Category Archives: Kefir – Water & Dairy Kefir Grains

Tips and tricks for dairy and water kefir grains. Keep your kefir grain nice and healthy!

~ Kefir Cheese & More…

cheese making 101

Today we’ll talk about making living, cultured cheese at home. Cheese can be made with dairy kefir grains or lighter yogurt strains. The process involves several steps, however, the overall procedure is very simple.

It is a basic 3 steps in cheese making…

1. Culturing the milk with a selected strain of kefir or yogurt until the milk separates into ‘curds and whey’.

2. Hanging the product to remove more of the ‘whey’ and to ‘dry’ the curd/fat solids.

3. Enhancing the cheese by forming it, adding dried herbs, and aging it longer, if desired.

finished kefir yogurt cheese

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So Let’s Get Started…

First, start by culturing fresh dairy with the selected culture strain. Milk kefir grains seem to work the best but other types of yogurts may be used. Even different yogurt strains mixed together can form a better end product and add to the probiotic makeup. These include Fil, LangFil, Amasi, or even Buttermilk yogurt type strains.

Allow the milk to culture per directions, most should achieve separation within 24 to 48 hours. After the milk has split into ‘curds & whey’ remove as much of the ‘whey’ as possible leaving the milk solids/fats for the cheese production.
Note: Save the ‘whey’ as a starter for other ferments like lacto veggies. Makes a great drink for children. Save under refrigeration.

kefir cheese making
milk kefir bagged

Next step is to place the milk fat solids into several layers of cheesecloth or porous cloth. Make sure the weave is proper to hold the solids in.

Bring up the corners and tie together with string. Hang this, over a bowl, for 6 to 8 hours or until the desired thickness is achieved. If a firmer cheese is needed then place into the refrigerator and allow the cheese to thicken. The process of refrigeration will pull more moisture out due to humidity controls.

forming cultured cheese

Lastly, is removing the cheese from the cloth and enhancing it further. This is done by forming the solids into a block form, a mold, or mound. Before that herbs and spices may be added to enhance the flavor. A little sea salt and pepper is all that is needed sometimes, but adding herbs like basil or thyme will take it to another level!

If a thicker cheese is wanted, once formed, it can sit longer to firm up even more. By these methods, soft spreadable cheese or harder cheese can be created.

But What About the Cheese Going Bad?

The chance of living, cultured cheese is very small if any. By the process used, this cheese is alive with active cultures that have depleted the ‘food source’ so other bacteria and yeast have nothing to feed upon.
The cheese will be suspectable to mold spores if left out and uncovered.

cheese with herbs

Now Some Fun…

We have living probiotic cheese maybe with or without herbs and seasoning. Now, this can be enhanced by adding other cultured foods or infusions.
A mix of honey infused garlic and fresh cheese sounds like a winner. See how to make garlic honey here.

If milk kefir grains or yogurt culture starters are needed, visit our store for a selection of over a dozen starter types.

Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods…

~ What is Mongolia Milk Airag and Kumis? ~

airag milk

What is Airag?

Airag is the traditional national beverage of Mongolia. The most important animal of the Mongols is the horse. Horses don’t only serve as riding animals, the mare’s milk also has a special status. A glass of homemade Mongolian airag is said to bring health and vitality. Also known as kumis, it is made by fermenting raw unpasteurized mare’s milk over the course of hours or days, often while stirring or churning (The physical agitation has similarities to making butter). During the fermentation, lactobacilli bacteria acidify the milk, and yeasts turn it into a carbonated and mildly alcoholic drink.

How Fermented Airag is Used…

airag milk

Airag refreshes and sparkles softly on the tongue. It contains a small amount of carbon dioxide and a low amount of only 2% of alcohol. The taste is slightly sour, but quite agreeable after getting used to it. The exact taste depends on both of the characteristics of the pastures and the exact method of production. The beverage is a rich source of vitamins and minerals for the nomads. A Mongolian will normally empty it, but it is also acceptable to just take a sip and return the bowl. To reject the offer right away
would be gravely impolite.

