The Butterfly [Kupu-kupu Indonesia] is my reply to the junk cola-beverage, The Spider [Cola & Cream]. The Butterfly may be a means of introducing kefir to a kefir-novice, well tolerated by some of the fussiest taste buds. Children may also find the beverage appealing [some parents may only hope]. Any type of fruit juice may be used. The glass far left of picture is pure kefir with a sprinkle of cinnamon, decorated with a slice of Vanilla Persimmon fruit.
[Makes 1 cup]
2/3 cup dark or light grape juice.
1/3 cup fresh kefir.
Slice of lemon or orange.
Sprinkle cinnamon powder.
The Water-Butterfly is a mixture of water-kefir and milk-kefir to prepare quite an effervescent beverage. The refreshing beverage is best prepared from a fresh batch of water-kefir of your choice.
[Far left] Kefir di frutta indigeno or indigenous fruit water-kefir prepared . In this case, a native Australian fruit or bush tucker known as Illawarra plum [Podocarpus elates].
Ingredients [makes 1-cup]
2/3 cup water kefir, or Kefir d’uva of your choice.
1/3 cup milk Kefir.
1 Tsp Raw Honey [optional, depends on sweetness of the water-kefir].
Fill glass 2/3 full with water kefir. Pour 1/3 glass of milk kefir. If adding honey, premix it with the milk-kefir then add to the water-kefir. Gently swirl in the kefir to form a pattern through the beverage. If using sugar, add just prior drinking. This will seed the gas, causing the beverage to bubble vigorously, to produce an interesting effect. Come on!… get those lovely noses tickled!
Kefir Charmer [U smoothie U]
VANILLA KEFIR CHARMER
INGREDIENTS [Waiter! 2 smoothies for the charmed couple, by yesterday— then, please!]
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas.
1-cup coconut milk, coconut cream or young coconut water.
1 to 2-Tbs fresh milk kefir grains [when surplus grains are available].
1/2 Tsp each ginger and cinnamon powder.
1 Tbs linseed [flax seed] soaked in the kefir above overnight.
1/2 Tsp natural vanilla essence.
2 fresh mint leaves.
CAROB OR CHOCOLATE KEFIR CHARMER
include 1 Tbs of either carob bean flour or cocoa powder.
TROPICAL PANDAN KEFIR CHARMER
Include 1/4 Tsp of Pandan leaf extract [obtained from most Asian stores]… mmm pandan–kefir–charmer— grrrrr! [Wake up home-boy, you’re daydreaming n’drooling].
TROPICAL DURIAN KEFIR CHARMER
Replace banana with 1/2 cup Durian fruit meat [obtained frozen from most Asian grocery stores]… mmm Durian–kefir–charmer–grrrrr! [Wake up home-boy, you’re daydreaming n’drooling— again, old chap].
Except for the kefir and cinnamon, blend all ingredients in an electric blender or food processor for 1 minute till smooth. Fold in the kefir and pour in tall glasses and then sprinkle with cinnamon powder. During hot weather, try blending with the addition of a few ice cubes.
HERBAL KEFIR LIVER BLUSH
This recipe improves liver function. A treat for Hepatitis C virus infection [HCVI] and a fearful or shy, sluggish liver.
For 2 and 4 servings respectively.
2 or 4 cups freshly strained kefir.
½ or 1 cup young coconut water.
3 or 6 fresh leaves each of Dandelion [Taraxacum officinale] and Greater Plantain [Plantago major], coarsely chopped.
1 or 2 Tbs St. Mary’s Milk Thistle seed [Silybum marianum], well crushed.
1 or 2 Tbs each of anise and caraway seed, well crushed or in powder form.
2 or 4 Juniper berries [Juniperus communis], well crushed.
1 or 2 Tsp Turmeric root powder [Curcuma longa], preferably either whole dry root and crush yourself, of fresh root.
1 or 2 Tbs ground Rose hip.
Blend all ingredients in a food processor for 30 seconds to prepare a smooth consistency. Pour in a suitable glass bottle, make sure not to fill the bottle more than 2/3 full. Place either an airlock on the bottle, or fit a lid but do not seal the bottle airtight. Place the bottle in a dark spot away from direct sunlight, and let stand for 2 days at room temperature.
