Eeps, been away a few days with holiday 'busy'...so I'm going to put in my $.02 on various things I see here:
The cotton bag is nice since it's 'pure'...however you would need to wash it daily after straining, and possibly should 'iron it on really high' to kill off any nasties that might start to grow in between batches, to sterilize it. If you are brewing and straining often, OMG what a PITA..
If you do use it, the metal band should not be an issue. A quick touch of metal isn't going to hurt the grains, sitting in contact for a long time in a strainer of metal, might be.
I found a nylon 'tea strainer' cup that fits perfectly in the lid of a wide mouth mason jar (and stays there hand free, and when stirring the 'curds' to get them to pass through, doesn't move about). I really am liking it, plus even if you over brew your Kefir to reduce lactose, and get REALLY curdy, it makes it silky smooth again with the whey and easier to drink.
A very good thing.
I kinda like the bamboo one on that website. It would wash well, then just let it dry overnight and it's ready the next day.
The nylon bag would be a great thing for making Kefir d' Aqua where you could put either the grains or the fruit in the bag, and SUPER easy and sanitary straining....mmm...might have to get one. I saw a similar thing at a department store for 'washing' nylons and baby things in so you don't lose them in the washing machine or dryer.
The slotted spoon works well, especially if you have nice, big fat grains...but I loose too many babies that way. However, if you have LOTS of grains...it's probably a good thing to let the little ones slip through and go ahead and ingest them. Which reminds me....read a recipe for making 'yogurt Kefir'....
You supposedly take about a Tbs Kefir Grains, and your heated, then cooled milk and give it a whirl in the blender to 'chop up' the grains to make them really small. THEN you innoculate it with your yogurt starter or a 'packet' of starter. Then let it culture as you usually do it. The resulting yogurt is one, super loaded with good bacteria and yeasts, and two, supposedly it sets up REALLY nice from the ground up Kefir. I have not tried this, as I don't have the grains to spare...but Gale, how about giving this a test and letting us know?
I do not remember where I just read this, it was probably on one of the Dom's various sites, and he's got a new 'FAQ' page up and I've not been online too many other places in last few days....so there are more details somewhere out there http://ftp.newave.net.au/~dna/kefir-faq.html
This is his new faq page.
OH, on NT and Vegetarian. I would think the number one way to incorporate NT ideals is in the grain/seed/nut soaking to increase nutritional value and reduce irritants and digestive inhibitors. That's good for Omni, Veg*n, whatever. If you eat grains/seeds/nuts, then this is a good thing...period!
Also, Veg*n's can do fermented vegetables to get that added 'cultural' benefit and if you are an ovo, lacto, then the Kefir or yogurt is a good thing.
Add in a few organic eggs...and really...you are more than half way there. No need to add in any meat, or a ton of meat. It's NOT all about the meat. Meat is a convenient 'powerhouse' source of certain nutritional needs, but if you are a thriving veg*n, and just can't do the meat, don't throw out the rest of the NT stuff because of the meat.
I think if a person's diet was chiefly composed of vegetables and grains, and it's hard enough to get 100% of the nutritional needs for your body even if you do eat meat, then I'd be soaking and fermenting everyday, to make what I did eat as nutritionally packed as possible! Sans the meat or not...I just try to make what I DO eat, as beneficial to my body as possible.
toodles and hugs!