Saturday, May 8, 2010

Good Creepy Crawlies....also known as Probiotics...Kefir and Kombucha

Just like to start this by saying, I know this is eccentric, however most missionaries are a little.....shall we say "different", so it's all good.

In addition to avoiding consumption of water born undesirables, we attempt to put good bacteria in our body.  This is actually pretty easy here, because the dairy section has mostly milk products that are cultured.  Seriously, we have tried about five different creams and soured cream in your coffee is not tasty. This is probably to help offset bad bacteria and such.  There is always the option of taking oral probiotics in capsule form, but this is not cost effective for a family of seven and why bother if you can get it in you food. 

For now there are two things I have added to our diet, specifically for their probiotics.  Kefir cultured at room temperature and kombucha.  Kefir is a form of yogurt, that can be cultured at room temp, the vitamins and other good things are not killed in the process, but instead made more available.  Plus, it's a much easier process than yogurt that must be heated, cooled and then kept at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time. 

First, find a friend that cultures milk and ask for some kefir grains.  These multiply with each batch, so she'll have plenty.  There are several women in NWA that have active grain cultures.  You can also order them, but I haven't had much luck with getting them mailed.

Update:  I have since ordered from Cultures for Health.  They have great products.

Kefir Grains
Kefir after 24 hours.
OK, watch carefully, this is really close to rocket science.  Take your kefir grains out of your culture; they are usually at the top.  Place them in the bottom of a clean glass jar and add milk.  Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band.  Let sit about 24 hours and repeat for more kefir.  Did you catch that?  Place in jar, add milk, cover and let sit.  It can be a bit sour and strong.  If it’s too strong for you, just don’t let it go the full 24 hours, but the sour taste adds a lot of good flavor to smoothies.   Just remember not to let anything metal touch your grains, use a wooden spoon and clean jar.  I’ll have more ideas for how to use this wonderful food that is teaming with good bacteria, just ready to help your whole system work better.

Update:  I just wanted to mention that if you use raw milk it is better to pasteurize first, so the bacteria in the milk doesn't compete with the kefir grains.

The other food is kombucha.  I would like to state up front, this is a NONalcoholic drink.

1. I grew my own kombucha mushroom from a bottle of GT’s raw organic kombucha. (Of course she did)  Drink half the bottle then sit the other half somewhere where it will not be disturbed and a mushroom will form on the top.

About Kombucha from the people that make GT's Kombucha:
"Kombucha is alternately known as a Chinese tea, a plant, or a mushroom. But it's not really any of these. It's a living culture of beneficial microorganisms, and in Kombucha's case, the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts! Our Kombucha is delicately cultured - some liken it to fermentation - for 30 days. During this period, essential nutrients form like active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols. All of these combine to create an elixir that immediately works with the body to restore balance and vitality. Kombucha has been used for hundreds of years throughout the world as a daily health tonic. The culture resembles a light brown, tough, gelatinous disk—and because it's a living, growing entity, it can regenerate and create new cultures with every batch. In fact, GT's Kombucha and Synergy are made from Kombucha cultures that are descendants of the original culture GT grew to create his first bottles."

Did you catch enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols.....all in a refreshing tangy, naturally effervescent beverage.

2. Brew about 4 cups black tea. 

3.  Place black tea and 2 cups sugar in container, make sure sugar dissolves.  Don’t worry the sugar will be “digested” by the mushroom.

4.  Add about 12 cups room temperature water.  

5.  Make sure the mixture is not too hot, it could kill your mushroom.  Then you would have something not very great growing in your cabinet instead of kombucha.

6. Place the mushroom back on top and leave for at least 14 days.  If you like it sweeter, a little less than 14.  If you like it on the sour side, a little more than 14.  I just sick a straw in the side and take a drink to see if it is ready.

The first time I tried it, it was a little shocking, it's different from anything I've had before, but now I find it very refreshing.  The kids loved it from the get go.  It is naturally effervescent and very good.

Above are some ingredients (ginger, mango and strawberries) you can add when you bottle the kombucha.  Then place it in the refrigerator.  

Note** This was a fun blog, with fun pictures, but it you're serious about making kombucha go to this web site for more precise directions.  

There are things I am sure I left out; for example you must use a glass container, a new mushroom grows each time, and earl grey is not recommended.  So check out Laurel Farms.

My happy cultures brewing on the top shelf of the cupboard.

Update:  I have since learned that you should not place different cultures so close together.  They do not remain happy.  They maybe friendly to your body, but they are not friendly to each other.  So make sure you give them their space.

1 comment:

  1. I remember my mom eating kefir, actually, she drank it, I think. When she went on vacation one year, her friend forgot to take care of it and it died. She never started a new kefir again. Guess I need to check out where I can get some.
    Thanks for all the info, my friend. Miss you. You and your family are in my prayers!


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