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Kefir as a sourdough starter

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janeburton's picture
janeburton

Kefir as a sourdough starter

I have been making sourdough bread using homemade kefir as a starter. 3 cups of flour (rye, WW, KA) to one and a half cups of kefir. I proof it 24 hours.  It's very easy and very flavorful - why should I do it any other way?  Jane  

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I'm intrigued with your idea.  Where do you find "kefir"?

janeburton's picture
janeburton

As I understand it, you have to make your own to have the real thing.  At any rate, I'm making my own.  What you need are kefir "grains" (which I ordered online)  and milk.

janeburton's picture
janeburton

There's a lot of useful information about kefir here:http://www.tammysrecipes.com/about_kefir

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Thanks Jane. 


The page, http://www.tammysrecipes.com/about_kefir, is quite comprehensive and precisely what I was looking for.  I've had Kefir with Gyros (at least I believe that's what it was) in a regional Greek Restuarant several years ago but didn't recognize the name and, without the grains, I could never duplicate it.  We have a very nice health food store in our area that I suspect will have the grains.  If not, I'll try Whole Foods  -  a playground for serious cooks.

janeburton's picture
janeburton

I'm still hoping people will respond to my question:  Why not just use kifer rather than deal with keeping a starter going, making a sponge, etc.?

suave's picture
suave

Well, for one thing kefir isn't widely available and ungodly expensive when it is.  That 1½ cup you mention will at least double the cost of a loaf.  Using buttermilk with a pinch of yeast is much more economical approach, if one wants to go through a shortcut.  You will say that one can buy a starter culture and make his/her own kefir, but then you have to maintain that culture or buy more kefir grains every time. And if you're maintaing a starter, wouldn't it make more sense to maintain one that's meant for this particular kind of food? Because remember, bacteria in sourdough are different from bacteria in kefir and the latter may not be optimized to feed on sugars found in flour, although they will.  Speaking of which, why not do it the other way around? Why not ferment milk with sourdough starter?  I've been told the result is quite nice and quite resembles kefir. 


Another and better reason is that sourdough allows you very high degree of control over the outcome.  I can change flour, hydration, temperature, proportion of prefermented flour and get very different breads, bot in taste and in feel.  When you whip everything together at once you lose all that control.  From your description  it seems  that the same set of ingredients gives exactly the same bread every single time.  It's perfectly fine from the utilitarian point of view, but to someone like me, who bakes for the fun of it, it's just ... well, boring, and life is full of boring things as it is.

janeburton's picture
janeburton

I get your point but I make kefir regularly anyway.  It costs more than maintaining a sourdough starter but it's not expensive and you don't have to throw any of it away. It's a a great food, loaded with probiotics, and I make it for its own sake.  But to those who have no desire to make kefir, my question does not apply.


As for questions of control, and variety I have been experimenting in the way that you describe with varied ( but always good) results.  I have never had exactly the same bread twice! Not boring.

suave's picture
suave

If you're happy and completely satisfied with the results you get doing it your way, then why bother trying something else?

marieJ's picture
marieJ

I've only just found out about kefir.  I can understand the priciple that it is made using a culture.  Do you maintain a kefir sourdough culture, or do you just strike a new sourdough culture each time you want to make a loaf using the kefir method?


ie do your make a sourdough starter with a kefir culture, then keep it maitained in the fridge as you would a regular culture?


 


Cheers  marie

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

You just use the kefir as the liquid in the dough. (The liquid kefir, not the starter. Unlike sourdough, the culture is not just more of the liquid, it looks kind of like boiled cauliflour florets.)


I suppose you could try to create a regular sourdough starter using kefir, but it seems like a lot of extra effort, when, if you make kefir regularly, you always have kefir on hand.


 

kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy

Kefir grains keep multiplying and never need to be replaced as long as you keep feeding them and don't starve them.  

Kefirlover's picture
Kefirlover

If you have kefir grains, you do not need to purchase them every time.  If you take care of them, you can pass them onto your children and grandchildren, and so on until time ends.  If you buy a freeze dried kefir starter, you will have to repurchase that every 6 or 7 batches of kefir, but even that lasts for several batches.

 

rbhunsaker's picture
rbhunsaker

Greetings,  I'm responding to a 6 year old post of yours about kefir.  You mention using buttermilk with a pinch of yeast as a shortcut for sourdough.  In my area, my sourdough starter does everything is supposed to do, except create that "sour" flavor.  Have you used buttermilk before and/or do you think it would work?  Would the acidity of the buttermilk compromise the yeast?  I've tried all sorts of ways to coax the sour out of my yeast with only very mild results. I can make a loaf with a starter that's been left out and fed for days and smells like a brewery, but still, very little sour flavor.  Thanks for any input!  ~ Russ

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Jane,


There are a truly unlimited number of methods for making and baking bread with none of those unlimited methods being either right or wrong,  just different.  I have tried making kefir bread in the past and it worked just fine.  I cannot think of a single reason why you should not continue to make kefir bread if you like it and it works.


