Since we moved off-grid and began a slower way of doing everyday tasks, I have struggled in the kitchen. I have struggled to keep up with dishes. I have struggled with fitting enough vegetables into my cooking and my budget. I have struggled to find a balance between foods with enough calories to fill up hardworking boys and fermented foods that are too important to miss out on.

Needless to say, we haven’t felt our best. When I bought cabbages to make sauerkraut I quickly ran out of time and ended up cooking them in a soup instead. The prospect of extra dishes were a deterrent too, if we’re being honest.

So I have finally come back to three of the easiest ferments that I can introduce to our diet and my chaotic off-grid kitchen. All of these involve minimum muss and fuss and can be made quickly and easily.

They still make dishes, but I am making my peace with that aspect of things.

Creme Fraiche.

This is just a fancy word for sour cream. I make it by throwing 1-2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk into a pint jar and filling the rest of the jar with cream. The quality of the cream may or may not be a factor, I am unclear on this. I have only made it with pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) cream, so I can’t verify the claims out there one way or the other.

Shake your jar (with a tight lid on it!), loosen the lid or place a coffee filter/towel and rubber band around the lid to allow some air exposure. Let it sit out on the counter for 12-24 hours or until thick. And just like that you have truly cultured cream with probiotics and enzymes for happy bellies.

Water Kefir.

We were making this frequently about a year ago and absolutely loved it. It is similar to kombucha but ferments much faster so you get a better turnaround, I think. It also seems to have slightly different properties and I find it less dehydrating than kombucha.

You can find my detailed instructions here, but the basic premise is dissolve sugar in water, cool, add grains, ferment for a couple of days, pour into bottles, add juice or fruit, cap and carbonate. Enjoy. Feels so good in the tummy!

Find water kefir grains here.

Milk Kefir.

I’ll be honest and say I’m not a huge fan of the taste of kefir. I still have a hard time having it straight up and in the past have deferred to smoothies to mask the yeasty milk champagne flavor. It is, however, easier than yogurt to make regularly so I choose you, milk kefir, over yogurt.

The process couldn’t be easier, either. Add the grains to fresh milk every 24 hours or so, straining the grains out each time. Stir with a wooden spoon, cover with a coffee filter/towel and rubber band, and allow to ferment for about a day. You now have highly probiotic, enzymatic, yeasty flavored milk.

Find milk kefir grains here.

So here’s a question for you… how do you make milk kefir palatable?


24 Responses to My Top Three Easiest Ferments (for when you’re barely treading water in the kitchen)

  1. Natasha says:

    Thanks for sharing. I usually make smoothies with our kefir too. However, when I was drinking more of it I put it in a glass with a sprinkle of stevia and cinnamon, mixed it with a mini whisk and drank. It’s good that way.


  2. I like the taste of plain kefir now, but it took some work. You can always do a second culture with something like vanilla. CFH has a tutorial video and ideas for what to use at first. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but I hope to in the coming year.


  3. Ellen says:

    I have used kefir for smoothies as well, but I want to try it with fresh fruit and homemade granola, like yogurt. I’ll let you know how it tastes, but first I have to make a new batch. :)


  4. Melissa says:

    I make smoothies too but I also drip the kefir for cheese and then use the whey for ginger ale. That way I get all the kefirry goodness in three different foods!


  5. Tami says:

    I make smoothies with my homemade kefir. I blend with frozen fruit and some raw honey to take away a bit of the sour flavor. My youngest daughter loves strawberry kefir smoothies, I like it with frozen peaches. My oldest still can’t quite get around the taste of the homemade kefir yet. My husband either. So I sometimes will buy some in the store. I have yet to make kefir with raw milk, and somehow I think it will end up tasting better that way. We will see. :)


  6. Sara R says:

    I never knew it was that easy to make creme fraiche. I’m excited. However, I realized that I’m not exactly sure what “cream” is. The only cream I’ve noticed in the store is sour cream. Or I guess there’s heavy cream, forgot about that, is that it?


  7. Krista says:

    I don’t. I grew up drinking it, so it’s not a problem for me to drink it straight. Though the homemade version is tangier than the commercially made kind back at home.

    One way I love it, is to puree up strawberries with sugar and add a couple of tablespoons that to a glass of kefir. Stir. Enjoy.


  8. farmer_liz says:

    I am currently experimenting with fermented vegetables, they are totally new to me, so its still a lot of work to learn what to do and how to eat them. We have kefir everyday in a smoothie, I think I miss it when we don’t have it. I also make yoghurt from milk powder, which is quite easy and cottage cheese from our raw milk. I know what you mean about reducing dishes, I used to love baking, but now the thought of all that water (and time) to wash up, not to mention the electricity to run the oven, just puts me off completely! Excuse me now, my kitchen is a total mess from my mayonnaise-making attempts yesterday!


