Probiotics are a budding segment of the food part of the crowdsourcing world. While most new efforts are focused on pickles, fermented sodas and kombucha, a team of Slovenian Kickstarter veterans are showcasing the wonders of probiotic cheese.
Kefirko Cheese Maker comes on the heels of the successful 2015 launch of Kefirko, a device that makes homemade kefir. Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with special grains that act as a fermenter/starter. The process can be laborious done in a traditional manner. The kefir is extracted from the grains by hanging a cheesecloth-like bag over a shallow bowl, allowing the liquid to separate from the starter. In recent years, this fermented beverage, which originated in the Caucasus Mountains, has grown in popularity with a renewed focus on healthy eating and the role of probiotics.
The team of Marko Borko and Andrej Glažar, with backgrounds in engineering and design, have extended the value of their kefir maker with their new probiotic cheese maker. The new appliance makes probiotic cheese from the kefir created by the Kefiroko or any other store-bought or homemade kefir. Beyond probiotic cheese, consumers can use the cheese maker to create mozzarella, mascarpone other non-probiotic varieties using milk that has been which has to be curdled with rennet or lemon juice.
There is no waste in the process which starts with pouring the kefir into the cheese maker and allowing it to strain into the attached glass bowl. The company says the whey liquid that results from the kefir-to-cheese process I is very rich with proteins, primarily of α-lactalbumin and β-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobine. It also contains vitamins and minerals and a very low level of fat. When whey is derived from kefir, it does not contain lactose, because it is already gone (99 %) during fermentation of kefir.
The length of the fermentation process determines the type of resulting cheese. The company says that fermenting overnight will result in a creamy style cheese while allowing the fermentation to go for one to two days will yield a semi hard cheese. When the cheese reaches the desired taste and consistency, users can flavor it with herbs, spices, oils or roasted vegetables.
The Kefirko Cheese Maker comes with a recipe book which also offers alternative uses for the device which includes tips on how to use the appliance to make tea, iced coffee and even almond milk. The company says it does not know whether the cheese maker will work to create nut-based cheeses, made with pureed soaked and peeled nuts instead of kefir.
As of June 9th, the Slovenian company has exceeded its “all or nothing” goal of $15,000. Some 1,740 backers have contributed more than $91,000. The company’s stretch goals include a larger jar and a spring-loaded lid to enhance the fermentation. At the same time, Borko, Glažar, and their team are introducing a new and improved version of their original kefir maker. According to their Kickstarter site, the new model has an easier-to-grip lid and improved airflow. They also added a Scrapper – a tool for mixing kefir grains during straining to make sure they easily separate from kefir drink. Also, by covering the hole on the Kefirko lid with the Scrapper the straining of kefir also becomes more practical and fast. Depending on pledge amounts backers can get the cheese maker, the newer kefir maker or both products. Delivery of the cheese maker and Kefirko 2 is Dec. 2017.