Jeff

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Here is more info on Kefir than one can ingest in a normal lifetime.


http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html


Jeff

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Maybe it will wake up.  Yesterday started again to make from peach wine settlement, milk, yeast & water, honey.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7282/wow-oven-spring#comment-36779


Wish me more luck than last year. 


Mini 

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I make milk and water kefir at home and I maintain a sourdough starter as well.  I don't use my milk keifr in my bread because I make it for drink, not for bread making.  Using kefir to make breads increases the cost.  It's expensvie enough to use my homemade kefir in my loaves, let alone having to buy kefir from a store for that purpose. 


Having said that, I use the whey from making kefir cheese in my bread, to sub for water.  I still use my SD starter but with the kefir whey my bread usually rises very well and the whey enhances the SD flavor.


Like other posters said, there's no right way or wrong way as long it works and you enjoy doing it that way.


janeburton's picture
janeburton

Well what actually got me started using kifer as starter was wondering what to do with all the extra kefir we were producing.  We weren't thrilled with the kefir cheese (tho we continue to make it) but using kefir for bread seemed a great way to dea with the excess.  I don't buy kefir from stores - it probably wouldn't work anyway. How much do you think kefir would add to the cost of a loaf?

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

the cost added to a loaf depends on what type of milk you use and how much you use in each loaf.  I use goat milk from a store and it's $6/liter; that gives me a bit less than 4 cups of kefir.  That's about $1.50 per cup.  If I use 1-1/4 C of kefir to make two medium loaves it'd be about 94 cents per medium loaf. 


We don't have excess kefir at home.  I drink it, eat it with cereals and make smoothies for my husband and son because that's the only way they will eat kefir.  I don't use straight kefir cheese either.  I use it to make dressings, dips for veggies, cheesecakes, and even icing for desserts.

janeburton's picture
janeburton

Well now I see where you're coming from.  You use probably one of the best milks possible and expensive too.  Would you be willing to share some of your recipes?  Especially the cheescake.

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

i make my own kefir from raw milk and use it in place of buttermilk in recipes. It works the same way and tastes great. I can make a lot of kefir from a gallon of milk. Homemade is not the same as store bought.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I don't really use recipes because I cook like grandma, a pinch of this and a little bit of that.  I probably can put something together for you for the cheesecake recipe.  I have baked and non-baked version of cheesecakes, which one do you like?  The non-bake version is easier as long as you like Jell-O.  You can use cows milk, full fat or low fat to make yogurt cheese for that purpose as well.  Doesn't need to be goat's milk... some people find goat's milk a bit too... goat-y, you know what I mean?


Also, here's a link where you find a lot of good uses of kefir.  I am sure you will enjoy it:



http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=203282


Cheers! Al

janeburton's picture
janeburton

I 'd like to make baked cheesecake with my kefir cheese.  Tell me how you do it, more or less.  Thanks, Jane

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I didn't see your request until today.  Here's a link to the baked yogurt cheesecake.  You can sub the yogurt cheese with kefir cheese but you may have to try a couple of times before you will have the perfect cheesecake because the moisture in your "cheese" may not be the same as mine.  Have fun and best of luck!


 


http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=381889

janeburton's picture
janeburton

Thanks!

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

I make my own kefir from raw cows milk. I have used it in place of buttermilk in quickbreads with great success. For me it is cheaper to use kefir than to buy processed buttermilk.

flournwater's picture
flournwater
kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy

wish I could figure out what I'm doing wrong to post a photo!



althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

If you have difficulty posting a pic, try this link.  I use Photobucket.com and never have problems with them.  Cheers!  Al

kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy

I was using photobucket but was doing something wrong, of course.


I went to their tutorial and figured it out!  Cheers to you!

kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy


 I used  kefir that I made with raw milk and kefir grains. I mixed this yesterday afternoon around 4 pm and took this photo today around 2 pm.  The room was especially cool overnight and around 64 most of the day today.  I did not feed it but stirred it once this morning.  I am total amateur,  I confess!  I mixed up two variations of the no knead recipe with this starter tonight, and stuck the dough in the fridge where I will leave it for two days, then take it out for 18 hours and then final proof.  Maybe I'm off my rocker with this?  