Enjoy ½-cup diluted with ½-cup fresh water. An option is to sweeten with maple syrup, rice syrup or honey to your liking. Or in preference for a savory over sweet, include a little unrefined sea salt, or 1/4 Tsp non-pasteurised organically produced soy sauce. For weight loss enjoy ½ hour before meals. For weight gain, take directly after meals, will also assist digestion.
To enhance immune function and for amplified anti-inflammatory property including better probiotic value, blend 1Tbs fresh milk kefir-grains just prior serving, taken as suggested above.
Including a source of vitamin C [such as rose hip in this recipe] taken together with kefir should be quite beneficial for the liver. Research shows that taking vitamin C or kefir had beneficial effect in protecting the liver of mice, so one would think that taking these together should give some benefit, and probably a better result than taking either of these on their own. But ask yourself why in heavens were not kefir and vitamin C given together in a group of mice in that particular research? Kefir contains a powerful anti-oxidant, and since vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant, the intake of more than one form of anti-oxidant should be extra beneficial. I personally have found this to be true.
Ripening and in fact preparing kefir under airlock, is optimal, for airlocks are designed to prevent air [oxygen] getting into the fermentation process, and by which prevents oxidation of compounds. This also produces kefir or ripened kefir with improved flavour and possibly better nutritional profile.
For details regarding the use of an airlock for fermentation, please see above section Storing Kefir and Reducing Lactose.
Experimental Methods & Utensils for Kefir Making
The following section explains alternative experimental methods for culturing kefir. Included are a few tips for those who do not intend using plastic utensils in kefir-making. For the purist at heart, I explain a system that can be employed to help eliminate unwanted elements found in some natural materials such as commercially grown cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp and cane etc. Also explained is a simple, natural liquid detergent, easily prepared for cleaning utensils. After all, washing utensils is part and parcel of the culture-art of kefir, is it not!?
Please do not email me asking for pouches and what not explained below. I simply do not supply these, nor do I have any idea where to obtain such items. This section is simply for the experimenter at heart. Preparing kefir in the common manner explained at the beginning of this web page, is by far the best method, unless you have a leather bag to culture kefir, as in the true, traditional method of Caucasus. Hang on! I do not supply these either, nor do I have any idea where to find them 🙂
IMPORTANT NOTE I recommend only using a spare portion of kefir grains in any experimental work, and always keep a portion of grains cultured in the common manner. This should avoid you losing your original culture, in case the kefir grains do not favour your experimentation.
POUCH-METHOD for PREPARING KEFIR
This simple method makes the kefir-culturing process [routine] a little more simple, by eliminating the straining step. Placing kefir grains in a pouch made from linen or cotton gauze is only recommended for culturing water kefirs e.g., Kefir d’erba medica, Kefir d’acqua [water kefir] or Kefir d’uva. A pouch such as the hemp-pouch explained below, is best suited to contain the grains when culturing a milk-kefir. This is due to the very open weave of this particular type of hemp material. Gauze or cheese cloth are too restrictive for milk kefir grains! There is not enough !! on my keyboard to express the importance of this fact!!!! Using material with an open weave is necessary when culturing milk-kefir.
A material with an open weave such as the hemp pouch below, will have less tendency to become blocked with kefir-curds during the culture-process. An appropriately made pouch-system also achieves what I refer to as an organic-fit, which causes less restriction for the grains. This is not possible with most materials available today. I find these points important if deciding to use alternative measures. Although through personal research, I’ve found that nothing beats culturing kefir using the common method. Using the pouch-method may produce a milder tasting kefir, with a gel-like curd, similar to yogurt.
Making a Pouch for holding Kefir Grains
Note. A Hemp Pouch on the left is suitable for brewing water-based beverages and milk kefir. However, a pouch fashioned from cotton gauze or other material with a tighter weave than the hemp pouch, is only suitable for making water kefir. This is because a tightly woven material made into a pouch to hold milk kefir-grains, when placed in milk the weave becomes blocked with curd as the milk coagulates due to fermentation. This prevents sufficient organisms from leaving the surface of kefir grains, and culturing the milk in a sufficient manner. The organisms of the contained kefir grains become starved for nutrients, for milk can not pass through the blocked weave.
