Kefir – the easiest expensive food to make

This won’t take a moment. Here at the Potwell Inn we make kefir most days and using locally produced organic cows milk it costs about £1.30 a litre and takes 24 hours, although you can leave it longer it gets a bit sharper. We got the grains from our son who got them in turn from a dedicated fermenter friend. With a bit of effort almost anyone could find a source of grains – like the ones in the first photo – which are also called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). It’s not the same as yoghurt. In keeping with our commitment to no-faff cooking (and no-dig gardening) we never take its temperature, just shove it on the back of the stove when we top it up, so let’s say it stays at about 20C all day and then that night it goes into the fridge. During the day it may well separate and look like “gone off” milk and if that offends you give it a shake. When it goes into the fridge it thickens up overnight and at breakfast time we strain it in a chinoise – but any sieve will do – and then top the grains up with milk straight from the fridge. I quite like drinking it straight, I like the sharp slightly fizzy taste, but you can whzz it up as a smoothie with fruit or spinach or whatever. As the grains get more plentiful you can give the excess to a friend.  Good eating!

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

3 thoughts on “Kefir – the easiest expensive food to make”

    1. And of course it’s a good way to preserve milk as well. Madame’s been reading about the way something that sounds very like kefir was used to help treat tuberculosis in Russia in the early 20th century. Do you know if that’s true?

      1. Oy… pretty much everything was being used to treat TB in Russia then. TB is a funky germ, different from, say S. Aureus, so with it if you strengthen the immune system, a cure is possible. Still, no significant scientific evidence of any cultured products helping back them…

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