Soaking Grains with Kefir Mar 28

How to Properly Soak Grains

I hate to be wrong and even worse is admitting it…But when I began doing the research for this article I was enjoying the use of kefir (water or milk kefir) to soak my oats. I won't go into the details that most readers of this article are already familiar with, but the summary is that phytic acid content is very high in foods like grains, beans, legumes, and nuts, and this phytic acid robs our bodies of important minerals like calcium. So we soak our grains.

But, then I discovered that soaking in water overnight doesn't work well for all grains, not at all for my beloved oatmeal. Darn it. Fortunately, I read in the same article that soaking in a slightly acidic medium does help and that using a ferment starter helps as well. Since kefir contains a lot of lactic acid and is also a good fermentation starter, then it seems like a perfect fit. And what a great way to get probiotics in your oats, right?

Sadly, my research took a disappointing turn when I came across this study:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0733521009801264

"When milk was included in the dough formulation, phytate degradation was inhibited almost completely, but fermented milk had no effect. Lactic acid, whether in the presence or absence of calcium chloride, inhibited phytate degradation, although when phytase was added phytate hydrolysis was complete."

Yikes!!! Anything with milk or lactic acid inhibited the degradation of phytates. :(

What works?

Slightly acidic mediums that do remove the phytic acid include lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Fortunately, both of these can be inexpensively purchased at your local grocery store. Here are the steps I take:

  1. Heat up eough water to soak your oats. We don't need to be precise, but I would recommend 90-120F.
  2. Squeeze some lemon juice in the bowl and stir it around
  3. Pour the hot water solution over the oats, which should be in a glass or ceramic bowl.
  4. Allow it to soak overnight
  5. Eat the next day, or optionally drain and soak again in kefir for probiotic benefits

TL; DR

Works Cited

Don't Like the Taste of Water Kefir? Mar 25

Do you enjoy the taste of water kefir?

If you answered "No", then you are not alone. When first fermenting water kefir, I was concerned by the articles I read in which people talked of how delicious their final product was. For me, the smell was somewhat repulsive - and the taste? Even worse! I had to add quite a bit of a sweetened drink to cover up the pungent flavor of the kefir itself. "I'm eating bacteria and yeast", I would remind myself in order to get through it.

I say all of this just to ease your concerns if you are feeling the same way that I was upon starting the journey of fermented foods. In time you will find the best ways to mix kefir into your lifestyle in a way that works. I find that mixing small amounts into lots of different things allows me to get plenty of kefir without noticing any difference in taste. It also helps to start small and gradually add more and more as you are able to tolerate it. In a couple months you will be much farther than when you started.

I'd love to hear others' stories of their first experience with kefir and adjusting to the taste. Please add your comment below!

Is Cloudy Water Kefir Safe? Mar 22

Q: Is Water Kefir supposed to be cloudy? Could this be a sign of contamination?

Savannah and Samuel have just received some kefir grains, and with great excitement they prepare their first batch of water kefir. “This is too easy!”, they say with big grins while sipping down this healthy elixir. "It's much sweeter than I expected!", says Samuel.

But after a few batches their initial ecstasy switches to concern as they notice that their water kefir has become very cloudy, not-so-sweet, and with a much stronger odor. Could their kefir have become contaminated by mold or pathogenic bacteria? Being water kefir newbies, Samuel and Savannah do not know what to expect.

Answer

Although it is certainly the case that contamination is possible, it is unlikely due to the high content of competing bacteria present in the water kefir. The sugar water and low pH are the environment that water kefir strains thrive in, while most other microorganisms would find it a less than hospitable. Instead it is more likely that what Savannah and Samuel are witnessing is the healthy growth of their SCOBY. The cloudy solution is a result of properly replicating microorganisms that are feeding on the sugar, which replaces the sweet sugar water taste with a sour lactic acid flavor. As the bacteria and yeast colony gets into full swing, there is a “yeasty” smell that many will find to be foul, but it is a very different smell than that of putrefaction.

Notice the differences below in a freshly prepared container of sugar water vs the more cloudy fermented water kefir.

Sugar Water Water Kefir

The brown hued sugar water (from using unrefined Morena sugar) gets converted to lactic acid, carbon dioxide, and ethanol. This in conjunction with the growth of microorganisms results in the shift to a cloudy white/yellow liquid as the final product.

Blogging with Middleman Testing Mar 21

Install Middleman

Prerequisites

libgmp3-dev

If you are getting error messages about having "to install development tools", then install the libgmp3-dev package 2016-08-26 09:51:09 -0400:

sudo apt-get install libgmp3-dev

ruby 2+

If you are not using Ruby 2+, then you must install this to use the latest Middleman (as of 3/21/2016).

rvm install 2.3.0

Javascript runtime gem install therubyracer

Finally…

gem install middleman

Next the blogging extension… gem install middleman-blog middleman init HealthHacker --template=blog

Time for our first article! middleman article Blogging with Middleman