Lesson 1: At Home Kombucha

It’s easy for me to say that making kombucha is sooooooo easy and everyone should do it. In fact, it’s downright sinful how simple it is to do but that doesn’t mean you have to feel obligated to make it yourself. There are plenty of people who enjoy kombucha but choose to purchase it from reputable businesses. However, if you’re curious about the ins and outs of how to make kombucha or just what exactly happens behind the scenes here’s a wee peek at what I do every week to prepare this fizzy delight of a beverage.

 

Many moons ago, about 5 years worth to be exact, a close family friend of mine introduced me to kombucha. It made zero sense to me by the way —- how the heck was she making a fizzy drink at home? Didn’t you need big commercial machines to create carbonation? Wouldn’t fermenting at home make you sick? In all honesty, when I drank my first batch of kombucha I was waiting to see what would happen, would I get a sudden case of gut rot that would render me incapacitated until the end of time????

Obviously, that didn’t happen….if it did, I would have been promptly scared away from ever fermenting anything again.

Long story short, I never got sick or had any sort of tummy upsets. I actually noticed that after a couple months of drinking kombucha that my skin cleared up, I lost a few pounds, and I became less gassy from foods that previously would give me some trouble.

Hmmm, interesting…..

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I did some research and found some great resources on fermenting and it’s health benefits from books like Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Both of these books provided me with the confidence and instructions to really get my fermenting foot in the door and now I’ve created tons of batches of fermented vegetables, fruit, drinks, and sourdough.

You see the thang about fermenting is that it’s been around for a very long time. How else were our woolly mammoth chasing ancestors supposed to preserve their harvests over the seasons without some sort of divine intervention in the form of food preservation? —-this is an extreme example, really though, who knows if there was a fermenting method that was being used back then?

In comes fermenting, it’s hard to give a definitive answer as to when exactly fermentation first was created, apparently, it was proven by a dude named Louis Pasteur in 1850 that fermentation was caused by living organisms —smart guy, he also discovered the principles of vaccination and pasteurization. Kombucha has reportedly been a beverage of choice for many civilizations as early as 220 BC which is pretty mind-boggling.

The term probiotic is thrown around in advertisements like handfuls of dollar store confetti at a shotgun wedding without saying what that term really means. We all have bacteria in our guts, that’s just how it is, this bacteria is beneficial to our whole body health and provides the nourishment our bodies need to perform at its best level. Probiotics are good bacteria that are ingested by us and increase the level of beneficial bacteria in our guts, prebiotics, on the other hand, is nourishment for the good bacteria that are already in our guts.

Both probiotics and prebiotics are an important part of our digestive health and should be consumed regularly to keep our tummies happy and thriving.

 

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Black/Green Tea Kombucha

Ingredients

1 SCOBY —this can be purchased online, I highly recommend culturemother.ca for in Canada purchases, I’ve bought many of her cultures and they’ve always turned out beautifully, OR if you know somebody who is brewing kombucha ask them for a piece of theirs.

2-3 cups of starter liquid —always take starter liquid from the top of the brewing vessel as opposed to the bottom because the top of the brew will contain the strongest part of the brew since it is closest to the SCOBY.

Filtered water —no tap water! there are too many minerals and chemicals in tap water, such as, chlorine and fluoride that will mess up your brew.

Sugar —this can be the crappy white table sugar or organic cane sugar. Don’t use sugar alternatives or honey, honey can be used in a different type of kombucha that I will talk about later on down the road…

Tea —I use a black and green tea combo, 3 black tea bags and 3 green tea bags. Feel free to either use straight black or straight green, white teas work too! Don’t use overly oiled/flavoured teas, earl grey and herbal teas, for example, won’t work.

Apple Cider Vinegar —this isn’t an additive to the kombucha itself, I use it to swish around my brewing vessel and bottles as a bit of a sterilizing process I suppose….this is how I was taught when I first started brewing…I don’t know if it actually sterilizes or not lol to each their own

Brewing vessel —I bought a large glass cookie jar (2 Gallon) from Walmart

12 16 oz Swing top bottles —I’ve tried doing an F2 in mason jars, they just don’t produce the amounts of fizz that I like though. You can use recycled glass or plastic bottles too as long as they have a tight fitting lid.

Large Stock Pot —I was given one by my mother in law, I’m unsure what size it is? Probably around 3 gallons. You won’t need one this large though, a 2-gallon pot should be sufficient.

Cloth/dishrag —this is for covering the top of your brewing vessel. Don’t use cheesecloth, as this will allow fruit flies and other debris to get inside your jar.

Rubber bands —simply for securing the cloth in place over top of the brewing vessel

***We’ve started doing a continuous brewing method that works really well for us, I’ll make a blog post later on explaining this style of brewing if anyone is curious***

Instructions

If this is your very first batch of kombucha, everything does seem complicated I know, I have faith in you though! Just give it a couple of tries and you’ll be a pro in no time!

