Thursday, October 1, 2015

Creamsicle Kefir Recipe

Homemade Kefir
So, you might have noticed I've been absent from my blog for a few days. I do apologize! For one thing, my home is, of course, where I work. Now my home has a resident kitten. Therefore, I have a kitten in my workplace. Although amusing, I have to say I can't recommend workplace kittens as a viable option for improving employee morale. They're cute, but a workplace kitten will kill your productivity! Just today my workplace kitten figured out how to climb the sides of my fabric storage bins and throw all the fabric down on the floor. She also discovered a fondness for bubble wrap and learned to sprint into my "mail room" (which is a water heater closet wherein I keep my postal supplies), grab lengths of bubble wrap, and run away with them. Then she wrapped herself up in the bubble wrap and, thus insulated, is as I write attacking my ankles from her protected bubble sphere.

Besides the kitten, nothing is going as it should this week. Everything is taking longer than it ought to or not working as it's supposed to. On Saturday I was shopping in Lincolnton and noticed some pairs of vintage girl's formal gloves in a thrift store. Just after that I picked my daughter up from Cotillion and the first thing out of her mouth was, "I need white gloves for next time." By then, however, the thrift store was closed. The next day I had to work at the elementary school as a volunteer, so I planned to go back on Tuesday to the thrift store. Just when I was about to leave on Tuesday, my mother called and I was on the phone forever. I finally got away and drove to Lincolnton. As soon as I left it began to rain; not just a little rain, a deluge! After about 40 minutes of slow, wet driving on flooded roads I arrived to find the store is now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays! I believe in shopping local when you can, but I just came home and ordered the gloves online. Today I went to string a doll who looked perfect and should be a quick flip, but when I undressed her I found one of her legs has a factory flaw of seams that don't meet, so she will need epoxy and paint work. And so it has been, all week, no matter what I'm working on. Luckily, one project turned out well: homemade kefir.

I used Young Living orange oil to flavor the kefir.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that tastes like liquid yogurt. It's really good for you because it contains enzymes that help your body extract all the nutrients from your food and improved digestion. Milk naturally contains these same enzymes, but they are lost through the pasteurization process. Raw milk is illegal in several states, including mine, and you might be wary of drinking raw milk from a farmer you don't know personally, because it is imperative that the livestock are kept in extremely clean conditions to produce raw milk safely. Luckily the fermentation process restores the enzymes to kefir. In fact, kefir has more pre- and probiotics and enzymes than yogurt and it's much more easily accessible to your body than probiotic supplements. So drinking kefir with your meals is a tasty way to ensure you get the maximum nutrition from your foods and also helps you avoid stomach upsets like heartburn after you eat!

Kefir grains growing in milk.
You make kefir with a starter culture, rather like sourdough bread. I ordered my kefir grains from Mr. and Mrs. Kefir on Amazon. As soon as your grains arrive you put them in about a half cup of milk (do not use ultra-pasteurized milk) in a covered glass container (a canning jar works great) and leave them at room temperature for 8-24 hours until the kefir grows through the milk. As the kefir grows the milk will begin to appear clotted and if you let it go long enough it will turn into cottage cheese-type curds and whey. In the photo above the kefir is just beginning to form curds. You ferment the kefir to taste. The longer you let it ferment the more bitter it will be, since the kefir grows by feeding on the sugar (lactose) in the milk. This is why lactose-intolerant people can usually drink kefir: the lactose has been used up by the culture. So, you taste your kefir every few hours and when it tastes good it's done. For the first day or two you are just growing your grains, so you wait until the first half cup is full of grains, then you strain the grains out of the milk through a plastic or stainless steel strainer. Then you put the grains in a cup or so of milk this time. You can drink your first glass of kefir. The second batch of kefir will grow to fill up the cup of milk. Strain the grains out again and now you should have enough grains to make 2 quarts of kefir (about a half cup of grains). You can flavor your kefir however you'd like. Our favorite so far is the Creamsicle.

Orange Creamsicle Kefir

1/3 to 1/2 cup strained kefir grains
2 quarts whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
1/4 cup Monk Fruit in the Raw sweetener 
5 drops Young Living orange essential oil

In a glass container with a lid (but not a lid that attaches with a metal fastener; these jars can explode) place your kefir grains and milk. Stir to blend and then let the mixture sit at room temperature for several hours or overnight. Taste the mixture often and let it ferment until it has the taste you desire. It should also have thickened considerably. When the taste is to your liking, strain the kefir grains out and put them in a glass jar with about a cup of milk to form a new culture to use next time. Add sweetener and essential oil to your kefir until it tastes as sweet and orange-y as you want. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator. Make 2 quarts. When your kefir culture is finished you can store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to make more kefir.

The Young Living essential oils are my preferred oils and the only ones I recommend for ingestion. You can order them and/or find out how to become a Young Living member and get wholesale pricing here. Also make sure to follow my Naturally Amanda Facebook page for more great ideas and recipes.

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