"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Drying Kefir Grains


Some time ago, a good friend of my wife generously shared some of her kefir grains with us. These grains, also called granules, are used to make a healthy fermented milk drink, we have been enjoying this probiotic beverage in the form of morning smoothies ever since. Months ago we performed a little experiment with our grains, drying a small portion for storage. Drying the grains was as simple as straining away the fermented milk and allowing the remaining grains to sit out in a warm dry area for a few days. We then deposited the little treasures into a small muslin bag that was set aside in our cupboard for a couple months.

We recently rehydrated those same grains and after being reactivated in milk were happy to find them as healthy and alive as before. To reactivate, we placed them in a small amount of milk for 12-14 hours, strained and added fresh milk. This cycle was repeated a few times until the grains appeared soft, white, and begin to ferment and thicken the milk allowing us to combine them with our original batch. Kefir can also be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for extended periods of time but we were more interested in seeing how dried kefir would hold up if kept in a muslin bag without any type of refrigeration.

I find these remarkable "living" fermented foods to be quite fascinating. It's somewhat strange to think that only a few years prior I had never even heard of, much less consumed, fermented foods like kimchi, (real) sauerkraut, and kefir that have now become such a standard part of our everyday diet

Freshly strained kefir grains, they look just like cottage cheese


Some of the same grains a few days later drying in a dish on the kitchen counter

24 comments:

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

Mr. H.,
What a healthy drink. I learning a lot from you and going back to your morning smoothie drink post you so luck to live in a beautiful place.
vickie

Michelle said...

That's really interesting. I've heard of kefir but never tried it. Does it taste like yogurt?

Love your new header collage!

Stefaneener said...

I like dairy kefir but I only have grains for water kefir. I like it but I'm about the only one.

The mixture I like best is a mead -- fizzy and a little alcoholic. The kids sometimes will drink ginger. The grains store in water in the fridge. I've never thought about drying them.

What a great thing to be able to keep them dehydrated and have them ready to go when needed.

Mr. H. said...

Vicki,

The smoothies are great and with as many berries as we normally grow or gather they never taste the same...that's my favorite part.:)

Mr. H. said...

Michelle,

Thanks.:) The kefir tastes very similar to a strong plain yogurt. I like it plain but my wife won't touch it unless we add fruit to it.

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneener,

I don't know anything about water kefir but I just read that you could convert dairy kefir to water or juice kefir.

From a disscussion regarding kefir conversion -

http://onibasu.com/archives/km/39177.html


"Add 1 to 2 Tbs of milk kefir grains per 2 cups of juice. It will take somewhere between 3 to 5 days to ferment the fruit juice in the first batch. Then, it should take app 1 day
less for consecutive batches, until it takes about 2 days to complete batches
prepared thereafter."

So I would assume it could work the other way as well...I'm going to try using some of my grains in fruit juice, if it works I will let you know.

Heiko said...

I keep learning new things from you. I have never heard of this at all. What is it and where does it come from? Sauerkraut, Kimchi and yeast are all known to me, but Kefir???

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

Kefir is believed to have originated in the northern slopes of the Caucasian Mountains long ago and is a yoghurt like drink when fermented in milk or it can also be used to ferment water or juice. Below is some interesting information regarding kefir/kephir.

http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

Here you can possibly find a source in Italy.↓

http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefir-list.php

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

You just reminded me that I was going to make a batch tonight. I'll go do that now. I'm glad to see that your drying experiment worked well. I believe Kefir is a miracle food. I like it best with goats milk, but finding freshened goats this time of year is impossible so cows milk it is.

anne said...

Cool. reminds me of manna

Mr. H. said...

Diane,

I would like to try it with goats milk myself, we are hoping to hook up with someone this summer that can supply us with some.

Mr. H. said...

Anne,

That is what some people say, manna on milk. Perhaps an offshoot of the original manna that God provided the Israealites with...you never know.

Ruralrose said...

Thank you very much for letting me know what you thought of my book, and am just thrilled you enjoyed. It was -18C last night, think it is -4F. It could be the coldest night of the winter. No pipes burst this winter and the septic is working properly. We did have a weasel in the coup last night, found an injured rooster and a headless chicken. We have no snow adding to the cold here, as you said it adds insulation. Last year we had as much as you did. Hope this cold snap breaks soon, many people are suffering. Your comments here are just as interesting as your post. We are warm and happy, hope you are too. Peace for all

Sylvie said...

Curious: why dry the grains instead of just keeping them in the fridge in keffir. Keffir keeps for a loooong time... smoothie is my favorite way to consume keffir too. Precious frozen berries and stone fruit from the summer whizzed with keffir and little honey or maple syrup. So good!

Mr. H. said...

Ruralrose,

I'm so sorry to hear about the chickens, that 's really too bad. We don't have to worry about weasels, I haven't seen one in many years, with us it's raccoons.

Sounds like you are getting some of the same weather...hang in there.

Mr. H. said...

Sylvie,

We just wanted to try another way of storing them without refrigeration. I agree, kefir does taste great in a smoothy.:)

howlingduckranch said...

Wow, that's impressive! Well, everything you folks are doing is impressive. Wish we were neighbours, I'd head over tomorrow with some blackberries to contribute to a morning kefir smoothy.

cheers,

HDR

Mr. H. said...

HDR,

Blackberries would be good:)

Kimberly said...

I've been wondering if you could dry kefir. I've frozen some before. Now I'll try drying them.

Kimberly

Mr. H. said...

Kimberly - It's a great way to store them and especially works well if you want to send the grains to someone.:)

sirini said...

anyone tell me plz from where i can get kefir scrub in indai in banglore thanks

Anonymous said...

Www.Kefirlady.com

Anonymous said...

Hi. You didn't go into much detail about your drying process. Did you rinse the grains in water before drying them? I have read that this is necessary but am worried about rinsing away all the good bacteria on the kefir grain.

These bacteria should form re-activable spores on the dried grain but if you rinse them all away, how will these spores form?

If you did rinse the grains, can you go into some detail about how you rinsed them, for how long, etc.? Also, did you store the dried grains in dry milk powder as many other websites suggest? Thanks so much.

Mr. H. said...

Anonymous - We lightly rinsed the grains in a strainer under running tap water then just dropped them on the plate to dry. We did not store them in dry milk powder but that sounds like a good idea. I believe the spores are in the grains and simply go dormant once dried and come alive again once the grain is rehydrated.

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