Friday, 7 September 2018

More Fermented Foods, and New Cheese Maker


Today I was busy as usual on a Friday with my kombucha, brewing a new batch.

10 Making Kombucha 7-9-18

On the left is my large gallon jar ready for the next batch. Beside it, in the smaller bowl, is the scoby resting in some kombucha. (Scoby = “Symbiotic Colony [or Culture] Of Bacteria and Yeasts.”) I was pleased today to discover that the scoby has grown sufficiently to be separated. On its underside was the original small disc of scoby that I bought on Ebay, and I was able to pull it away from its larger “baby” and I can now pass this on to my friend, who wants to start making kombucha. For now, it’s gone back in the jar with its mother, until my friend is able to come over.

In the larger bowl, I have just strained last week’s batch of kombucha, and behind that bowl you can see the bottles lined up, ready for me to decant the kombucha. This time I have decided not to do the second fermentation because much as I like it, I think I prefer the raw kombucha. Both are extremely good for you. I drink it as it is, and it’s also one of the ingredients in the 6-ingredient rehydration drink that I make every day (having an ileostomy I have to guard against the very real danger of dehydration). This delicious drink is made with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, Himalayan pink rock salt, coconut water and kombucha, topped up to a litre with filtered water. I make it every evening and put the bottle in the fridge overnight so it’s ready for the morning.

Behind the smaller bowl is a jar of honey that someone gave my hubby today, from their own bees. I am looking forward to sampling that! I adore honey, and all the more so if it’s locally produced. You can also see the red ring binder which is my personal recipe book. The six bottles are now filled and in the fridge, and the large jar is back in the airing cupboard, complete with both scobys, fermenting for another week.

The kombucha is going very well, and apart from a bit of time spent on it once a week, it is very little bother to make, and it is happy to be left alone to do its stuff for the rest of the week.

Kefir Cheese

Today I was very pleased that both my parcels arrived from Amazon, sooner than I expected. In the first was another four Mason jars, this time with wide mouths (I bought narrow mouths last time by mistake, but it doesn’t matter because I can still use them). The second parcel contained my new kefir cheese maker. I had spotted this online several weeks ago and thought it looked really good but I wasn’t sure I could justify what I considered to be rather a high price tag for something which is fairly basic and doesn’t involve electricity. In the end, however, I decided it probably was worth getting, because making the cheese with a muslin cloth in a sieve over a bowl isn’t very satisfactory. Because the handle of the sieve sticks out, there isn’t room for it in the fridge, and it takes hours to drain, which means it is out at room temperature for too long.

Here is the new cheese maker.

11 Kefirko Cheese Maker 7-9-18

It comes complete with a small instruction manual, and a little recipe book. These are obviously translated from another language because at times the English is a little eccentric, but perfectly comprehensible!

It consists of a glass jar with a green plastic collar which screws on. Into this goes a very fine plastic mesh container, and a clear plastic lid to cover it. Just behind the plastic lid in the picture is a small rubber lid and a spring. These are for if you want to make firmer cheese.

To use it, you pour the kefir into the top, screw the lid on and put it in the fridge for about 24 hours, during which time the whey drips through into the glass jar, eventually leaving thick kefir “cheese” in the mesh container. You tip this out and can either eat the cheese as-is, or add flavourings.

To make harder cheese, once it is drained so that it is firm enough, you put the rubber lid on top, and then the spring, and then screw down the main lid which compresses the spring and forces the rubber lid down onto the cheese, squeezing out more whey.

The whey is extremely nutritious and can be used in many different recipes.

The cheese maker is very well made and quite substantial – a lot better than I thought it would be, so I don’t mind quite so much about the price! It is now in the fridge with the first batch draining.

The recipe book has recipes for all sorts of cheese, including some not made with kefir. You can even make coffee and tea in it, but I shan’t be doing that – apart from anything else, I don’t want the mesh container to get stained.

Fermented cucumbers

I bought two cucumbers yesterday, and today our neighbour came round with some of her home-grown ones, and I said I would ferment some for her.

04 Fermented Cucumbers, Salt and Glass Discs 7-9-18

In the photo you can see both sorts of Mason jars that I bought – one of the narrow-necked ones on the left, now filled with Himalayan pink rock salt. The wide-necked ones have the cucumbers in them, the one on the left being my neighbour’s home-grown cucumbers which are quite pale yellowy-green in colour, and the one on the right, the ordinary cucumbers that I bought. Both are in brine made with filtered water and the Himalayan rock salt, with dill and sliced garlic. In front of the jars you can see two of my glass discs. The fermented cucumber jars each have one in them. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process and it’s important to keep the vegetables under the surface of the brine or they will go mouldy. These glass discs which fit the wide-necked Mason jars are ideal for this purpose, but you can use a ziplock bag part-filled with brine and with the air squeezed out to keep the vegetables submerged.

My cucumbers are now on the floor of the pantry, and they should be ready to sample in four or five days. I have to remember to burp the jars twice daily or they might explode. A couple of weeks ago I got a roll of black labelling material with a mat surface that you can write on with a chalk pen, for labelling my various ferments. I haven’t used it yet. I am hoping this will cut nicely on my cutting machine so I can cut my own fancy labels from it. This stuff is apparently peelable which will make life easier.

I recycle all the instant coffee jars that I buy for my hubby – these jars have nice glass lids with a rubber seal, that are designed to be recycled for other uses, and these are all on the shelves in my pantry. I designed labels for them on the computer and they look very pretty.

50 Labelled Jars

I think the black, semi-permanent ones will contrast nicely with these. The large Mason jars will have to go on the floor because all the shelves are full now!

Every evening I go into the kitchen and deal with what my hubby calls my “liquids” – said in a dark tone of voice which implies that they are something concocted in Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory!! I suppose it’s all quite a bit of work, making fresh kefir every night, and sorting my rehydration drink for the next day, and burping my various jars so we don’t have major explosions, but I’ve got into a routine with it all now and it doesn’t seem too much hardship. I am loving the results, and I am feeling a lot better health-wise than I’ve felt for ages, apart from the possible return of my parastomal hernia (still waiting for a CT scan appointment to determine that), and  recent thrombophlebitis in my leg, which has now improved greatly, since going back on my rivaroxaban (anticoagulant).

The next thing I am going to experiment with is sauerkraut but I shall leave that for a week or two.

Tonight I began the next batch of sourdough which I shall make tomorrow.

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