Category Archives: Fermented Food


Have you heard of kefir?

If you like yogurt, you are going to love kefir! 

The product resembles a runny yogurt, but is made with a completely different culture.

It tastes similar to a slightly carbonated yogurt. 

You can buy kefir pre-made in stores, or you can make it yourself.  In stores you will find plain, and many wonderful flavors like raspberry, peach, vanilla, straberry, etc.  Prices usually range from $4 to $6 a quart.

Several brands are easy to locate in stores and taste wonderful:


My favorite brand is the Helios.  It just tastes great, and I love to drink it straight from the bottle as soon as I pick up some from the store.  If you are out grocery shopping, and get really hungry and thirsty, this is a perfect snack.  So much better for you than a soda pop.  Refreshing and rejuvinating! 

I used to sell this product in my healthy foods store Weiser Farms Natural Country Store.  I stocked four flavors on our shelves, vanilla, plain, raspberry, and strawberry.  I couldn’t hardly keep it in stock.   So many of our customers knew it was a nourishing nutrient dense food.  Many of our customers were dealing with severe health issues, and they used this product in daily smoothies to help them recover and get their health back on track.

Nourishing Kefir Smoothie

1 cup kefir plain or flavored  (good source of vitamin D, and various probiotics that aid in digestion and help the body to make vitamins such as vitamin B in the digestive tract)
1 cup coconut milk ( in the can, great for lauric acid and many other nutrients)
1 banana  (good source of potasium and other nutrients)
1 cup frozen blueberries or berry blend. (source of antioxidents, immune boosting nutrients and vitamins such as C and betta carrotene precurser to vitamin A)
1 tablespoon whey powder from grass fed cows or goats (this contains complete amino acids for building up the body’s tissues)
1 tablespoon flax oil (good source of omega oils)
1 tablespoon expeller pressed wheat germ oil (good source of natural vitamin E)

Blend until smooth.  Drink up!

Some folks also included raw egg yolks from free range chickens.  Also could include a pealed apple to increase sweetness if needed, or use a natural sweetener such as sucanat, evaporated cane juice, maple syrup, or stevia.  We prefer to use the apple.

Kefir is so delicious and nutritious.

Nutritional Information About Kefir

This is a quote from Dr. Mercola’s website on kefir nutrition:

“The exceptional nutritional content of Kefir offers a wealth of healthy benefits to people in every type of condition. More than just beneficial bacteria, Kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help your body with its natural healing powers and maintenance functions.

The complete proteins in Kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body.

Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in Kefir, is well-known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because it also offers loads of calcium and magnesium — both of which are critical for a healthy nervous system — Kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.

Rich in vitamin B12, B1, and vitamin K, Kefir is an excellent source of biotin, a B vitamin which aids the body’s absorption of other B vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The many advantages of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the normal function of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping promote healthy looking skin, boosting energy and promoting longevity. Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus — the second most abundant mineral in our bodies — helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.”

Kefir Culture

You can make Kefir at home for pennies yourself.  Just aquire milk and kefir culture.  Very simple!

You can buy the culture in active live cluster form, or active dehydrated live powdered form. 

The active live culture ‘grains” will give you the ability to “re-make the product” everyday from re-using the strained culture “grains” or clusters. 

Making kefir from the dry powdered method, you will need to buy a packet of powedered culture each time you want to make it.  It has most but not all the benefits of using the live grains or clusters.  But is still a very nutritious drink, and even easier to make.

Here is a picture of live kefir “grains” in the bottom of a mason jar.

Kefir grains will culture fresh milk or pasturized milk.

I prefer to use Fresh Grade A Raw Milk when making kefir.  It has more available nutrients to feed the culture and to feed me.   I buy my raw milk from a local farmer in South Carolina.  You can read more about it here.

Kefir is so easy to make.  Much easier than making yogurt in my opinion, as there is no heating involved.  It incubates on its own at room temperature right on the kitchen counter.

How To Make Kefir

Here is the method I use to make kefir, using the live “grains” or clusters:

Into a clean bowl, strain the kefir.  This lets you gently seperate the finished kefir liquid from the culture “grains”.

Into another clean bowl, rinse the kefir “grains” or clusters with a cup or so of fresh grade A raw milk.  I like to rinse them two or three times, very gently so as not to break the clusters.

Using a plastic or wooden spoon, scoop the grains out of the strainer and place them into a clean quart size jar.

