Cultured Dairy Benefits and Recipe

Cultured or fermented dairy plays a large role in my diet and my kitchen. We try to ingest at least one cup of cultured raw dairy per day. This can be done in many forms. Yogurt, cheese, clabber, curds, whey, kefir, creme fraiche and so on.

Earlier in the year I wrote a post about raw milk and many of its benefits. Now I would like to expand that with the cultured dairy. There are great benefits to consuming cultured dairy. The fermentation process breaks down casein (milk protein) which can be difficult for some people to digest. It also helps the body absorbs calcium and other minerals. Vitamins B and C increase during fermentation and are easily absorbed by the body. In addition, these products provide beneficial bacteria and lactic acid to the digestive tract to keep pathogens at bay and aid in digestion of all other foods consumed.

Culturing will also restore many of the enzymes destroyed by pasteurization (not ultra pasteurization). So, you can make your own cultured dairy products, even without access to raw milk. Of course there will be more benefits to raw milk from grassfed cows, goats, sheep, etc.

Fermentation is an art and recipes may require tweaking for your environment. Have some patience with yourself when trying new recipes. And remember…practice makes perfect. So if you botch a batch…don’t worry…just try again another day.

I suggest yogurt making as a first step.

Raw Milk Yogurt

1 quart raw whole milk, nonhomogenized
1/2 cup good quality plain yogurt or 1/2 cup yogurt from previous batch

Place milk in double boiler and heat to 110 degrees. I will sometimes put the milk in a mason jar in the dehydrator on 110 for about an hour to heat the milk up to temperature. In a mason jar or mixing bowl, mix 1/2 cup warm milk with 1 tablespoon yogurt. Continue adding another 1/2 cup milk and 1 tablespoon yogurt and mix until warm milk and previous batch yogurt are mixed. Pour into mason jar and cover tightly. Place jar in dehydrator set at 100 degrees for 8-12 hours. Transfer to the fridge. This will make a thin raw milk yogurt.
You may also drain the clear liquid (whey) off for a slightly thicker yogurt. Remember to keep it and use to Lacto-ferment vegetables.

For a thicker yogurt try…

Yogurt

1 quart pasteurized whole milk, not ultra pastuerized
1/2 cup good quality plain yogurt or 1/2 cup yogurt from previous batch

Place milk in double boiler and heat to 180 degrees. Let it cool to 110 degrees. Stir in yogurt and pour in a mason jar. Place jar in dehydrator set at 110 degrees or in an oven with a pilot light on or that was preheated then turned off for 8-12 hours. Remove and transfer to refrigerator.

You may also drain the clear liquid (whey) off for an even thicker Greek style yogurt. Make sure to keep the whey to use for Lacto-fermenting vegetables or to use in smoothies for extra probiotics!

Naturally Fermented and Raw

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Probiotic Sweet Orange Carrots and Spicy Kimchi with local and organic colorful radishes, green cabbage, sweet carrots, onion, spicy “Music” garlic, and a bit of ghost pepper. Both are naturally fermented in filtered water and sea salt.

Probiotics and why you should ferment foods

In addition to a real food diet, fermented foods are a part of all traditional cultures. From preserving foods to making yogurt or sourdough bread, these beneficial bacteria will bring you higher nutrition.

Fermentation increases the vitamins naturally present in the food you eat. Bread leavened through sourdough fermentation is richer in folate than regular whole wheat bread. Fermented foods are rich in vitamin K2, a known cancer fighter. Fermented foods are essential to health and lacking in most modern diets. The simple act of fermentation increases the vitamins and food enzymes found in dairy products, grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits – increasing both nourishment and flavor. Fermented foods are also rich in probiotics – beneficial bacteria that build immunity, improve digestion and keep you healthy. Fermentation also decreases the sugar content of foods which is great for those watching their carbohydrate and sugar intake. Here is a short list outlining the health benefits of fermented foods and beverages.
Fermented foods:
Help your body breakdown otherwise difficult to digest foods and make the nutrients more accessible
Maintain a more regular and efficient digestive system
Promote more efficient energy production
Increase nutrient consumption, absorption and impact
Build immune function by stimulating cellular and antibody function and creating more immunoreactive cells
Help build and maintain a healthy intestinal wall that resists leakage of harmful toxins into the bloodstream caused by poor diet and digestion
Decrease allergic reactions by exposing your body to natural microbial colonies, which helps develop immunity to allergen exposure
Restore digestive health and re-build gut flora after exposure to antibiotics, which kill all good and bad bacteria
Increase the vitamin content of the food
Lower cholesterol
Reverse hypertension by lowering blood pressure
Help alleviate irritable bowel symptoms
Aid digestion of lactose and proteins

I ingested very few fermented foods as a child. My taste buds rejected the ferments at first. But, they never had a chance to develop a taste for them. Now that I eat something fermented everyday, my taste buds have learned to love fermented foods…especially tart yogurt (or almost anything fermented with my raw milk whey). In return, I feel like I have a brand new gastrointestinal system. Dairy products and grains are no longer a hinderance for me and my energy level and immune system are higher than ever.

