Attending Our 1st Milk Kefir Workshop (and Tasting!)

Demo 1
Our instructor demonstrating what to do with a finished batch of milk kefir. She is sieving out the precious grains (on the spoon) to be transferred to start a new batch!

After the latest 14-Day Fast, I started ordering and drinking Milk Kefir and Kombucha to repopulate my gastrointestinal system with healthy bacteria and heal the gut lining. My supply came from Bushwick Biotech and each 500ml bottle of grassfed milk kefir costs about $7.33! I started by drinking half a bottle a day but the cost of the beverage made me feel like I was drinking liquid gold (ok, thats an exaggeration but you get my point). In contrast, a litre of grassfed milk like Hokkaido Milk which could probably produce around the same amount of milk kefir costs ~$6.50 (the last time I checked at Cold Storage). Hence I was naturally determined to learn how to make my own milk kefir.

Sure, I could have just bought the grains off of someone online (many people sell them on carousell) and experimented with making them myself but my father (who was also interested) thought it was a better idea to attend a live workshop and skip all the troubleshooting. So after a few days of googling, I chanced upon this one workshop being conducted on a Saturday morning which fit our schedule nicely. 

The workshop was conducted at the apartment of our host/teacher from Belgium – Pascale. We were the earliest and chatted with her while waiting for the other 3 participants to arrive. The class was held in her cosy, spacious and well-ventilated living room overlooking the condominium pool below. She struck us a friendly, jolly and enthusiastic individual. Additionally, we found out she has been practicing and teaching Tai Chi and Qi Gong for many years now. Even winning 2 golds and a 1 silver medal in a recent competition in Hong Kong!

The workshop began with a background intro by Pascale about how she got started with Kefir 2 years ago due to some health issues like thyroid problems. How she started experimenting with different flavors and recipes and eventually got her kids to like kefir too. Then she went on to talk about the following topics:

  1. A brief history of Kefir
  2. What it is
  3. Benefits
  4. Consumption – how to start consuming Kefir to avoid unnecessary ‘complications’ like frequent toilet runs
  5. Conservation – how to store the grains when taking a break from culturing
  6. Production – detailed instructions for producing quality milk kefir
Workshop Handbook
Detailed handbook put together and designed by Pascale, our instructor, herself. It contains information about kefir, its history, benefits and instructions for consumption, production and storage. All recipes included!

We then had a practical session where Pascale showed us various stages of kefir production, how to filter the grains out of a ready batch of kefir and what to do next to get a new batch culturing with the right ratios of grain to milk. She shared with us her tips and tricks and graciously answered all our questions. Then it was tasting time!

In the order I can remember, we tasted her homemade recipes from:

  1. Plain Kefir (before 2nd fermentation)
  2. Plain Kefir (after 2nd fermentation – less sour/acidic)
  3. Kefir Smoothies
    1. Raspberry
    2. Raspberry with Honey
    3. Mango
    4. Chocolate Banana
    5. Strawberry Jam
    6. Coffee
    7. Vanilla
    8. Condensed Milk Vanilla
    9. Pineapple
    10. Apple & Dates
    11. Carrot ‘cake’
Tasting 1
‘Hungry Hands’ 😀

Next, Pascale taught us how to make Kefir cheese and various dips which we got to taste as well:

  1. Kefir Cheese
  2. Whey Lemonade – made with the whey drippings from making kefir cheese
  3. Guacamole Dip
  4. Herb & Garlic Dip
  5. Beetroot Dip
  6. Eggplant Dip
  7. Tuna Kefir Dip
  8. Tzatziki Dip
Tasting 2
Various dips made from Kefir Cheese as well as breadsticks or gluten-free crackers to dip with.

Lastly, she showed us her kefir ice cream she made for her kids and some homemade moisturizing skin creams which are basically a combination of cheese and essential oils. Pascale then helped prepare our kefir grains for transportation and sent us on our way with our goodie bags containing everything we needed to get started culturing. It was like a Kefir Starter Kit.

Goodie Bag
Our ‘Goodie Bag’ from the workshop consisting of a touristy handbag (top), additional glass containers, plastic funnel, strainer and spoon, coffee filter and rubber bands for securing the top of the jar during fermentation, writable label stickers, workshop handbook with recipes and detailed ‘paste-on-your-fridge’ kefir and cheese instructions for convenience.

In Conclusion

I felt the workshop was worth it. We got a first-hand experience learning about kefir making and smoothie, cheese and dip production. Our instructor was very well prepared, experienced and very generous with sharing her kefir making tips, tricks and products. Apart from the recipes, I did not really learn anything new as I already did a ton of research and reading online before the workshop. If anything, the workshop served to reinforce what I already knew and clarify any doubts. However, I could tell the other students were considerably engaged and learnt a great deal about kefir. It certainly was an eye-opener for my dad!

Cost: $100

Duration: 1.5 hours

Venue: Instructor’s apartment

For future workshops you may like to keep track of her FB page: Chi Balance

Alternatively, you can find similar events through this site which lead me to know about the workshop in the first place: allevents.in

Maybe someday my dad and I could conduct a workshop too! Before that… it’s Kefir making time!

1st batch
After 24 hours we have our 1st batch (right) of Milk Kefir! 2nd batch (left) in the making.

 

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