Friday, February 13, 2015

See One, Do One, Teach One

If you have read here for any period of time, then you know since we moved to the homestead we have dappled in many forms of ferments.  We have lacto-fermented a plethora of vegetables, fed sourdough starters, made wine and mead, fallen in love with shrubs, and made beautiful red wine vinegar.  So when I was invited to spend an evening learning how to make kombucha I jumped on the opportunity.  Fermented foods including kombucha, are wonderful for your body by replenishing much needed probiotics.   Our gut needs these good bacteria to metabolize food appropriately and has lost that ability in large part due to how highly processed so many of our foods are now.

There are many flavors and additions (like chia seeds) that can be added to kombucha, yet what I learned last evening, was making a basic green tea kombucha.  I have never been a big fan of green tea, so when I was handed the sample cup was a bit skeptical.  I must say, that THIS is the way for me to enjoy green tea, it was wonderful!  As I wrote this I was patiently waiting for a gallon of distilled water to come to a boil.  Once it reached a boil, I added 1 cup of pure cane sugar.    When the sugar had dissolved, I removed it from the heat, add 6-8 organic green tea bags and let steep for 30 minutes.  Then removed the tea bags, and let the tea come to room temperature, this takes a few hours so be prepared to walk away.  It is strongly recommended not to leave it overnight to cool.

I had hoped that I could substitute some of the lovely honey that we harvested a few weeks ago, but I learned that raw honey having its own good bacterias and yeasts will not compliment, but compete with the scoby.  So what is a scoby anyway?  A scoby is the jellyfish like starter, much like a mother of vinegar, that allows the green tea to ferment into the finished product over 7-10 days.  A scoby can be used multiple times, and also grows a 'baby' that you separate from its mother to add to other jars.  This way you can have different stages of brewing happening at any given time, giving you a continuous supply.

Once the tea has completely cooled divide between two clean half gallon jars to about the shoulders, as with canning you want to leave about an inch of head space, and you need to have room to put the scoby in.  Then with clean hands gently place the scoby slimy side down along with 1/2-1 cup of liquid from the previous batch, into the tea.  Using a piece of cheese cloth or a paper towel and either a rubber band or a mason jar ring, cover the lid while allowing it to breath and ferment. Wrapping the jars in towels assists in both keeping them at a warmer temperature and in a dark place.  Put them in a warm place out of the way, but not in a cupboard, and do not touch them for 7-14 days.  Recommendations from the group last night was that 10 days was the preferred waiting time for many of them.  A great suggested place to put them would be on top of the refrigerator, our refrigerator is built in but we have a giant hutch in our kitchen and I put them up there.

After ten days your kombucha is complete.  Once again, with clean hands, remove the scoby and place it in its own jar to store it, or put it right into another batch.  Cover the scoby with 1/2-1 cup of the kombucha in the jar so that it is covered.  Strain the kombucha from your two half-gallon jars, return the finished product to the jar, place a lid on it and refrigerate.

That is the basic kombucha tea!  Not difficult at all!  There are many other things that you can try from making a scoby hotel, to a second fermentation with fruits or fermenting to carbonation.  Those trials will be for a future post.  So while mine goes into hibernation for the next ten days, I have one you kombucha??  The best way to start is to see one, do one, then teach one!

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