Goat Milk Kefir

At the recent NYC Fermentation Festival we samples some of our goat milk kefir. Singly pasteurized goat milk is available at a price at places such as Whole Foods. You can also buy raw goat’s milk if you are in a state the allows people to purchase raw milks from quality controlled, typically small family farms that know very well how to prevent contamination and diseases. Although goat’s aren’t breeding as much as when the Spring comes around some farms have a year-round goat breeding scheduled to make it available.

Our milk kefir grains are over a decade old. The amount we  need to make a gallon of milk is about a teaspoon. In 4 to 5 hours and several vigorous shakes and burping along the way the kefir is just about to start separating out. At that point we strain the grains or SCOBYs out and start the second fermentation.

Second Fermentation or 2F is very important for the development of key nutrients, as well as the ongoing reduction of lactose. The bacteria and yeasts in milk kefir love the milk sugar lactose. As the eat over time they produce byproducts the flavor and unlock the vitamins. They will eventually make the kefir a bit more sour.

Our 2F process usually  involves adding either a sugar source (raisins, dried figs, dried apples, fresh berries, andimg_3228 even fruit juice or raw sugar) and perhaps raw fruits, spices, herbs or vegetables. For example a 2F kefir with garlic, mint, pre-salted cucumbers, scallions and celery seeds is a great drink.

After 4 or 5 hours – unless it’s really cold – your kefir is done and it can be refrigerated. It will last at least few a weeks refrigerated, but burp then shake once a day and drink it when you can. Store your grains in good milk in the fridge. The grains like to be used frequently, especially with raw or singly pasteurized milk.

At the New York City fermentation festival we brought a gallon of a raisin, cardamom raw goat milk kefir. It was well received. We just finished making a few more gallons.

Grilled broccoli with fermented garlic and cultured butter

Broccoli is a great vegetable. We peeled some and cut it up into large pieces including the stems. In a cast iron skillet heated until very hot we added some high temperature sunflower oil and really seared the broccoli. Then we added slivers of fermented garlic and some toasted walnut oil and some sea salt. Covered until just tender we added some cultured butter (cultured with kefir grains). If you want to serve as a main dish or a full vegetable course add chopped well roasted walnuts and a little extra butter or olive oil in place of the butter and a dab of umeboshi paste.

Koji

img_6884Culturesgroup started out Aspergillum (notably A.oryzae) experiments last November 2016 and it seems we haven’t stopped yet. Nor do we plan to. We’re looking at different rice strains, different semibuai rates (polishing) different inoculation temperatures and preparation techniques. img_6885img_6888

One of our recently finalized dried koji based powders. This one lasts for at least 9 months on the shelf, a typical test for the stability of drug candidates as reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What can be done with this and other forms of koji is the topic of one of the books we are currently writing with the goal of distributing it for free or at cost.
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Green Kimchi

Daikon radish, leafy Nappa cabbage, salt, puréed garlic, ginger, green apples, lime juice and ferment for about 21 days then refrigerate. We put a mashed potato and lots of kombu in this one. After a few days we tasted and stirred in some crushed lime leaves (kaffir), Szechuan peppercorns and some Himalayan salt.  #wildfermentation #chefkenfornataro #bostonpotter #contrabandferments #justfoodnyc #sandorkatz #rootandrise #kimchi #lactofermentation #microbiology#foodmicrobiology #fermentationonwheels #sandiegofermentersclub #austinferments #portlandfermentationfestival #brooklynbreadnerd #sourdough #matcha #culturesgroup #chefkenfornataro #greentea #milkkefir #rawmilk #foodmicrobiology #chefs #koji #fermented #fermentation#microbiology #austinferments #newyork #wildyeast

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Milk Kefir

Milk Kefir is an incredibly nutritious, digestible and easy to make drink that can have various tastes and devoted fans based o the fruits, juices, vegetables, sweet or savory spices and herbs used during a 2F (second ferment). You can even chose not to use anything to do a 2F instead just enhancing the nutritional profile even further.

The first ferment is when you take your milk kefir (MK) grains  – they are actually called technically SCOBYs and often look like cottage cheese curds – put them in whole, unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk or the best fresh, pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized, organic or totally grass fed milk you can get your hands on. Even sheep and goat’s milk make tasty and highly nutritious kefir.

