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  • Blog Post: Accidental Experiments in Milk Kefir Second Fermentation

    Many of the most innovative things have happened by accident, and the cultured kitchen is no exception. I often accidentally stumble upon something that changes the course of what we eat or how we eat or what our current favorite dish is. This week my space cadet tendencies reminded me of the revelation that is a second fermentation of milk kefir. I’ve actually done this before and written about a second fermentation of milk kefir here on the main CFH site. I had forgotten about it and really only done it a few times as we just consumed the kefir too fast to buy the time to do it. Read More
  • Blog Post: The Flavor of Vegetable Ferments: Young Vs. Aged

    When I first started making vegetable ferments I followed the sage 3 days at room temperature advice. By that time they were most likely bubbling so they were fermented, right? So I’d pop them in the fridge and we’d start eating them straight away. There were other batches that went straight into the fridge for food storage and some of those half-gallon jars we didn’t dig into for months. These always had a slightly different flavor and texture but I didn’t find either unpleasant. It wasn’t until I changed the way I stored my ferments that a whole world of fermented vegetable flavors began to open up. Read More
  • Blog Post: Keep Calm, It's Only Kahm Yeast!

    One of the most distressing parts of vegetable fermentation is when one goes bad. There are no mysteries in this case, though people often ask how they can know for sure that a ferment is okay to eat. In my experience, you will know. It will stink like you wouldn’t believe and often has various colors that should definitely not exist in that ferment. If those things do not exist – the stench and funny colors – then what you might be seeing on the surface of your vegetable ferment is a harmless yeast called kahm. This is often indicative of things that could have gone better, but is certainly not poisonous or harmful. I actually have no idea whether kahm rhymes with calm, but in either case kahm yeast is nothing to freak out about. Here’s a peek at what it looks like. Read More
  • Blog Post: Warm Caramel Deliciousness

    This isn’t exactly a cultured product. And it’s definitely not a cheese. But it is warm, sweet, AMAZING in coffee, and perfect for fall. Have you guessed yet? It’s cojita…a caramel sauce/candy made from fresh milk that is a wonderful treat for your family and friends. It takes a while (toss in a load of laundry or grab a good book,) but is so, so, so worth it. Cojita is traditionally made with goats’ milk, but cows’ milk works just as well…it just doesn’t have that distinct tang that goats’ milk has. It’s fantastic either way. Read More
  • Blog Post: Making Yogurt with an Electricity-Free Yogurt Maker Older than Me

    It’s no secret in my community that fermented foods are something I get excited about. I often bring ferments to gatherings and hand them out to neighbors at regular and irregular intervals. I’ve also been known to offer up fermented carrots to visitors who ask if I dabble in homemade yogurt. That’s how I learned that while some are familiar with homemade yogurt, that doesn’t mean fermented carrots are up their alley. So when my neighbor asked if I was interested in using his yogurt maker (he wasn’t utilizing it) I jumped at the opportunity. He very generously gave it to us and I hope to return the favor with batches of creamy homemade goat yogurt. My first batch of raw milk yogurt didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but I’m not easily deterred by rogue batches of yogurt; it’s happened before. Read More
  • Blog Post: How to Get More Kefir from Powdered Kefir Starter

    It probably goes without saying that I am interested in sustainable food ways. I like nourishing food that we can make over and over again from simple ingredients. I like making things myself and believe that homemade anything is better than store-bought everything. I like to reduce waste in my kitchen and in my landfill. So you might think that something like a powdered kefir culture wouldn’t make it into my kitchen on a regular basis, at least not when milk kefir grains are available. Right now I actually have both milk kefir grains and powdered milk kefir culture creating quarts and quarts of probiotic goodness. I’ll get to the reasons I’m a fan of this powdered kefir culture in a minute, but first let me tell you something else that I recently figured out. Read More
  • Blog Post: Home Dairying: Simple Raw Cheese

    I make a lot of kefir and yogurt not only because we love the taste but because it truly is such a simple process for me to churn it out. For a long time I was just a bit intimidated by cheesemaking and thought that maybe it was just too much to take on. But now with an abundance of milk and only so much yogurt and kefir a family of six can eat (which is quite a lot, actually), I felt obligated to turn that milk into one more option for the plate. After giving it a go, I was happy to find out that these simple cheeses are really no more difficult than the milk and kefir making process. Read More
  • Blog Post: Fermented Vegetables: The Unsung Hero of our Table

    I have been waiting a few months to make some fermented vegetables. I know, it doesn’t sound all that exciting to be looking forward to sauerkraut and pickles of all kinds, but I’m seriously jazzed to have some homemade kraut on the table again. You see, it’s just been too hot to ferment veggies here. So while everyone’s favorite water kefir and some yogurt and cheese have been happening, these fermented vegetables just had to wait… until now. So I busted out my gallon jar and some ceramic vegetable weights and got down to business with a bottle of water kefir by my side. But let me tell you why this workhorse of a ferment – stinky as they may be – are a welcome addition to our table. Read More
  • Blog Post: Culturing Courage

    I hear all the time from people who are nervous about getting started culturing. We live in a very germ-phobic society where hand sanitizer is everywhere and the news regularly reports outbreaks of food borne illness or tainted food recalls. For those who have worked in food service, the image of the thermometer proclaiming “Danger Zone” is permanently etched in memory. So how can you make the leap from over caution about food to leaving a jar of cabbage on the counter for 3 weeks? Or perhaps even leaving milk out for 48 hours! The answer comes from the food itself I think: Slowly. Read More
  • Blog Post: Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) Recipe Testing

    It looks easy enough! It takes a gallon of milk, some citric acid, and oh yeah, some patience… Here is how I made Paneer, also known as Indian cottage cheese. I followed our recipe in the beautiful booklet for our Paneer and Queso Blanco Cheese Kit. It calls for either cow or goat milk, so I chose cow. The steps are fairly easy: Heat the milk, add citric acid, let it sit, drain off whey, hang and drain off more whey, shape curds into a disk, weight it down, unwrap to store or eat! What could go wrong? Read More
  • Blog Post: Kombucha Root Beer

    I love root beer. I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s something from my childhood? It’s cold, it’s rich, it’s sweet—I mean what’s not to love? These days however, sugar and I do not get along and so even the more natural brands of root beer simply aren’t an option. A while back I stumbled across this post on making Root Beer Kombucha from Donna Schwenk over at Cultured Food Life. Donna posts really great cultured food recipes so be sure to check out her blog. Read More
  • Blog Post: Sourdough Starter Pancakes Recipe Testing

    Some mornings it’s just hard to think about anything. Breakfast seems inconceivable when you open your fridge to see bare shelves. However, I do always have my sourdough starter. *whew*! Pancakes! But wait, I hadn’t fed my starter in a week… could pancakes still be made? On this particular morning, I decided to find out. Read More
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