Add Fresh Grade A Raw Milk.  I fill my jar 3/4 full.  How much milk you use depends on how many grains you have in your jar.  I use about two tablespoons of grains.

Cover jar with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.

Leave the jar on the counter at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours.  Most people leave it for about 24 hours.  But it is fun to experiement, and I like the less tart kefir (12-24 hours) for drinking, and the more tart (24-48 hours) kefir for baking and making deserts.     I have also noticed that my “grains” grow larger and double in quantity faster, if I give them a little longer incubation times.  This works wonderfully if you plan to give away your extra “grains” to friends and family.

Repeat this process every 12 hours to 48 hours, and refridgerate any unused kefir product, until ready to use.  It keeps a very long time in the refridgerator.  I have been in situations where I made a huge surplus and put up several jars in refridgerator,  and it has kept perfectly over six months or more.

I have also put my cultures to sleep in the refridgerator, such as when I have gone on vacation, or been pregnant and had no desire for anything for a while.  Put the cultures in a fresh jar of raw milk in the refridgerator and they will slowly go to sleep.  When you are ready to wake them up, set the jar back out on the counter for 12 to 24 hours.  Then repeat the steps to make kefir.  They will wake back up and go back to work.

How To Use Kefir

Drink IT!!!

Drink it straight of flavor it with sweetner and fruit juice.

Kefir is great in smoothies too.  By adding fruit, it tames the tartness and even children beg for more.

You can strain the kefir in a cheese cloth or cheese strainer for several hours and make kefir cheese, similar to cream cheese or yogurt cheese.  It is a soft spreadable cheese.

I love making kefir frosting for cinamon rolls and kefir glaze for bunt cakes.  Just add powdered sugar to the kefir until you have a nice glaze for icing your rolls.  You can flavor it with vanilla extract, almond extract, or a teaspoon of orange juice too, to vary the flavor for different uses. 

When adding kefir to your bread, muffin, cake, and pancake recipes, you get a much fluffier product.  It causes the yeast in the bread recipe to be extra active too.  So be prepared for a high rise!

Kefir give chocolate products a wonderful flavor.

Use kefir in place of any recipe that calls for buttermilk, milk, yogurt, etc.  Use kefir cheese in any recipe that calls for cream cheese, and some that call for sour cream.  It is great for replacing sour cream in making savory dips too. 

Want to learn more?

I first learned about Kefir over 10 years ago from an Amish friend.  We lived in Indiana and I met an Amish woman very different from most in their community.  She made all sorts of fermented drinks and she loaned me her cookbook called Nourishing Traditions through the Weston Price Foundation.  She also gave me several magazines also written by the Weston Price Foundation.   Reading this material changed my life for the better, and I know it will change yours for the better too.  This is a true treasure chest full of real people, real food, and real truth about health and nutrition. 

Articles and more on the Weston A Price Foundation website.

Books that had a huge impact on my understanding of health and nutrition are:
Restoring Your Gut by Jordan Rubin MD
What The Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russel MD
Know Your Fats by Dr. Mary Enig
Eat Fat Loose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Where To Buy

Where to buy healthy books and kefir “grains” or live culture clusters?

Where to buy kefir culture powder?

Body Ecology

Dr. Mercola

Where to buy whey powder from grass fed animals for making smoothies?

Dr. Mercola  whey from grass fed cows

Garden Of Life  whey from pastured goats

Please share.


Have you tried Kombucha? 

It is a fermented beverage made from water, tea leaves (usually black or a blend of black and green), sugar, and a special symbiotic colony of yeast/bacteria called a “scooby” or kombucha mushroom. 

The scooby reproduces itself continually if kept fed in the tea/sugar mixture.  The parent scooby is called the “mother” and the off spring is called the “baby”.   They look like a layered cream colored disc of gel.  This is a living organism, or I should say millions of living organisms, who live together and form a colony or village, and this is called the scooby.

Kombucha is a bubbly drink similar to a soda.   Many people may not even know they are drinking tea instead of soda.

Kombucha Options
You can either buy it pre-made (see picture of bottle on the left) or make your own (see picture of jar on the right).


Kombucha is sold main stream in every health food store today.   It was just becoming main stream when we opened our health food store, Weiser Farms Natural Country Store, back in 2004.   

We used to stock several raw and pasteurized brands.   The most common brands were GTS, and Kombucha Wonder Drink.  But more brands are available these days.  We also like the brand called High Country. 

