Back in late March, I met my now good friend, Jill Ciciarelli in Austin, TX at Paleo FX. She and her husband, know simply as Dude stayed in the same house as me and my girlfriend, along with Bill and Hayley from The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate and Diane from Balanced Bites. We all quickly became fast friends since Jill and Dude are just as quirky (awesome) as me and my girlfriend. It was during this weekend that we found out that Jill had been working on her book Fermented: A Four-Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods.
After seeing the amazing photos taken by Bill Staley that weekend and hearing the premise of the book, I could barely contain myself with excitement. So far, there aren’t many books that contain a four-season approach to eating let alone one with multiple recipes for probiotic rich foods. In Fermented, Jill covers all different types of foods and drinks that are made through the fermentation process so it’s not just a book with sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha (although all three are in the book with excellent detail). Other recipes include, vinegars, yogurt, vegetables and even hard cider!
Jill was nice enough to allow me to include the recipes for both Water Kefir and Milk Kefir. I haven’t had kefir of any kind before this book because of the term ‘kefir grains’. I had assumed that it was a grain based fermented beverage. Turns out, I was dead wrong. Apparently, kefir grains are not grains at all, they’re just called that because they resemble grains in appearance (deceptive, I know). Jill explains this very well:
“Kefir grains are only grains in the sense that they are roughly the same size and shape as the grains you might think of upon hearing the word. They don’t, however come from a plant, but are fragile, gelatinous miniature SCOBY’s that look like slightly translucent cauliflower florets. Similar to a kombucha SCOBY, kefir grains can be used over and over to produce many batches of fermented drinks.”
- 1 gallon mineral rich nonchlorinated water
- 1 scant cup coconut sugar
- water kefir grains
- ½ lemon, optional
- ¼ cup dried fruit, preservative and sulfur free, optional
- sugar, fresh fruit puree, or fresh fruit juice, optional
- Pour water into the pot and heat to near boiling
- Add the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the sweetened water and kefir grains into a gallon glass jar and add lemon and dried fruit
- Cover with a coffee filter or a piece of light cloth and secure with a rubber band
- Let ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or until the flavor is to your liking. (The ambient temperature in your home will determine the length of fermentation time.)
- To bottle, simply strain the liquid, reserving all the kefir grains for future use. If used, the lemon or dried fruit can be discarded.
- Pour the water kefir into bottles. Add a half teaspoon of sugar, an ounce of fresh fruit puree, or fresh fruit juice to each bottle if you want a carbonated beverage.
- Chill in the refrigerator. At this point the water kefir is ready for drinking. As with kombucha, use caution when opening!
- Combine the milk and kefir grains in a jar. Cover tightly enough to prevent spillage when you gently shake it, but loose enough that the built up carbon dioxide from fermentation can escape
- Let sit at room temperature for 12-48 hours depending on how tangy you like your kefir: less time will result in a sweeter, milkder kefir; more time will yield a more sour, tangier beverage.
- Strain the kefir and reserve the grains for your next ferment.
- Refrigerate and enjoy
The kind of water and sugar used to cultivate water kefir grains will greatly affect the final product. Choosing mineral-rich water and sugar will help the grains to thrive and produce a top quality ferment that is sure to nourish.
You can buy Kefir Grains, which are usually in a dehydrated state. Before fermenting a batch of kefir, the dehydrated grains must be activated in milk. To rehydrate, mix the dehydrated grains with a cup of fresh milk. Cover loosely and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain the grains and repeat this process for five days, or until the milk has started to coagulate in one 24 hour period and has a fresh yet sour smell to it: this means the grains are active and ready to use.
If you are using coconut milk to make kefir, note that canned full fat is best. The coconut milk in cartons often contains additives that inhibit thickening and can prevent fermentation
Fermented hits bookstores on Tuesday, August 6th. Or you can pre order it here. I can’t recommend this book enough. It is a valuable resource to your overall health arsenal with endless possibilities of fermentable food and drink. I personally can’t wait to start experimenting with some of these amazing gut friendly and healing foods.
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