Win an Excalibur Dehydrator Worth $249!

This is such an exciting giveaway to go along with the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle this week. Why? Because included in the amazing bundle is a very thorough book called Dehydrating. It contains 149 pages of helpful information, recipes, practical tips – pretty much everything you would ever need to know about dehydrating. We’re talking about fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, jerky, herbs – and even more. This is one great resource.

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As an aside, let’s do a little math. This Dehydrating eBook alone costs $20. The entire Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is only $29.97 – and it contains the Dehydrating book plus 85 more eBooks!! plus a conference and awesome bonuses. It’s a no-brainer! You have got to get this bundle!

Now back to the giveaway. Once you have the wonderful Dehydrating eBook, you’re going to love having a high quality dehydrator to go with it, which is what inspired the idea for this giveaway. I contacted Cultures for Health, and they said, “Let’s do it!”

Cultures for Health is one of my favorite online resources for buying cultured dairy starters. You may have even noticed that this very company is already offering free bonuses along with your Bundle purchase. Yep, buy the bundle and you’ll get a free sourdough starter or kombucha starter plus $5 credit to use in the Cultures for Health shop. So awesome! Well, Cultures for Health just so happens to be where I got my wonderful Excalibur Food Dehydrator. It is high quality, dries food evenly – you won’t find a better one on the market.

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Cultures for Health is giving away one of their 9-tray Excalibur Food Dehydrators this week to one of you! This is so much fun!

To enter this Heavenly Homemakers giveaway, you’ll need to click over to the special page over at Cultures for Health. Just for signing up, you’ll gain access to six MORE eBooks. This deal just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?? Yep, it’s quite a week here. I believe that’s why we’re calling it Ultimate! :)

Go sign up to win an Excalibur Food Dehydrator. You don’t have to purchase the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for a chance – everyone can enter. But I do feel strongly that everyone will benefit from owning this bundle, and highly encourage you to take advantage of this tremendous deal!

The winner of this giveaway will be chosen randomly and will be posted here on Monday, November 11.

A Fresh Batch of Homemade Buttermilk

I’ve been making homemade buttermilk for about seven years now. It’s such an easy-to-make food item! 

The beauty of homemade cultured dairy products, besides the fact that it saves you a lot of money to make them yourself, is that once you’ve made a batch, you can then use that batch to make more batches. In other words, once you have a jar of homemade buttermilk, you use the last cup of that batch of buttermilk to make another batch of buttermilk. Then you use the last cup of that buttermilk to make another batch of buttermilk. Then you use the last cup of that buttermilk to make another….

Well, you get the picture.

This system works very well. Until you go on a long trip across the country and come home to find that the buttermilk that has been untouched for several weeks in your fridge smells gross and you need to begin a fresh, new batch. 

That would be the predicament that I found myself in this week. I found that the last little bit of buttermilk in my fridge had seen better days and needed to go. That’s okay though. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to begin with fresh cultures and start a new batch of buttermilk.

Why do I like having buttermilk on hand? I use it often for pancakes and baked goods. And I really love using it in Creamy Orange Coolers. It tastes delicious and refreshing in that recipe, and gives our tummies some great, live cultures. It’s awesome for digestion!

I’ve shared it before, but I’ll share it again – just to reinforce to you how easy it is to make buttermilk. 

First, you get a starter culture. My favorite comes from Cultures for Health. Also, you need milk. I prefer raw milk, but this does work with store-bought milk as well.

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Next, you pour the starter culture into a cup of milk. I use a pint sized jar for this.

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Put the lid on and shake it up. 

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Once you’ve done this, place your jar in a “warmish” spot in your house for about 24 hours. (In the winter, I find that it often takes longer than 24 hours.)  I usually put mine in the cabinet above my refrigerator because it tends to be a little warmer there. Don’t put it on your fireplace – that’s too hot and it will kill the live culture. Not that you were thinking about doing that. But just in case, I thought it was worth mentioning. We’re going for warm here, not hot. (About 70°)

In about 24 hours, the milk will have turned into buttermilk. You’ll know that the process is complete when you turn the jar over and instead of being liquid, the buttermilk will kind of “plop” away from the side of the jar in a single mass. It’s pretty cool.