Similar to Isgelen Tarag (Kefir), it is possible, but not as common, to distill Airag into Mongol Arkhi (milk liquor).

Strictly speaking, kumis is in its own category of alcoholic drinks because it is made neither from fruit nor from grain. Technically, it is closer to wine than to beer because the fermentation occurs directly from sugars, as in wine (usually from fruit), as opposed to from starches (usually from grain) converted to sugars by mashing, as in beer. But in terms of experience and traditional manner of consumption, it is much more comparable to beer.
It is even milder in alcoholic content than beer.
It is arguably the region’s beer equivalent.

Kumis is very light in body compared to most dairy drinks. It has a unique, slightly sour flavor with a bite from the mild alcoholic content. The exact flavor is greatly variable
between different producers.

Kumis is usually served cold or chilled. Traditionally it is sipped out of small, handle-less, bowl-shaped cups or saucers, called piyala.

How Airag is Made…

The milk is filtered through a cloth and then poured into a large open leather sack called a Khukhuur, which is usually suspended next to the entrance of the yurt. Alternatively, a vat from larch wood (Gan), or in modern times plastic, can be used. Within this container, the milk gets stirred with a wooden masher or buluur.

leather airag milk
milk fermentation

The stirring needs to be repeated regularly over one or two days. Traditionally, anyone entering or leaving the yurt would do a few strokes. The fermentation process is caused by a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeast, similar to Kefir.
The stirring makes sure that all parts of the milk are
fermented equally.

Traditionally, this fermentation took place in horse-hide containers, which might be left on the top of a yurt and turned over on occasion, or strapped to a saddle and joggled around over the course of a day’s riding. Today, a wooden vat or plastic barrel may be used
in place of the leather container.

Enjoy and Happy Culturing!
See our web store for all your culturing and fermentation needs:
Organic Cultures Store

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~ 3 Traditional Indian Lassi Recipes ~

~ Traditional Indian Lassi ~

mango Lassi
The famous Indian yogurt drink that is smooth, creamy, and absolutely heavenly! There are many variations of lassi, which is basically a blend of cultured diary kefir or yogurt mixed with fresh fruits and/or herbs. If the yogurt or kefir is ready made, this great refreshing drink can be made in minutes. The lassi drink can be used as a before meal appetite enhancer or after a meal as a dessert beverage.

Lassi is a popular traditional dahi (yogurt) based drink that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. Traditional lassi is a sweet savory drink, sometimes flavored with ground and roasted cumin. Salty lassi, however, contains salt and other spices, instead of sugar. It is important to use fresh yogurt/kefir that is not sour tasting.

Main Ingredients: Dahi (yogurt), fruits, cream, sugar, water, and spices

Mango Lassi

lassi mango
– 2 Ripe mangos, cut, seeded, and diced
– 2 cups of yogurt or milk kefir
– ¼ to ½ cup of jaggery (A raw India sugar) or cane sugar

Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until blended.
Pour into glasses and serve. Garnish with a mango slice and a sprig of mint.

Mango – Mint Lassi

mint lassi
It’s a great take on the famous Mango Lassi that you tend to see at various Indian restaurants because it takes the flavor to a higher and much more complex level. This can also be done with only mint, if desired, just double the amount of mint leaves used.

– 1 Ripe mango
– 3 tbsp brown or jaggery sugar
– 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
– 1 tsp ground star anise
– 1 tsp ground cardamom
– 1 tbsp lime juice
– 2 cups fresh yogurt or kefir
– whole mint leaves for garnish

Blend the mango, brown sugar/jaggery, chopped mint, star anise, cardamom, lime juice, and yogurt in a blender on high speed until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint sprigs to serve.

Strawberry Mango Lassi

lassi strawberry
This is a fruity twist to the traditional lassi.

– 300 to 350 gr of strawberries, remove hulls and steams
– 1 to 1.5 cups of chilled yogurt
– 2 to 3 tbsp heavy cream
– 6 tbsp of sugar or raw honey
– 1 to 2 tsp rose water
– Sliced strawberries for garnish

Prepare the strawberries, mix with the honey or sugar, and blend until smooth.
Next, add the fresh yogurt and rose water, pulse until a smooth lassi is created.
Serve the strawberry lassi immediately. Garnish with a strawberry and/or mint leaf.

lassi yogurt  Lassi is a great way to use yogurt/kefir and a different way to use it over making smoothies. Above is three classic lassi blends, there are so many ways to make lassi with a favorite mix of fruits and spices.
Let the imagination go wild with flavor combination!
Enjoy!

For yogurt and milk kefir starters, visit our online store at: store.organic-cultures.com


 

Lemongina / Limegina Drink

~ Fermented – Vegan ~

 Lemongina
This is an excellent fermented sports drink containing electrolytes, vitamins, and some protein.   Easy top make with some common ingredients.  Very refreshing when a pick-me-up drink is needed!

Ingredients Needed…

  • 1 Quart (1 L) filtered water
  • 1⁄2 Cup (100 g) granulated sugar or use 3/4 cup honey
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Juice of 4 lemons, limes, or a combination
  • 1⁄2 Cup (125 ml) live Dairy whey, water kefir starter, or wild yeast fermentation
  • 1⁄4 Cup (65 g) frozen raspberries or strawberries (optional)

Lemongina

Directions…

  • Warm 1 pint (500 ml) of water in a pot over low heat. Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the remaining 1 pint (500 ml) of water, and let it cool down below body temperature. Add the lemon juice, whey, and raspberries (if using).
  • Pour the Lemongina into a glass or ceramic jar and close the lid and shake.  Write the brewing date on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the outside of the jar.
  • Let it sit at room temperature for 3 to 7 days, depending on the temperature.  Agitate at least once a day to prevent mold from forming.  Begin tasting at the first sign of bubbles. It is done when it is fizzy and sour and tangy.  Refrigerate once it reaches desired taste.  The raspberries may be removed or left in.

Yields: 4 Servings (8 oz/250 ml, Each)

strawberry Lemongina
Fresh Strawberry Lemongina

Try this refreshing beverage for those hot summer days when a nice cool drink is desired.  Said to be a great mixer for a ‘gin and tonic’. Don’t forget to check out Tepache recipe, in the files section, for a fruitier beverage also from Mexico!

For culturing starters, like kefir, koji spores, or Kombucha and fermentation supplies visit our Organic-Cultures online store.

Live, Grow, and Share Cultured Foods…Happy Culturing!

“Aguas Frescas” or Fruit Waters – Fermented & Cultured Summertime Drinks

  The hot summer months are one of the best times to ‘drink your cultures’!  With the warm days and abundance of fresh seasonal fruits the wild and cultured yeasts are in their element.  Many traditions throughout the world have fermented drinks some more alcoholic than others.  Most are very easy to make by the addition of fruits and sugar.
Tepache Vendor  Today the focus will be fruit waters or ‘fresh waters’, otherwise known as aguas frescas in Mexico.

For the following recipes the basics are all the same.  To produce a beverage, a starter culture strain, such as water kefir grains, will be needed or the available wild yeast may be used.

Tepache de Pina: Mexican Homemade Pineapple Brew

Fermented/Cultured – Vegan – RAW

Tepache de Pina
A classic aguas frescas commonly sold by street vendors throughout Mexico.  The drinks are prepared with a combination of sugar, grains, and cut or pulped fruits.  The flavors range from Tepache, Papaya, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Lemon, horchata (hibiscus flower), fruits like oranges, banana, mango, and even jamaica or cucumbers.

Ingredients Needed…
Tepache ingredients

  • 1 Pineapple – Ripe or canned, diced or pulped.
    Hint: Save some of the pineapple for a garnish when serving
  • 1 cup or large cone of Piloncillo, cut in pieces, or use an organic sugar/molasses combination, or dark brown sugar.
  • 2 quarts of filtered water
    Optional:
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves

Directions…

Easy for wild fermentation.   Combine all ingredients into a large pitcher or ceramic pot.   Cover with plastic wrap or several layers of cheese cloth.   Allow to set for 12 to 24 hours.   Remove any white foam that may have formed.   Cover again and allow the Tepache to set for 12 to 20 more hours, or until taste is correct.   Adjust the sugar level if needed.   Dilute the finished beverage with water, if the taste is to strong/sweet.   Strain and Chill.
Serve by the glass garnished with a slice of pineapple.

