At our home, our cultures are given our constant time and care. We like to think of them as part of our family, (as odd-looking as they may be!) - because really, they are just like any other pet or child that requires time, nourishment and care. We lovingly refer to our cultures as 'The Greeshka', after a story from one of our favorite authors, where a strange collective entity of creatures join together to be better as a group (how fitting for these little symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast!).
How Our Cultures Came to Be
It all started years ago when we were consuming lots of store-bought kefir for health purposes. It came to the point where we asked ourselves if that was really sustainable for us; the store bought kefir was so expensive and we were drinking so much that it was just eating a hole in our pocket. We had been making our own yogurt at home for some time, and wondered, is it possible to make kefir at home? After some time researching and sorting through a lot of the misinformation on the web, we found out that true traditional kefir can only be made at home with the help of the live grains. We were given some milk kefir grains locally by a wonderful woman who took the time to show us the process of how to make kefir and served us some fresh banana-strawberry kefir before leaving. We were amazed (and a little hesitant!) at these fascinating live little grains floating around in our jar of milk driving home. We began making our own kefir, which then led us to the other cultures, and we have not looked back! We knew that this was something that we wanted to share and pass on to anyone else also looking for a more sustainable, rewarding and health-promoting food. You can read a little more about us and our story in our 'Who We Are' page
We are constantly seeking out and adding varieties of strains from across the country to our culture colonies to ensure strength, balance and adaptability. For example, while all water kefir grains are water kefir grains, some have fast metabolisms, some slow, some more yeast, some more bacteria. So we are always combining and mixing cultures we observe to have good and desirable traits together with each other. We want to ensure that the cultures we are sharing are robust and flexible to adapt to new homes and nutrients. And we also want to ensure that the cultures we share are reliable to ferment balanced and delicious kefir, kombucha and sourdough.
We also do not use any harsh or dangerous chemicals to clean our house, and we only use culture-safe materials such as stainless steel, plastic, wood, food-grade rubber (spatulas) and glass when handling our cultures.
When we notice that our cultures are not at their optimal balance, that is our cue to supply it with a new variety of nutrients. Much like humans, these cultures need access to variety and the proper nutrients to thrive. Sometimes the balance hangs in feeding them one way for a certain amount of time, and then switching. It's fascinating to note that trying to provide them every best nutrient daily, is not as well-received as giving them variety over the months. They seem to balance themselves over time, instead of within each day. Much like humans would not like to eat the same breakfast, lunch and dinner, no matter how balanced those meals were - the same goes for the cultures! Sometimes it is not even about the food, but needing a rest from eating all-together. Occasionally our cultures are put on a special fast to help them rest, reclaim their strength, and balance their bacteria and yeast. For example, when we do this with our milk kefir grains they are rinsed in spring water, bathed in a special yogurt bath, and left to incubate at a cooler, controlled temperature for 48 hours. They are then slowly brought back up to speed over a 3 day period out of their fast.
In the Lab
We are constantly learning from our cultures. They are such complex entities, and just when you think you understand them, they will surprise you! We are always conducting experiments and testing new methods so we can better understand our cultures, learn and then be able to pass on that information here with you.
A fun little trivia fact is that we were introduced to our cultures in the same order that they appear on our main page; we first acquired milk kefir grains, then water kefir, kombucha and lastly sourdough. We end up consuming and enjoying all of them each year throughout the entire year. We just love the fact that you can add such basic ingredients like milk, or sugar-water, or flour, or tea-water and get delicious food as a result. We hardly ever buy any yogurt or bread anymore, and haven't touched soda at all in quite a few years.