Sunday, April 07, 2013

My Kitchen Slaves

No, I'm not referring to my sons. Although knowledgeable and enthusiastic in many kitchen-ey things, especially pizza, they aren't coordinated enough to be super helpful in the kitchen yet.

I'm speaking of these: chunky colonies of microorganisms known as water kefir "grains".

After our family's first bout of pneumonia and antibiotics, I thought now was a good time to put my new year's resolution of kefir into action. And to be honest, I've always liked a good science experiment. Kefir is a probiotic culture (like yogurt), and probiotics are good for everyone, whether or not you've been on antibiotics. I picked up some grains, which are actually little colonies of specialized bacteria and yeast, from a friend (you can also purchase them in a dehydrated form) and put them to work.

The finished kefir is a little like pop: a bubbly sweet beverage. The starter ingredients are sugar/molasses, water, and the culture/grains. You can add flavoring as well. A lot of the sugar gets consumed by the bacteria but it is still sweet. The grains are removed before you drink the kefir and used for the next batch.

For now I'm keeping track of each batch (ingredients, how long it ferments, etc.) so I can tell what makes a good batch. The first two batches (berry tea and sweet cherry juice) have been good flavors with a mild fizz.

Considering that a bottle of kids probiotic pills ranges from $8-$23 for about a month's supply, I'm happy to have these little kitchen slaves on my countertop manufacturing virtually free lactobacilli for me.

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