Ok, so yeasting isn’t exactly a word but I figured it explained things with a lot fewer words. I’ve been back into playing with yeast and friends in several forms. 🙂
Bertha, my sourdough starter from some years back died a slow and mouldy death. My kefir has been going ok but after a couple of long ferments I had lost my grains amidst the curdled kefir of an overcooked batch. And after my weekend away at The Village Continuum where I’d learned about kefir cultured cheeses I figured it was time to buy some new grains.
I bought my grains off eBay. I would suggest buying from a seller who is local to you. The less time your grains spend in transit, the happier they will be. Alternatively, if you know someone with grains, I’m sure they will be willing to share. Kefir grains multiply, often faster than they can be shared. Your donor will likely be more than happy to get rid of some. 🙂
The sourdough starter is as easy as chips to make, a heck of a lot cheaper and probably faster than having some sent via snail mail. You can usually find it online though I’m told if you prefer someone else to get it started. To make a starter, get some flour (I’ve made Bertha II with wholemeal although Bertha I was rye and you can use white too) and using a small jar, bucket or convenient receptacle, mix up about 2 tablespoons of flour with some water (best unchlorinated although mine is straight from the tap) until you have a runny paste similar to a thick shake in consistency. Stir it vigorously and in a large manner. You want to expose your beginner starter to as much air as you can because that’s where the yeasts you want to capture are floating. Put a cloth over the top and secure with a band or string. I use a mason jar with the ring only and cheesecloth. About 12 or so hours later, tip half of your starter out, add 2 tablespoons of flour and enough water to make it runny paste again, repeat the mixing and put the cloth back over. Repeat 12 hours later and for as long as it takes until you see your starter looking like a sponge with lots of little holes or bubbles through it. When you have those bubbles it means you have yeasts that are in there. They expel carbon dioxide as a waste product, hence bubbles. 😀
You can also add apple or grapes, sultanas or other fruits that have yeasts into your starter too. You remove the grapes or apple after a couple of days although the sultanas can stay in your starter indefinitely. You may find a sneaky one makes it into your bread every now and then though.
Feed your starter every 12-24 hours afterwards, discarding half and topping up. If you want to slow it down you can pop it in the fridge. If you want to make bread, feed it up 12 hours before. The starter will be halved in the process of bread making then.
Making kefir is almost the same in method and time taken. Strain the kefir milk into a separate container or jar, pop your grains back into the old jar, top up with milk and cover in the same way as the starter. Easy! I second ferment my kefir for added goodness and a vast improvement in flavour to my mind. The second jar contains a few lemon skin peelings and the kefir milk goes in there with no grains. When I have a new batch of kefir ready I turn the lemon kefir into a milkshake for my kids. Depending on my mood I drink some of it too. It’s zingy and zesty with a hint of lemon and it’s absolutely delicious.
Now, as per the Milkwood post, I decided to have a go making the cheese from the recipe they posted. I took 2 quart mason jars and I’ve left them for 24 hours, each with a kefir grain and about 1L of milk. I poured in a little of my first ferment kefir too, just to give it a head start. I took out the grains this evening as they were sitting on the top of the gently firm fermented milk. The milk will stay on the bench until the white wrinkly mould forms and the curds separate from the whey. Then it’s cheese making time! 😀 I’ll let you know how it goes.
It feels good to be back in the kitchen brewing up yeasty goodness. I know how good the food is and there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had when the sourdough bread works to perfection.
So do you do any fermenting? Please share. 🙂