I didn’t have much choice about fermented stuff when I was a kid. Growing up German means you will have to face the reality of sauerkraut probably before you’re ready. Well, I wasn’t ready, I know that. I hated it.
These days, I blame my dislike on the fact it was mostly out of a packet. I’ve discovered the real stuff now, and made my own, and it’s delicious.
But the best thing about rediscovering it was that it was my first step along the way to falling in love with all things fermented.
I now have robust milk and water kefirs permanently on the go, and both are vigorous and keep producing more and more of the kefir “grains” (the little blobs are a wild yeast/bacteria mix, which act as starter culture to ferment milk. In the end it’s not unlike a yoghurt, but with a huge amount more good bacteria). I’ve given away lots, but the excess often goes into the compost.
That’s a long and fairly obscure lead-in to today’s topic, which is a goat’s cheese made from kefir grains and goat’s milk. For this I have to thank my ever-practical and amazingly talented friend, Robyn, who is great at finding new ways to use everything. She has a big and productive garden and regularly has to face the reality: OK, so what to I do with a whole tree full of that fruit, all ripe right now?
Anyway, so, here I am with a handful of excess milk kefir grains and a love of soft goats’ cheese.
How you make it
You place the grains in the milk and let it sit on your kitchen bench (with a lid on) until it’s highly separated, and then a bit more for luck. It will take a few days, but it won’t go off. The kefir is a great preservative. (I actually left a small amount of kefir in cow’s milk for months once, in the fridge, just to see what happen. I threw it out after four months – it still wasn’t off, just smelled sweet with a touch of vanilla.)
When it’s well separated, pour off the whey. Place it in a strainer and place a plate or similar over it with a weight on top. Give it 24 hours to drain thoroughly. Remove all the liquid from the bowl underneath, and then push the cheese through the strainer to separate out the kefir grains. (You can also remove the grains before it goes under the weight. Either is ok).
Put the cheese into a small pot and put in the fridge. You won’t get much from a jar, but it tastes great (if you like soft goat’s cheese).
And there’s the big flavour boost you get from knowing you made it yourself.