Prices vary, but usually range from $2.99 to $4.99 for 16 oz bottles.  
In the pre-made form, there are lots of flavors to choose from.  After fermenting, it can be diluted with any number of fruit juices or supplements to increase the flavor and nutrients.  

My favorite store bought flavors are plain, grape, pear, ginger with fruit blends, and goji berry.   I have tried many more combinations, but not always as fond of the other blends.   The lemon raspberry, ginger, root beer, birch, and aloe blends, have too many salicylates for my system.  So I am picky about what flavors I choose. 

In my opinion, the best of all is the plain.   After buying it, if I want it flavored more, I mix it myself with a little grape juice and crushed ice.  Oh it is so very refreshing.   

I limit my consumption to 4 oz to 8 oz a day.  If I take too much I do notice some side effects.  Again I believe it is due to the salycilates.  But I tolerate Kombucha better than iced tea so there must be a change in the salicylate content.  It may be due to the large numbers of bacterial enzymes that make the B vitamins, which is a sulfation and methylation process, and breaks down salicylates.  But I will need to investigate this issue further to know for sure and will blog about my findings later. 

Make your own

This was a new to me this year in 2010.    I had read about making it for years, but wasn’t brave enough to try, until February of this year, when my sister sent me a scooby. 

Instead of paying $3.00 for 16 oz , you can actually make your own Organic Kombucha for $3 a gallon /128 oz and you can make it non-organic for even less.    

When my sister sent me a scooby, I started making my own.  She is very wise about frugal living and suggested it would be wise, with seven of us in the family, to make it ourself instead of buying it pre-made.  Thanks sis!  She also sent me starter cultures for milk kefir, and water kefir, and I will write more about making these products in another article. 

Very basic directions to make 1 gallon of Kombucha

To one gallon of boiling water, remove from heat and add

5 tea bags (either all black or a mix of black and green)
Remove the tea bags after 10 to 15 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup white sugar, stir to dissolve.

Let tea/sugar mixture cool to room temperature. 

Stir again to aerate. 

Pour into a glass container. 

Add the scooby with about 1/10th of a gallon (12 oz) of previous ferment.

Cover with a breathable fabric or coffee filter.  Secure with a rubber band.

Let stand undisturbed at 75 to 85 degrees for 8 days. (may happen faster or slower depending on the temp of your home) Can do a ph test to check the ph level to determine readiness or just taste it and see if it is ready.

Gently remove scooby, and save to use for the next batch.  (Have next batch brewing and brought to room temperature before you want to harvest this batch to keep the cycle of brewing Kombucha going).

Bottle it to drink later and refrigerate, or drink it now. 
Now you can dilute it if you wish with fruit juice or add powdered or liquid supplements too.

How to make this a wonderful homeschool learning adventure:

The picture above is two different gallons I made with my kids for one of our science classes, using the scooby my sister sent me.  I will post a unit study about making kombucha for science in another article. 

Before making it, my kids and I spent some time watching YOUTUBE videos and reading several articles.  By far this one listed below is our favorite.  Very simple and the guy is a little funny too, in a mad scientist sort of way.  My son James just laughed and laughed at this guy and wanted me to play the video several times.  This was so easy that he is 9 and could repeat every step.  Thank you Instructables TV for your easy directions.

Kombucha Video part 1 instructables tv 


Kombucha Video part 2 instructables tv

To further enhance the science learning, do a ph test of your water and of the brew before you ferment it and after 8 days and as many days as you plan to do the study (it will eventually turn into a vinegar with a higher acid content). 

Measure the growth of the scooby or the offspring.  

Chart your findings on paper. 

Ph papers are easy to acquire or talk with
Weiser Natural Foods  about ordering some for you. 

Use a refracto-meter to check the sugar content of the brew at different stages.

You can also learn about yeast, bacteria, and symbiosis. 

Look at the scooby and the tea under a microscope.  Have the children draw and label if possible what they see

Learn about how carbon dioxide is produced and how this makes the drink bubbly. 

Learn about how the culture eats the sugar and turns it into other nutrients and so on. 

Learn about the effects of drinking kombucha on the human body. 

Learn about why the fermentation goes to sleep or dormant when you refrigerate it.

And much more.


There are some cautions when using kombucha. 

First don’t use too much.  A serving is considered 4 oz.  but many people can consume 16 oz to 32 oz a day with no problems. 

