When folks start getting into Traditional Cooking, learning to ferment foods through a process called lacto-fermentation is a basic skill that must be mastered. Lacto-fermented foods are rich in enzymes as well as beneficial bacteria.
Think of lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickles as “super-raw” foods; the enzymes in lacto-fermented foods more than compensate for the enzymes lost in the foods that are cooked when consumed with a meal.
Lactic acid is what is responsible for the magic of lacto-fermentation; it preserves food by inhibiting putrefying bacteria. This organic acid is produced by a beneficial bacterium present on the surface of all plants and animals – even our own skin!
Traditional cuisines from around the world prized lacto-fermented foods and beverages for their medicinal properties as well as delicious taste. Most traditional cuisines included at least one fermented food or beverage with every meal, which worked to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
When embarking on the adventure of lacto-fermentation for the first time, a basic ingredient required by many recipes is liquid whey.
Liquid whey serves as an inoculant and so is of critical value in fermenting vegetables, fruit chutneys and beverages; having some on hand is of primarily importance when incorporating these traditional methods into your routine.
Whey must be homemade and can be easily made by straining the clear liquid from plain yogurt, kefir, or clabbered raw milk through a dishtowel into a bowl. Powdered whey cannot be used as a substitute as whey is very fragile and its qualities are ruined when it is dried or powdered.
Tips for Getting Raw Milk to Clabber
Most folks try making whey for the first time from clabbered raw milk as you get a ton of whey this way and since whey lasts 6 months in the refrigerator, it makes sense to make large batches at a time.
What if you have trouble getting your raw milk to clabber? I get this question often, so here are a couple of suggestions to get that process rolling more quickly:
- When attempting to clabber raw milk, it is best to use milk that is a week old or more. Keep it at room temperature on the kitchen counter and don’t try to clabber in the refrigerator.
- Be prepared for a long wait if attempting to clabber extremely fresh, raw milk. It can take quite some time, maybe even a week or more for the curds and whey to separate.
- If all you have is fresh raw milk to clabber and you don’t have time to wait, try adding a few drops of lemon juice or a TBL of plain yogurt to the milk, shake it up and leave it on the counter. This should speed up the process considerably.
Once you’ve got a big jar of liquid whey ready to go from clabbering your first batch of raw milk, the world of lacto-fermentation is truly your oyster!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist