Live yogurt has high nutritional
value and considerable health
benefits. Beneficial bacteria which produces yogurt from milk
immune system and keep the intestines healthy and clean. Lactic
fight successfully certain harmful micro-organisms, thus preventing and
treating some gut and urinary tract infections, including candidiasis.
Eating plenty of live yogurt restores proper gut microflora,
which is extremely
important for our general health. The right balance in the gut
easily upset by infections, alcohol, junk food, use of antibiotics, or
This leads to fermentation, putrefaction and poor absorption,
contributing factor to many health problems. Intestines are a
place of free radical activity in the body and keeping
clean and well-planted with the right bacteria promotes overall good
vitality and longevity.
Yogurt is easily digestible food as it is already pre-digested by
Living lactic bacteria synthesise the whole vitamin B group, so
contains more vitamins then milk. They also make the nutrients
easily absorbable – particularly calcium, which yogurt also
supplies. Home-made yogurt contains more beneficial
bacteria then any commercial
brand. Making yogurt at home is not difficult but one has to keep
a few points, in order to get perfect results every time.
A couple of tablespoons of good-quality live, natural yogurt are
required as a starter. I do not believe in powdered starters.
Choose the yogurt you will use as a starter carefully as the same
bacteria will go on to produce your home-made yogurt. Not all brands work
equally well. It is best to look for a brand that contains four,
or at least three, strains of bacteria.
Good yogurt should include Lactobacillus Bulgaricus which is not only very
beneficial but gives the yogurt a firmer texture. The perfect yogurt
should contain Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus,
Streptococcus Thermophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum
(Lactobacillus bifidus). Just the first three strains will also do but
Bifidobacterium bifidum makes the yogurt creamier and provides additional
health benefits. Once you become confident with making yogurt at home, you may want to
experiment with different strains in different proportions, and enjoy the
variety of flavours and textures they give.
First one or two batches of home-made yogurt started with store-bought yogurt
will be thinner and runnier then normal. To start every new batch, use a
little yogurt from the old batch, so you will need to use the store-bought yogurt as a
starter just once, in the beginning. In this way, your milk cultures will
grow from strength to strength, giving you healthier and more delicious results
every time. You will not need to buy another starter, unless for some
reason your yogurt gets spoiled or is not doing well.
Dried milk is easiest to work with. Again, not all
brands work well, possibly because of the different levels of antibiotic
residue, so you may need to experiment a bit. I recommend that you double
or increase the amount of dry milk (1 part dry milk to 5 parts water, instead
of 1:10), as in this way you will get a nicer texture and less chance of
Cleanliness is very important as foreign bacteria may spoil your
yogurt. Wash your utensils in hot water, adding to it a little
bicarbonate of soda if needed. Do not use detergents. If your
yogurt gets spoiled, wash thoroughly all the utensils with bicarbonate of soda
and rinse them well with hot water, before you start the next batch with a new
Making yogurt requires temperature of 38-42 degrees C, constantly
for at least a few hours. It is very convenient to use a yogurt
it will easily keep the right temperature for the required period of
You just need to follow the manufacturer instructions. If
you do not have a yogurt maker, choose a suitable thick-walled
for example a crock. In the container, cool some boiled water
down to 40
degrees C, add the dry milk and the starter, and mix. Cover and
container well to keep the warmth in and place it in a warm place.
usually takes between 4 and 8 hours for the yogurt to thicken.
you leave it, the sharper it gets. Store yogurt in the fridge and eat it in the next few days.
Heating and cooking kills beneficial bacteria.