Make a pouch or pocket from well washed, non-coloured, very loosely woven fibre material e.g., gauze or another form of natural fibre material. Alternatively, cut a piece of said material into a circle about 11 – 14cm [6″ – 8″] in diameter, and place the kefir grains in the centre. Gather the ends of the material and tie with cotton, linen or silk string to make a pouch. Be certain that the pouch is made loose, so the grains have plenty of room, and for milk [or other medium] to pass freely through the cloth, to and through the grains.
Be sure to wash all natural fibres well before made into a pouch. See below for details.
Using the Pouch
Place the pouch in milk [or other alternative medium you may be using] and follow the steps for making kefir explained in the common method above. When the kefir is ready, remove the pouch and pour out the finished kefir into another container. Wash the fermenting jar and the pouch gently with chlorine free fresh cold water. Just repeat the process for culturing your next batch of kefir.
Making a Thicker Yogurt-like Curd Using the Pouch Method
To make a thicker kefir similar in texture to yogurt, use two jars with the pouch method. After removing the pouch from one jar of 24 hour brewed kefir, simply place the pouch into the second jar of fresh milk. Ferment for 24 hrs to make that batch. This process eliminates the pouring and straining step. One less step to perform… Neat, hey!? You will find that once the pouch is removed form one jar, the kefir will have a nice, thick curd all the way through, which can be scooped out with a spoon… <gulp-kefir-smile> aahhh! that’s very nice indeed.
NOTE I highly recommend gently stirring the contents once or twice after the first 8 hours fermentation. This helps by-–
# Bringing fresh portions of non-inoculated milk to the grain organisms in the pouch [feeds the microflora].
# Any kefir-curds formed within the pouch are released back into the surrounding kefir.
# Inoculates fresh portions of milk outside the pouch.
# Releasing kefir-curds, which may be blocking the pouch itself.
# Disperses the acidity evenly throughout the kefir. This is due to the nature of the pouch method, which may have a tendency to make the kefir sour from top to bottom of the container, and within the pouch.
This particular hemp pouch was rendered from hemp-bark [not thread], unwound from strong commercial hemp rope.
O.K.. O.K.! the agenda for the use of hemp for the pouch is–
Hemp is one of the strongest natural fibres.
Hemp is rot resistant.
Hemp is grown and cured pretty well “chemically-free”. However, the fact that these days, imported hemp fibre contains harmful residues due to pest and disease control agents used in fumigation or drenching. So please be extremely careful with any source of hemp fibre, especially if it’s imported from China.
Next is a method that may be useful for making kefir without the use of an external strainer. This involves using the jar for making and straining the kefir. I feel that this system is a closely related to the way kefir was traditionally made, because some previous kefir from the last batch is always left in the jar to be mixed in with fresh milk for the next batch. This system may be useful for those who do not wish to wash their grains between milk changes— a wishy-washy affair!
This kefir jar has a lid fitted until the kefir is ready for straining. A pre-moistened cotton doily is placed around the mouth of the jar and held in place with either a strong rubber band, or tied with cotton string. The jar is simply inverted to strain the kefir into a container. The jar may be washed once a week to remove the curds adhered to the inner wall.
The cotton doily is removed, washed then dried after each straining. If your grains are very small, you will need to make sure that the material you use has small enough holes, or you may lose all your grains! The cotton doily may be sterilized by ironing with a hot iron. This technique is cumbersome in practice, and the following similar idea is more practical.
More Suitable Material for the All-in-One Method
For those who don’t mind using plastic, one could cut out the meshing of a plastic strainer into a round shape, then secure this on to the mouth of a jar with the cut-out lid. Cut the meshing the same size and shape as the mouth of the jar’s outer circumference. Then cut out a large whole in the jar’s lid that is smaller than the mesh. Screw the lid on the jar to hold the mesh in place. If you have mason jar, then all you need to do is cut a round mesh form a nylon strainer, and secure it with the mason jar lid.
The lid becomes the strainer which is placed on the jar to strain the kefir. It’s then removed and washed.
You need to agitate the kefir just before each straining. This is to help reduce clumps of curd into a smooth, liquid consistency, making it easier to strain through the meshing.
There are also sprouting jars or just lids commercially available, with a similar meshing as in the photo, as par of the lid. They come in different mesh size, so you can purchase the size that works best for you. They are made to fit a mason jar, so if you already have the correct jar and lid, then all you need is the mesh. Some come in nylon and some are stainless steel mesh. I recommend the stainless steel brands. Google for sprouting lids.
The Tea Infuser Method
Other systems that I’ve experimented with, and which with some adjustment have given reasonable results, is the use of a tea infuser. As the photo is self explanatory, there is little need to elaborate further.
However, the important matter of such a system is the infuser which holds the kefir grains, it must meet the requirement whereby it does not restrict the mother-culture to the point where it does not freely receive nutients. In this case, the original infuser on the left, which was rendered from a fine stainless steel mesh fashioned into a long cylinder. This is not suitable, for as explained in the photo, the mesh easily becomes blocked with curds as they form during the process of fermentation. This slows down the fermentation process quite considerably, and the surrounding milk takes a much longer time to culture, than if the grains were put in the jar as they are.
Removing the stainless steel mesh infuser, and replacing it with, in this case, a tubular nylon netting with a diamond shaped weave [holes], so the netting stretches with ease and is very flexible. As one can see, this type of netting provides kefir grains with what I refer to as an Organic Fit. The net does not become clogged with curd, because the holes of the net are large and the net stretches. In fact, a chop stick or a spoon can be put down into the net through the opening on the top, so that the kefir can be easily stirred, which assists the culture-process.
To make kefir, simply add milk to the glass jug, brew for the required time, and then simply pour off the finished kefir through the spout. Pour fresh milk through the opening on top of the lid to repeat the process. No need to wash or rinse the mug in between each batch. Cleaning the jug once a week should suffice, just to remove any sold curd that adheres to the inner walls. As milk is poured through the top hole, it rinses the grains as is passes through the net and over the grains.
The Best Type of Netting
The type of net used for the tea infuser above in actual size. Note the shape of the weave, it is diamond shaped. It readily flexes and does not constrict the kefir grains. This type of netting is found fashioned into body scrubs, which is made from a long tube of net, tied into a ball. It can also be used to make a pouch as in the hemp pouch method above, to hold either milk kefir-grains or sugar kefir-grains. However, I strongly suggest to be sure that the nylon material is Food Grade, for we do not want anything less, which can contaminate our kefir with carcinogens or other toxins. Unwanted compounds are common in most non-food grade plastics, especially since most of these are made in China. Laws or Codes of Practice are often overlooked, or not kept a close eye on, as we are beginning to learn with recent imports from China, including toxic milk sold in China itself very recently [Sept-Oct. 2008].
I have also used a hemp pouch as above, in place of a nylon net in the tea infuser, which also gave good results, producing wonderful kefir.
Unacceptable Infusers for Kefir Making
I’ve experimented with the type of tea infuser shown on the left, and this type of ceramic infuser to contain kefir grains, does not give good results. The reason should be quite obvious. The holes are too few, and the ceramic material is too thick.
In fact, even if the infuser contained many more holes, because the wall of the infuser is so thick, the holes are rendered long and cylindrical. Each hole becomes blocked with curd within a few hours of fermentation, which then starves the organisms of the contained kefir grains, because fresher milk can not reach the grains. Also, the organisms of the contained kefir grains are not able to be released into the surrounding milk to sufficiently culture kefir.
I purchased the infuser from a local Asian grocery store. I must state, it does work well for brewing herbal tea, as is it designed to do just that.
Preparing Natural Fibre Utensils
For Safer Brewing
Before deciding to use any natural fibre-based material or utensil in your kefir making, or in fact, for any general cooking, I suggest first preparing the item with a simple process explained below. This includes any material used for making kefir pouches, bamboo strainers, cloth used for making kefir cheese etc. This system may help to remove or destroy any chemicals or toxins that may be present in natural fibre. Please read this [below] for instructions.
