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Starter Culture FAQ

Question

I WANT TO MAKE SOME CULTURED FOODS, BUT DON’T KNOW HOW. CAN YOU HELP?

We believe the best place to start is with the correct starter. We offer starters specific to the type of foods you want to culture or ferment.

Each box of starter culture includes easy to follow directions. We also have some instructional videos on the product pages. Just scroll down on the Product Description until you see the video, or past the reviews section to the Product Videos link.

Question

DO YOU HAVE ANY STARTERS THAT ARE DAIRY FREE?

Yes! Caldwell’s starter to ferment vegetables doesn’t contain any dairy. Other dairy free starters are the sourdough breads, water kefir grains, and the kombucha scoby. Please note that these starters may have been produced in a facility that also makes dairy starters.

Cabbage

SOME STARTERS USE THE TERM LACTO-FERMENT. ARE YOU SURE THERE ISN’T ANY DAIRY IN THE STARTER?

The word lacto comes from the name lactobacilli, which biologists have given to a broad family of friendly bacteria. Some of these bacteria are specific to milk, such as in yogurt and cheeses; others are specific to vegetables, and these do not contain dairy. They have one characteristic in common: they transform sugars into a beneficial form of lactic acid. During the fermentation process the friendly lactobacilli bacteria break down the sugars to produce a special form of lactic acid that acts as a natural preservative.

Scale

OTHER THAN A PLEASANT SOUR OR TART TASTE, WHY MAKE AND EAT FERMENTED FOODS?

It has been said that up to 85% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut. The entire surface of our digestive system is covered with bacteria. These microbes can be divided into 3 groups: beneficial, transitional and opportunistic flora. Maintaining a healthy colony of beneficial probiotic flora is absolutely essential to good health. Fermented foods help to provide this balance.

Making your own fermented foods is a fun and satisfying way to take charge of your health. You choose the ingredients; veggies from your yard or the farmer’s market, organic flour to make sourdough bread, pastured organic milk and cream for yogurt and milk kefir. Homemade fermented foods are not only good for health; they taste good too.

Thermometer

I’VE HAD MY STARTER IN A CUPBOARD FOR SEVERAL MONTHS. IS IT STILL GOOD?

Most likely it will be fine to use. Below is a general guide on how to store starters.

Kefir grains are dehydrated and can be kept in this state:

  • At room temperature: 12 to 18 months
  • In the refrigerator: 18+ months
  • In the freezer: not recommended

Yogurt starters

  • At room temperature: 3 to 4 months
  • In the refrigerator: 6 to 9 months unopened
  • In the freezer: 12 months unopened

Sourdough starters

  • At room temperature: 12 months
  • In the refrigerator: 12+ months
  • In the freezer: 12+ months

Vegetable starter

  • At room temperature: not recommended
  • In the refrigerator: 6 months
  • In the freezer: 12 months