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Dave de Basque

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since May 08, 2015
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Basque Country, Spain-43N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
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Recent posts by Dave de Basque

UPDATE: I made my kefir and my yogurt in the dehydrator set to a bit above body temperature, 10 hours. I used the lid on both jars but I kept the kefir jar lid very loose to permit off-gassing. The starters were in each case, about 1/6 of and old Lambert's probiotic capsule plus: a big heaping tablespoon of the last batch of yogurt, in the case of the yogurt, and a big heaping tablespoon of store-bought semi-hippy plain kefir in the case of the kefir. And the UHT cow's milk close to its expiration date.

RESULT: The kefir was perfect for what I wanted, solid like yogurt. The actual yogurt was actually a bit more liquidy at the top until I refrigerated it, and later the top 1cm or so was kind of curds-and-whey-y -- this has happened on previous batches, and it seems like a minor flaw, it's fine. In both cases creamy and absolutely delicious.

ANALYSIS: I may have just made yogurt out of the kefir culture, who knows. That tiny bit of a very old probiotic capsule may have been so peppy that it took over and outcompeted the kefir cultures present in the store-bought kefir. Or maybe, as S Bengi wrote above, my store-bought kefir was over-pasteurized and didn't have very strong, live cultures. (On the label, ingredients are pasteurized milk + fermenting cultures, leading me to think the cultures themselves weren't ever pasteurized though, so maybe this is not the explanation.) Or maybe I just discovered the perfect recipe, at least for me, because the result (at least in flavor and texture, microorganisms present are more of a mystery) was exactly what I was looking for -- solid yet creamy, and not too sour.

PROBIOTIC CAPSULE: I'm attributing my good results (better than what I read about on blogs) to the only thing I'm doing differently, adding a tiny bit of the powder from inside these old capsules I keep in the fridge. Just for science, I'll say what species it says it provides: Bifidobacterium bifidus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii. Seems to solidify and makes creamier than I expected in every case.

CONCLUSION: I'm pleased as punch with the results and will do this again. I have two brands of goat's milk kefir I may try as a starter in the future, one of them definitely has active cultures because the lids start to bulge out and gas escapes when I open them. Too bad I can't locate fresh goat's milk at the moment. Season for fresh sheep's milk has just ended, so will try that next year. I may try proper kefir grains if I can find them in Europe. If I find raw cow's milk in the end, I will try with that too. Maybe I will remember to report back here, I hope so!
4 months ago

Cristobal Cristo wrote:With pasteurized milk yogurt or kefir I use the previous batch no more than 2 times, because some unwanted bacteria gets to the culture. Sour milk has this advantage that you just need one ingredient, no heat and nothing good gets destroyed by cooking. The good bacteria will quickly suppress any bad one - like in pickles or sauerkraut.

Hi Cristobal, I don't have any experience with sour milk at all. Could you tell me about the flavor and texture compared to yogurt and kefir? And how the beneficial microorganisms compare? (if you know). Why do you like having sour milk instead of other things?
4 months ago

Abraham Palma wrote:Hello, Dave.

I can talk about my kefir culture. I've tried several things. Since I don't want the kefir fatigue syndrome (that's when your body tells you have drink too much kefir this month!), I tried to make it always in the fridge. However, the taste wasn't great.

Apparently, the microbes need room temperatures for doing their work properly. We can preserve it in the fridge, and if the fridge is not too cold, it will continue the fermentation process, just not the best lactic process you would expect, but the one that leads to cheese smells.
Whenever I've ruined a batch by letting it sit in the counter for too long, I've made labneh instead. That's the same as making cream cheese, but using kefir. The cream cheese is good for toasts, and it can be used in cheese cake recipes. You can let it mature if you like strong flavours.

But for now, I'm doing this:
- Leave the jar with the grains and fresh milk in the counter. I check it at every meal. If it is still liquid, I let it be. If it has solidified, I whiskle it with a spoon and taste it. Normally, the first time the flavour is still bland, if you like it this way, skip to the next step. The second time it solidifies, the taste is good, acidic like a real yoghurt without any animal smells. The speed of the process depends very much on the room temperature. These days it's ready in about 24 hours.
- Once the kéfir is good for drinking, I add some sugar, and with the help of a colander, I pour the creamy kéfir in cups. The cups have a lid. I store them in the fridge, they are good to drink for at least a couple of days.
- While the grains are still in the colander, I clean the bottle only with water, and also the grains. This prevents any cheese ferment to be passed to the next batch, though it is not required.
- I put the grains again in the jar and fill it with whole milk. The jar can be stored up to 5 days in the fridge. Once we have eaten the kéfir in the cups, I take the bottle to the counter to let it develop its flavour.

It looks like too much work, but it isn't. Checking the kéfir is just a few seconds. Pouring the kefir into cups and readying a new jar is just 6 minutes.
My family is enjoying the homemade kefir, and they are actually asking when we can have the next one! Twice a week seems to be golden for us.

Oh, and I believe that the culture we keep at home has evolved to fit our tastes too. After a few years it has changed its flavour to something we like more. Could it be using microbes from our bodies?

Hi Abraham. Nice to hear from you since you're in Spain. Where do you get kefir grains? Thanks for all this information on your process!
4 months ago

S Bengi wrote:If your store bought kefir has active cultures that haven't been killed due to pasteurization then what you are making in the kefir jar will be as good as the store bought one. So keep on doing what you are doing. It's possible that your store bought kefir only has 6 different species of microbes vs the official 36+ that kefir grains have. But that's okay its still a step in the right direction. Just keep on doing what you are doing.

