Kombucha you can!


Kombucha. It’s one of those fermented foods I have been dying to try since I first heard about it. Since we are currently stuck in a rental waiting for our house to sell with no gardening to do and no curling to keep us occupied all winter, now seems like the perfect time to explore how to culture this fermented effervescent drink. Two weekends ago at the Peter Anderson festival I picked up this fun, decorated, opaque “water cooler” from Beth Sartin art. The water coolers minus the art are available from a company in Texas called Marshall Pottery. I was under the impression my Kombucha fermentation vessel needed to be opaque, but have since learned you can use a clear glass container as long as it is kept out of direct sunlight. The spout mechanism is all plastic, which is important since you should never have metal in your Kombucha brewing crock. You also want to make sure there is no lead in the glaze used on crock pots. Kombucha is very acidic.

There is a ton of information on the web about the benefits of fermented foods and brewing Kombucha, so I am not going to rehash it all here.  I enjoyed Wellness Mama’s page on continuous brewing, which is what I will be attempting.

Acquiring a “Mother” or scoby ( Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast ) is easy enough, there are a lot out there, online and local. If you know someone I imagine that is the best option for getting your scoby. I just moved and while there were a few local craigslist adds for free scoby, being new in the area I wasn’t ready to go exploring unknown neighborhoods. I ordered my scoby from Backyard Preserves on Amazon. I got 2 scoby for under $10, which is good since my crock holds 2 gallons.

I brewed some sweet tea following the recipe that came with my scoby:

6 tsp organic tea (I used Happy Tummy Tea, but it is better to use black or green tea)
2 cups organic cane sugar (DO NOT USE HONEY)
~ 2 gallons boiling water

I let the tea cool overnight before adding my scoby. HOT TEA will kill your scoby! The scoby came in a little sealed pouch with maybe 1/4 cup of starter fluid. I cut the bags and dumped them directly into my now cool sweet tea. I was reading that my scoby should float, and they are floating, kind of. they were on sale, 2 for 1 essentially, so maybe they have been sealed into their little pouches too long?  I guess these are the dangers of ordering your scoby from an unvetted source.

Now I wait. According to the internet knowledge base, 7-10 days from now I should be able to drain off some kombucha tea and give it a taste test. Since my vessel is so big and my scoby are so little, I think it will take more time, but I can wait.

UPDATE:

My original scoby had the wrong ratio of bacteria to yeast. I was getting something very tart with no tingly bubbles. This might have been due to the origin of the scoby or maybe how I handled my brewing pot or using herbal tea instead of black tea. To remedy this problem I STARVED my kombucha. I let it ferment and did not feed it for a long time, probably a month, I can’t remember, that is how long it was. This was all while we were packing and moving into the new house.  Once things settled down and my kombucha was starved. I removed the scoby (which I added to a frozen fruit smoothie) and strained the kombucha to remove any dead bacteria&yeast that was matted together. Only the few left living remained, survival of the fittest! I added some new sweet tea and let it ferment. It took awhile for the culture to get back to a nice strong culture, but now I have bubbles! The kombucha is now a slightly sweet, effervescent treat.

Additionally, the beautiful brewing vessel began to peel, and I pulled all the paint off the lid and around the top so it would not get in my kombucha. So I recommend buying the original pottery from Texas.

Next on my list to expand my fermented food intake, fermentation crocks from my home state of Ohio

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