It's happened to most of us…
…we left a culture in or on the oven or stove.
The oven or stove gets turned on and … oh, boy! Oops!
If it's kefir, you'll find curds and whey, a stronger taste than usual, and maybe a bit cheesy.
And what about the grains? Are they dead? Can they be saved?
That's what we're discussing on today's #AskWardee. Check out the particulars below in print, podcast, or video.
The Question: Her Kefir Grains Got Too Warm… Are They Dead?
Janet M. asked:
I have a friend who also started making her own kefir and she used to let her kefir ferment on her stove-top because it was warm. She forgot to take it off the stove-top while baking something in the oven and thinks it got too warm. The milk separated. After shaking it, it separated again, and didn't taste right. She is wondering if kefir grains can get too warm and kill the bacteria?
My Answer: It Depends…
When heated, the kefir separates into curds and whey and may taste cheesy or “cooked”. And, the kefir grains may die. Excessive heat kills them.
It's hard to know for sure what happened with your friend's grains, Janet, because they weren't in the oven. (That would be way too hot for sure).
For your friend or anyone else in this pickle — the grains got warmed up but we're not sure if it was too warm —I suggest this:
Try making kefir again and see if the grains work or not.
Does the kefir turn out like it used to? If yes, they may have survived!
Are the grains shriveling away and appearing not to thrive — or do they maintain or keep growing? If the former, they're dead and need to be replaced. If the latter, maybe they're okay!
That's a pretty short answer, but it's a pretty simple issue.
What Is Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented dairy that's similar to yogurt, except the mother culture is both beneficial bacteria and yeast. Yogurt is only beneficial bacteria.
The end result is thinner, more sour, and even a bit effervescent or bubbly, due to the organisms producing more gas as they culture the milk.
You can make kefir with raw or pasteurized milk. It's easier than yogurt, actually.
Simply plop your culture (these dairy kefir grains) into a bit of milk, cover your jar, and let it culture at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours (adjusting up or down depending on the season of the year, temperature of your house, etc.).
Then, remove the grains and put them a new batch of milk. Cover and refrigerate the finished kefir.
By the way, if you want a good yogurt recipe… be sure to grab my free thick raw milk yogurt recipe. It uses the yogurt culture AND also keeps the culture that’s naturally present in the raw milk AND it stays nice and thick. (Most yogurt recipes use pasteurized milk; if one were to use raw milk instead, it would turn out runny.) Go here to get the free recipe!
You can check out the Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse inside Traditional Cooking School or my Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eBook and Video Package to learn how to make kefir.
What Are Kefir Grains?
Kefir grains are the mother culture for making kefir. They are soft and rubbery and look a lot like clumps of cauliflower. You put them in milk and pull them out, and can reuse them over and over again. They also grow (some do, some don't, it depends on the milk and conditions)… so you can share with friends or make more with your extra grains.
What's in the grains, though? The beneficial yeasts and bacteria! They live in that rubbery, cauliflower-like matrix. When plopped into milk, they eat the lactose (milk sugar) and, in exchange, create the thickened, curdled, sour, bubbly milk we call kefir!
Kefir is full of probiotics and beneficial acids. It also has less lactose than milk. The longer it ferments, the more lactose is consumed.
These grains contain at least 30 beneficial strains of bacteria and yeast, making them a true probiotic power house!
Wondering where to get them? My favorite source are these Dairy Kefir Grains from Cultures For Health!
- How To Make Milk Kefir (and why it's so good for you)
- Free Thick Raw Milk Yogurt Recipe — it's faster and easier than most recipes, and you can make it with pasteurized milk, too!
- Dairy Kefir Grains from Cultures For Health — my recommended source!
- #AskWardee 044: What's the best cultured dairy for probiotics?
- Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eBook & Video Package
- Cultured Dairy & Basic Cheese eCourse (included with TCS membership)
- 8 Yummy Ways To Eat Kefir
- Many of these probiotic salad dressings are made with kefir!
- Kefir Cheese Balls
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee Show is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about Traditional Cooking: whether it's your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
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Have you forgotten a culture in or on the oven? What happened?
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