Last week I wrote about my introduction to fermentation and kefir.
This week I am going to write about how to prepare kefir once you have it, and how to use the whey.
How to Prepare Kefir
Once you have kefir grains in your possession, it is extremely easy to prepare.
You will need a jar, milk, and something to cover the jar with like a coffee filter or cheesecloth.
How to Prepare and Use Kefir
1. Place milk kefir grains into a clean jar.
2. Pour milk over kefir grains.
3. For every 1 teaspoon of grains you will need 1 cup of milk.
4. Cover jar with a coffee filter, layered cheese cloth, or cloth.
5. Secure filter or cloth with rubber band or lid ring.
6. Keep jar at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours.
7. Strain out the grains from the whey.
How to Use Kefir
One of the most popular ways to consume kefir is by making smoothies. Kefir drinks or smoothies are made using whey fermented by the kefir grains. They are similar to yogurt smoothies but with a more tart flavor. I almost always add a pretty large spoonful of raw honey to my smoothies to make the tart flavor palatable. One of my favorite kefir smoothies is a berry/banana combination.
Berry Banana Kefir Smoothie
Mix the following ingredients in a blender.
1 cup kefir whey
1 – 2 extremely ripe bananas
1/2 cup frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries)
2 rounded tablespoons of raw honey ot maple syrup
Splash of vanilla
1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed
Kefir whey can be surprisingly tart. The sweetness of the ripe bananas and the honey will help to dampen the tartness. If you like tart drinks use less bananas or honey. I keep ripe bananas in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer to have available for when I make smoothies or banana bread. Just take the bananas out and let them sit at room temperature for a little while to be able to peel.
Kefir whey is a great substitute for water, milk, and buttermilk during baking at a 1 to 1 ratio. When whey is used as a substitute for water during baking it adds nutritional value. Also, during baking whey behaves like a salt which highlights and enriches flavors. Most baked goods’ color and texture are improved with whey, including moisture retention. Whey can be used with baking soda, a leavening agent, because it is acidic.
When whey is used during baking, breads flavors are heightened. This enhances the softness of the crumb and the color of the crust. One of my favorite ways to use whey during baking is in cakes. It enriches tenderness and moisture-retention, which in turn makes it possible to reduce the amount of fat used in a recipe and still have a great finished product. Cookies and bars will be softer and chewier if whey is used because of the increase moisture-retention, and flavors of herbs and cheeses are improved when baking crackers and pretzels. (King Arthur Flour 536)
This week I made some delicious Devil’s Food Cupcakes from a recipe I found in The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. The recipe called for a cup and a half of milk. Instead I used one cup of kefir whey and a half a cup of milk. I think they turned out great. They were for a fire station volunteer group that I am a part of in my village, so I made them red.
Whey can also be used as a starter culture in other ferments, such as lacto-fermented fruits and veggies. It can be used to soak grains, such as porridge or overnight oatmeal, and as a starter culture for beverages. The whey can be strained through a cheese cloth to make a something that resembles a rich and delicious sour cream.
If you decide to cultivate kefir, at some point you will have a surplus of grains. And sometimes this can be a little overwhelming. Give them away! Share them with your friends and family. I have mailed grains in the mail successfully many times without any issues. Kefir grains can be frozen and dehydrated. I have put extra kefir grains in my compost pile. I have also given them to my dogs, although my dogs prefer kombucha scobies, that is another story for another time. Have you tried kefir? What is your favorite way to use it?
King Arthur Flour Baking Companion
Cultures for Health.com
Milk Kefir: A Where Healthy Food Starts Guide
Oxford Dictionary Online