No need to fear leaving this dairy product out in the open for 24 hours. Live cultures are healthy and will not spoil your milk.  Leaving it out in a warm place is all a part of the culturing process. I promise.

Once my buttermilk is finished culturing, I can then use the last cup of that buttermilk to make another batch of buttermilk. 

Pour your one cup of cultured buttermilk into a quart or even half gallon of fresh milk to make larger batches once you’ve activated your starter. Allow the buttermilk/milk combination to culture in a warm place for 24 hours or until it has become buttermilk. Then refrigerate it and use as needed, saving the last 1 cup for a future batch.  

Then you can use the last cup of that buttermilk to make another batch of buttermilk. Then you can use the last cup of that buttermilk to make another….

Oh wait. I think I told you that part already. But yay for saving money and eating healthy at the same time!

Ever tried making buttermilk? If not, what is holding you back?

Making Kefir with Powdered Starter

How to Make Kefir

I had never heard of Kefir until about six years ago. (It’s pronounced “kEE-fur”, by the way.)  And then, while learning about kefir, I heard that there were these things called “kefir grains”, which of course made me immediately picture a wheat field.

FYI – kefir and wheat fields have nothing in common – except for maybe the fact that both can be used to create consumable products.  Therefore, if you are having a conversation with friends and the subject of kefir comes up – (and you know it will, because a lengthy kefir conversation is what friendship is made of) – smile, look smart, and for the love of probiotics, don’t ask something silly about what a kefir field looks like.

Not that I ever asked anything like that or made myself sound silly in front of friends during a kefir conversation.  Nor did I ever pronounce the word like “keh-fur” which rhymes with heifer, which makes me think of a cow, which sort of relates because at least kefir is a dairy product. But anyway…

I finally learned what kefir is, and I also learned to love it. Kefir is a probiotic beverage, similar to yogurt, only not quite as thick. This cultured dairy product is excellent for your digestion as it is full of healthy bacteria that can heal the gut. You can drink it plain, and will find that it is rich and tangy. We prefer to drink it in smoothies, blended with lots of frozen fruit to sweeten it up.

Kefir grains are reusable, allowing you make batches and batches of kefir for years and years. But with my busy schedule, I find that keeping up with making sure my kefir grains are alive and healthy is very overwhelming. That’s probably silly, but that’s where I’ve landed.

By the way, kefir grains are not a grain at all, so I don’t know why they are called grains. They are simply little grain sized live bacteria that, when placed in milk, culture the milk so that it becomes kefir. (I am so incredibly unscientific in my explanations.)

Instead of using these grains to make kefir for my family, I have found that using a Powdered Kefir Starter Culture is a much easier way to go. Then I use my homemade kefir to make more kefir. It’s awesome. Here’s how I do it:

Begin with a quart of milk and a packet of Powdered Kefir Starter Culture. I use raw, organic milk, but this it not necessary if you don’t have access to raw milk.

Pour contents of the packet into the milk. This step is so very difficult that I took a picture of it to show you how to do it. ;)

After you have poured the contents of the packet into the milk, it will look like this. Aren’t you glad I took a picture of this for you too?

Okay, that’s all of the obvious pictures I took, even though I’m sure you would have loved pictures of me digging through my drawer for a lid, putting the lid on, and shaking it up furiously.

Oh shucks, I guess I gave away the next steps in your kefir making process. Indeed, you need to put a lid on the jar, shake it up, and leave it on your countertop for about 24 hours – more or less – depending on how long it takes for this to “kefir-fy”. You will know that your kefir has formed once the contents in your jar have thickened. At this point, you can put your kefir in the fridge to chill.

