh for two weeks, I usually find 5 or 6 layers of baby scobys! I do a second ferment similarly to the water kefir, with a few chunks of candied ginger and other flavorings. I like to add herbs too. Fresh basil is amazing in kombucha!
Cabbage is available year-round, so it’s easy to keep a supply of sauerkraut on hand! I like experimenting with the addition of different vegetables, like carrots, leeks, daikon radish, apples, turnips, etc. I usually add a seed or berry as well, like juniper, caraway, or hawthorn. I haven’t tried black pepper yet but I’m thinking about it!
I was at a farmer’s market last summer, and a vendor offered me a taste of pickled turnip. I was amazed at how tasty it was! Now I regularly ferment turnips, in just a saltwater brine, usually layered with some carrots and/or leeks. Such a great condiment for a meal with lamb or beef! Fermented carrots are wonderful all by themselves. I have a few jars of fermented habaneros on the shelf too.
That’s a staple in this house! I like the viili yogurt especially, and I make it with half-and-half for a thick tangy yogurt to eat with fruit, add to baked goods, or as a topping instead of sour cream. Nothing could be easier! Every few days I take a quarter cup of viili from the refrigerator, add it to a quart of half-and-half, put a lid on the container, and leave it on a high shelf. In 12 to 18 hours, it’s done and I put it in the refrigerator. It’s hard to wait for it to cool down though, it’s so tasty!
I have a confession to make: I really don’t care too much for milk kefir by itself. I do like it in smoothies, though, mixed up with fruit or cocoa powder, and it’s a great addition to baked goods, so I like to keep some around. I just make very small quantities – a pint at a time, or even just a cup, so I don’t get overwhelmed.
For those small quantities, I just need one grain! I put my tiny little pea-size milk kefir grain in a pint of milk, put an unbleached coffee filter on top, and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours. Sometimes it gets pretty thick, and I have to go hunting for that little grain, but I can usually find it by stirring the kefir gently as it goes through the strainer, or shaking up the jar (with a lid on) before straining it, to loosen up the curds.
So that’s typically what is going on in my kitchen at any given time!