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Four Healthy Food Products Made From Cultured Milk



Food products made from cultured milk have been consumed for many centuries and have remained popular to this day.  The ingredients and processes used are somewhat different and the finished products vary in taste and texture. Following is a listing of some of the more popular products made from cultured milk, some facts about their origin and the process by which they are made.

1. Yogurt

Some researchers have estimated that the making of yogurt started with the nomadic tribes of Turkey.  Others have claimed that it had its beginnings in the Balkans.  Written records suggest that the people living in the Middle East used yogurt to administer to those with stomach, intestinal, and liver ailments. Today yogurt is very popular in most places around the world, and is the most popular cultured milk product in the United States.


Making yogurt at home is easy.  Use the milk from grass-fed organic cows. Heat the milk slowly to 180 degrees and then cool to 110 degrees. Add some prepared yogurt, stir and pour into glass jars. Dry in warm oven, which has been turned off.  It can also be warmed in a dehydrator. Warming time varies from 8-20 hours.  Put jars into refrigerator.

2. Crème Fraiche:

It is known to have originated in Normandy, France. Probably it is the particular quality of the grass that is eaten by the local cows there which produces the exceptionally tasty milk. For many years it was principally a product of France, but now is sold in specialty stores throughout Europe and the U.S.  There are also many good homemade recipes.

Crème Fraiche is popularly known as European style sour cream.  It is made from high quality cream with a small amount of whole-milk buttermilk added.  The French are famous for using it in delicious sauces and soups. Crème Fraiche is a bit different from our sour cream – it contains 28% butterfat and is less sour than most sour creams. It works well for cooking as it doesn’t curdle. 

3. Kefir:

This fermented drink is thought to have originated in the Caucasus Mountains.  In ancient times the milk and kefir grain were put in a skin pouch and hung in the doorway.  As people passed in and out, they would punch or kick it to keep the fermentation process going.  It has traditionally been made in homes, but can now be found in health food stores.  People who live in Russia, northern Europe and Eastern Europe are fond of this drink.

Kefir is a fermented drink that is made from the milk of goats, sheep or cows.  Kefir grains, which are composed of bacteria and yeast, are added to fresh milk When the kefir has fermented, it becomes a refreshing drink, similar to thin yogurt.  This drink is highly acidic, somewhat bubbly and has low alcohol content.  A small amount of kefir must be saved to add to the next batch.  It has traditionally been made in homes, but can now be found in health food stores. For those who don’t like the taste, sweeteners and fruit can be added and blended into a smoothie. 

4. Kumis:

Unlike other fermented dairy products, kumis is made from mare’s milk.  It’s still commonly used in Central Asia, and by Baltic and Hungarian tribes.  Historical records indicate that Marco Polo thought kumis was quite a refreshing drink. It’s a very popular drink with the Russians.

When making kumis you need to use a liquid starter to begin a batch of kumis.  Mare’s milk has more sugar than cow’s milk, so in the fermented form, it is more alcoholic.  Since there is a limited supply of mare’s milk available, commercially prepared kumis is made from cow’s milk.  Sugar is added to make it more like traditional kumis.  Kumis has a light and somewhat sour flavor with a bit of a bite to it due to the alcohol content.  It is served chilled.  In the West, kumis has been touted as the “milk champagne.”

Scientific studies show that kumis drink, kefir, crème Fraiche and yogurt all have similar health benefits.  They aid in the digestion for those who are lactose intolerant, and help with digestion of all foods. Enzymes in the cultured products aid in the absorption of calcium and vitamins B and C.

Fermented products using milk have been used for centuries and survive to this day.  The four milk foods that are discussed here are made by different processes, and they have different qualities, tastes and textures. Health benefits are present in them all.



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