NATURAL LIQUID DETERGENT
For cleaning or detoxifying natural fibre materials and utensils.
A natural way of keeping utensils clean … very clean, in fact!
The two-step process explained below, may be used to remove chemical or toxic residues found in natural commercial fibres, including cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp or cane etc. These include unwanted compounds that may have been used or formed during growing, processing or storing the natural fibre, material or utensil. During my earlier research, I learned corn maize contaminated with aflatoxins or mycotoxins [toxins produced by mold contamination], cooking the maize in the traditional Native America Indian fashion with either wood ash or lime lye or a mixture of both for preparing massa [a maize dough for preparing traditional tortillas], the process destroyed those toxins in maize. Hence why I decided to incorporate a rendition of this method for use in cleaning utensils and natural fibres etc. Explained here is a two step system, for deactivating/extracting undesirable compounds with the use of–
1. a natural alkali.
2. organic acids and enzymes.
It is not imperative to perform both steps. You could just follow step 1; the lye wash. Lye solution is also an effective natural detergent for washing utensils clean. Excellent for chemical-free cleaning of any fresh vegetables, including legumes, to remove unwanted pesticides. Ash lye us also an excellent way of removing unwanted pets insects from freshly harvested fruits and vegetables such as aphids, caterpillars, snails, slugs and earwigs etc. Lye water will also kill and dislodge harmful bacteria that may be found on fresh vegetables. House floors and glassware are cleaned without leaving any streak marks. Wooden or other types of cutting boards are cleaned effectively also, removing odours left over from previous use. Wood ash is also the best thing for removing odours from chopping boards and jars tainted with the aroma of pickles, such as pickling jars e.g. In fact, I have yet found anything else that can remove odours from glass jars as well as scrubbing the jar with a small amount of wood ash.
1. Place the natural fibre or utensil in a pot and cover with a solution of wood ash lye. Bring to a slow boil and simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring the material continuously with a spoon. Remove the material and rinse well with cold water.
2. Place the natural fibre utensil in a suitable pot, cover with 1/3 cup of non pasteurised vinegar to each 4 cups of water. Let sit at room temperature for 12 hours to 24 hours. Remove and rinse well in hot water. Or, bring to a slow boil and simmer for 1 minute then rinse utensil with cold water.
How to Prepare Wood Ash Lye Water [a Powerful Natural Liquid Detergent]
Wood-ash lye water is prepared by mixing fluffy gray wood-ash mixed with water. The ash must be prepared by burning natural and untreated wood. This is to say, wood which has not been painted, stained, or chemically treated in any way what so ever. The fluffy gray ash is first sieved to remove any pieces of charcoal. The sieved ash is added to about 4 to 5 parts hot or cold water. The mixture is stirred for a few minutes then left for 12 to 24 hours. After this the ash settles to the bottom of the container to form a sediment. A clear solution will form on top of the ash sediment. Pour off the clear solution, which is your wood ash lye water. Lye water has a slippery feel similar to soapy water. This solution is used as a liquid detergent. Ash lye needs to be diluted with hot water for use, similar to any liquid detergent. A stronger lye may be prepared by bringing 1 : 3 [ash to water by volume] to a boil and then letting it sit for 12 to 24 hours before pouring off the clear solution of lye water. Store the lye water in a separate container.
The partially spent ash that remains, still contains high amounts of potash alkali, which can be reused to make more lye water. Simply add more hot or cold water to the ash sediment, and let stand. The ash may be used again, over 3 to 5 cycles, or until the solution ceases to produce a slippery feel. Well spent ash may be composted, or sparsely scattered over the garden. Do no water plants directly with the ash lye water solution for it will burn plants! This is because ash-lye is very alkaline and caustic to plant roots if used concentrated. I mostly add a little kefir to the spent ash, to neutralize each other, so that the ash is neutralized from an alkaline state to a base, and the acidic kefir is neutralized from an acid to a base. This can then be safely poured around trees that are well mulched. To protect sensitive skin, one should wear gloves when handling ash or undiluted ash-lye water.