If using water kefir to culture the beverage, combine the water, fruit, and sugar allowing it to set for 12 to 20 hrs.  Remove the kefir grains from the mix and add in the optional ingredients if desired.  Allow beverage to set another 12 to 20 hours, until taste is to one’s liking.  Finish as above.

Notes:  DO NOT let it ferment longer unless you need pineapple vinegar which is used to flavor other condiments pickled chipotle peppers.

Mexican Strawberry Water (Aguas de Frescas)

Fermented/Cultured – Vegan – RAW

Tepache strawberry
Tepache Strawberry – Aguas Frescas

Another simple Tepache, this one made with strawberries, mint leaves, and lime.  A very refreshing summertime beverage, this frescas brings the cooling properties of mint and the tartness of lime.

Ingredients Needed…

  • 4 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup cane sugar or any sugar
  • 8 cup cold water or cultured water kefir
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges (optional)
  • Mint leaves, fresh (optional)

Directions…

Mix strawberries, sugar, and 2 cups water in a bowl.   Cover and allow it to set for 4 hours.   This will help to remove the juice from the berries.
Tepache beverage
Take the strawberry mixture and pour into a blender.   Add some of the fresh mint and lime, if desired.   Blend on high until smooth.   Pour the blended berry mixture through a wire mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl; discard the pulp and seeds if desired.

Add the remaining 7 cups cold water to the pureed strawberries and mix well. Place the Aqua de Frescas in the refrigerator to chill for several hours or pour over ice and serve immediately.
Garnish with lime slices and/or mint leaves.

If using water kefir in this recipe the strawberries may be added when making the kefir.  Then the whole amount is blended after removal of the water kefir grains.  Fresh berries may be added when blending if the sugar content has dropped to low.

  Tepache is an easy homemade beverage that can vary in taste and what fruits are local and in season.  Try making different combinations of fruits like watermelon or blackberries, a batch with wild yeast fermentation, or with a stable culture strain like water kefir.
Water Kefir Grains  If water kefir grains are needed we have 5 different strains at our store –
store.organic-cultures.com

Enjoy.  Happy Culturing!

A Summer Time Refresher – Ginger Brew & Beer

ginger beer starter
Old time ginger brew beer…refreshing!

A Summer Time Refresher –
Ginger Brew & Beer

It’s the middle of the summer season and the desire for a cool refreshing beverage to quench the thirst is a plus. Coming in from an afternoon of tending to the organic garden, I pop the top on a 12oz ginger brew and pour into a Champaign glass. I watch for a second as the bubbles turn into a lovely foaming head and the smells of ginger, lemons, and limes transcend the air. The sweet flavors collect on the tongue and fulfill my thirst. Nirinjan – Brew Master, Organic Cultures

Making your own soda beverages is fun, easy, and a much better alternative to commercial sodas loaded with HFCS and dyes! Before the coming of mass produce cola and the ‘soda jerk’, many people made their own beverages with natural effervescence. The process is simple and the final recipe take less than an hour to complete. You can make two different types of ginger beverage – A classic ginger ale (what we call ginger brew) or an alcohol version, which is ginger beer. Both follow a simple recipe, however, the processing is different for each type. The first thing you will need is a ginger beer plant or ginger brew/beer culture starter.

What’s a Ginger Culture Starter and Ginger Beer Plant?