SPROUTING BEANS AND SEEDS
Sprouting beans and seeds is easy and fun. I love to
watch my crop growing. The sprouts grow so fast, I can almost see them
moving! Sprouts are an excellent food - their nutritional value is
very high and they are brimming with life-energy. They also taste
delicious and make a welcome addition to any salad.
all beans are suitable for sprouting. Broad beans,
Red kidney beans and probably Soya beans should not be eaten raw even
sprouted. In my experience, particularly good for sprouting are:
Mung beans, Aduki beans, Chickpeas and Quinoa. Pumpkin, Sunflower
Sesame seeds are also sproutable but I would not recommend it because
unsaturated oils which quickly turn rancid, sometimes even during
Buckwheat is not sproutable, but can be eaten raw, after a few
soaking. Quinoa sprouts easily and is ready to eat in 12-24 hours
soaking. Mung beans and Lentils will sprout in about a day or
Chickpeas need a bit longer – three days perhaps. Bear in
mind that sometimes, especially when travelling, you may come across
seeds and beans which may have been processed, or simply are too old to
Here is how I grow my sprouts. It is a very simple
method. All you need is a medium size sieve and a large tray. Use only about one cup of seeds
or beans at a time as they increase significantly in volume as they grow.
* Rinse well your chosen seeds or beans holding them in the
sieve under running water. Sometimes they can be quite dusty, so do this carefully.
* Soak your future sprouts for about 12 hours in cold
water. Chickpeas need 18 to 24 hours - change the water once or twice
during this time. Lentils need only 6 to 8 hours. Mung beans should
be soaked for about 10-12 hours.
* Drain them, rinse again and place in a tray, spreading evenly.
* After that the seeds or beans need to be rinsed 2-3 times daily. The growing sprouts should not be
allowed to dry out but should not be left soaking in water either. It is
handy to keep the tray somewhere in view, near the kitchen sink and away from
* When they are already big enough, rinse them for the last time,
removing any broken or failed to sprout seeds or beans if you can catch
them. Place your sprouts in a polyethylene bag and store in the
fridge. They will keep there for two or three days.
is a cultured-milk beverage, produced by a fungus and
originating from Caucasus Mountains. It has thick liquid
slightly sour taste and fresh flavour. Traditionally, they claim
that Kefir “cures one hundred diseases after one
year of drinking”. But even if you happen to have fewer
diseases you can
still enjoy this wonderful drink! Interestingly, the word kefir is derived from the
Turkish word keif, which loosely translates as feeling
good. So this is a drink that will make you feel good. Kefir shares
many of the health benefits of yogurt – supports the immune system, helps
digestion, fights harmful bacteria and generally helps to keep the body clean
It is very easy to make your own
Kefir at home and it takes very little time to do so. You will need Kefir
grains, milk, a glass jar, a large spoon (preferably with holes for straining –
a skimmer or a slotted spoon) and perhaps a wide-necked bottle to store your
Obtaining Kefir grains
I would send some Kefir grains to anyone who is interested, free of
charge, provided of course that spare Kefir grains are available to me at the
time. Alternatively, they can be obtained from any of the websites that
I recommend that you make
your Kefir from UHT milk (that you do not need
to refrigerate before opening). This milk is sterile and
will work best
for this purpose. Skimmed, full-fat, Soya milk or any other kind
milk can be used. The carton should be just opened and at room
temperature. Warm milk will speed the fermentation process.
If you need
Kefir urgently, use warm milk, up to 30 degrees C, and your
drink will be
ready much quicker. Do not heat the milk over 35 degrees C as the
grains are alive and they will not survive extreme temperatures.
during preparation is
important to keep the culture healthy. Rinse the grains with cool
water - it is best to do that under running water,
keeping the grains in a sieve – then place them in a
glass jar and
fill the jar with milk, allowing 2-4 tablespoons of
one litre of milk. Cover the jar loosely, so that the fungus can
“breathe” and leave it at room temperature. In 24
hours at most, your
drink will be ready – it will thicken considerably and it will be
effervescent, with a few bubbles on top, the taste will be slightly
the flavour more pronounced. Stir the milk and the
grains, then remove all the grains carefully with a slotted spoon.
stored in the refrigerator. If it separates in the bottle during
just give it a shake. Rinse the grains and the jar, add fresh
start again. Some people believe that rinsing the grains is not
necessary, so they just strain the ready Kefir and add more milk.
easier and cuts the fermentation time almost in half. However, it
is still good to rinse from time to time in order to keep the culture
If you miss to strain your Kefir in time, it will thicken
further and separate into greenish liquid at the bottom half of the
jar and white quark-like mass at the top. This is also eaten after
straining, as quark or soft cheese. However, proper straining and
removing the grains from the thickened mass is more difficult and the taste may
prove a bit disappointing.
