Adventures in Cheesmaking

This all started out as a curiosity. Like most stuff we eat there is a rich history behind it. Centuries of experimentation. Cheese is just another example.

From the horse back tribes of the Asian Steppes to the Silk Road camel caravans to Romans Legions to European Monks to today, milk was a great source of nutrition but spoiled quickly and was heavy to transport.

The answer was cheese.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Kefir Grains
When I first became interested in cheese it was from reading about the Mongols. They milked their mares and sheep and carried the milk in leather pouches often made from the stomachs of animals. No doubt the rennet caused it to coagulate along with the natural flora in the milk decreasing the pH.

Something else happened in the Caucasus Mountains. Here milk that was being fermented also had strains of yeasts and these yeasts and bacteria produced a  stable casein conglomerate that has become know as "Milk Kefir Grains"

These grains are added to fresh milk and allowed to ferment for 12-24 hours. The result is a complex blend of probiotics with a pH of around 4.5-5 so it is tangy and thick. It has a slight alcohol and acetyl smell and taste. If fermented closed it will be slightly effervescent.

Kefir can be purchased at most supermarkets and fresh food places but is often a cultured product and not one fermented from the casein grains.

The grains grow in volume across time so every 10 days or so you can split the culture and eat it, flush it or give it to a Kefir friend.

I ordered my Milk Kefir from Marilyn Kefirlady - you can order some your self. Marilyn delivered exactly what she promised and has a unique payment system that I really appreciated.

Just as suggested I added 2 cups of milk and fermented for 12 hours - pH was less than 5 and a slight separation of curds and a slight alcohol odor and taste.  I am not sure I liked it but I am going to persist and try some different times and ratios of grains and milk and see what happens...stay tuned

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