Great! Thanks for the advice. Any suggestions for making it less tangy and on the thicker side? I guess less tangy comes from less time fermenting, but what controls how thick or thin it is? I'm really looking for yogurt with more beneficial microorganisms, I want something to spoon rather than to drink.
4 months ago

Cristobal Cristo wrote:Hi Dave,

Too bad it is not a normal milk - raw. You would leave it in the room temperature and make sour milk - my favorite.
If it was already cooked, I would turn into yogurt.

I am working on getting a "secret" local source of raw milk. If I do, do you think I can make kefir from a previous batch of kefir, without ever purchasing kefir grains? (Not that I have anything against them and they won't break the bank, it just seems unnecessary, and they're hard to track down around here.) Also, do you use your sour milk to make kefir? Or do you consider it your version of kefir?
4 months ago
A friend of mine here is a big fan of a fairly local dairy for their sustainability practices among many other things. He spoke so glowingly that I went and bought a case (6 liters) of UHT cow's milk. Even though we very rarely use cow's milk products. And there it sat, because we couldn't think of anything to do with it. The "best by" date was coming up.

Meanwhile, we have been spending a lot of money on hippie goat's and sheep's milk yogurt and kefir and I am looking to economize. And another friend makes her own yogurt at home (from cow's milk, in a yogurt maker) and occasionally gives me some, and it's pretty darn good. So I thought I've gotta figure something out here, and no way am I buying another consumer appliance to make yogurt. But we do have an electric dehydrator and I thought I'd give that a whirl. I had some ooooold probiotic capsules in the fridge which I keep for tummy emergencies, and I opened up a capsule and mixed in a tiny amount, as well as a big spoonful of plain store-bought yogurt as the starter. And presto, it worked great, even with UHT milk, which a few bloggers told me it shouldn't.

So I thought I would try my hand at kefir and see if that works too. I followed the same procedure as above, substituting store-bought plain kefir for yogurt, also with a little shot of probiotics. I've got one jar of kefir and one of yogurt both sitting in the dehydrator at body temperature for 10 hours.

Any idea what's going to come out? It seems like I'm violating all the modern consumer kefir rules by not buying any special kefir grains or anything. And I don't really know if this time and temperature are right either. Just looking for advice from any old kefir hands out there as I've never made it before.
4 months ago
Wow, Anne, thank you! Just watching the first of the above videos, I got intrigued with what they're doing and hopped onto their YouTube channel. They followed up this short with a long report, bokashi section starts at 3:47:

The long and short of it is that pretty much exactly what Angelika was originally proposing above worked really well for them! I'm excited and am already thinking about our version of this project! Thanks everyone!!
4 months ago

Angelika Maier wrote:We have a piece of land which is heavy, poor, no drainage clay soil with some sand. We are weighing various plans to improve the soil. We already do plant nurse trees, mulch and the usual things.
How about a bigger bokashi? I watched some videos were people do bokashi in silage plastic.
We could pick up restaurant waste to feed it.
Does anyone have experience in what's happening if bokashi is dug into clay soil?
Some people say it's good in a worm farm others say it isn't.
I understand that bokashi is not compost and not a finished product.
Any input?

Our community garden is about to test the bokashi + worm farm system, stay tuned. I think about 15 families will participate.

From what I understand, worms don't like fresh bokashi too much, it's too acidic for them. Some say just wait three days and they'll move on in. We are going to experiment with mixing in various things to make it easier for them: slaked lime to raise the pH and provide calcium, biochar, maybe sawdust, grass clippings and fallen leaves when we can get them, and as much garden waste from undiseased plants as we can.

We are curious to find out if diseased plants (tomatoes with late blight, curcubits with powdery mildew) and troublesome weeds (we have problems with bindweed/morning glory and oxalis/wood sorrell) will become totally inocuous if passed through our bokashi system. That would be awfully nice. And in that case, we might be daring and try to imitate your large-scale system and process all the garden waste for the community garden, which is probably on the order of 6m3 or so annually.

I'm afraid I don't know a thing about silage plastic. Yet. I too have had a hard time finding information on large-scale bokashi systems. Maybe it's down to you and us to innovate the system! But honestly, anything that can exclude air decently should work just fine. The only confounding factor might be allowing the liquid to escape. Poking holes in the bottom would turn it into single-use plastic, so yecch. Maybe long-term some sort of airtight tarp with a row of grommets down the middle or some such thing would be the ticket, maybe a camping tarp or two tied together with plastic over the top once finished would work.  

I've read a lot about bokashi, and I haven't ever read of anyone reporting a negative experience about digging it into any particular type of soil. Might need a good muck layer underneath on very sandy soil, but I think in clay it should be ideal. I'd almost swear I've read about various positive experiences of digging bokashi into clay.

One last thing: if your soil drains poorly, is there any chance you've got a hardpan layer underneath that needs breaking up?

Don't forget supermarkets when scavenging for waste, they probably throw out more than restaurants. In our area, they're pretty thoroughly scavenged already, but just in case...
4 months ago
Same deal, I'm hoping for a (low-effort, free?) recording since this is in the wee hours of the morning for me. I love Elaine but I'm not in a position to kick in additional coin at the moment...
6 months ago
Hey Ludie, my memory was you planted more than one variety of lemon... Did your other ones besides the Meyer survive? I had heard that Meyers were particularly sensitive to cold. Just wondering if your great water wall did any good, what do you think?
6 months ago