Crunchy granola, hippy, greenie, health-nut stuff I'm doing

"You're so weird Mum. You have little potions and pots of stuff everywhere in this kitchen."

My 13 year old daughter said this to me the other day. She was talking about my latest interest in home cultures. But there are a few other weird little experimental home-brew kinds of things I'm doing at the moment.

1. Water kefir

These are 'grains' that eat sugar and produce good probiotic bacteria. I'm fermenting juice and water to have a handy, immune-system-restoring source of probiotics. Just so you know, water kefir grains in apple juice make it taste like apple cider. Yummy. Leave it too long and you have what tastes a bit like apple cider vinegar.

2. Home made ginger beer

Photo: Gavin Krebs - while I'm on the subject of starter cultures, I'm also growing ginger beer.

I'm culturing my own 'mother' for  ginger beer made the old fashioned way. It's fizzy and scrumptious. I'm avoiding the glass bottle explosions by using plastic containers.

3. Lactose free yoghurt. 

This is for the children who love yoghurt but who can't eat it from the shop because they can't tolerate the lactose in the milk. So far all I've successfully made is cottage cheese but apparently that's because I put in too much starter. I'm using lactose-free milk with regular yogurt for a starter.

4. Sourdough bread

Photo: This is the glass jar. At the beginning I left it open but now I keep a loose lid on it.There is really nothing better than sourdough with fresh butter (no, I'm not dairy free) and a scrape of strawberry jam for breakfast. Apart from a green smoothie, of course. But I have both, so I'm very happy.

5. Shampoo free hair

This isn't a culture, but it is an experiment. Apparently if you don't use shampoo on your hair for six weeks the oils in your hair self-regulate so that your hair doesn't get greasy any more. I've wanted to do this for years as I'm always keen to save money in any possible way, but I've been put off by the prospect of 6 weeks of icky hair. Last week, thought, I read that if you wash it for the six weeks using bicarb of soda followed by a vinegar rinse it still looks clean even while you wait for the oils to come back in. So this is day one of bicarb/vinegar hair. I'll keep you posted.