In many communities, a new cooking technique is invading the kitchen. Cultures are becoming popular. From yogurts to kombucha, home cooks are tackling some of the most fascinating food products on the market in their own kitchens. You can, too. The benefits of probiotic foods like yogurts are numerous, including improved digestive health and lower rates of obesity. Read on for some great tips on how to get started.
Decide what to grow.
Growing a culture at home can be intense. You need to care for and tend to the needs of either a bacterial colony, or a SCOBY – symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. What cultured products does your family use most frequently? That might be a great place to begin.
Get the whole family involved.
Cultivating yogurt, straining cheeses or vinegars, and tending to a kombucha’s SCOBY disc can all be great activities for children, as well as adults. Take the opportunity that having these foods in the home offers to teach your kids about the process and production of foods. Healthy eating starts at home.
Share your culture.
If you are growing yogurt, you either need friends who are willing to take on a yogurt culture of their own, or a willingness to throw out some of your colony from time to time. The best route is to share the healthy spirit, and the culture. When your yogurt bacteria have formed a colony so large that it begins to have difficulty feeding, it’s time to give a bit away. A decent size colony for many families is one that eats about ¼ gallon, or 1 liter, of milk each day. You can strain off yummy yogurt every morning, and then feed the bacteria their next day’s meal.
Caring for a SCOBY can be relatively simple. Kombucha and vinegar are produced with SCOBYs. Make sure that you give the culture enough time to work, then harvest the finished liquid, straining the SCOBY off the top. You can give a piece of the SCOBY away to friends or family, and restart the vinegar or Kombucha making process simply, by adding more of your starter liquid to the container housing your remaining SCOBY.
Keep your culture or SCOBY covered with cheesecloth to keep flies out, but let air in. Make sure that it is located in a warm location that allows it to grow. If your culture or SCOBY develops mold, discard it and the solution it was in, and start from scratch.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. Now go enjoy the probiotic benefits of home grown and home made yogurts, kombucha, and vinegars!
For more information on making your own apple cider vinegar, check out Sharon Daniel’s book, Apple Cider Vinegar Cures, in our book section.