The Versatile Vegan "Cream"

>> Thursday, February 19


(kefir cream strained for 20 minutes or so)

This is the easiest and healthiest way I know to make a good cream substitute for recipes where I want something rich. It is essentially quark, a thickened yogurt I discovered in Switzerland for the first time. The process is incredibly simple, and just takes a little bit of time. If you have a lot of kefir grains, it's a good idea to just make your extra kefir into an extra stockpile of this cream.

For savory things, I tend to prefer using kefir as a base, as it is usually more sour than yogurt. It can even be used plain as a sour cream on potatoes. For sweet sauces or dips, the yogurt is perfect. In baking and cooking, it really doesn't seem to matter. Remember that if you would like to maintain the live bacteria, add the cream after cooking so it doesn't get too hot. Of course, it's not always possible to do that, and the taste and texture will stay great no matter what.

The Versatile Vegan "Cream"

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups soy yogurt or thick soy kefir
  • cheesecloth (or a thin, clean towel)
  • string, and a place to hang it over a
  • bowl to catch the "whey"

Directions:
  1. Make sure everything's very clean before beginning.
  2. Lay the cloth inside the bowl, draped over the edges
  3. Pour all of your yogurt or kefir into the bowl, making sure it all stays inside the cloth.
  4. Gather and life the edges, then tie a strong knot around them so you have a sack.
  5. Loop the string around a hook and let it hang above the bowl.
  6. As the whey drains out, your cream is thickening*. Just remove when you think it's ready and store in a clean container in the fridge!

Notes:
*For most recipes, a few hours is plenty to get it very thick. Sometimes I even leave it for less than one hour. It's totally up to you. For more ideas about kefir "cream" you can visit Dom's Kefir-Making Site, which has a lot of creative recipes for cheese-making and other cool things.

My favorite use for Kefir-cream right now is Vegan Mint Raita.

2 comments:

Liz February 19, 2009 at 9:28 PM  

Verrrrrrry cool! I try ot avoid soy as it doesn't sit too well in my stomach, so I'll definately try this with coconut or rice yogurt. I miss the tang of sour cream and real yogurt so much. I'm curious what kefir grains are? Is it what kefir is made from?

Erin February 20, 2009 at 10:08 AM  

Kefir grains are little symbiotic relationships of yeasts and bacteria, as far as I know. They act together to create a good environment for good bacteria to come in. When the good bacteria come in, they eat other things and create an environment in the milk that lets yet more good bacteria come in and block bad bacteria from entering, which is why it has been used as a milk preservation method for thousands of years. Meanwhile, a delicious sour taste and carbonation develop.

You can purchase grains online, or look for someone offering them in the area-they are impossible to create, and all grains come from one ancient mother-grain, so you will have to get them somewhere to start. If you're interested in learning more about kefir and its various uses, (and checking my description for accuracy!) look at Dom's site: http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

There is a kefir grain yahoo group with people in the states (and all over) offering grains all the time, as well as very useful information: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kefir_making/

For a nice water-kefir recipe, also see: http://you-name-it-free.blogspot.com/2009/01/molasses-water-kefir-from-milk-kefir.html

Enjoy! and hey, where do you get rice yogurt? I've never actually managed to make it, and I'm curious if it's possible to do at home. thanks :) -erin

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