I've had fermenting on the brain for the better part of the last three years, discovering the health benefits, enjoying the variety of flavours and appreciating the complexity of time married with salt and vegetables, or playing with those flavours and dreaming up new taste combinations for my adventuresome palate. Through my travels and explorations, it has become clear to me that there is one ferment that really stands out above most for me, for many different reasons. Let me explain.
Let's talk delicious and nutritionally dense Crème Fraîche. You take whipping cream and inoculate it with the good kefir bugs for a minimum of 24 hours, and it becomes one of those 'better than the sum of its parts' kinda deal. The end result of this ferment (because that is precisely what is going on here, the fermentation of this good full fat cream) not only breaks down all lactose found in the cream with that 24+ hour window, your probiotic count goes through the roof in this time. Depending on how you prepare your crème fraîche, your probiotic count can certainly be comparable if not supersede the number of colony forming units (CFUs) OR NUMBER OF GOOD BUGS found in a supplement. It's ridiculously easy, requires no heating, no special equipment save from a glass jar and maybe some tape and a pen. It's economical, to boot. By fermenting the whipping cream, you are increasing the nutritive value of the food as well, as during the fermentation process, those good bugs are freeing up more vitamins and minerals and making them easier to absorb and digest for you. They're also creating beneficial acids that can play a role in balancing out the pH in your gut to bring it back closer to what Ma Nature intended it to be, all the while equipping you to better handle and battle unsuspecting E. coli outbreaks, thereby playing a role in protecting you against possible food poisoning.. And those probiotics? Well heck, some can take heavy metals out of circulation so you don't absorb them. And get this, milk kefir is a more potent probiotic food than yogurt is, by a long shot. It is also a very valuable place to get your vitamin K2 in order to ensure good bone health and mental health too, a heart healthy vitamin and a good cancer fighter to boot.
Did I mention it's ridiculously easy? And versatile? And delicious? And economical? Because that's what counts at the end of the day for me. (Bonus if it's good for me too.)
Where to find the particulars: I buy the package of kefir starter at my local favourite health food store, in the refrigerator exactly where the yogurt and kefir is usually kept. You will be looking for a box resembling the picture just above. Make sure it says KEFIR on it, not yogourt.
1 litre of 35% whipping cream (preferably organic)
1 packet of Kefir Starter (info here) (there are 6 envelopes per package of culture starter, use only one)
a one litre sized glass jar
Put all contents in a jar. Shake vigorously. Leave on the counter for at least 24 hours, at which time that cream will eventually turn into a more sour-cream-like consistency. Make sure to shake it up a few times during that 24 hour period to ensure good distribution of the bugs. Tuck it in the fridge. You're done.
Did you get that it was easy?
Why I like it: it's a fabulous source of good saturated fats if you're able to tolerate dairy that can play a big role in helping in support strong bones, cardiovascular health, liver protecting, good brain and nervous support and excellent immune support; when paired with something sweet like raspberries or pears or peaches, it slows down the hit of sugar to your system to make it a more even release into your blood stream, contributing to keeping your hormones in balance and going easy on your adrenals and supporting a more balanced mood. It's so easy to whip up for a lunch or an on-the-go-snack to tide you over until dinnertime. When you make it with this kefir starter, in your 100 g serving you will be ingesting 100 billion live and active bacteria.
If your mind isn't sufficiently blown yet, know this: the taste will send you over the edge. Eat it straight up, or mix it in with salsa or some pesto for a yummy dip. Add a dollop of maple syrup, splash of vanilla and a handful of frozen raspberries for that lunchtime nourishing dessert treat. Make a batch with more maple syrup and raspberries and churn it in your ice cream maker for a most wonderful and delicious treat. Add matcha green tea powder for that extra kick of antioxidants and decadence. Use it as a base for a creamy salad dressing, just add lemon juice and a touch of honey. Use it wherever a recipe indicates using thick cream or sour cream: finish off a butter chicken sauce with the stuff, making sure to add the fermented cream AFTER heating of the sauce in order to retain more of the good bugs.
Whatever you do, may I recommend you do it soon. Once you try this stuff, there is no going back.
*To be clear, this is but one way to make Crème Fraîche. At home, I use milk kefir grains that are higher in probiotic count and diversity than those found in these culture starters (and doing it this way means no skim milk powder!), but they require a bit more hand holding and caring. This starter is a good place to get acquainted with the magic of Crème Fraîche. Let me know how you make out, and what kinds of flavour combos get you going. (Imagine this made into ice cream, and combined with a homemade probiotic soda to have homemade superprobiotic floats! The world will never be the same!)
**Curious as to why powdered skim milk or whey powder isn't the best thing for you? Read on. (And yes, this kefir powder has skim milk powder in it. In the interest of information.)