Natural Liquid Detergent for Washing
Wood-ash lye, also known as Potash lye or lye water, is an excellent natural detergent for washing virtually anything. Ash-lye is the predecessor of today’s detergents. I always keep some wood ash lye lying around in a bucket covered with a lid. I use lye water for washing cooking utensils etc. This includes cheesecloth, kefir pouches, doilies, strainers, jars, dishes and glass utensils etc. I also use it for a body and hair wash. Using the actual spent ash found at the bottom of the ash-lye bucket makes a fantastic non-abrasive scrubber, including a fantastic tooth paste [see Dom’s ToothSaving Paste web page]. The spent ash can remove and lift stains which many of today’s commercial products leave behind, without the use of any harsh chemicals or abrasive compounds! Ash and ash lye or lye water is also a natural sterilizing agent, again, without toxic chemicals. Lye water is useful for washing cast iron pots, pans and woks, leaving a fine protective film of oil, without any chemical amalgamation that occurs when using a commercial detergent [which you should not use on any of these types of iron cookware, for harsh detergents remove the protective film that forms on the surface of a well sealed wok or iron skillet. Removing the protective film makes the iron wok or skillet rust, which we do not want].
How to Use Ash Lye as a Liquid Detergent
To wash with ash lye water, add say about 1 cup of lye water to 4 litres or 1 gallon of hot water. Use this dilution for washing as you would wash with any other detergent. Then simply rinse what you’ve wash with clear water. Depending on concentration of the lye, will determine how much lye water is diluted with hot water. You can tell by the feel of the lye solution with your fingers, if it has a slippery feel, then it has the power to clean, and clean well it shall.
Commercial Lye Water
I find most Asian grocery stores stock lye water. The bottle of commercial lye on the left, is used for preparing certain Asian food-products, including tenderising fresh meat, Chinese moon cakes, for cooking rice and pastry, including dumplings. It can be used as baking powder substitute. It is also a wonderful basic liquid detergent to wash and sterilize utensils. I’ve found four different brands of lye water at Asian stores. Some brands are prepared with Sodium Carbonate while others contain Potassium Carbonate or both. Lye prepared with a Potassium Carbonate is best suited as a natural liquid detergent simply because potassium is considered a softer base compared to a sodium base lye. The ingredients should be printed on the label.
Such commercial lye water is concentrated, so the liquid must be handled with care and diluted accordingly for use. I find that 1 Tbs in 8-cups hot water in the kitchen basin is more than enough, and does a great job as a liquid detergent. This may be used to wash and sterilize cheese cloth, kefir pouches and bamboo strainers etc.
To sterilize and wash utensils in one action, add 1 Tbs commercial lye water to 4-cups hot water in a deep stainless steel pan [do not use aluminium or copper]. Bring to boil and stir utensil with a wooden ladle, or press down on the material with a hand potato masher. Remove and rinse utensil or material twice with hot water.
A final rinse with the addition of about 2 Tbs vinegar to 4 cups warm or hot water, followed by rinsing with water. This last step neutralizes any alkali left in the utensil, or material, and is a highly recommended practice.
I have to thank my late grandmother who passed away shortly after her 106 birthday [born on April 4,1899] for the recipe for this natural liquid detergent. [She saw 3 centuries!]. THANKS, NONNA MARIA! [A news clip of Nonna on her 105th birthday. Shall update with a similar article of her 106th birthday, when I find it again]
Nonna Maria passed on peacefully in her sleep 2 months after her 106th birthday. She was the oldest Italian-Ozzie in South Australia at the time of her passing on. She passed on an abundant amount of knowledge, as much of my early curious years were spent asking Nonna Maria, how she prepared foods, herbal concoctions, and healed common ailments and how other duties were practiced during her time, when electricity and other modern commodities were not available. She was always more than happy to oblige my many curiosities. By the way, one of her favourite beverages, her herbal brew, consisted of wild Marshmallow root, German Chamomile flowers, dry fig and fresh apple. The concoction was simmered for 5 to 10 minutes, strained and enjoyed warm. When she used to stay with our family, I often picked wild marshmallow from our garden for her concoction, which she prepared for the two of us on those occasions. I have an early photo of Nonna Maria somewhere, which I must add here. She appears like a wise Native American Indian Chief, she really does.