To make ginger brew/beer you will need to obtain a starter or plant. There are three choices to get started:

  • First, a traditional ginger beer plant that comes from the UK and can cost a bit. This culture seems harder to find and maintain. We find that the taste is strong and sharp, not to our liking.
  • Second, buy a ginger brew starter. There are a few sources for this style of starter.  We sell a lot of this starter in our store. You can buy ginger beer starter here: http://store.organic-cultures.com/gibeplorgr.html. This ginger beer starter has been maintained since 2009 and has improved in flavor over time. We have stabilized this culture starter to produce the same results and taste again and again. It is a cross between the UK ginger beer plant and wild yeast strains. We think this starter is mellow while still holding an intense ginger flavor over the UK strain alone!
  • Lastly, you can try to make a ginger brew/beer starter with wild yeast and sugar. Making your own starter using wild yeast strains may produce good results or sometimes not. This depends on the yeast strains you capture and if they can stabilize. Just as in beer brewing, a stabilized yeast starter will produce a fermented beverage with the same results again and again. Some try to do a quick start using bread or Champaign yeast, we do NOT recommend using these as the taste will lose its balance and the traditional ginger ale flavor.
  • Fakes – There are sellers who claim to have a ‘real’ ginger beer plant. These are not true plants most being water kefir grains or bread yeast mixed with ginger.

Which to Do…Ginger Brew/Ale or Ginger Beer?

For a great ginger flavored beverage, there are two ways to go alcoholic (ginger beer) or non-alcoholic (ginger ale/brew). Again, the main recipe is the same only the process changes. For making ginger brew/ale you can just follow the standard recipe on our website: http://www.organic-cultures.com/instructions_sheets/ginger_brew

For ginger beer, make the final recipe for ginger brew/ale but instead of bottling it in beverage bottle it is placed into a fermentation vessel with an airlock (We have gallon size jars with lids and airlock at the store). Once the airlock stops releasing rapid bubbles, the beer is finished and now decanted into beverage style bottles. The volume of sugar used in the recipe determines the amount of alcohol.

Whether one wishes to make beer or brew ale, a ginger culture starter can provide a great refreshing summer time beverage. Not only will it save money over the cost of commercial soda, it is much healthier. Other benefits include the ability to flavor the drink as one wish. Ginger with limes, maybe fresh berries, or even ginger/lemongrass make it how you like!

So this summer, start making a pro-biotic thirst quenching ginger beverage to refresh during the heat. Ginger is known to aid in digestion and helps provide energy. Ginger brew is easy to make and a great replacement for the whole family vs. commercial soda. Buy or get a ginger brew starter today and
start making this wonderful summer time beverage.

Happy Culturing!
Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods.

Buttermilk Curry & Kefir Smoothies

 

  One of our goals is helping the world maintain a healthy lifestyle full of great traditional cultured foods. Without cultured foods throughout the centuries, humankind would be in a much different state of health and well-being. Without the assistance of beneficial bacteria and yeast, proper food digestion degrades and human pathogens will attack weaker systems.

  Just imagine a world without cheese, cultured beverages such as beer and wine, or preserved food stocks. In some cultures, such as Japan, fermented foods are a large part of everyday life. They have foods and condiments ranging from sake, natto, amasaké, and miso just to name a few. Japan has one of the largest tradition food cultures there is today.

Here are some more recipes to keep you going:

milk kefir smoothie
Kefir goes well with many types of fruits.


~ Classic Kefir Smoothie ~

One of the most widely known ways of consuming dairy kefir and very simple to make!

  • Start with a cup of cultured kefir milk or other yoghurt culture starter.
  • Add to blender along with a peeled banana.
  • Add other fruits of you choice. Try mixed berries or other sweet fruits, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, or even avocados and spinach!
  • Finish the smoothie, to taste, with a bit of raw honey for sweetness and some fresh lemon juice for acid.

This drink recipe is great for the morning rush allowing one to get nutrition and pro-biotics in one shoot. Enjoy!

 

~ Buttermilk Curry ~

Buttermilk Curry Served
Buttermilk curry is great with rice or flat breads

  This is a great little recipe for using buttermilk or any other yoghurt/yogurt style dairy culture. This creamy curry provides a nice spicy condiment that will add a kick to your meal. Traditionally in India, one would have buttermilk curry with rice or chapati (Indian flat bread). Great for balancing all Ayurvedic Doshas. Substitute ingredients or visit an Indian food shop.

  • 2 tbsp of ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds or normal mustard seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing
  • 4 curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ to 1 small green chili
  • 1 ½ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 small handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp salt, sea salt recommended
  • 4 cups buttermilk

buttermilk curry recipe
Heat the ghee in saucepan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and hing.
Stir until the seeds pop!

