Five Minutes to Cultured Dairy

I’m out to prove that making your own cultured dairy products is neither intimidating nor difficult. Just yesterday, I made Buttermilk , Kefir and Sour Cream. This took me a total of five minutes.  I did not break a sweat, not even when I was putting lids on jars.

I then started a batch of Yogurt . Yes, it was a big dairy day in my kitchen. Or rather, a big dairy eight minutes. Because that’s really how long it took to do all of this.

As soon as they are done culturing (which these products do all by themselves while I sleep, type, trip on legos or cut my fingernails), I’ll put them into the fridge.

Now, all of you stop thinking that you can’t make your own cultured dairy products and get started on this fun and healthy habit!! :)

Here’s a little Cultured Dairy question and answer time:

Is making your own cultured dairy products hard to do?  Did I or did I not just tell you that this isn’t hard? Okay then.

Can I use regular milk from the store to make these products?  Yep. I recommend drinking and using raw, organic, grass fed cow (or goat) milk to make these, but if that isn’t available to you, you can definitely use milk that you purchase from the store.

Do I have to trip on legos while my products are culturing?  No, in fact I recommend that you step over all legos and call your children in to pick them up before your feet get holes in them. I was just saying that to be funny, or something like that – and to prove that you don’t have to babysit your dairy products while they are culturing.

Why is there a rubber band on your sour cream jar?  I put a rubber band around my sour cream jar so that I’ll know at one quick glance into my fridge which jar is sour cream and which is regular cream. It’s quite helpful to know the difference. You’re welcome to use whatever color of rubber band you prefer. If you really think that sour cream deserves a red rubber band instead of a yellow one, knock yourself out.

What do you mean “knock yourself out”?  That is an expression that really just means “go for it”. To take that expression literally would just seem as though I were a big bully. Please, do not literally “knock yourself out”. Goodness.

Will I really have cultured dairy products in just five minutes like your title suggests?  The five minutes I was referring to was the time it takes for YOU to do any kind of work. It does take several hours for the dairy to become cultured after you’ve done your five minutes of work. Read the specific directions for each of the dairy products to know how long each item takes to become cultured. Here are the quick links:  Buttermilk , Kefir, Yogurt and Sour Cream.

Do you make your own cultured dairy products? Which ones are your favorite?

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Natural Help for a Yeast Infection

Hello, and welcome to a very personal post. I don’t usually write about these sorts of topics, not because I’m afraid of getting personal, but because I’ll never claim to be someone who knows much about natural healing. I leave that up to Michele at Frugal Granola. She’s brilliant, well studied in these matters and even wrote an ebook to help all of us.

Of course, I do know that if I cut hot peppers without gloves on and then touch my eye, my face will appear to be on fire and I will run frantically about the house until I can get some milk splashed into my eyeball. And through trial and error, we’ve found some things to help ease our son’s eczema symptoms naturally. But in general, you won’t come to Heavenly Homemakers and learn that in order to help your pet cat who is experiencing hair loss, you need to rub together the petals of four and a half tulips, mix them with yesterday’s shredded newspaper in a large pot of tepid coffee, stir in equal measures of garlic and plucked eyebrows, then soak your cat in the mixture for 2.7 hours per day*. That’s just not where my specialty lies.

However, I do have a thing or two to say about helping a yeast infection. This information doesn’t take the place of what your doctor might say, but of course you know from reading the above cat hair remedy that this goes without saying. I’m just going to share with you what I have learned from what I have read and what I have experienced.

I don’t suffer from yeast infections often (thankfully), and I know there are different varieties of yeast issues (like thrush). But the kind I’m talking about today is the kind that effects women in a very unpleasant and personal way. Yeast is a fungus and none of us wants an over-growth of fungus down there.  Not only is a yeast infection itchy, it’s extremely itchy and it burns and it also itches very badly

Here are the best natural remedies I’ve found to make an uncomfortable yeast infection go away:

  • Take a probiotic – It’s really a good idea to take a probiotic on a regular basis if you can, but especially if you have a yeast infection. I suggest talking to your chiropractor or local natural doctor to see which kind he/she recommends.
  • Stop eating sugar – I mean completely stop eating sugar while you’re having a yeast infection. Sugar feeds yeast and just makes your infection worse. Try to go easy on all carbs if possible, as carbs turn to sugar. Don’t worry, there will still be brownies in the world for you to eat later after you’re all better.
  • Eat cultured products like yogurt. Drink cultured products like kefir or kombucha. (Someday, I plan to share with you how to make kombucha.)
  • Better yet (and this is where the very personal part of this post comes in)…apply plain, cultured products directly to the infected area. 