I have used this starter many times but never with the no knead method.....we'll see!  I'll post the results in a few days when they come out of the oven!

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

I use kefir. I make (grow) my own, just 12 oz a day, from regular milk, and usually drink it in fruit smoothies. If we don't do smoothies for a few days, it starts to pile up in the fridge, and I use it elsewhere: in bran muffins, or in bread - with or without yeast. Without yeast it does take longer than my any of my (3) sourdough starters, but I like it. You can use it anywhere you would use buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt. I've tried to use it as a starter in making cheese, but I don't like the flavor, it gets WAY too strong in cheese. If you like limburger, you might be able to handle it, but the sharpest cheese I like is Chedder.


 


 


 

kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy

We have our daily kefir smoothy too.  How do you make yours?


I have a Vitamix and for my husband and myself I use 8 pitted dates to sweeten,  kefir (close to two cups), three tablespoons Flax seeds, a package of frozen "Acai" from Whole foods, two frozen wheatgrass cubes from Whole Foods, and about two cups of frozen organic fruit.  That's our breakfast.  They're big glasses but it keeps us going in more ways than one!  :)


I use it like you do....no more wasted buttermilk!  Have you tried making sour cream out of the grains and full cream yet?  It's great...use organic cream.

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

quote: "We have our daily kefir smoothy too. How do you make yours?"


We just put a cup and a half of kefir in the blender with some fruit, depending on what we have, and ice. Bananas, apples, citrus, pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi, berries, etc. We have a bushel of frozen peaches in the freezer right now, which work great, no need for ice. Sometimes I  like just peanut butter and banana. We add flax seed if we remember it (I usually have flax with my morning hot cereal)


I have never tried making sour cream with the kefir critters, but then we rarely use cream (cholesterol). I bet it would be better than the store bought version, though.

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

Sometimes we also add some protein powder, and just call it a meal. Really fills you up.

kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy

I'm all over that!  Will give  a try tomorrow!  Only that sounds like breakfast and lunch!   Those peach ones must be to die for!  Have you ever tried chia seeds?  


You have to be careful not to use too many because they thicken the smoothy.


Chia was a staple food for the American Indians for endurance. I hear it is also good in keeping bread moist longer, but have not tried.


They're tasteless and  powerfully good for you.


http://ezinearticles.com/?Chia-Seeds-Are-Packed-With-Nutritional-Value&id=3009398


Other than thickening one can't tell they're in the smoothie.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I'm curious but only having tasted the store-bought,flavored type of kefir, I'm not sure I want to start a new direction/hobby. i'd love to try some homemade kefir before I buy kefir grains.


Anyone near me?

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

If you're not already a member of your own local freecycle, google it for your area.  You can post requests and respond to offers--nobody is allowed to charge anything for the things given on freecycle.


There was someone listed on a kefir site (NOT freecycle) that would sell kefir grains for $8.  I decided I didn't want to spend that much money on something that grows and multiplies on it's own--you'll quickly find once you get your grains that it's hard to keep up with their growth and you'll be looking for homes for them. 


So I found them for free ;o)

Allena's picture
Allena

I was also wondering if you could introduce various cheese culture/bacteria to your starter to enhance or change the sour flavor in the starter.


I am investigating that and will let you know.

kefir crazy's picture
kefir crazy

http://www.torontoadvisors.com/Kefir/kefirgrains3465.html   There is a list online of people with grains to share which is where I found this.


Most people will charge only for shipping to send you some...I live in Atlanta and a girl sent me some from California two day mail.  I just paid her for shipping.  


The "legend" is that Kefir grains should never be sold,  and one is considered to be "blessed" by giving them away.  Some people think that what the Bible describes as "Manna" is actually kefir grains.  


Probably the closest you could come to the taste of home-made Kefir without actually tasting it, is to buy some plain kefir without sugar added.  All the flavored ones have sugar added.  Although,  the Commercial Kefir is far inferior to the REAL thing,  it will give you an idea.  Commercial is made from some kind of powder and has different "creatures" in it.  


Real Kefir can be slightly sour to very sour,  depending how long you leave it out of the fridge to "ripen" after you strain it.  Ripening one full day increases the nutrients as well as uses up most of the "Lactose".  It can also become carbonated.   It is said that many people who are "Lactose intolerant" can drink Kefir that is aged properly.


A last note:  I wouldn't consider making Kefir a hobby,...it's just a choice that one makes to get the best probiotics out there at their fingertips!  I had suffered for 4 months with parasites and was really sick.  Nothing that the doctors gave me cured me, in fact the antibiotics (three months worth)  made me even more sick.  In a search for how to make yoghurt, I ran into Kefir grains.  I began making my own and  I consumed 4 cups of kefir a day until I was cured. Probiotics are one of the best things a person can do for themselves!


