Make your own kefir
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.