Make your own ke­fir

The Daily Examiner - - MEAL PLANNER - ED HAL­MAGYI fast-ed.com.au

THERE’S a mon­ster in my fridge. It’s bright white, about the size of my palm, and rip­ples in odd di­rec­tions like a mu­tant cauliflower.

Oh, and it smells. Not bad, but strong and vine­gary.

This is my dear lit­tle scoby. Scoby is bliss­fully un­aware of how un­usual he seems, be­cause scoby is too busy do­ing his im­por­tant work, trans­form­ing fresh milk into de­li­cious and healthy ke­fir.

You see, scoby is an acro­nym, for “sym­bi­otic cul­ture of bac­te­ria and yeast”. It’s the liv­ing ac­tive driv­ing el­e­ment that en­ables the fer­men­ta­tion of dairy into one of the most un­usual and health­ful foods — ke­fir.

You can get your own at most health food stores, and mak­ing ke­fir is just about the sim­plest process imag­in­able.

You com­bine the scoby (also re­ferred to some­times as “grains”) with fresh milk in a glass con­tainer leav­ing a rea­son­able amount of air on top, then fit the lid. Leave on the bench for 24 hours, then strain through a plas­tic sieve. The scoby can be kept in the fridge for up to three months to make your next batch, while the re­sult­ing liq­uid is your ke­fir.

Tart, slightly bub­bly, and in­tensely flavour­some, ke­fir is prized through­out Cen­tral Asia, East­ern Europe and the Mid­dle East as a drink, a break­fast food, and as an in­gre­di­ent in pas­try and bread mak­ing.

Used in place of but­ter or oil, it im­parts a del­i­cacy to your baked goods with­out the need for high oil lev­els. This isn’t just bet­ter for you, it also means the things you’re craft­ing last longer out of the oven.

I do rec­om­mend mak­ing your own ke­fir. There are some ex­cel­lent brands on the mar­ket, but many are made with pow­dered yeast ex­tracts in place of fer­men­ta­tion, a short­cut that un­der­mines the health prop­er­ties.

KE­FIR IS PRIZED AS A DRINK, A BREAK­FAST FOOD, AND AS AN IN­GRE­DI­ENT IN PAS­TRY AND BREAD MAK­ING.

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