 

SequoiaSenoia's picture
SequoiaSenoia

Hello Kefir Crazy,


 


        We are in north of atlanta and have been looking for Live Kefir Grains from a local source for a long time. Do you have any grains to sell or give? please let me know as we can meet you an pick them up! 


 


Cheers

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I emailed the person in the link. I make my own bread, cook my own food,make my own yogurt. I'd love to add kefir to my lifestyle-I understand and appreciate the benefit but I am unsure of the palatability (to me).


Thank you.

Thomas Mc's picture
Thomas Mc

If you can't find a local source for kefir grains, let me know. I sometimes save my extras (they grow and reproduce) and offer them for free on CraigsList.


I have extras in the refrigerator right now.

RachelJ's picture
RachelJ

we had goat until up about 2 weeks ago, and we have milked them for the past three years. The only reason that our milk tasted 'goaty' was because the does were with the bucks. Once they were separated - into a different part of the barn - the milk tasted like store-bought milk - nothing wrong with the taste.


I had to comment when I saw the comment about the goats milk. I have heard of putting the kefir in in place of milk in bread before, but since I don't have kefir grains (though I'd love to have some!) and its quite expensive from the store, I've not been able to try it myself.


Perhaps I'll be able to get some grains sometimes and make some for myself. That would be extremely interesting.

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

I'm planning to try your idea of making sourdough with kefir!


I aquired some grains from a local lady named Olga who was actually from Russia. She assured me that this was the real thing.  I was concerned because I'd read that traditional kefir can lower HDL.  I had been successful in culturing kefir using the supermarket product, but it would not grow the grains so I knew it was not the complete symbiotic organism.


I have been drinking kefir every day, made with skim milk, and it does have positive health effects.  One source states that the organisms coat the villi in your gut so that harmful bacteria are kept away.


I also made some kefir cheese which I plan to try around Christmas time in some ravioli, instead of buying ricotta.


 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I, too, have begun baking with my non-flour cultures.  I made up a mixture in a crock, containing equal weights of milk kefir, sediment from the bottom of my strained water kefir, regular whole wheat sourdough, applesauce, and whole wheat flour.  After five days, feeding flour, applesauce, and nonfat dry milk powder every other day, I used some of it to make cinnamon rolls (ratio of 10 oz starter to 16 oz flour).  We thought the applesauce flavor in the dough was very nice.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Kefir is now a part of my life. As well as villi (another fermented milk product) and lactofermented vegetables (kimchee-like, saurkraut) and fermented fruit juice (with kefir). I haven't gone to beer, yet but I have made kvaas (sometimes called liquid bread-put that in the search box here-interesting post there).

I use kefir or the whey from strained kefir in my breads, often and it adds more lift and tenderness to the crumb. I've never used it as a sole basis for a starter but I know others have.

I feel a lot different-better- living with this in my diet. I know when I travel away from kefir/my bread, I feel different. I buy yogurt but it is definitely not the same.Sourdough whole wheat, fermented food, and a healthy lifestyle has made great improvements in my life.I still eat meat but eat more fruit and vegetables. I eat bread-my own-every day-just not as much as I used to. I bake bread every weekend.If I want to try a new bread, I'll bake,sample and give the rest away. My co-workers love me.

SO try something new-you never know where it will take you.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I like to soak the whole wheat flour in my bread recipes in a 1:1 mixture of water and kefir whey.  Last time I soaked the flour overnight.  The bread was very smooth-textured.  Below is a picture of the bread.  It was the recipe for  Whole Wheat Tartine Bread, but with the flour soaked overnight, 100% whole wheat, kneaded before rising in the bowl with s&f, and baked as a hearth loaf in a pan, by a schedule adapted from Jonathan Kandell's Whole Wheat Desem Bread.  I also use kefir whey on the top of my loaves, to provide liquid for steaming by the method of enclosing the pan for 20 minutes at a higher temperature than the rest of the baking and then releasing the steam by removing the covering.  You can see a little dark material on the top edge of the bread, where the remaining whey cooked at the end.

Kvass appears to be the rye equivalent of beer from barley, only made from bread instead of from malted grain.  I have made beer from barley, using both types of cultivated beer yeasts (ale and lager), but never from barley bread.  Beer from barley bread would be more like the original beer in Ancient Egypt, would it not?  I have never made barley bread.  My husband and I are retired, and the grandchildren all live at least a day's travel away, so anything I bake has to be eaten in this house.  My experiments tend therefore to be either slow, or fattening, or both.