Add the garlic and chili, allowing them to brown slightly. Then add the ginger, cilantro, and salt.

Pour in the cultured buttermilk along with ¼ cup water.

Stir in the turmeric and heat until just hot, but not boiling.

Great served with steamed rice or chapati/flat bread.

 We hope you enjoy the recipes and remember to visit the website for new culture items, more recipes, and specials going on.

Happy Culturing!


 

Culturing Recipes For the Week…

curd chillies
Yoghurt curd chillies use in many dishes for a tart and spicy taste

Curd Chillies From India

For an easy cultured condiment that may be added to many dishes, try curd chili. The name makes it sound hot; however, the addition of fermented curd cools down the chilies heat. Any type of traditional yogurt style starter will make the curd needed for the recipe.

The finished product is a pickle of sort, as the curd softens the chili and ferments it at the same time. It goes very nice with curd rice (see recipe below).

Recipe Ingredients:

– 1 kg fresh red chillies
– 3 tbsp sea/rock salt
– 1 cup very thick, drained yoghurt, Fil, or Viili
– 1 cup tamarind juice (soak golf ball-sized lump of tamarind in 1 cup water for 15
minutes and squeeze out juice or use tamarind paste)

Pre-heat oven to 100 Deg C or 220 Deg F

Mix salt, yoghurt culture, and tamarind in large bowl.  Add chilies until coated with mixture.  If mixture will not stay on chilies, try coating chilies with flour or thicken mixture with a thickening agent.

Place coated chilies on a baking tray and heat until chilies are dried.  Turn chilies to cook even and coat all the area.

Store the dried cultured chilies in a air tight jar. Use as is or fry in some oil.

HINTS and TIPS:

  • Use as is or fry in a little oil
  • When making the curd, drain the whey off by hanging in cheesecloth.
    The thicker curd will sick better to the chilies.
  • Add to lentil dishes, curries, or other dishes for a tart, sour, and hot taste!

 

Curd Rice Recipe

Curded Rice is a nice way to use leftover rice or add some punch to an entrée

– 3 tbsp vegetable/coconut/sunflower cooking oil
– 2 cups cooked rice (day old rice may work better)
– 2 1/2 cups water – Salt to taste
– 1 cup cultured yoghurt (your choice on type)
– 1 tsp mustard seeds (toasted)
– 3 dry red chillies
– 5 to 6 curry leaves
– Coriander leaves to garnish

In a large pot, mix cooked rice with the yoghurt and salt.
In hot pan heat oil and fry off mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chillies. Cook until chillies blacken in colour.
Mix this into the rice and serve topped with fresh coriander/cilantro leaf.
This makes a great addition as a side dish to the meal.

We hope everyone enjoys these recipes and Happy Culturing!

The Never Ending…Cup of Life Updated 2/8/15

Making Pro-biotics Part of Your Daily Life and Health

Probiotic Beverage
A Cup of Living Probiotic Beverage

As we move into the new year, many people strive to make healthier choices through ‘resolutions’. Intake of living foods is vital for great health and proper digestion. Consuming living foods/pro-biotics is an easy resolution anyone can follow to increase health and wellbeing. Ways to obtain living foods can include eating a RAW food diet, fermentation of foods, or by capsule form. Capsule forms of pro-biotic are very expensive over traditional cultured foods and beverages, like live kefir cheese or ginger brew. We believe eating a diet of raw foods is as close to nature and a natural way to ingest the highest degree of nutrients. Adding fermented foods into the diet allows a higher degree of pro-biotics intake over a standard a raw diet, assists in absorption of nutrients, and provides a much greater array of healthy foods.
 