It is wise to not use with young children under 4 years of age and during pregnancy.  Though I used the pre-made kombucha during my last two pregnancies with no problems.  Different people react differently.   The caution with young children is made to be careful not to give to much for their body weight and because their digestive system is establishing colonies of bacteria and the scientific community doesn’t know if Kombucha can change this process in a negative way.  It is unknown, so they say to err on the side of caution.  

Also make sure your brew doesn’t get contaminated with a mold.  You will see this on the scooby if it occurs.  I read this is very rare. 

Also some people can get to much acid in their system if their kidneys are not working properly and develop a condition called acidosis.  Again there were only two reported cases in the internet search I did and it is reported as very rare.  Use at your own discretion.

One of my heros loved Kombucha

When I was in Indiana, I knew an Amish woman, named Rachel, who was very frugal and made her own everything ( I always told her she reminded me of my sister ).  She was different from the other local Amish women.  Many didn’t like her.  She had only recently moved to the area from another less strict Amish group.  She didn’t fit in very well. 

She had different ideas about things than the other local Amish, such as she home schooled ( a big “no no” with the Amish).   Her husband and her were eventually kicked out of the Amish church, because of her home schooling choice.  It broke my heart.  Yet it led to great freedom in her life, once she made the adjustment to the shunning.  What a brave person she is.  A real hero for all women and for the Amish women in particular in my eyes! 

I liked Rachel very much and learned a lot from her.  She is the person who introduced me to the Weston A Price foundation, above Rubies, and several other resources to help me on my journey. 

She homeschooled and I didn’t even have a school aged child yet, so she encouraged me in this too.  She was friendly and outgoing and would talk about any subject. 

She made her own soap, laundry detergent, butter, sour cream, cheese, herbal remedies, sour dough breads, grew, canned/ dried/ or other method to preserve the harvest, raised her own eggs and butchered her own meat foods (chicken, turkey, pork, and beef). 

I once asked her about her grocery bill and she practically did not have one except for sugar and salt, fabric to make her clothes, and essential oils for her soaps.  

Nothing was out of her scope of creativity in the realm of maintaining her household with nutritious foods and supplies,  including making her own kombucha and kombucha vinegar.   I was pregnant at the time and didn’t try it when she offered it to me.  She used herbal tea and I had read that was not recommended so I did not try hers.  But as soon as the pregnancy was over, I went and bought some for myself, and it was every bit as refreshing as she had described.

She was so amazing, she grew her own grains such as wheat, barley, millet, and corn to grind into flour.  Grew her own popcorn too.  Several times I helped her shell the dried corn off the cob,  leach the lye for the soap, and many more wonderful memories.   

Her husband had set up a root cellar in their basement and they had fresh garden produce all winter in addition to all the canned and dried produce she had made.  They used solar power and a desile generator too.  She would cut the grass from the yard with a non-electric push mower, and put it in black trash bags and feed it to her cows all winter. She called it cow candy!  Fermented Grass!  She had a plan, implemented it, and didn’t have the expense of extra feed in the winter to increase their nutrition.

Potential Health Benefits

I wish I would have learned how to make Kombucha a long time ago and saved a lot of money in the process.

Kombucha has a lot of reported health benefits from its users.  Especially improved digestion and energy, because of the consumption of live enzymes and B vitamins in the brew.  

The FDA hasn’t proved all of its claims.  But several studies have been done and have shown improved immune response to fight cancer, aids, and several other conditions.  Specifically, it helps the body raise blood cells that fight these conditions.  It is easy to do an internet search and read about these results.

Kombucha can also be allowed to ferment longer and become a vinegar, similar to apple cider vinegar, and used in the same ways and similar health benefits.

Continuous Brew Kombucha

I was recently reading about the benefits of continuous brew Kombucha and hope to try this method in the near future. 

Basically after making the 8 day fermented drink, you keep the scooby in it, and continue to add the tea mixture ounce for ounce back into the main container.  You need a glass container, or approved plastic container, with a plastic spigot. 

As you draw off a cup of kombucha, add back in a cup of tea mixture you brewed ahead of time.  Apparently, you gain a better full spectrum of vitamins and beneficial enzymes and bacteria using this method.  And you don’t have to clean out your jar and start over every week.  Instead, a cup is always ready when ever you desire it.