1.Clean out the brewing vessel with hot soapy water, rinse well. Optional, swish around some apple cider vinegar in the bottles and vessel then dump out.

2. Heat up around 1/2 gallon of water just to boiling, add in your tea bags and allow to steep for 10-15 mins. Add sugar and remove tea bags.

3. Pour another gallon of filtered water into the pot and stir.

4. Pour the sweet tea mixture into the clean brewing vessel, pour in the 2-3 cups of starter tea and SCOBY. The SCOBY will either float or sink, doesn’t matter which.

5. Secure the cloth over the top of the vessel and place in a warm dark area such as a pantry. Allow it to sit for 1-2 weeks. Taste test after 1 week by lightly pushing down on the edge of the SCOBY and using a straw or gently dipping in a small cup. If you prefer a more sour tasting kombucha, allow it to sit for a longer period of time, we always do 2 weeks.

I really enjoy a book called The Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum & Alex LaGory, it has TONS of information on brewing kombucha and everything that can be made from it —facial cleansers, toners, salad dressings, kombucha floats, you name it!!

After the 2 weeks of brewing, the fun part starts πŸ™‚ Decant the brewed kombucha into your clean bottles, REMEMBER to save 2-3 cups of starter liquid when you first remove your SCOBY! Place the SCOBY in a glass bowl with the starter liquid and cover with a cloth. Get creative with flavourings! Below is a list of some kid-friendly flavours that my whole family enjoys πŸ˜€

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Kombucha Flavourings

These recipes make enough for the 12 16 oz swing top bottles that I use for each batch of kombucha.

Blueberry Mint

1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (smash up the blueberries if fresh and then warm them up)

12 mint leaves

24 dried hibiscus flower petals

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger cut into 12 stick pieces

6 tsp of sugar

Warm up the blueberries either in the microwave or on the stove in a small pot on medium-low heat until a thick syrup consistency is reached. Allow to cool to room temperature. In each bottle place 1-2 tsp of the blueberry puree, 1 mint leaf, 1 piece of ginger, 2 dried hibiscus flower petals, and 1/2 tsp of sugar.

Allow to sit out at room temperature for an additional 2-6 days. Test a bottle of kombucha after 2 days, if it’s really fizzy then place all the bottles in the fridge and allow to chill. Once the kombucha is chilled in the fridge it tames the carbonation. If it isn’t fizzy yet, allow it to sit out for another 1-3 days. Just remember to keep testing it regularly!

Apple Pie

This is my husbands favourite!

1 apple sliced into stick pieces

Cinnamon sticks —I crush these with a meat mallet in a bag, if you use full-size cinnamon sticks they swell up in the bottle and are difficult to remove! Learned this one the hard way!! lol, Crush up enough to have 2-3 pieces in each bottle.

1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger cut into 12 stick pieces

6 tsp of sugar

 

No heating up required for this recipe! Place 2-3 pieces of apple into each bottle, along with 2-3 pieces of crushed cinnamon stick and 1/2 tsp of sugar.

Allow to sit out at room temperature for an additional 2-6 days. Test a bottle of kombucha after 2 days, if it’s really fizzy then place all the bottles in the fridge and allow to chill. Once the kombucha is chilled in the fridge it tames the carbonation. If it isn’t fizzy yet, allow it to sit out for another 1-3 days. Just remember to keep testing it regularly!

Ginger Ale

This is the simplest recipe to try! Really not much to it, it’s the first one that I ever made πŸ™‚ Sometimes it’s the simple recipes that the kids like the most.

2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger cut into stick pieces, enough for 2-3 pieces for each bottle

6 tsp sugar

Again, no heating required! Place 2-3 pieces of ginger in each bottle along with 1/2 tsp of sugar.

Allow to sit out at room temperature for an additional 2-6 days. Test a bottle of kombucha after 2 days, if it’s really fizzy then place all the bottles in the fridge and allow to chill. Once the kombucha is chilled in the fridge it tames the carbonation. If it isn’t fizzy yet, allow it to sit out for another 1-3 days. Just remember to keep testing it regularly!

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This is the brewing vessel that we use for our continuous brew kombucha πŸ™‚ It’s nice to have a nozzle on the vessel, as opposed to ladling out all of the booch from a glass cookie jar. Both work fine though!

As you can see, the flavouring part of making kombucha is very easy and you can be as creative as you want, even herbs, spices, and vegetables make really yummy kombucha! If you have any question please let me know! This was a really long-winded blog post and hopefully I was clear on the method that we use here at home!

 

Thanks for stopping by! Onward to Lesson 2….wtf is shrub??

 

Light and Love,

jaz xo

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