Adventures in Lacto-Fermentation {Homemade Yogurt & Kefir}

For Lifeskills, we made yogurt, kefir and kefir cheese.

To make the yogurt, Nathan is adding 1 cup of Mountain High Yogurt (a yogurt with live and active cultures) to 2 1/2 cups of milk in a quart jar. The jar is then placed in a warm oven (turned on to 170 degrees for 1 minute and then turned off) and allowed to culture. The yogurt was thickened after 24 hours and I took a cup of the yogurt to use for a starter, used a cup in my batch of lemon poppy seed muffins, and refrigerated the rest. The yogurt can be sweetened with honey and fruit for flavor and is an inexpensive way to always have yogurt!

To make kefir, Jordan is straining the kefir grains in a colander. I picked out the kefir grains and placed them in a quart jar and Nathan is filling the quart jar 2/3 with milk. If you get it too full, the bubbly action of the kefir will cause it to bubble over when the pressure is released upon opening the lid! I learned that the hard way! The kefir ferments at room temperature. I placed it in the oven with the yogurt to speed it up. I used the kefir in my batch of muffins, instead of milk. Kefir can also be used in place of buttermilk, in smoothies, and I don't like it straight, but some do! I plug my nose to drink it straight - and do so because it is a wonderful pro-biotic health drink!

Kefir can also be used to make cheese. This kefir had been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks, and you can see that the curds and whey have separated. We thought this would be a great time to make Kefir Laban - a fresh sour curd creamy cheese made from kefir. I strained the kefir grains out and Jordan poured the kefir into many layers of cheese cloth (muslin works better, but I had cheesecloth handy). We tied it closed and allowed the whey to drain. I used the whey to soak some oats to make Baked Oatmeal for breakfast this morning. Yummy!

The Kefir Laban is in the fridge aging. It was a sour kefir to begin with so if we let it age in the fridge, it will lose its sourness. We are hoping to make Kefir-Straightjacket dip with it!