Tag Archives: kefir

“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!

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!


 

 

Kefir Grains – Live vs. Dried – Which Kefir is the Best Buy For You ?

Kefir Grains – Live vs. Dried – Which One is the Best Buy For You ?

  Today someone searching to buy kefir grains on the web will find many sites selling ‘living’ kefir or dried/dehydrated kefir grains.  For someone new to food culturing there are many questions…, What is the best source to buy kefir?  What type of grains do I need?  Where to get the best grains?

There are two types of kefir that one can buy, Milk kefir grains, which are a naturally occurring organism originating in the Caucasus or water kefir grains from Meso-America.  Of the two, the live fresh active grains are the best buy for your money and time.  However, both types offer benefits unique each to itself.

The fresh kefir grains re-balance quickly and begin producing drinkable pro-biotic kefir within just a few days of arriving after shipment.  This is an excellent option if you live within the USA and are able to attend to them immediately.
If you are either
a) not located within the U.S. or
b) not able to attend to the fresh grains immediately upon arrival, then dried kefir grains are the best option for you.
These will take longer to activate – about a week or so to ‘wake up’ and adjust the balance to where they are producing a drinkable kefir beverage.  This is a great option if the grains will be in transit internationally, since they are in a dormant stage and will not degrade or less likely to be damaged over the fresh grains.  This also gives you the option to stick the dried grains in your cupboard or refrigerator if you receive them, but, are not ready to use them (or want to hang onto them as a backup source or a gift to give). Water kefir grains are known to sometimes be difficult to revive from a dried state (or just takes a long time) in some cases.  Usually it’s hard to put the blame on any one thing, they just tend to be more fragile and pickier than milk kefir grains.

Below are a list of companies and websites that sell different kefir grain starters.  Below is information from the company’s website pages on kefir:

dairy_culture_02
purchase live fresh kefir grains over dried or dehydrated

Organic-Cultures.Com

From their website…“These kefir grains are real grains maintained on organic milk.  Unlike the pre-packaged kefir starters, such as Cultures for Health, Helios, or Body Ecology, that you may find on other sites or selling in retail stores, these are the real living grains of the kefir culture.  Our kefir grains are ready for use out of the packet, no failed productions or waiting several rounds for the kefir grains (milk or water types) to become ‘active’ again.  You will not find our strains of kefir grains in any store!  These grains will last a lifetime with proper care.  Our Kefir Cultures are Always Live & Fresh…Never Dried & Dehydrated.”

Benefits:   Five different kefir types to choose from, plus many other food cultures.  Fresh, active culture starters, organic grown, kefir is ready to use from the package and a first batch of kefir is ready within 24 to 48 hours.  A 100% replacement guarantee, if the cultures are not viable.
Drawbacks:  Not able to ship to international destinations (but for Canada) due to fresh raw nature of culture starters.

 

bodyE_kefir_2Body Ecology

From their website…”Contains 6 packets that can be used an average of 7 times each.  Six tablespoons of previous batch will ferment 1 quart of liquid.”

Benefits:   Convenience and great for short time usage,
Drawbacks:   Isolated lab grown cultures, repurchase required, limited usage.  Invest in real kefir grains for long term usage.

 

dried_kefir_starter_01 Yogourmet

From their website…”Yogourmet kefir starter is prepared from selected strains of dairy cultures and yeast as well as kefir grains, so that each batch you make produces excellent quality kefir.  Yogourmet kefir starter does not require the use of a yogurt maker, since the milk is incubated at room temperature for about 24 hours.  Each box contains 3 envelopes of 2 X 5 grams and each envelope makes 2 liters of kefir”.

Benefits:
  Convenience and great for short time usage,
Drawbacks:  Isolated lab grown cultures, repurchase required, limited usage.  Invest in real kefir grains for long term use.

Helios_kefir_01Lifeway Helios Kefir & Other Ready to Drink Kefirs

From their website…”Putting a bottle of Lifeway Kefir in your hand just makes so much sense.  It allows you to be proactive about your health, filling your digestive system with friendly bacteria.  Lifeway Kefir is also loaded with nutritious ingredients.”
Benefits:  Convenience in a ready to go drink and great for short time usage or when traveling,
Drawbacks:  High price, isolated lab grown cultures, extra packaging, and limited pro-biotic content.

 

dried_kefir_grains_01Cultures For Health

From their website…”Our milk kefir grains are shipped in a dehydrated state in a barrier-sealed packet.  Upon receipt, the dairy grains can be rehydrated in fresh milk (this process usually takes 5 to 7 days) and then used to make kefir by adding the grains to fresh milk, stirring, covering, and leaving at room temperature until the desired consistency is reached.”
Benefits:  Cultures are cheap to buy, due to mass production.  Great for shipping to countries outside the USA.
Drawbacks:
 No moneyback or return policy.  Small packet of lab produced and dried starter culture, leaving little room for error. Must rehydrate the grains before use, wasting milk and time.  Dehydrated grains may not reactivat depending on the shelflife.

Each type of starter has it’s own benefits depending on what and how the cultures are to be shipped or transported.  This is a final note on food cultures…”Buying or obtaining the freshest kefir or other starter cultures, one can, will assist in producing the best cultured and viable product.  I suggest fresh culture over dried/dehydrated if possible.”, Nirinjan Singh, Director – Organic-cultures.com

Welcome to Organic-Cultures

cultured_veggies_01
Culture Food stored and ready to eat

We are excited to introduce our newest web site dedicated to nothing but food culturer starters. We still provide the best kombucha cultures and fresh live kefir grain but now we have many other food cultures such as koji and tempeh spores.  At Organic Cultures.Com, we provide fresh traditional raw food cultures, including kefir grains, from different regional sources from around the world. All cultures are maintained with certified organic ingredients.   From dairy kefir and 5 different water kefir grains, kombucha tea starter, tempeh spores, and amasaké koji, we provide many cultures for the home food culturist.  Bringing these traditional foods cultures back into your life nourishes you and your family with healthy pro-biotics, real living foods, and a bit of ‘culture’, too!

This Blog will give the latest information on cultured foods, news articles, and thoughts on again creating living food just as we did from the start of civilization.

 

Why consume Probiotics like Kefir and Kombucha?

Probiotics are microflora that live all around us.  Common types of microflora are bacteria, yeast and molds.  Some of these like, dairy kefir and water kefir grains, are beneficial to the human body we call these probiotics.  These probiotic microscopic organisms (microflora) help the body build long-lasting immunity to a host of illnesses and diseases, including allergies, irritable bowels, viruses, bacterial infections, and yes, cancer!  No vaccination or prescription medicine in the world could ever come close to this safe and beneficial way of balancing the body’s billions of microbes. Probiotics not only help create this balance but also helps maintain it for years and years, hence the name probiotic, which means “for life.”

This all natural way of supplementing your defense system is vital in today’s frightening, non-nutritional jungle of toxic food and medicine.  Many people, especially in the United States, are surrounded by bad influences, through our food, environment, and lifestyle.

Probiotic Cultures, Like Kefir Grains Helps Prevent Damage Before it Occurs…

Probiotic cultures not only prevent damage from being done to our cells, they strengthen our immune system and beat down cancer cells before they ever have a chance of multiplying.  Probiotics weaken mutagenic activity, so your good cells keep winning the battles, and most importantly, the DNA war.  Adding probiotic to your body isn’t hard, just eat!  Culturing your own or buying ‘living’ raw foods is the best and cheapest way to get probiotic into your body.

The majorities of microbes in the intestine are not harmful, but rather play an important role in normal growth and development, but when the pH balance is off , especially in the intestines, major problems begin doing “structural” damage to our system, and reinforcement is often needed, above and beyond a healthy diet.  Also, probiotics can be used to counter the over-consumption of antibiotics so typical in the average American diet, which is often chocked full of non-organic meats and dairy products that come from animals shot up with varying forms of antibiotics.  Antibiotics and trace chemicals are also prominent in municipal drinking water, because it’s “too expensive” for cities to filter them out.

Eliminate Fear and Learn about
Your Inner Ecosystem

Just as Earth and Mother Nature have a delicate balance which needs to be maintained, our bodies have their own “inner ecosystem,” which is like having a rainforest in your digestive track. When your ecosystem is balanced, your intestines are teeming with beneficial bacteria and micro flora to keep your immune system strong.

However, in the USA, we are told that bacteria and yeast means sickness or disease and are marketed anti-bacterial products for cleaning and washing the hands.  The fact is just the opposite in that we would die without a healthy intestinal flora.

Consuming traditional probiotics, like yogurt, ones native to the human digestive tract encourages the production of antibodies, which in turn protects the system from allergies, infections (viral, fungal and bacterial), IBS, and sometimes cancer. In fact, probiotics build defense against disease by enabling your body to build a natural defense, unlike vaccinations. Vaccines are now often crossbred viruses, bacterial strands, mixed up with aluminum and formaldehyde, which shock the system into a panic type of reaction, which is a form of “wild guess” methodology for establishing only short term immunity at best.

Populating your “gut” with beneficial micro flora may help to improve your skin, maintain a healthy weight, and provide energy and overall well-being. Many people who have never heard of probiotics or don’t understand their function may be “turned off” to the concept if educated improperly at first.

Benefits of a Healthy Gut

The second someone reads a typical probiotic label or description reading something like, “Over 6 billion bacteria in each tablet,” it seems overwhelming, and some consumers might set the product back on the shelf, but at that point, they are selling themselves short of a healthy gut.

Start incorporating healthy beneficial bacteria and yeast into you diet and see the difference.  We have many traditional food starter cultures to choose from.  We have many dairy type cultures including kefir grains and vegan cultures, too!  Not into milk based food, try our water grains or make your own ginger brew.  You can see more about each culture type on our main web site or go to our secure store and order at anytime.

http://www.organic-cultures.com

http://store.organic-cultures.com

Happy Culturing,
Nirinjan Singh, Director