  9. Jessie says:

    Sorry you don’t like your milk kefir straight. I really like it. But I think if you were to add some fruit to it or honey, you might like it more. One time I tried whisking in some cocoa powder & honey and that was good too – but I felt like the cocoa powder didn’t get really well mixed. Right now I’m limiting all dairy – but am doing kefir w/coconut milk & watering it down a bit. (too rich).


  10. Brenda says:

    Shannon, I’m with you – I want to like kefir, I really do, but I just can’t stomach the taste. Even the commercial flavors gross me out! I’ve just decided I’m not going to force myself to do kefir and will get my ferments in other ways. I’m currently really enjoying yogurt made using your cooler method. Super yummy and simple.


  11. Amanda says:

    This is funny ~ I just started making my own milk kefir and to get past the taste, it must be in a smoothie (the only way my kids will drink it too). I take one banana, 2 cups of kefir, handful of frozen blueberries and three frozen strawberries, blend and drink. But my tummy loves the refreshing feeling of the good probiotics!


  12. Amanda says:

    I also make it with raw milk. Compared to store bought I am tasting a little metallic taste with the raw, but not sure if that’s a deficiency of mine or the fact that it’s cold here so kefir time is the full 48 hours and maybe that plays a part in taste?


  13. I just made creme fraiche again yesterday. I love it and sweeten it for dessert recipes and have made a creme fraiche ice cream.

    Last summer I was making milk kefir and at first I loved the taste of it. I’d add some vanilla and sugar and drink it straight up but then I think I had too many grains per milk and I couldn’t get past the sliminess of it. I was the only one drinking it so I gave up on it. The grains are in the fridge. Every once in awhile I pull them out and give then fresh milk so I don’t lose them.


  14. Liz says:

    I like the idea for your sour cream. Is the cultured buttermilk that you use just from the supermarket? Or is this something you make from your raw milk? Thanks!


  15. April says:

    Lol! It struck me funny that I tried the water kefir and just couldn’t make myself drink it – no matter what I did with it. But I love the milk kefir! I’ll drink it straight, add a wee bit of sweetener and some flavored extract of some sort (almond, orange, lemon, coconut, vanilla, . . . ) use it in a smoothie, let it ferment a little longer so it’s extra thick and use it like yogurt.


  16. Sarah says:

    I love kefir just plain, but I have had no luck making my own. It tastes fine, but I don’t seem to have any grains to strain out and use for the next batch like everyone else. I would love to try making the water kefir though. It sounds so good!


  17. I can drink kefir straight, but the family prefers other ways to eat it. Our two best ways are: 1) smoothies — already mentioned, and 2) in a bowl with cut up fresh or dried fruit, chopped nuts/seeds, shredded coconut, sprinkle of cinnamon, and/or drizzle of honey.

    Our kefir is really thick because I let it ferment long. It is stronger in flavor than yogurt, but almost the same consistency.

    Like you, I choose kefir over yogurt simply because it is sooooo much easier to make!

    Great post. :)


  18. Jessica Peterman says:

    My mom was making a lot of kefir last year. The best two ways she served it was blended with some stevia and bluberries, and strained a bit with dill and seasoning as a dip for veggies.


  19. Laura says:

    One of my favorite cookbooks says it’s best to make creme fraiche with RAW cream – I just read that the other day!


  20. Jennifer says:

    Like so many others we use milk kefir in smoothies. The way I like to prepare it is for a really filling breakfast that lasts even my hard working husband all morning. We use about 1 cup kefir, 1/2 to 1 banana, a few frozen strawberries or blueberries, 2 raw egg yolks, approx. 1 Tbs acerola cherry powder, 2 Tbs nutritional yeast, and about 1 Tbs coconut oil. When we first made it I added a little maple syrup to it, but now we like it with just the fruit. It is definitely sweeter with a whole banana though. It sounds like a lot, but is very quick to make in the morning using the stick blender.


  21. Karen says:

    you have to start with grains that you purchase or are given to you by someone. Grains don’t just develop from kefir.


  22. Chavonne says:

    Thank you for posting this. I always end up buying these items and at a huge expense (which doesn’t make me happy), because I constantly feel as if I am in the weeds in the kitchen and couldn’t possible take on more.


  23. Jeana says:

    I pour my homemade keifer in a jar and add 1-2 t. of maple syrup. It’s perfect for lunch at work or drink for breakfast on my way to work.


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