Bacteria in my kitchen

I never thought I’d publicly boast about the microorganisms growing in my kitchen.  

 

I’m not talking about pathogens…I’m talking about healthy lactobacilli and a few yeasts here an there!

 

In addition to our 4 footed creatures here at Morning Star Meadows, we are “farming” quite a few cultures right here on our countertop!

 

A couple of years ago we were given our first kefir grains — after I had tried unsucessfully to create them from some powdered kefir culture that I had bought.  Seems that cultures from the powder do not self perpetuate, so when we received our first grains from Hurst Family Farm, we were definitely in the business of making Kefir!

 

This morning I strained a batch that had been sitting out since yesterday and recovered the grains, put them in a new jar, added milk and those lactobacilli are happily munching away on the milk sugars, creating bigger grains and more Kefir.  Eventually we’ll have enough grains to share!

 

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We should have enough strained Kefir in the fridge now to make some fruit smoothies for lunch!

 

I decided not long after, on the advice of my neighbor, to start making our own yogurt.  I had told him that what was stopping me was having to use electricity to keep the culture warm while it developed into yogurt.  He had told me that when they were kids on a farm his family would make their own yogurt in a styrofoam cooler type device.  We started searching the net and found the Yogotherm, an ingenious little incubator that uses no electricity.  It has served us well!

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Up until today I have been using yogurt from the store as our starter culture.  This works fine for a few times, saving a bit from each batch to seed a new batch.  But eventually the culture gives out and I have to buy more yogurt.  Better than buying it all the time, but still not ideal.

Here’s what’s left of our last batch:

 

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Today I am making a Bulgarian yogurt mother culture from a dried starter that I purchased online from Cultures for Health.  This cuture is a reusable heirloom variety of yogurt that should survive to culture many, many batches.

 

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First I had to heat the milk to over 160 degrees, then cool it to 110 before mixing in the yogurt powder.  It will incubate in the Yogotherm for several hours.  Then this mother culture can be used to start batches of yogurt for the family.  Each week we will use some of this mother culture to make a new mother culture from which to make yogurt.

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We’ve also cultured our own buttermilk using a 1:4 ratio of cultured buttermilk from the store mixed with milk and allowing it to stand in a jar on the counter until it becomes a batch of buttermilk.  No need to even heat the milk first!

 

Our other bacterial culture at present is a “sourdough” starter that was gifted to us by our friends at Studio Farms.  We have been using this culture to make some interesting breads, the latest of which was a cinnamon raisin sourdough bread this morning for breakfast!  We feed this culture every few days with sugar and instant mashed potato flakes, interestingly enough!  It’s presently resting in the fridge.

 

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So don’t be afraid to do a little microscopic farming in your kitchen!  It certainly has it’s gastronomic rewards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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