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A life lived outside

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The Kefir and Me

Posted by catkisser on February 2, 2011

Last fall a woman came to stay with us to avoid a bad situation she was in.  Her name isn’t important and in fact she would rather I not mention it so I won’t but I will mention some of the gifts she has brought to our home.  She is Jewish, not like most you’ve met, she is a scholar in her own right on ancient Judaism and like myself, she lives it in her own way.  Although she would probably never say so about herself, she is a theologian in her own right and our discussions are pure joy to me.

She is also very into textiles, something I also find interesting but she is so far beyond me words fail, she actually makes much of her own clothing.  But the greatest gift she brought was kefir.

I have been aware since we first came to upstate NY that we needed to become as independent as possible, I called it “techno-Amish”.  Because of my own disabilities, I need to wait until women less broken come here to live full time before some of what I wish to see becomes reality.  I want us to have dairy goats for example, and a successful veggie garden.  Instead I have opted for arbor-culture for now and plant new fruit trees and grape vines each year.  This spring I am determined we will finally get some chickens.  We now have a full ceramics studio with a large kiln.  We have a spinning wheel and a couple of smallish looms and a power generating windmill that still awaits putting up.

As a historian one thing about the ancients that always puzzled me was how they cultured the yeast for their breads, cheese and wine/beer.  I’ve made all three a good part of my life and know first hand you cannot count on wild yeast if you are to make any of them decently and reliably.  Many many years ago it was discovered that people from Anatolia and parts of the former Soviet Republic lived much longer than the rest of the world and it was attributed to yogurt being much of their diet.  That is actually what kicked off the yogurt craze in the late sixties but like everything corporate Amerika co-ops it has always been big on flash and missing substance.  And it wasn’t yogurt they were eating either, it was kefir.

Kefir is made by “grains” of symbiotic bacteria and yeasts that reproduce themselves.  All kefir grains today are from the same culture thousands of years old and it is a Goddess given miracle.  You feed the grains a steady diet of fresh milk and you get kefir drink, a drink that you can taste the life in that is like a yogurt smoothie.  Let it culture further and you get a cheese and whey.  Mix your bread with liquid kefir and it rises, slower than with modern yeasts, but it still rises.  Add a couple of kefir grains to a beer must and it ferments it into a wonderful beer.  And it IS probiotics in it’s purest sense.  Practically a miracle food for digestive problems, displacing e-coli and other bacteria and candida yeasts that cause yeast infections.  It is said to stop cancer cells from reproducing.

I started culturing kefir grains a couple of weeks ago and slowly making it a major part of my own diet thus reducing my own food expenses without feeling deprived in the slightest.  By our Season of the Tree celebration this March, I hope to have enough kefir cheese to make our sacred food by the actual recipe of the ancients for the first time for those who participate.  The bread we serve will be made in the ancient fashion using ancient grains instead of modern flour and risen by kefir.  I have been experimenting with different techniques of bread grain combinations rising.  We will drink a kefir mead/beer.  But more importantly, culturing kefir will provide a large part of our diet in the future and if we manage to get dairy goats soon, we will control our food supply from start to finish and for very little investment!  Better yet to me is that we are renewing our ancient roots in doing so making a further connection with our sisters of thousands of years ago.

A word of caution if you wish to do this as well.  Corporate Amerika is now marketing a “kefir” drink and “kefir” dried starters.  They aren’t the real thing and will not reproduce themselves very long.  You need the grains.  You can get them from a couple of sources, do so, it makes all the difference in the world.  Kefir grains are a lifeform in and of themselves, treat them as such with respect and they will provide for you in ways you cannot imagine until you start for the rest of your life.

Blessings.

Posted in autobiographical ramblings, Cybeline, grow your own food, Kefir, Life, sekf sufficency | Leave a Comment »