Just a note:  The instructions in the packet are likely to tell you to heat your milk and do a few extra steps beyond what I have told mentioned here. You can do that if you wish. I skip the other steps because I prefer to keep my milk raw, plus I have found that cold milk works just as well as warm milk.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! When using your kefir, keep about one cup at the bottom of your jar. Pour this cup of kefir into a quart or half gallon of milk, leave it on the counter for 24 (give or take) hours, and allow the milk to thicken into cultured kefir.

Isn’t that cool?  You use your kefir to make more kefir. Therefore, your kefir starter packet will make eight or more batches of kefir! So easy!!

P.S. I just did a little internet research and see that another way to pronounce kefir is {keh-FEER}. I think that sounds a little funny, but what do I know? I’m the one who thought kefir grains grew in fields. ;)

Ever made kefir? How do you pronounce it?

Make Your Own Kefir – a Giveaway!

Kefir is a wonderful, delicious, and incredibly healthy probiotic drink. It only takes a few minutes of work to prepare. In fact, I made some this morning and was finished within about a minute and a half. In a few hours, we’ll have super healthy kefir to use in smoothies!

There are different ways to make kefir, all of which are easy. If you use “kefir grains”, you will save money in the long run. However, I have found that my busy schedule limits my ability to keep up with my kefir grains. This may be a bit of a cop-out, but this is where I’ve landed at this point.

Instead, I use powdered kefir mix to make jars of kefir. It is still very economical to make kefir this way, and wow is it tasty! I will be sharing a tutorial on how I do this next week. In the meantime, would you like to win a Kefir Starter Culture from Cultures for Health?

I’ve been a customer and affiliate with Cultures for Health for several years, and I completely trust their products and knowledge. Their prices and shipping costs are extremely reasonable. And the buttermilk and kefir I make with their starters are delicious!

Make Kefir at HomeToday, Cultures for Health is giving away three Body Ecology Kefir Starter Cultures. To enter this giveaway, you must click here and sign up on the Cultures for Health site. In doing so, not only will you be entered in this giveaway, you’ll also be able to download a free Kefir Recipe eBook!

I am very excited about the thought of many of you making kefir at home to offer your family a wonderful, pro-biotic beverage. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to drink it straight if you don’t want to. Add some fruit to it and make smoothies – your family will think you gave them ice cream.)  ;)

We’ll draw three random winners on Monday, June 4. Please watch for a post stating the winners as you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen.

And stay tuned for a tutorial on making kefir – it’s much easier than you think!

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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Make Your Own Cultured Buttermilk, Yogurt and Kefir (a Giveaway!)

I love how much money it saves and how easy it is to make your own cultured dairy products! It really is as simple as putting the live culture into the milk and walking away. (Well, you do want to put the lid on first.)  Here are my posts which explain how to make buttermilk, how to make yogurt and how to make kefir. You can do this!!

Once you’ve made a batch of any or all of the above, all you have to do to make subsequent batches is to pour the tail end of the previous batch into your fresh milk and start the process all over again. It’s easy, it saves money and it is oh so healthy! These cultured dairy products are so good for your digestion. Mmm, and yummy too!

To give you a little motivation, in case you’ve been wanting to start making your own cultured dairy products…Cultures for Health is offering to give one of you a nice package of a Traditional Yogurt Starter, a package of Milk Kefir Grains and a Buttermilk Starter.  Remember, once you have the starter, as long as you keep your kefir grains alive and save the tail end of your batches of buttermilk and yogurt, you can keep making more and more batches of these delicious dairy products! 

Cultures for Health is a site I fully trust for purchasing culture starters. They know what they’re doing, they are very reasonably priced and their shipping is a flat $3.99!! This is an excellent company to work with and I love their products. By the way, they’ve got more than just dairy cultures at Cultures for Health…be sure to check out all of their products!

Okay…interested in winning this prize package of  from Cultures for Health? This giveaway is just a little bit different than our usual giveaways.  This time, to enter you need to head over to this page on the Cultures for Health site. You can sign up right there, plus receive their free ebook full of Kefir Recipes by signing up!!

I’ll draw a random winner from all entries over at Cultures for Health on Monday, February 28.