Tools for Cultivating a Healthy Gut!
Culturing Dairy and its Role in Gut Health

Monica Corrado, Simply Being Well
Saturday, September 8, 2018

What is “Cultured” Dairy?

Cultured Dairy is milk or cream that has been cultured. That is, to add and/or encourage the growth of lactic acid producing bacteria (and sometimes lactic acid producing yeast) in liquid milk or cream. Examples of “cultured” dairy are:

• yogurt
• cultured cream (aka “crème fraiche)
• sour(ed) cream—RAW cream that was allowed to sour (do not use pasteurized cream, it can make you very sick)
• cultured butter
• kefir.

Why Culture Dairy?

Culturing dairy makes it easier to digest. It also does the most important thing for the GAPS Diet, which is to break down lactose, a milk sugar. (Remember that all sugar will feed pathogenic bacteria, and the GAPS diet means to starve them.) Other benefits of culturing dairy?

  • adds beneficial bacteria to the gut
  • helps to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in throughout the intestine
  • contributes soothing lactic acid to the digestive tract
  • increases live enzymes
  • delivers the very important mineral calcium in a bioavailable way
  • helps with more efficient digestion
  • boosts immune function

What if there is an allergy or sensitivity to dairy?
Remember, a food allergy of any type means that the gut needs healing. The GAPS diet is meant to heal your gut, and thus, clear food allergies. If you suspect an allergy or sensitivity to a particular food, do a sensitivity test before introducing it into your diet.

Sensitivity test:
Place a drop of the food in question (mash solid food with water) on the inside of the wrist at bedtime. Let the drop dry on the skin. In the morning check the spot. If there is a red reaction, avoid the food for a few weeks (2 or more) and then try again. If there is no reaction, you may introduce the food gradually starting with a very small amount.

Dairy introduction protocol:
For those who have shown an allergy to dairy products on the skin sensitivity test, or for those who are on Full GAPS but did not do the Intro Diet, there is a certain way to introduce dairy into the diet. See the Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ Diet or Cooking Techniques for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome™ Diet, Part II: Culturing Dairy, for details.

PLEASE NOTE: Cultured dairy products are powerful foods. They CAN provoke a detoxification reaction if you are not used to eating or drinking them. As always, slow and steady wins this healing journey.

A few notes about dairy and constipation:

  • If you are prone to constipation, stick with high fat dairy, such as sour cream, ghee, and butter. High protein dairy products (yogurt, whey, kefir and cheese) will aggravate it.
  • If you are prone to diarrhea, introduce whey from dripping your homemade yogurt (1 teaspoon per day for 1-5 days, then increase to 2 teaspoons per day and so on.)

When Culturing Dairy: To heat or not to heat?

If you are using pasteurized milk or cream, you MUST HEAT to 180 ° F. and allow to cool to about 110 ° F prior to culturing.
If you are using raw milk or cream, you may heat to 110 ° F, and then culture.

Culturing Dairy: The Techniques

  1. Use a commercial starter—that is, for yogurt, a commercial-store bought- yogurt. For cultured cream (crème fraiche), use a commercial-store bought-crème fraiche. OR
  2. Use some from a previous batch that you made (save about ¼ cup for each quart) OR
  3. Use whey dripped from yogurt or kefir OR
  4. Use a starter packet for yogurt or kefir
  5. For kefir, obtain and maintain kefir grains.

NOTE: The more varieties of beneficial bacteria in your diet, the better for you, and the faster you may heal. You are encouraged to culture milk and cream in many different ways in order to accomplish this.

RECIPES: Culturing Dairy GAPS Style
Note: all recipes must be cultured for a minimum of 24 hours


Makes 1 quart

1 quart raw milk OR 1 quart the best quality milk you can find: organic, pasteurized, non- homogenized, whole, grass-fed (not UHT)
1/3 cup yogurt, whey or starter packet

  • If RAW milk, slowly heat milk to 110° F on the stove in a heavy gauge sauce pot. (If pasteurized, slowly heat milk to 180° F, then cool to 110 F.)
  • Place yogurt or whey in thermos. Add heated milk, and close lid swiftly. Hold at this temperature for 24-36 hours to predigest lactose. When yogurt is made, place in glass jar and refrigerate.
  • Alternatively, you may hold it at 105-113° F for 24 hours or more on an electric plate, or in a dehydrator or in a gas stove with pilot light on only.
  • If you use a starter packet, mix the starter with some of the milk first, and place in the thermos. Then add the heated milk to it. Proceed as above.

Crème fraiche—cultured cream

Makes 1 pint, recipe can be doubled

1 pint raw cream OR 1 pint of the best quality heavy cream you can find: organic, pasteurized, non-homogenized, whole, grass-fed (no UHT)
1 T crème fraiche (OR ¼ cup yogurt or whey)

  • Whisk crème fraiche, yogurt or whey into the cream, and leave out on counter for 24 hours or more. (You may choose to heat RAW cream to 110° F. Cream that is heated will tend to firm up more. Raw cream does not have to be heated first. However, if you are using pasteurized cream, heat to 180 F, then cool to 110° F.)
  • Then store in the refrigerator.


Makes 1 pint

1 pint raw cream

  • Leave raw cream out on the counter for 24 hours. This will yield sour cream. Store in the refrigerator.


Makes 1 quart

1 quart raw cream or milk or a combination OR 1 quart of the best quality heavy cream or milk you can find: organic, pasteurized, non-homogenized, whole, grass-fed (no UHT), room temperature best

1/3 cup kefir, 2 T kefir grains, or 1 sachet of starter

  • Stir together and leave for 24 hours on the counter. Cover loosely with a tea towel or cheese cloth, to allow the yeast to breathe. Then refrigerate.
  • If you use kefir GRAINS, strain out the grains and begin again. If you are not going to make kefir every day, place the grains in about 1 cup of raw milk or cream, and store in the refrigerator. Remember to feed your grains with fresh milk once a week until you make kefir again.

Please note: Kefir is made with both bacteria and yeast. It is one of the last cultured foods to be added into the diet for a reason. It can and will initiate a severe detoxification reaction if you start too quickly or with too large a portion. Go slowly with kefir if you have not ever eaten it.

Kefir may be used topically on the skin to clear all sorts of skin disorders! Simply slather it on and cover if necessary, to keep from staining, etc.

For more information about culturing dairy, including an in-depth look at the role of cultured dairy in healing a leaky gut, see my book:
Cooking Techniques for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Part II: Culturing Dairy, available from Selene River Press as an ebook, a print edition, and a pdf download.

See also: Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride,, The Story of Milk, Ron Schmid, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, With Love from Grandmother’s Kitchen: Traditional Cooking Techniques for Well-Being, Monica Corrado, Keith Woodford, Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk

©2018 Monica Corrado                         Simply Well Being, LLC                          All rights reserved.

Author: OGS

Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.