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Nikki Young
06-10-2007, 03:20 PM
Heya!

I want to start making my own coconut kefir, but i'm un-able to find a starter culture for it. Like the one body ecology use (un-able to send to Aus). I was wondering if i could use a yogurt starter culture to do the same job?
If so, is there any ingredient i should try and avoid seeing in a yogurt culture starter pack?

I'm also wondering, as it's not always easy finding a fresh coconut. Can i use canned coconut milk/cream. The coconut milk i use for cooking has no preservities, which i would assume would stop a lot of good bacteria growth when making kefir. Ingredients: Organic coconut extract (certified bio agri cert, Italy), guar gum (less than 0.5%). Would this work well?

Thanks for any advice! :)

Robert Allison
06-10-2007, 07:33 PM
Generally, it is the water from young green coconuts that is used to make coconut kefir, and canned coconut milk is completely different and doesn't work for kefir. Here in the States, there are some commerically available coconut waters, usually in a tetra pack. If health food stores in Australia carry them, they are an adequate substitute for kefir when you can't find the fresh coconuts.

Since kefir and yogurt cultures contain different bacterial strains, I am not sure how well a yogurt starter would work for kefir. But I guess you could always give it a try--it might produce a fermented beverage of some sort. The bacterial strains in kefir deliver a more potent probiotic benefit, but the yogurt strains are better than nothing.

In the past, I did a Google search for kefir starters and found some forums where people were willing to share kefir grains. I don't know if that is still the case, but it is probably worth looking into.

Greg Davis
06-11-2007, 01:32 AM
Nikki I've made the coconut kefir several times (it does work great). I don't think yogurt cultures would work since these are made to digest lactose.. but I could be wrong.

After making 5-6 batches of the coconut kefir I think its a really neat recipe but not sure if its worth the time investment for each batch.

As Garrett pointed out to me a cheaper (time+money) alternative would be kombucha tea so if you aren't having any luck with a culture for the kefir why not try that? A quick google search reveals that kombucha culture is readily available in AU (I actually have dual Canadian-Australian citizenship- so I was curious to check!):

http://www.kombuchaustralia.com/
http://www.kombuchacultures.com/

Nikki Young
06-11-2007, 01:55 AM
Thanks for the info guys. Greg, i have looked into kombucha tea before and it could be a more convenient option, i've just been looking into coconut kefir the last few days so was keen to make some myself. I'm really just wanting some good bacteria though! I might puchase some of the kombucha you linked me too.

On the Australian link you passed on, in the instructions it says to add a heap of white sugar, is this important because in other kombucha tea instructions i haven't seen sugar to be needed (not that i noitced anyway). I presume seeing as it turns into acids and stuff, the GI is gone too?

Greg Davis
06-11-2007, 02:06 AM
Probiotics need a sugary fuel source to feed on. Any recipe you see should have a source. For coconut kefir its the sugary water/meat in the young coconuts. For the kombucha you could use sugar or even honey I think would work.

The longer you let it "culture" the less sugar will be left over.. so you are turning sugar into more probiotics. There will always be a little bit of sweetness left (otherwise fuel source is gone and probiotics die) but if you sufficiently ferment it the GI would be negligible!

Nikki Young
06-25-2007, 02:58 AM
Is it possible to make coconut kefir without a starter culture?

Garrett Smith
06-25-2007, 05:32 AM
Nikki,
I have not tried it. The issue is one of getting the right/good bacteria off to the quickest start, so that they crowd out and prevent bad bacteria from forming. The starter culture is an attempt to guarantee this, to "seed" the population with desirable bacteria.

Cultured veggies don't need a starter, so it is possible. If you don't have access to a starter, maybe they would be an easier route to go.

Robert Allison
06-25-2007, 08:39 PM
If you don't have any issues with diary, raw milk can also be cultured without a starter. But I don't know how available raw diary products are in Australia.

Nikki Young
06-26-2007, 02:57 PM
Thanks guys! I bought some cabbage the other day actually to culture, im going to get me some good jars today so i can make it happen!

Nikki Young
07-04-2007, 03:41 PM
Ok sorry to bump this thread up again. I'm in about day5 of fermenting my cabbage and it looks pretty... yucky... how do i know if it's not fermenting right or if its actually growing good bacteria?

Also, i bought some organic sauerkraut yesterday, i know it probably doesn't have as much good bacteria as in a home made batch, but would it have some benefits and worth eating? Ingredients; Fermented white cabbage (95%), sea salt, juniperberries (organic also). The brand is Global Organics, made in Holland, if anyone's familiar with the brand.. i'm thinking of just purchasing my sauerkraut instead of making it, would this be ok in terms of getting lots of good bacteria?

Robert Allison
07-04-2007, 06:38 PM
Hi Nikki,

I have made cultured vegetables numerous times, and they never looked "yucky"... but I guess that could be a matter of perspective. Without more specific information, it would be somewhat difficult to know if something has gone awry.

You might check out the troubleshooting guide (http://www.wildfermentation.com/qa.php) at Wild Fermentation.com (http://www.wildfermentation.com/). Sandor Katz probably knows as much about fermentation as anybody in the world. He has some good info on his site, but he also replies to e-mails pretty quickly.

Lately, I have just been buying cultured vegetables--it's just easier than taking the time to make them. But I am not familar with Global Organics. In general, as long as you can find raw (unpasteurized) cultured vegetables, you're good to go. If they are raw, it should say so on the label.

I hope this helps...

Garrett Smith
07-05-2007, 08:23 AM
Nikki,
Definitely try the pre-made stuff. After you know what the "cultured" taste is like, then you can judge the batch you made.

There is an absolute, huge difference between "rotten" and "cultured". One doesn't have to do much more than sniff.

Make sure your vessels are clean. The only time I had a batch go bad was when I used a jar previously used for kefir to make cultured veggies in. The smell actually felt like it was burning my nose.

Robert's advice is good, as usual.

Nikki Young
07-05-2007, 06:31 PM
Ok thanks! Maybe it's not 'yucky' just funny looking.. I'm about a week in now, and a couple of days ago it was frothing out from the top and water was coming out, thats stopped now... but now there's all this muggy water at the bottom of the jar and the cabbage is all ontop of the water, the top half of my cabbage is now not under any water.. it doesn't smell or anything, although my mum says it smells like aniseeds, this smell has gone now, i did put some caraway seeds in it cause my grandma said thats what she did back in the day, but i think my mums mistaking the smell for all my liqourice tea bags im now addicted too... mmm..
Anyway, does this sound right??
Oh... and i used tap water and i know thats not cool ;x

Robert Allison
07-05-2007, 07:27 PM
The cabbage definitely needs to be under water, so you may have a problem there... Frothing is generally not a good sign either.

Here is a link to Sandor's basic recipe for making kraut:

http://www.wildfermentation.com/resources.php?page=sauerkraut

Almost everyone I know who has used this recipe had good success with it. I would suggest you throw away what you have & start over.

I know that Garrett & Greg have already mentioned kombucha, but I will give it a plug as well. Kombucha cultures are generally easy to find, and in my experience it is the easiest fermented food to make at home.

I'm not trying to discourage you on the cultured vegetables; just something else you might want to play with.

Nikki Young
07-05-2007, 10:49 PM
LOL! How can something so simple go so wrong... :confused:
I will throw it out and buy it already made i think.. i haven't been able to see any that say raw and unpasterurised though..

I've looked into kombucha tea.. My next attempt at fermenting will be with kombucha! And hopefully it will be easy and work out.. although, i don't know how much simpler you can get than putting sliced cabbage in a jar with water :(