Dairy Kefir In The Winter Kitchen {plus NT recipe}

During the summer I keep a jar of dairy kefir out on the counter. I use it freely and top it off daily – with summers abundent milk supply. Now that winter is here I find our dairy kefir usage has plummeted. It’s just too cold to mix up a frosty smoothie and, not in the least, our milk supply has dried up. Yet, kefir grains need to be fed regularly. So how does dairy kefir fit into my winter kitchen?

For starters I keep my jar of diary kefir in the fridge. This slows the fermenting process down considerably. That means there’s less to use daily and I can feed my grains less frequently. The kefir still ferments so when I do want to use some I can. Then I replace however much I just used up with fresh milk. If I use over half the jar I might leave the jar out to ferment on the counter, otherwise it might not be ready for a few days at least.

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During the summer kefir generally goes into smoothies and veggie dips and dressings. During the winter I use kefir mainly as a replacement for yogurt or buttermilk in recipes, like pancakes or meatloaf for example. These are cooked so they won’t contain the benefits of live kefir; although any grains in the recipe will benefit from soaking in the acidic kefir. You can still reap the benefits of kefir’s live cultures if you make dressing, dip or consume it unheated in some other way.

Here is a recipe I adapted from Nourishing Traditions, it’s kind of a three recipes in one recipe. It’s a light mild dressing. NT calls for piima cream or creme fraiche but I used kefir instead.

Creamy Dressing

First make the basic dressing (pg129 NT) This makes about 3/4 cup.

Combine the mustard and vinegar then add in the oil in a thin stream, stirring all the while till emulsified.

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 Tlb plus 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar ( NT calls for wine vinegar)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tlb flax oil, if you have it.

Add 1 tsp finely chopped fresh herbs i.e. parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme, basil etc. This is now the herb dressing (also pg 129 of NT).

Finally blend in 1/4 cup kefir.

 Now you have 1 cup creamy dressing (pg 131 of NT).

Adjust seasoning to taste. I like to let it sit for a while to let the herbs have a chance to release their flavor.

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Some other recipes using kefir:

Susan’s Whole Wheat Kefir Pancakes   (or use your favorite pancake recipe replacing the buttermilk or milk with kefir)

Kefir Pizza Crust

Ranch Dip (from cultures for health- this one is a favorite)

Also, try straining the kefir for a thick & smooth kefir cheese. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. You can roll the seasoned cheese into small (about golf ball size) balls. Place balls in a jar and cover with olive oil.

mossy_stone

homestead barn hop, fat tuesday, slightly indulgent tuesday, real food wednesday, gluten free wednesday, fight back friday, pennywise platter, farmgirl friday

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5 thoughts on “Dairy Kefir In The Winter Kitchen {plus NT recipe}

  1. We have Nourishing Traditions and while I like a lot of the ideas (fermented foods, low sugar, etc), since we are vegetarians, a lot of the recipes aren’t for us! There is a large following of people in our area who subscribe to Sally’s way of thinking, including members of the Amish community around here.

  2. I’m relatively new to kefir. Are you saying you just keep the grains in the jar and never strain them out? That sure must make it easier! I have a hard time thinking outside the box and especially if something is new to me. Do you just stir the new milk into the old kefir when you add it? Thanks for these ideas.

    • Yes. Once in a while I’ll strain the kefir grains out. Like if I need all the kefir in the jar, or maybe if I’m going to use a new jar. Most of the time I’ll just use a fork, spoon or my fingers to keep the grains in the jar. My grains are rather large so it works (walnut size). If you have smaller (rice grain) sized ones it might not work as well.
      When I add new milk I give the jar a gentle shake to stir it up. Sometimes it helps to stir it up while it’s sitting in the fridge too.

      • Thank you so much for this information! It really does make it sound so much easier than what I initially did (before managing to kill my kefir grains). I look forward to making more kefir. The little I did make and use really lived up to the meaning of kefir and did make me feel better.

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