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Baby-sitting the Fil

(Acidophilus vs Buttermilk)

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Finally I could find crème fraiche in my local California food store! Maybe Smetana on a good day, but the true acidophilus is a tougher nut to crack.

Buttermilk is, to a Swede, a weak substitute for the stuff Vikings are made of. Or at least what their common breakfasts are made of. Goes splendidly with my Granola (see separate post)!

Buttermilk is a soured milk that thickens a bit, the true “Fil” (short for the Swedish word for acidophilus) is full of good bacteria.

Acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus), a bacterium found in the mouth, intestine and vagina, is used as a probiotic. Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body. Each type of probiotic supplement — and each strain of each type — can work in different ways. As a supplement, acidophilus is available as capsules, tablets, wafers, powders and a vaginal suppository. In addition to use as a supplement, acidophilus is found in some dairy products, such as yogurt, and is commercially added to many foods.

People commonly take acidophilus to treat a type of vaginal inflammation (bacterial vaginosis) and digestive disorders, as well as to promote the growth of good bacteria.

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Evidence

Research on acidophilus use for specific conditions shows:

Acidophilus products might contain significant differences in composition, which could cause varying results.

There’s growing interest in probiotics such as acidophilus. A balanced diet, including fermented foods such as kefir, might provide you with sufficient ”good” bacteria.

If not in Sweden, where entire walls at the grocers display varieties of yoghurts, kefir, and many other acidophilus products, a starter-kit can be bought on-line, to make your own at home.

I brought some Fil with me to San Francisco, replenished it and cared for it like my newborn. These were the days when only buttermilk was the closest I could come to finding soured milk at the time.

It works like sourdough. You save a starter from the old batch, like ½ cup, and pour it into a container with fresh whole milk. Leave it out on the counter for a couple of days – depending on how warm your kitchen is – until all milk is converted to Fil. Store in fridge.

At the time small starters were shared in the Swedish community, and given as gifts instead of a bottle of wine at dinner gatherings. The problem occurred around the time for the annual trek to the old country. Who would care for the Fil? A network of Swedish women around the San Francisco Bay Area organized to babysit each other’s Fil during vacation times. True story!

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