- Use the most gigantically deep containers you can find. Trash cans? Great! (Preferably new or sanitized with a healthy dose of vinegar followed by some boiling water.
- Companion Planting! Do it! Basil and Marigolds with your tomatoes are a great way to keep your tomatoes naturally pest-free. Also, PRETTY!
- Water deeply and regularly. Stick your fingers in the soil, if it feels wetter than a squeezed out sponge, you watered too much. Some varieties of tomato are more prone to cracking than others. If your non-cracking varieties are cracking and have mushy flesh, that’s another sign of overwatering, so be particularly careful when fruit is ripening
- Plant a couple of beefsteaks among your beautiful heirlooms. Beefies have been bred for disease resistance, among other things, and they can help keep your garden healthy.
- Make sure and pinch the suckers out of the crotches (teehee!) they are not going to do you a whole lot of good, but they will sap energy that could be better used making you great, gorgeous pieces of fruit!
- Tomatoes love a ton of hot sun. They will not complain about being on a burning, reflective roof. Don’t try it in the shade. You’ll just end up sad and light on fruit at the end of an arduous growing season.
- Tomatoes really hate wet leaves. Direct water at the soil. Mulch them well and prune lower branches to avoid angering your tomato friend and making it more susceptible to disease.
- Tomatoes are resource heavy. They need lots of water, lots of sun and lots of nutrients. Make sure that you are fertilizing regularly. I use a combination of kelp meal and tomato tone to keep my guys happy.
- Avoid tomato blight by watering them with whey or spoiled milk. I dilute my whey to 50% and make a milk mixture of 1 part milk, 5 parts water.
- Stroke your tomato leaves and tell your plant you love it. Supposedly this encourages the tomato to be stronger and stockier. If you smoke, be sure to wash your hands before you touch your plants because tomatoes have sided with the surgeon general, and they may passive aggressively die to prove their point to you about smoking (actually they can catch tobacco mosaic virus from your cigarettey hands).
Monthly Archives: May 2012
How do I know when it’s done?
Your finished kefir will be thicker than milk and it will have a slight yeasty or cheesy smell to it. If you’ve had commercially made kefir before, that’s about the consistency you’ll look for. Sometimes I’ll strain it when it is still very thin if it smells done
Why did it separate?
When your kefir separates, it means that it was left a bit too long. Anything up to 24 hours at room temperature is safe to drink, but if it separated, it is likely to be fizzy and have a stronger taste. Some people love that, some people don’t. Your call. I find it delicious both ways, but fizzy may be an acquired taste.
I’m gluten-free. Can I eat those grains?
So tricky, that naming. Kefir grains aren’t actually grains. They are actually happy, little, thriving bacteria communities and they are totally unrelated to wheat!
Ahhh! Fruit flies!!!
Sad trombone. Unfortunately fruit flies are attracted to the gases given off by the fermentation process. If you’ve ever spent time in a winery, you know you can be followed around by clouds of them! I find this is only a problem in the dog days of summer. The important thing is to keep your kefir well covered, either with a thick cloth, tightly fastened with a rubber band or a plastic lid, loosely tightened.
How can I flavor it?
I flavor kefir in one of two easy ways. I wrote a post about them.
What do I do with these extra grains?
You could make kefir sour cream, water or juice kefir, freeze them for a month or so, eat them or better yet, give them to a kefir-less friend!
Why can’t I seal my kefir container with a metal lid?
That’s actually two questions! First, the fermentation process produces gases. Trapping them in the container could eventually (like after a really long time) cause the jar to explode which would be fun for no one! Second, the fermentation process is a chemical reaction that can cause metal to corrode. Also, kefir grains and scobys (the colony used to make kombucha) can actually be damaged by contact with metal. So play it safe and use plastic or cloth to keep your kefir covered.
How much kefir should I consume?
When you first start eating ferments, it might be wise to give your guts an adjustment period. What you’re doing for them is very kind but the new, healthy bacteria need time to set up shop and get comfy. Generally speaking, start with 2 oz./day total ferments. Do that for maybe a week and slowly add more to your diet as you adjust.
Have a question that I missed? Feel free to e-mail me or post it in the comments!
There’s the easy way to flavor milk kefir, and then there’s the really easy way. The easy way consists of secondary fermentation. You basically strain your grains out as usual, then chop up whatever berries, fruits, spices or other flavorings you want to use, and put them into the strained kefir. Let it sit for another round (up to 24 hours), strain out the fruit (or not) and enjoy your flavored kefir! You may want to add a bit of sweetener to taste if that’s your bag.
The second way to flavor kefir is just to throw fruit or ginger juice or cinnamon or whatever sounds delicious to you into your strained kefir and blend it all together (I usually go hand blender when using this method). This is preferable for anything highly acidic, such as citrus fruit or juice, which will make your kefir too acidified in secondary fermentation. Again, if you want sweetener, just add your favorite kind before blending!
For me, the whole point of making my own kefir is customization. I can make rosemary ginger kefir with whole, organic milk from a local farm and happy cows. This destroys the idea of some filler, hormone and chemical-laden grocery store product that I can only get in strawberry, mango or pomegranate açai flavor!