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Natural Year Challenge: Food - Month Five

Make a Dairy Ferment

Dairy FermentsTwo of the simplest dairy ferments to make at home are yogurt and kefir. Many who are lactose-intolerant find they can handle fermented dairy. The fermenting process pre-digests the proteins and sugars in the milk, making the nutrients in dairy more available to the body. (If dairy is not tolerated, coconut milk works well.) The health benefits are numerous for either of these foods. Our bodies love the "good gut guys!"

Russian immunologist Eli Metchnikoff, Nobel prize winner in 1908 for his work in the area of cellular immunity, studied the dietary habits of a certain Bulgarian population who enjoyed long and healthy lives. Metchnikoff noted that these people ate large amounts of yogurt, concluding that there is a connection between health and consumption of lactic acid bacteria found in fermented milk.

If you cannot obtain certified raw milk, the next best option is organic milk. Organic Valley is now offering Grassmilk, whole non-homogenized milk from grassfed cows. Avoid ultra-pasteurized milk, as it is too processed to support a culture well. For a list of local sources of raw milk, visit the Real Milk website.


Yogurt

  1. Pour 1 pint milk into sauce pan. If the milk is raw, heat to 110 degrees. If it is pasteurized, heat to 180 degrees and allow to cool to 110.
  2. Add starter or 1/2 c. yogurt from previous batch. Store-bought yogurt may also be used—be sure it says "live cultures" on the label. Stir/blend well.
  3. Pour into quart size jar. Cover.
  4. Place in dehydrator and ferment for 24 hours at 100 degrees.* Some people make their own dehydrator by putting their oven on its lowest temperature and keeping the oven door open. The yogurt may also be fermented in a stainless steel thermos for 24 hours. A yogurt maker also works well.

    * There is at least one strain of yogurt that can be cultured at room temperature. Check out Cultures for Health to learn more about Viili yogurt starter.


Kefir

Kefir Grains The kefir fermenting process begins with "grains" (pictured at right), which resemble clumps of cauliflower but are actually clusters of healthy yeasts and bacteria. Kefir grains may be obtained through friends or fellow co-op members, or from online sources such as these:

Steps for making kefir:

  1. Place 1-2 tablespoons of kefir grains in clean glass jar. A quart or 1/2-gallon mason jar works well.
  2. Add 2 cups fresh milk. The milk may be room-temperature or chilled. You may want to allow an extra hour for fermentation if using cold milk.
  3. Gently stir contents, cover jar, and move to a location away from direct sunlight. This might be a cupboard, pantry, or darker side of the kitchen. You can cover with a cloth or use a lid. If a jar is sealed tightly, a slightly carbonated kefir will result. Generally the kefir is given some room to breathe.
  4. Allow the mixture to ferment for a minimum of 24 hours. It is not advisable to go beyond 48 hours.
  5. Pour contents of the jar into a strainer. Some websites suggest avoiding metal strainers and utensils, while others say it doesn't matter because of the short duration of their contact with the kefir.
  6. Take the strained grains, place them in a clean glass jar, and begin the process again. (You can "rest" the grains in the refrigerator covered in milk or yogurt, which should be changed every 7 days.)
  7. Optional: Leave the strained kefir at room temperature for another 24 hours to increase its nutritional value. The kefir will become more sour, so feel free to enjoy after the initial 24-hour period, as it is officially fermented and nutritious at that point.

Cultured Cream

In a glass jar, combine one pint organic, good quality cream with 2 tablespoons kefir or yogurt. Place cap on jar and leave on counter for 24 hours. Move to refrigerator.


Challenge Alert!

To prepare for next month's challenge, buy some cheesecloth or, even better, a whey straining bag. We will be making whey from either yogurt or kefir!


In the following video, Andrea provides a step-by-step demonstration of the recipes given above. We hope you'll give them a try and start enjoying the many health benefits of dairy ferments!

Quotes

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

Dedication