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Making Mayo and Culturing Water Kefir

I have been busy in the kitchen lately—just haven’t had a lot of time to write about it! So I’ll attempt today to catch you up on what’s been cooking, culturing and otherwise coming together (or not) around our house.


First, I finally made homemade fermented mayonnaise, following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. It turned out a beautiful yellow color because of the pastured eggs, small amount of grainy mustard and extra-virgin olive oil in the mixture. To both ferment the mayo and allow it to keep for a longer period, I added liquid whey that I had kept from a batch of yogurt cheese I’d made a few weeks earlier. The mayonnaise has a wonderful, tangy flavor, and we’ve especially enjoyed it in egg-salad and tuna-salad sandwiches. (I toned down the taste at first by mixing it with our usual store-bought safflower mayonnaise. Nobody even noticed!)


My next new adventure was making water kefir. I had been wanting to try this for a long time, but I finally got motivated to make water kefir when I needed it as an ingredient in a gluten-free sourdough starter (more on that later). Water kefir is a probiotic beverage cultured with kefir grains specifically dedicated to that purpose. After culturing, it can be flavored with fruit or juice and even carbonated for a healthy soda-pop-like drink. I made strawberry lemonade from my first batch of water kefir. I loved it, but it was a little on the tart side (too much lemon juice, not enough pureed strawberries) for the kids. And it did get slightly carbonated after I stored it in an airtight, flip-top bottle, but not as much as I’d thought it might. I’m continuing the experimentation with each new batch, trying out different flavors to see what the family likes best.

The rest of my Kitchen Life lately has revolved around the lessons in Wardeh Harmon’s GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals eCourse. So far, I’ve soaked and dehydrated almonds (the first thing I made in my new Excalibur dehydrator!), soaked and cooked brown rice, and made soaked muffins and pancakes. Next on my list is soaked biscuits and pasta, plus soaked beans. If you’re wondering what all of the soaking is about, I’m learning about the importance of soaking grains, nuts and legumes with a small amount of acid, such as apple cider vinegar, to eliminate phytic acid (which prevents mineral absorption) and enzyme inhibitors (which make foods difficult to digest). Wardeh will be offering the eCourse again later this year, and if you missed it this first time around, I encourage you to sign up and see how easy it really is to adapt your cooking to traditional, real-food methods.

Finally, I’ll mention my not-so-successful attempt to make a loaf of gluten-free sourdough bread. I got off to a good start with my starter (brown rice flour boosted by water kefir), which I fed for five days before mixing up the bread ingredients. Unfortunately, my bread didn’t rise at all, and the loaf turned out to be a flat brick that was chewy and unbearably sour. I e-mailed the author of the recipe, and together we determined that my starter might have become overfermented, and that my substitution of a half cup of millet flour for chickpea flour was apparently detrimental. I’ve heard that sourdough can be tough to master—and that gluten-free sourdough is even trickier. Still, I’m undeterred and will keep trying until I get it right one of these days. I have a different recipe to try, and I hope I can get to it this week. Stay tuned! 🙂

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister blog carnival hosted by www.gnowfglins.com. To link to today’s Tuesday Twister on that site, click here.

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1 Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS { 03.23.10 at 4:57 pm }

So happy you got a dehydrator, Sonya! The mayo looks amazing. I have heard people say it is not good, but since you like it, I’m going to try it. It sounds really good!

2 Jen { 03.23.10 at 6:47 pm }

I just started making water kefir too. So far, our favorite is a 2 day fermentation with organic grape juice. So good!

3 Sonya Hemmings { 03.24.10 at 8:21 am }

Ooh! I’ll have to try that! I did a bit more reading and decided that I’m not letting the kefir have a long enough second fermentation to build up carbonation. Is yours pretty bubbly after two days?

4 Sonya Hemmings { 03.24.10 at 8:22 am }

At first, the mayo had a strong, somewhat bitter taste, but it has mellowed with time in the fridge and tastes really good now!

5 Rebecca { 03.26.10 at 6:09 am }

This is a great gluten-free sourdough recipe, if it’s not the one you tried:

6 Sonya Hemmings { 03.26.10 at 10:57 am }

Thanks, Rebecca! It does look good—and it’s not the one I tried. Unfortunately, I can’t use eggs—at least not the whites. Not sure if this recipe would work well without them. But I might try it sometime!

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