If you have to use frozen or even powdered or canned milk it’s still worth it as long as they are of high quality and you get them to a good temperature. We prefer 65F to 72F but as long as the milk isn’t freezing during the entire process the grains will eventually turn the milk into kefir. After 12 to 48 hours of occasional or frequent shaking or stirring you will have some kefir that you like. You can always slow it down if it gets sourer than you like really quickly or separates very fast by:

  • fermenting at a colder temperature
  • using colder milk to start out
  • use less grains i.e. (use 1 tsp per quart if using raw warm milk)
  • strain the grains out after a much shorter period of time

The more you move it around the thicker and more homogenous the final product will become. If the whey – typically a clear or yellowish liquid – separates out from the kefir either mix it back in and continue or shake it up, strain out the grains in your clean strainer or cheese cloth or paint straining bag or old nylons or well rinsed out dish towel.

Strain the liquid into a clean vessel – we recommend using glass jars like Mason or Ball or Fido or Weck or any clean jar you bought a quart of mayonnaise in. What matters is that there is a top that can be tightly closed yet opened every now and then to burp  your kefir. One of the amazing things that will happen when you put your strained kefir in a cold place – if you don’t drink it all right away which is okay! – is that during a 2F or second ferment the tightly lidded will do two things: Continue to develop even more vitamins and accessible proteins while either souring a bit more or taking on any flavor you add and developing carbon dioxide.

IMG_2273To start a new quart of milk kefir we took about a tablespoon of frozen kefir grains out of the freezer and let them thaw out on the counter. When we froze them them were very plump and juicy so we first dried them out a little and coated them with organic dried powdered whole milk and then froze them to prevent excessive cell damage. The freezing did not affect them in any way we could tell.

 

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We put the grains in a little milk bath for a while then pulled a few of them gently apart to increase the total number of grains that we would end up with and to encourage our SCOBYs (symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeasts) to mingle and make new relationships. Other types of SCOBYs include water kefir grains (tibicos, Japanese water crystals) and the very large and mushroom like ones to make kombucha.IMG_2277 Four hours later, a lot of picking apart of the grains and a gently warm milk bath tripled out number of grains. We also added a tablespoon of heavy cream we had skimmed off the top of an unhomogenized half gallon of milk.So we threw them into a half gallon of milk and the did their in their dark cupboard about 12 hours before we decided to stop and second ferment with two different flavors. One we added some well salted down and rinsed cucumbers, fresh dill, chopped scallions and some lactofermented garlic to and capped it tightly. We fermented it for 4 hours until we just had to eat it. It was great. Had we let it go for a few more hours then refrigerated it until chilled it would have been one of those things you keep shaking your head and saying, “Wow this is so good”. The other quart we made for our friend Sandor Katz who was giving a presentation for a New York City group called Just Food. We added goji berries and Himalayan raisins to it with a touch of lemon juice. Everyone loved it. We’ll have to make that one again. Fizzy and refreshing.

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The other quart we made for our friend Sandor Katz who was giving a presentation for a New York City group called Just Food. We added goji berries and Himalayan raisins to it with a touch of lemon juice. Everyone loved it. We’ll have to make that one again. Fizzy and refreshing.

The carbon dioxide is what gives your milk kefir a wildy refreshing, fizzy and deeply satisfying taste. After tasting a well made milk kefir for the first time people often dream about it. Careful when opening it. Also, if you keep it going it is likely to keep fermenting, thickening, souring and creating gas. So drink it up! Or make cheese. Or a salad dressing or dip. Or bake with it.

Milk kefir is a very sophisticated food with many different bacteria and yeasts providing a wide spectrum of nutritional goodness. Diversity is always a good thing! Like it thicker? Mix it with your current yogurt type or steamed grains or chopped fresh fruits or fresh dill, cucumbers, garlic and lemon! Need to know where to get grains? No, you can’t just grow them from a previous batch of strained milk kefir or backslop like you can with yogurt. But there are a great number of ways you can get them: From a friend, a community person or noble, online swap, purchase from a reputable source such as Gem Cultures, Cultures for Health, Yemoos or even from a list of vendors through Amazon. Let us know if you have questions or need help at culturesgroup@earthlink.net