Sunday, February 6, 2011
Previously, I'd had kefir purchased in a bottle and generally fruit-flavored, like strawberry. Sort of like a thin shake. Then I found a package of kefir-starter at Cranberry's. That's a simple process, too, but it's not self-perpetuating. Each packet made a batch of kefir and I could save a bit to make another batch. But that only works for a few times. Then I had to go back to mixing up another packet. When I ran out of packets in the box, I would have to buy another. Or switch to using kefir grains.
cow share, so I rely on a local creamery's pasteurized milk.
I'm finding that kefir makes an excellent substitute for buttermilk in recipes -- blender oatmeal pancakes are equally good made with kefir, buttermilk or thinned yogurt. I like kefir as a buttermilk sub in ranch dressing and as a sub for sour cream in our favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. Makes a good, not-too-sweet, dessert when topping lightly sweetened fruit. Alternatively, the kefir can be sweetened with a teaspoon or so of honey and then poured over fruit or cereal. It works great for soaking grains prior to bread-baking. I have yet to try using it as the sole yeast source when making a sourdough-type bread but that's on my list.
Smoothies made with kefir are great but I have learned that, since it's not quite as thick as the yogurt I previously used, I need to include a frozen banana or something similar so the drink remains thick as we prefer it. If made with kefir and only fresh, non-frozen fruits, it's still tasty but thinner, more like the kefir beverages from the store. Not what we think of when imagining a thick fruit smoothie sucked up through a straw or scooped with a spoon. YMMV
Kefir, like yogurt, is supposed to be a good-for-you, easily-digested food. But it doesn't matter how good something is for me, if I don't like it, it's hard getting it down. Especially on a regular basis. So I'm very happy to learn that not only will my kefir grains continue to grow and steadily produce kefir into the future with just the addition of milk, but we like it. And I even like it plain -- it's refreshing and, this is important, doesn't greatly remind me of cultured buttermilk. An irrational fear I've had ever since I bought the first bottle of flavored kefir years ago.