Yes, this means that you take a little jar of plain kefir or yogurt into the bathroom with you…wash yourself gently…then put kefir or yogurt on and around and in the area that is feeling miserable.

I have found that this is a huge help. It doesn’t cure the problem instantly…but it does offer some temporary relief…as well as help with the overall healing process, as the good, living bacteria in the cultured dairy goes to work. It’s actually quite soothing.

But be sure the cultured products are PLAIN. Most commercial yogurts and kefirs have some sort of sugar in them and YOWZA you do not want to be smearing sugar in there to feed the yeast and turn it into a monster!

I recommend, if you can, to make your own homemade cultured dairy products. All the instructions are found through links on this page and they are SO easy!! There’s even a Heavenly Homemakers discount from Cultures for Health to help get you started. Look for it on the Cultured Dairy Instruction Pages.

I’m also going to put a plug in here again for always and forever avoiding regular Kotex and/or other typical store-bought brands of monthly “punctuation” products as these can cause all kinds of miserable  issues. Read this post again if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I really can’t emphasize this enough.

I’d love for you to share any other natural remedies you’ve discovered to help with yeast infections. And also for cat hair loss.

*The above described remedy for Cat Hair Loss was completely fictitious information written simply to cause me to sound ridiculous. I do not recommend soaking your cat in the previously described way, ever. Not enough studies have been done to prove its effectiveness, and trying this remedy may result in a very angry cat.

What it Means to “Soak Grains”

It’s a funny term isn’t it? “Soak your grains.”  It sounds like you need to dump a bunch of water into your bucket of hard white wheat kernels and give ’em a good soaking. But don’t do that.  You don’t want soggy wheat berries.

For those of you who are new to “soaking grains” and have emailed me with questions of confusion as to what this means exactly…I thought I would take the time to explain it a little bit better, and to show some pictures of what a bowl of “soaking grains” looks like!

First, let’s talk a tiny bit about why soaking grains is important. Because I’m not good at remembering big words and how to use them, here is a quote from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook about soaking grains:

Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and, in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available.

In Laura’s terms:  When you soak your grain, your tummy will feel better and the nutrients in the grain will be better used by your body.

If you’ve been reading here long, you know that I’m a little bit on the fence when it comes to soaking grains. Sometimes I’m a soaker…sometimes I’m not. It depends on the day and what recipe I’m using, but I do try to soak my grains if I can. There are different schools of thought behind soaking grains and you can read my thoughts about it (and other people’s ideas and comments) here. Matt and I have come to the conclusion that we don’t need to go into panic mode if I don’t get around to soaking our grains. Right or wrong…that’s where we’ve landed. I really like the pressure this has taken off of my brain.

Now, having said all of that…I would like to share what “soaking grains” really means. Ultimately, it means that you are soaking the whole grain that has already been ground into flour .  (You can/should also soak oats or cornmeal. Oats are soaked the same as flour. Cornmeal requires a different variety of soaking, which I’ll discuss in a separate post.)

The soaking of said flour or oats needs to be done in an “acid medium liquid” for 12-24 hours, or at least overnight. This means, you can soak your flour or oats in:

The flour doesn’t need to “go swimming” in the liquid. It simply needs to be wet. In any of my recipes that give soaking instructions, I will share the exact measurements of flour and/or oats and liquids needed for soaking. On my site, I have instructions for soaking:  Whole Wheat Waffles, Simple Soaked Pancakes, Breakfast Cookies, Breakfast Cake, Poptarts, Pizza Pocket dough, and others that I’m likely forgetting at the moment. :)  I also describe how to soak my Whole Wheat Tortillas in my Totally Tortillas ebook.

Here is what my Simple Soaked Pancakes look like in the morning after I’ve stirred together the flour and buttermilk the night before. See the little bubbles that formed? That means we’ve accomplished kind of a “sourdough” effect. Perfect! Next, I mix in the remaining ingredients and make the pancakes. (And then the fam will eat the entire triple batch before I have a chance to grab one if I’m not on top of my game.) 

This is what my Whole Wheat Tortillas look like once I’ve mixed them up and left them to “soak”. This recipe with soaking instructions is so simple because I put them all together, they soak, then they are ready right away for me to roll them out and cook them!

Soaking grains isn’t difficult at all…it just requires a little bit of planning ahead!

Some other frequently asked questions about soaking grains include:

Do I need to soak my flour even if it isn’t freshly ground in a grain mill?

Yes, even if it is store bought whole wheat flour, it is best to soak it if you can.

Do I need to soak my white flour?

Nope. The reason it’s white flour is because the bran and the germ have been taken out. The bran is what needs to be soaked in the first place. Since that’s not there…no reason to soak!

What other questions do you have about soaking grains? Are you a soaker?