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Rachael Bakes at the Northwest Farmers Market

Soaked Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Marscapone Cream

Traditional societies usually soak or ferment grains before ingesting them. This process will neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and, in a way, predigest the grains so that all of their nutrients are more available. The phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is held up by phytic acid. Phytic acid joins iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. For this reason, many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well, when prepared properly.

Whole grains that have been processed by high heat and pressure, like puffed wheat or rice cakes, are actually very toxic and have caused death in test animals. Breakfast cereal has been heat and pressure treated to make those little flakes and shapes…all breakfast cereals should be avoided. Most importantly, through the heat and pressure treating, most nutrients are destroyed…including phytase, an enzyme that breaks down some of the phytic acid in the digestive tract.

Genetically modified grains contain foreign proteins that are irritating to the digestive tract. Please take care in purchasing your grains and legumes. Grains are best when organically grown. Be careful to check the ingredients label for foreign ingredients. “Enriched” flours will contain additional vitamins and minerals that are not derived from food and are difficult to digest and for the body to absorb properly. Whole, organic, freshly ground grains will contain the highest levels of nutrients.

Sprouting, soaking and sour leavening are three ways we can accomplish “predigestion” for grains to keep the phytic acid at bay. The method for spouting all grains is the same…only the length of time needed varies. Cover with water, soak, drain, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse. Once they have sprouts…they can be steamed and eaten, dried and ground for use in baked goods.

I love my grain mill (thanks Mom and Dad!) but I know not everyone has one. Another way to accomplish predigestion is soaking the already ground grain. Soak equal parts of flour and water for at least 7 hours…then use. As you can imagine I have had a difficult time changing my recipes to suit a “wet” flour. I am still working on the perfect cookie. But in the mean time I have a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Marscapone Cream.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Marscapone Cream

1 Cup filtered water, at room temp
1 Cup Whole grain organic flour, of your choice
Juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon

1/2 Cup (1 stick) Pasture Butter, at room temp
3/4 Cup unrefined cane sugar or pure maple syrup
3/4 cup raw cocoa powder or carob powder
2 pasture raised eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine first three ingredients in a ceramic or glass bowl, stir until combined, covered with a cloth for 7-12 hours. Pour off the layer of water on top just before using.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Once thoroughly combined and creamy add one egg at a time until just together. Add the remaining ingredients and the soaked flour and stir together. Line cupcake pan and fill almost to the top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

1/2 cup pasture raised cream, preferably raw
1/2 cup Marscapone cheese, room temp
1/4 cup raw, local honey
Zest of 1 lemon

Whip cream to stiff peaks. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Top cupcakes and enjoy!

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Living Cultures are Necessary

Daily showers, hand sanitizer and keeping clean are a big part of this society. I enjoy being clean. It offers the benefits of a small risk of food contamination. By keeping clean we are not ingesting the bacteria that keep us healthy and able to fight off illnesses and disease. So…we must eat them!

Fermentation is the best way to prepare foods with the proper bacteria. My first experience with this was at 14 years old. In culinary and baking class (vocational high school) we made sourdough bread. Wow!! What a wonderful feeling it was. Watching a simple mixture of flour and water turn into a bubbling and ALIVE bowl of sourdough starter over a few days amazed me. I didn’t know at the time, but it was full of the nutritious Lactobacilli bacteria and numerous enzymes to aide in my nourishment and digestion of the foods I eat.

My next experience with fermentation is yogurt. Another one with the healthy bacteria Lactobacilli. Vegetables, krauts, miso, meads and cheese are other examples of fermented foods that will aide in anyone’s digestion. Fermented foods are a condiment or side dish. They are not meant to be eaten in large quantities. If you have a stomach problem, I suggest a small amount with at least one meal every day to build up the healthy bacteria in your gut. Having the necessary bacteria in your gut will help protect your stomach and also work to process sugars and grains properly.

I have been eating a fermented food with every meal. Homemade raw whole milk yogurt in my morning smoothie, a pickle or sauerkraut with lunch, and sourdough and cheese with dinner. I try to mix it up as much as possible to not get bored. Its been about 4 months that I have been consistently eating fermented foods and my gut feels so much better. I am able to digest my foods well and my entire gastrointestinal system is feeling almost like new. A few more months and I bet I’ll have a like-new gut!!!

Start your day with a nutrition filled smoothie!

Morning Smoothie
3/4 cup grass fed whole milk yogurt
1 organic banana
1/2 cup fresh organic fruit
1/4 cup frozen organic berries
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon bee pollen
1/2 teaspoon fermented cod liver oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
A few drops of bitters
1/4 cup organic pomegranate juice
1 raw pasture raised egg

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Information credits:
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
The Weston A Price Foundation
Plosbiology.com