  Here at Organic-Cultures, we use a method that insures daily pro-biotic intake. We call it ‘The Cup of Life’! Without beneficial yeast and bacteria, human life would not subsist. This method would fall under fermentation and RAW food choices. Using the ‘Cup’ method is very simple to implement into your daily routine. First, you will need a drinking container, water bottle, etc. A quart size vessel seems to work best. Next, fill your container with your favorite water type cultured food drink. Liquid type cultures work better than dairy culture starters. Your choices range from any type of water kefir grains, kombucha tea or JUN, and ginger brew. One may mix different types/strains of fermented beverage to increase the pro-biotic array
(Be careful not to contaminate your pure culture strains).

Water Kefir Grains
Choose your mix of probiotics to produce a fizzy beverage.

Decided on a pro-biotic source(s) and simply add some fresh pieces of fruit and/or juice along with the active cultivated source. One may add pieces of the water kefir grains or other culture, if desired. The next part is where the real action begins! As the cultured beverage sits, the active bacteria and yeast strains will start to consume the sugars within the fruits/juice. As you drink this mixture throughout the day, keep refilling the container with fresh juice and water mixture. At night, loosely cover and in the morning there should be a nice fizzy beverage ready to consume throughout the day. Since the ingredients are cultured, the beverage can stay out for several days with no worries of contamination or refrigeration.

Photo updates 2/8/15
IMG_0297 Photo updates 2/8/15

Tips:

– Keep at room temperature to keep the cultures producing and fermenting

– If stored in a container with lid make sure to open slowly in case of pressure buildup –
or leave your drinking vessel open.
– Cut fruit into larger pieces to prevent a chocking hazard

– Make sure to change out the container from time to time for hygienic reasons

– If you like a colder beverage…just add ice.

 As always…

Happy Culturing through the New Year.      Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods!

Update on the living cultured drink…10.31.2015

It is been many months of drinking with this same culture sample.  It is providing a great fizzy beverage every day without much work.  This glass of never ending life filling probiotics is done with the grape kefir grains which are larger then traditional water kefir grains.  Just add some fresh juice,  cut fruit, water kefir, or even a little kombucha tea.  It’s been working for many months and provides a drinkable beverage day or night.  If made before going to sleep, the beverage will be fizzy by morning, with a head like beer does.  Carry this around throughout the day and people will ask what is floating in your drink.  A great way to tell them about living beverages and probiotics!
Happy Culturing!


 

 

The Difference in Water Kefir Strains…

By now many people have heard of, tried a bottled version, or even make beverages themselves from water kefir grains. The grains they are using are the traditional water grains, also known as Japanese Water Crystals, or California Honey Bees.

5 types water kefirIn our travels around the world from Japan to the islands of Hawaii, we have obtained several strains of natural organic water kefir grains. Each type has its own makeup: different from one another in their structure, opaqueness, and food source. Each one has a slightly different probiotic makeup due to the food source and the area that it came from. When choosing a strain for daily use, look for the one that best suits your ingredient resources! Also, look for water type kefirs are fresh, not dehydrated or dried, which keeps them healthier and viable. There are many sources for the traditional water kefir starter online, however, this is the only type carried. We have collected eight different unique water strains, offering five of these for others to try.

Water kefirs exist around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. We see this from growing the water type kefir strains in our lab and the creation of ‘grains’ inside the fruits tested and on Petri dish plates.

Scientific Stuff…
Typical water kefirs have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida(the good kind), Kloeckera and possibly other wild yeasts and bacteria. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide (dextran) that forms the grains. Certainly opportunistic bacteria take advantage of this stable symbiotic relation that might be the reason for the many different names/distinctions in the scientific literature. Different ingredients or hygienic conditions might also change the fungal and bacteriological composition, leading to the different cultural/continent names. Wild yeast from that region will also enter into the ‘system’ and become part of the symbiotic makeup. A makeup, due to the close and often long-term interaction between two or more different biological species or strains.