The fermentation time could be anything between 8 and 24 hours and
the quantity of the grains in the milk, milk temperature, room
whether the grains have been rinsed or not. With
time, the fungus will grow, so some grains should be removed regularly
maintaining more or less constant grains-milk ratio.
If you do not wish to make Kefir for a few weeks,
place your grains in a bowl with some milk, cover them but not tightly, leaving
some air inside, and place the bowl in the fridge. When you want to start
to use the grains again, rinse them well and proceed as normal using warm milk
but if the resting period has been long, you will probably need to discard the
first Kefir. Usually, the fungus “wakes up” quite
quickly and you will soon be able to have again your refreshing beverage.
If your fungus is producing too much Kefir too quickly, simply use less grains
or store the jar in the fridge for part of the time.
These are alternative names: Tibetan mushroom, Yogurt plant, Yogurt Mushroom,
Yogurt fungus. Yogurt and Kefir is not the same thing. Yogurt is produced by a few
strains of Lactic bacteria, whereas Kefir grains are a symbiotic mixture of
specific Lactic bacteria and yeasts. The healing properties of both are
destroyed by cooking.
Home-made cider vinegar is raw and has no preservatives or
other additives. It is slightly less acidic then commercial vinegars and
makes a perfect dressing for salads. Apart from its culinary use, raw
cider vinegar has a number of health benefits – it is a wonderful tonic,
detoxing, rejuvenating, and cleansing remedy for the whole system. It
works against viruses, fungi, and harmful bacteria, clears a number of skin conditions,
such as fungal infections or dandruff, and brightens the skin. There are some recipes with cider vinegar in Cosmetics
and in Herbal Remedies. Making cider vinegar at home, the way I do it, is not
difficult at all and does not involve buying and peeling sacks of apples.
Obtaining Vinegar culture
I would send a piece of Cider vinegar culture to anyone who is serious
about taking good care of it, free of charge, provided that spare culture is
available to me at the time. Alternatively, it can be obtained from the
websites that sell vinegar starters.
The Apple juice
I use store bought apple juice for making vinegar. Any brand is
fine as long as the juice is pure. The carton should be opened just before you
need it and at room temperature.
As with all brewing, cleanliness during preparation is
important. Place your culture a large glass casserole. Pour
on the apple juice, 2
litres to start with. You may also add a couple of tablespoonfuls
quality commercial organic cider vinegar. This is not strictly
but will ensure that the right fermentation process will take
Cover the casserole with a piece of cheesecloth, fastened with a rubber
and put it in a warm, dry and dark place. Airing cupboard is
From time to time, check the taste and the level of the liquid –
in a couple of
weeks some more juice may need to be added, especially in hot
The whole surface of the culture must be in contact with the juice at all
In a few weeks your vinegar will be ready – it will become
clear and there will be no more sweetness in it. At that time, a
‘baby’ layer will appear on top of the mother culture.
the vinegar is ready, remove the cultures – the old and the new -
separate them. Bottle the clear liquid, avoiding the rusty
sediment at the bottom, and store this vinegar in a cool place, or in
fridge. Rinse the casserole with hot water. Do not
use detergents, other then a little baking soda. Then rinse
the ‘baby’ with cold water
and use it to start the whole brewing process again.
If it goes wrong
may happen that after a few successful brews, the
fermentation goes wrong – smell is not that good, the liquid does
not clear up
but still looks darkish and murky after 4-5 weeks, and the new culture
and unhealthy. In this case, do the following. Discard the
liquid. Cut out the healthy parts of the culture with
clean scissors and cleanse these parts with commercial organic
vinegar. Leave them to soak in a clean portion of vinegar for a
while. Wash the casserole carefully using baking soda and
rinse with hot water.
Then place the healthy parts in, add ½ to 1 cup of commercial
organic cider vinegar, 2 litres of
apple juice and start brewing again.
The Cider vinegar drink
After 10-15 days, at
about half of the brewing time, the future vinegar will become a very nice and
refreshing drink. It will not smell of vinegar yet. You may wish
to consume some of the brews in this way.
(C) 2003-2007, Veronica Verai