If you need to acquire a scooby, and don’t have a sister already brewing Kombucha, you can buy them easily over the internet for $10 to $25.   And if cared for, they will live indefinitely, and you can share the off-spring with your sister too!   You will have a lot you can give away.



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Sour Dough Bread

Sour dough breads can be yummy, chewy and sour depending on how they are made.  My husband and children often do not like the usual sour dough recipies.  Though I enjoy just about all of them.  When I was 16, I went to San Fansico and ate the most delicious sour dough breads and sandwiches right on Fishermans Worf.   I have enjoyed them ever since.  There are many health benefits from using soaked flours and fermented foods.  Check out the information on the Weston A Price foundation website for more information.

Over the years I have experimented with making wild fermented dough using different flours, including rye.  But I never found a good recipie that my family liked.  The other day, I was laying in bed just about to drift off to sleep and an idea occured to me.  I got the courage to experiment and it is a winner!

Below is a kid friendly version I came up with to get some of the benefits of sour dough bread into our family diet.

I experimented and made my own sour dough bread starter recipe:

Ingredients are available through Weiser Natural Foods 
2 cups left over potato water
1  pkg of active dry yeast
1 cup of flour
2 tbs. sugar (any will do: sucanat, rapadura, evaporated cane, white, etc.)
In a plastic or glass bowl, stir together, cover and let set overnight.  For the next five days, every twelve hours, stir in 2/3 cup flour and 1 tsp sugar.  Just stir and cover each time and leave on kitchen counter.  On the last day add 2/3 cup flour, 1 tsp sugar and 1 cup warm water.  Divide, and refridgerate to use as needed.  I took one third to make the recipie below.  The other two thirds filled a quart jar.   Watch out, it can overflow in the refridge so leave plenty of room.
Next time, to replenish what is used, replace what you took with 1 cup flour and 1 cup water (or potato water) and 1 tsp sugar, stir with a plastic spoon, then leave on counter for several hours to allow yeast to eat, then refridgerate till needed.  To increase the amount of starter, just continue to leave on counter and feed with the above ratios every few days.  Then package some up to share!
or refridgerate to make it go to sleep untill you are ready to use it.


Delicious Sour dough bread recipie:
Makes 2 loaves

1 1/2 cup starter (my potato 5 day culture ) version 
4 1/2  (to 5 1/2) cup prairie gold white whole wheat bread flour or flour of your choice.  The lighter the flour, the more likely the children will enjoy it if they aren’t fond of whole wheat breads.
1 TBS active dry yeast
 1 tsp sea salt 
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup raw honey (optional)

Mix water, milk, honey, and butter together.  Add to the starter.  Then add dry ingredients.  Need all together for about 8 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour.  Punch down and need again.  Shape into loaves and place in pans.  Cover and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Can also cut recipie in half and use a bread machine to need and bake 1 loaf.

My children love eating this with raw honey and grass fed butter and a glass of raw milk.   Sometimes we change it and spread with natural peanut butter, or a fruit only spread like blueberry.  A nutrient dense snack!  Or serve with some fresh fruit, carrot sticks and cheese and have a yummy and simple breakfast or lunch.

Another use for this sour dough bread:

Make Yummy Breakfast Rolls with kefir frosting.

The night before:
With rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Spread with an amount of soft butter, cinnamon and sugar of your choice.  We used sucanat sugar in this one.   Roll up and slice rounds about 2 inches thick.  Place in an oiled 9 x 13 glass cake pan.  Cover and let rise on the counter overnight.  In the morning, uncover and bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool part way and serve warm with Kefir Frosting.  
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk kefir
2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

It is so rich and delicious the kids ( and husband ) won’t even know they are eating healthy food. 

variations / spread with:
peanut butter and top with a peanut butter kefir frosting
berry blend or berry spread (like a jam)
cream cheese
cream cheese and fruit or fruit spread
shredded cheese
pizza sauce, pizza toppings, shredded cheese
cooked chicken, chopped brocoli, or chopped spinach
cooked turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheese

OR any variation you can think of.

If using meat or eggs in your toppings, you should let the dough rise part way overnight in the refridgerator, and then two hours or more on the counter before baking.  This would work well if you are planning to use these rolls for lunch or supper.  Or just get up extra early to set them on the counter to rise for breakfast.

You can also leave the honey out and roll this dough out into a yummy pizza crust or bread sticks or roll into balls for hamburger buns.  So many different options.


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