Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cultured Butter and Kefir Cheese

Cultured dairy can be an easy way to add healthy bacteria into your diet. Two of my favorite ways to do this are cultured butter and kefir cheese.

Cultured foods have lots of health benefits. They are loaded with immune system boosting probiotics. Kefir can have up to 50 different strains of healthy probiotoics. Cultured foods offer enzymes that can improve digestion and the absorption of minerals. Vitamin A and C level are added to by culturing. While I am culturing dairy, you can also culture soy and coconut milk to make kefir.

Cultured Butter (and buttermilk)
Every other week I make butter from cream for our family. The process of making the butter is the same whether it is cultured or not. To make cultured butter simply pour room temperature heavy cream into a stainless steel bowl and add kefir starter culture and stir gently with a fork. Cover it with a plate or lid and let it sit overnight (at least 12 hours).

Then in the morning simply whip the cream until in turns to butter. I use a hand mixer on high. First I place the bowl into the sink. This way if the mixer spits a little liquid out it mostly staying in the sink. The cream will turn to whipped cream, then a more solid whip cream and then start to separate. You have to keep going past this stage. It can take 5-8 minutes to truly turn into butter and buttermilk. Don't give up early, keep whipping until it turns into golden yellow
butter and watery buttermilk. Then simply pour off all the buttermilk. You know have cultured buttermilk for cooking and baking. Then using cold water rinse off the butter, pressing out any buttermilk left in it. Rinse it well. Add salt to taster and whip it again to mix in the salt and get a creamy whipped texture.

Then I place the butter into tiny loaf pans. I like these because each loaf takes 1/2 cup of butter, the same as a store bought stick of butter. This makes it easy to measure and work with and it still fits in the butter dish.

Where to get Kefir starter culture:
New England Cheesemaking Kefir starter culture
Cultures for Health Kefir starter culture

Kefir Cheese
Another great way to add cultured and fermented foods to your diet is Kefir cheese. Fill a stainless steel bowl with milk (I recommend local whole milk either single pasteurized or raw. I use Mapleline Farms whole milk for all my cheese making.) then add Kefir starter culture. Dissolve half of a vegetable rennet tablet in luke warm water and add to the milk. Stir gently with a fork, cover with a plate and let sit for 12 hours. Strain through a cheese cloth. I like to add a little maple syrup to the cheese and whip it gently for just a few second but you can certainly just eat it plain. This makes a great spread for banana bread or toast. You can also use the cultures whey that you drained out of the cheese for baking, bread making or adding to smoothies.