It seems that every culture has a probiotic food that has been made for centuries. The Koreans have Kimchi. The Japanese have Miso Soup and Kombucha. The Africans have Amasi and the list goes on and on. Our history and ancestors have fermented and preserved many types of foods. This actually benefited our health and well being. Meanwhile, in our generation we have gone away from these traditions and have added antibiotics to our bodies. These antibiotics can be found in both our medicine and our food. This has caused a great imbalance in the beneficial bacteria that belongs in our bodies. This imbalance has contributed to a wide variety of diseases. Today, we are seeing a great come back with both probiotic supplements and foods.
For the past few years I have been experimenting with making my own probiotic foods. This came about after discovering a wonderful health drink called Kombucha. The benefits of drinking this wonderful elixir was great for my health and well being. It then became expensive for me to buy with prices anywhere from $2.50 to 3.99 per bottle. I heard from a friend that you could make it so I decided to look into it. I ordered my Kombucha mushroom/scoby online. I followed the directions and then had my own homemade Kombucha tea.
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea, vinegar, sugar along with a mushroom also known as a “mother.” The Kombucha culture or yeast/scoby grows certain types of beneficial bacteria that are known as probiotics. These probiotics help maintain a healthy immune system and support digestion. The drink also has those getting great energy throughout the day when drinking it. I also found this to be true.
I then started to experiment making my own probiotic veggies. This is a simple and easy canning alternative. You can make your own sauerkraut and various types of pickles with your favorite vegetables. You can even buy this now at Whole Foods. I was really excited when I saw they had probiotic sauerkraut.
From this experience I then started to research more about probiotic foods. My husband loves Kefir. Kefir is a yogurt tasting drink that comes in a variety of flavors. It also contains beneficial bacteria that help both the immune system and digestion. It has the same benefits of yogurt although Kefir contains more “friendlier” bacteria. It is also pasteurized using a cool method that keeps more beneficial bacteria alive. Many rely on the health benefits of this drink. Although, myself being sensitive to dairy I was able to tolerate this type of probiotic food. I then decided to try making it. I bought some Kefir grains and was successful in making my first batch. When I tried to make my second batch it failed. I since learned that it is a daily process in making Kefir. Not sure yet what I am going to do in the future. Meanwhile we continue to buy Kefir.
My mother used to make a delicious homemade yogurt with a Crock-Pot when I was a child. I decided to try and make my own homemade version. This I knew would save us some money since we seem to buy this regularly. I looked up a version of this online and tried to make it. It failed. I then waited for the expert herself to help. My mother was visiting Phoenix recently and she was very happy to guide me in the right direction. We had success and I have been making this wonderful concoction since. For only $2.50 we make our own yogurt (about a half gallon) that lasts us for two to three weeks. The best part is that it is healthier than the store bought version with no added sugar and more organic ingredients. I also buy fresh fruit and nuts to add into it. Sometimes I make a fruit compote from frozen berries. I sweeten it with xylitol, stevia or agave nectar and then add it to the yogurt.
Here is the recipe for you to try and make your own homemade yogurt:
• 1 half gallon of milk (preferable organic or without hormones and antibiotics).
• 1 small container of plain organic yogurt (must contain no sugar and have active live cultures — I used the Greek version).
• You will need a Crock-Pot, bowl, towels and food thermometer.
Note: You will need several hours to do this process. You must either start it first thing in the morning or a few hours before bed time.
Place milk into Crock-Pot and heat temperature up to 150 degrees. You can also heat up the milk on the stove first instead to save time. Be sure to not heat it up over 150 degrees. Once it has reached 150 degrees turn off the Crock-Pot and wait until the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Once that happens you can scoop out 2-3 cups of the warm milk and put it in a bowl. Add the container of yogurt to the bowl and stir. Then add the mixture to the rest of the warm milk in the Crock-Pot. Stir together. Take container out of Crock-Pot and place a towel over it. Place Crock-Pot container with towel over it into the oven. Do not turn on your oven. Put the oven light on (make sure it is lit since this helps with the incubation). Keep in the oven for eight to 12 hours. The more hours you keep it incubating the tarter your yogurt will taste. Be sure to not keep it in the oven for more than 12 hours. If you want to make the Greek version you will just need to drain your yogurt in a cheese cloth to separate the whey. Be sure to keep the whey for protein drinks or just drink for your health.
• Dawn Krueger-Sherin is an oriental medical practitioner in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, reach her at www.acupointehealing.com.