People whom DO NOT wish to consume dairy products may find that water kefir provides them with fresh probiotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, such as kombucha or milk kefir grains. This is a true vegan product from start to finish. The final product, if bottled, will produce a carbonated beverage, however, the shelf life is short. We recommend drinking it fresh daily vs. bottling. Notice each of the descriptions below to see which strain will suit your needs and dietary concerns.

water kefir grains   ~ Water Kefir Grains or Kefir dé Acqua ~ Organic Kefir Dé Acqua are similar in probiotic makeup to milk or dairy kefir, but are cultured in a water based mixture of cane sugar, whole organic figs or other dried fruit, and organic lemons.   There are many places online to find this type of water kefir starter.
Culturing time is 24 to 48 hours. Produces good amount of fizz. Flavor depends on the type of fruit used.


tibicos grains ~ Tibicos/Tibi – South American Water Kefir Type
~ One of our latest hand-sourced water kefirs brought back from South America. Most speculate this strain originated in Mexico where it thrived in the sugary water of the Ountia (prickly pear) cactus. It has been popular for many years in Mexico to use Tibi (water kefir) to make Tepache (pronounced tuh-PAH-chay) which is a pineapple-brown sugar-cinnamon beverage fermented by the grains. Tibicos is easy to make…just add Piloncillo raw sugar and non-chlorinated water to the kefir grains. Piloncillo sugar can be found in any Mexican food store. Tibicos has a rich molasses taste and the grains will be
brown in color over traditional water kefir grains.
Culturing time is 30 to 48 hours. Produces lower amount of fizz, unless fruit is added. Flavor depends on the type of fruit used and amount of Piloncillo sugar/molasses.

coconut water kefir~ Coconut Water Kefir – Kepe Niyog Juice ~ This strain of water kefir grains comes from the Philippines, called ‘kepe niyog juice’. We picked this strain up about 10 years ago and it is still fermenting strong as ever. Coconut water kefir is made from the raw coconut water (called ‘niyog tubig’) and meat of young fresh coconuts or you may use coconut milk cut with coconut juice or filtered water – Fresh coconut are sold in USA as ‘young Thai coconuts’ not the mature old coconuts with the brown hairy shells. Kefir type grains then ferment this juice for a refreshing coconut taste. This converts the sugars in the juice/meat into a hardy refreshing beverage full of pro-biotics. If more effervescence were desired, traditionally, a little date palm sugar would be added.
Culturing time is 20 to 40 hours. Produces lower amount of fizz, unless sugar is added. Flavor is of fermented coconut.

grape kefir grains ~ Kefir D’uva Crystals – Grape Kefir Grains ~ Grape kefir grains or Kefir D’uva crystals are similar to milk or a dairy kefir grain, however, this strain was received from Western Europe. It is grown and cultured only with organic grape juice or fresh grapes. The use of only grape juice or fresh crushed grapes has change the structure of the grains, making them different from the traditional water kefir grains. The taste is like a very light fermented wine and cultures very quickly. No sugar needed to culture this strain as the grape juice provides enough for the grape kefir grains.
Culturing time is 15 to 24 hours. Produces high amounts of fizz. Flavor is of slightly fermented red wine.

hawaian water kefir ~ Hawaiian Kefir Grains – Hua’Ai Wai ~ When in Hawaii during our resent 2013 travels, we met an old man making fermented Hua’Ai Wai (fruit water/juice). He made it fresh every night with raw fruit juices to sell in the morning and throughout the day. His most popular flavor was Wai hua ái liliko í-‘alani-kuawa, or passion-orange-guava flavor. The locals were buying him out everyday! Through his good nature, we obtained some of his water grains and brought them back to the mainland US. He stated that the grains were ‘magic’ and appeared in the fermented fruits that were left setting out for a week or more. He never got grains from an outside source. We have verified in our lab that new grains will grow inside whole unopened fruit if left sitting in kefir water No sugar ever used for this kefir water strain. Culturing time is shorter to allow beverage to still have sweetness. Use fresh organic fruits, canned fruit,
or bottled juices for making this great tasting beverage!
Culturing time is 22 to 30 hours. Produces high amounts of fizz. Flavor is of fruits or juices used with a slight hint of yeast.

Water kefirs exist around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Working with culture starters, since 2000, we have seen a major increase of people wanting to know more about traditional cultured foods, fermentation, and making their own cultured cuisine! As we learn, grow, and share more cultured foods we belief that more culture strains and culturing traditions will come to light.

 

Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods… Happy Culturing! www.organic-cultures.com