Monday, April 7, 2008

Quickie CSY and Water Purifier Update

Whew, I'm tired, SO tired...

I don't think I'll ever be a 3 in the A.M. sort of person!

Here's a brief update of the two ongoing projects. The Berkey water purification system arrived the other day, to much excitement!

With all of us running different directions, it only got assembled a day or so ago.

We're hoping it's our answer to turning our well water into something drinkable and to use for cooking and washing up, rather than having to buy water from the store. Plus, the filtration system is non-electric, so it could be used anywhere.

The instructions were brief, and if my husband weren't the great guy at putting together gadgets, it would have taken me a while to figure out the diagram and what to put where. It's fairly simple, though, and it suggested priming the filters (which we did) and testing its abilities by adding a few drops of food coloring to the top compartment to see if it all filters out when going through to the bottom compartment, as a test run. We didn't have real food coloring, but we had unsweetened (and very liquid, not syrupy) cranberry juice, so a few drops of that sufficed. The water jug shown below has the colored well water in it, just before being added to the top of the Berkey.

The test glass of water that resulted was sampled by us was crystal clear...BUT...

the sulfur smell, which our well water has very strongly, was still present, though greatly diminished. But still...the tasted is affected by the smell, and it didn't taste completely "pure" to me...I still detected a hint of that rotten egg smell, and I don't want to cook or drink anything that smells like rotten eggs.

An email to the distributor about our sulfur concerns garnered a reply that they had contacted the Berkey company about sulfur, and it was stated that sulfur is a mineral and the filtration devices don't filter out minerals...they leave them in for health reasons.

A quick Google-fest led to a suspicion that we're not dealing with sulfur, in truth, but rather hydrogen sulphide. There are a few ways it can be removed, but we were hoping we'd hit upon a one-size-fits-all solution with the Berkey system without having to get more complicated.

It turns out (boiling this down long story short) that we're going to try the Berkey literature suggestion (pertaining to other situations) of putting 16 drops of Clorox in the full pre-filtered water compartment, and see how it comes out after that (can you believe I'm out of bleach? gahh!) My conjecture is that the bleach drops will kill off whatever's contributing to the hydrogen sulphide gas (that's what it is...a gas) prior to being filtered, and we know the filters already are good for removing chlorine (and a plethora of everything else bad). SO, that's my theory, and we'll try it soon.

J wants to just get a distiller, only we don't want to be electricity-dependent for clean water. Frankly, I hope the bleach drops work. They won't be making it through the filters, and I hope they deal with that awful rotten smell/taste.

On the Caspian Sea Yogurt front, at first I thought I was dealing with an alien life form.

Actually, it's alien to me, and it IS a life form (probiotics and all)...

J loves being a health guinea pig, and he was all "het up" to try scarfing some down...ever since having such a positive with the storebought Kefir taste tests. My problem with the CSY was that my first few attempts at culturing it produced either something akin to a stretchy cottage cheese separated from watery whey, or else a bit too runny and "stringy" product, which seemed very unappealing to me.

J tried the runny product over fruit ,and it was mild and sweet. But I just didn't find it appetizing.

After consulting with the supplier (who is re-shipping us some more Kefir, since that burst in transit inside the package), he told us the CSY is supposed to be thick, not thin, and not to eat it till it thickens. He suggested a few more tries, and also volutarily sent us some more starter in case ours is a dud.

J got really into it, and here is the biggest advantage of the CSY: its ease to make. NO thermometers, heating, cooling, blah blah take the starter, put in a clean glass container, add the correct proportion of milk (any sort and milkfat percentage), cover with a clean cloth and rubberband, and set it aside at room temp for 12 to 14 or so hours. And that's all! to make more you just spoon a bit out for more starter, and the rest is yours to eat. You put the part that's ready to eat into the fridge till you want to eat it, and keep going with the starter bit as long as you want to keep making more.

Here's what went into the jars before filling to within an inch or two of the top with cold milk right from the fridge. Then they go on top of the fridge at room temp to do their yogurt thang.

Well J got all into that, and sterilized some quart jars, and by the time tonight rolled around, he had several QUARTS making. I must say the consistency is improving, but it still looks a bit like melted mozzarella as you pour it out of containers. He likes it plain, but I can't like it too much at the present without some fruit or something mixed in.

He streamlined the process a bit by putting coffee filters over the tops of the jars and screwing jar rings down over them to secure them...worked great! Just leave them overnight and tomorrow he has LOADS of more yogurt than he can possibly eat...but he's working long hours and is planning on taking them for his meals. ALL that...from a couple tablespoons of the initial Caspian Sea Yogurt cool! (if you ever need to stall the process, you can just refrigerate the starter and it stops "working")

Well...yay!! I can't complain about that, and he swears he's feeling a lot better after eating the CSY and the storebought Kefir.

So there's our tale of an update, and now I'm going to get my tired self to bed.

I'm 42, as of Saturday. 42 and 3 in the morning just don't seem to go together as well as 18 and 3 did....ha!


tina f. said...


farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Great minds think a like!!!
We just purchased, and received, our Berkey in the mail the other day. I just haven't had a chance to blog about it :-D
SO FUNNY!! Imagine my surprise!

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...


Robbyn said...

Tina, thanks!!!

Monica, ha! you have to blog about it when you get it up and you have bad smells in your present water? If so, I'd be really interested in knowing if it gets rid of them. It seems to be a great product and I really want to find a way it'll work on all the levels we need it to for some good drinking and cooking water. Congrats on your Berkey!!

Twinville said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

I turn 42 this year actually.
But my clock schedule somehow got reversed in that I can't sleep at night, but can barely pull myself out of bed before 10am!

Robbyn said...

thanks, Twin...42 looks pretty young from this vantage point, eh? I can't believe time passes this quickly! I understand about the sleep habits...someday I hope to be on a "farmer's schedule" sleepwise, but till then, no complaints as long as I get to sleep in now and then on my days off! :)

A Dusty Frame said...

This sounds like what I've been looking for.

What size did you get? And where did you order it from?

Robbyn said...

Hi Lizzie :)

We ordered the Imperial size Berkey, which comes with the Black Berkey filter elements, from

There are other sites that sell the same Berkey (also called Berkefeld) with white ceramic filters rather than the black ones.

Our water comes out pure, but there is still some "sulfur" taste since that is typical of our area. It can only be removed from distillation or chemicals.