Finally we have some more livestock here on the Farmlet. These are not cows or goats, but colonies of bacteria and yeasts. They live in the kitchen, and I like to call them our “pets.”
We now have starters for kombucha, water kefir, kefir, and Caspian Sea yogurt. My sister and her partner were kind enough to transport them here for us when they traveled up from Wellington. They must have transported the pets with great care, as all arrived in good shape. They have settled well into their new home!
Here’s an introduction to the new pets, along with links for those who are curious:
For those who don’t know about kombucha, it’s a colony of yeasts and bacteria that form a slimy pancake-like mass known as a “scoby,” a “mother,” or a “mushroom.” The scoby will transform a container of sweet tea into a delicious sweet and sour beverage, which reputedly has great health-giving properties. The colony produces a new scoby with each batch, so you soon get plenty to give away to friends. My Dad took one look at the scoby and declared he’d be a bit concerned if he found one of those in his fridge. It certainly looks pretty dodgy!
Water kefir are clear crystal-like grains that will culture sugar water (with other ingredients added) into a fizzy, refreshing beverage. We’ve been adding lemon, raisins, and various herbs from the garden.
Kefir (milk kefir) are opaque grains that will culture milk at room temperature. We have been using the resulting kefir to make smoothies. I’m also keen to try making some kefir cheese.
And what about Caspian Sea Yogurt? It is a special yogurt that cultures at room temperature. Instead of heating the milk and keeping it at above room temperature to culture, this culture can just be stirred into raw milk at room temperature and left to thicken. It takes about 8-12 hours. The resulting yogurt is mild and creamy, with a stringier texture than regular yogurt. It’s really easy to make, and Kevin and I find it extremely tasty. Until a couple of weeks ago, I never knew there was such an easy way to make raw milk yogurt.
We are having a lot of fun playing around with all these new livestock. If any readers live nearby and would like to have some starters, please let us know. We’d be delighted to share.