Kefir sour cream tastes just like store bought sour cream except way, way better. Making it is easy as…kefir. Where you would normally pour milk over your kefir grains for you next batch, you will substitute cream. Then leave it as you would kefir. (My kefir cultures in about 12 hours in the summer and 24 hours in cooler weather). Once it is thick and creamy (not totally set), you are ready for the tricky part, removing your grains. Okay, it’s not that tricky, it just takes way longer than regular milk kefir. I hold my mesh strainer over a clean storage jar, spoon in some sour cream and then gently stir the mix with the rounded end of a chopstick, slowly pushing the sour cream into the jar and keeping the grains in the strainer. Once you’ve strained the sour cream into the jar, stick it in the fridge where it will completely set into sour cream texture. You are all done! You made delicious sour cream!!
As just about any fan of fermentation will know, Sandor Katz is the man that brought fermentation back to the masses. It is not overstatement to say that his book, Wild Fermentation, is the seminal work for the current generation of fermenters. It is a fantastic book and I highly recommend buying it if you don’t already own it. I have often thought of pulling a Julie/Julia on Sandor, but in the end, that kind of goes against the spirit of the book and the spirit of fermentation that Mr. Katz admires so much. His approach is all about giving it a try, seeing what works and experimenting as much as possible. His philosophy has definitely influenced my approach to fermentation.
Yesterday, Katz came to Philly to speak at a free event at the Free Library to promote his new book The Art of Fermentation. Since then, I’ve been diving into this tome with every spare moment I have and I can honestly say it is AMAZING! It has a completely different vibe than Wild Fermention. It’s anything but wild, actually. It’s a comprehensive, beautiful, extraordinary guide to fermentation in all of its ugly beauty. It is full of information that really brings home what an essential part fermentation plays in global cuisine. Exciting stuff, to say the least.
Katz’ talk was everything a fan girl desired. Smart but not snobby, informative but not preachy and so very inspiring. Those who have read Wild Fermentation will know his story, but that didn’t make his thoughts on food and community, the history of fermentation or the health benefits of eating ferments any less fascinating. I wanted to cry 1,000 tears when I realized I didn’t have time to grab my copy of Wild Fermentation from home for signing. I’m alright with it now. The event wasn’t about his celebrity. He made it about community, global food culture and the joy of getting back to our culinary roots.
The Free Library is the shit, and they’ve linked to a podcast of the event here. If you are on the fence about starting your own ferments, check it out. If you are an old (or new) hand at fermenting, check it out. There’s a lovely long Q&A and a great view into Katz’ fermentation mentality.
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!
When I make water kefir I like to try a different flavor every time. Mixing up your sugar source is a great way to impact the flavor of your water kefir.
Some sugar sources I like:
- Cane sugar
- Black Cherry (or other organic) fruit concentrate
- Vanilla Bean
- Sassafrass Root
- Shiso/Stone Fruit (plum works great!)
- Strawberry Basil
- Any seasonal fruit
- Lemon Thyme/Lemon
- Parsley Lemon
- Lemon Mint
- Earl Grey Tea
- Dried cherries