Monday, February 4, 2013

Coming Soon

No, I have not forgotten about this blog. :P Yes, I still intend to do it. Right now is just not the busiest time for gardening etc. so I don't have as much to share as I will in the next few months, Lord willing.

However, I will be getting some brand new, fresh kefir  grains within the next couple of days and I plan on that being the next post here.

So stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Step by Step Kombucha

So, first post here and I haven't even written what this blog is all about. I'll get to that later. First...I'll test you. If you survive this post you can survive just about anything else I'll blog about. If you don't survive it...well...sorry and don't say I didn't warn you.
Kombucha, first of "brewed" but it has NO alcohol. Just thought I'd get that out in the open. Next, it's not brewed in normal sense. It's a fermented beverage which means it sits in a cabinet for 7-10 days and gets older and older while it grows what's called a Scoby on top.
It's a strange thing...but so is all other living food and, if you let yourself get past most of it, it can be quite fascinating.
Kombucha tea is certainly an acquired taste, but is very good for you. It starts with a "mushroom" that comes from old, old Russia. If you care to know more about the history/benefits of it, here's an article on it: Kombucha
Here's a step by step on how it's done. Today, I made 4 1/2 gallons of it, then started a whole new batch, so I'll go in the order I did it in...which is backwards if you're just starting out since you won't have a batch to start with, but if you're looking for instructions on how to do it, this will still work.
The first thing to make sure of is that all of your cookware and work space, along with your hands are very clean. 

This is a Scoby. Not too pretty, eh? Well, it feels really cool if you're the kind of girl I am who has always been fascinated by textures. It's a bit slimy, but sooooft and squishy. I really like it, actually. But I don't go around playing with it.

This is a jar of already brewed Kombucha. As you can see, there is a scoby sitting on top of the tea...that's how it works, see. You put a scoby into the tea and while it brews, a whole new scoby grows on top. Strange? Very. Scary? A bit. Neat? Totally can be. (This jar looks pretty nasty, but it hasn't been strained it gets prettier.)

The first step to the process is removing all of the scobies out of the jars and putting them in another one, then poor a good amount of Kombucha tea over them. They'll be fine like that until we're ready to use them in a minute.

After that, we take our jars of fresh Kombucha and strain it. I use a fine cheese cloth and just poor it through that into a new, clean jar.

As you can see, there's a bunch of gunk in the that's why we strain it. Don't worry. None of this ends up in the stuff you drink.

These are my old scobies. You can use them over and over and over and over...I got rid of these though, because they'd been in a batch that brewed for too long and I just didn't like the look of them. Plus, I had plenty of fresh scobies. If you want to get rid of scobies, you can give them away, throw them away or put them in your garden.

Once you're all done straining and capping the new sure to have a good lid for your scobies since they'll be sitting out a while and you don't want anything to get to them.

As you can see here, the tea is just slightly carbonated.

This is the batch I did today. When warn, the tea will taste much like vinegar, but after it gets cold it's similar to a wine of sorts in flavor.
(BELOW: How you would start with your first ever batch of Kombucha.)

Now it's time to start the fresh batch. I have come up with how I like to make mine and the proportions, etc. I have found to work/taste best. For mine, I use 2/3 of a cup of sugar per half gallon. Take the sugar (It must be sugar...honey will not work and neither will any other sweetener. You can use organic, but I just use good ol' cheap white, granulated sugar.) and put it in a half gallon jar. Then poor boiling water over it just to the point that it covers it.
Then, swish that around in the jar until the sugar is completely and the water is clear. 

Like this.

After that, add four bags of black tea. (I'm using an organic black tea that my Mom found on sale in bulk. If you can get your tea bags in bulk, it will save you a lot of money. You'll go through a lot of tea.)

Add a little bit more boiling water to bring the water back up in temperature and allow the tea to brew. (I usually wait about twenty minutes.)

Here you can see Kombucha in almost every stage of the process.

Once the tea has brewed, add cold water to the jars, but do not fill them all the way. You're going to need space to add the scoby and Kombucha or Vinegar. Remove the tea bags.
Since I have had Kombucha going for quite a while, I have plenty to do this next step, but if you're doing your first batch, you can use vinager instead. The first batch will taste a bit different, but once you get it going and can use the tea instead, it will be much better. So, take the tea out of the jar that held your scobies.

And poor about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup into your brewed, sweet tea.

Next, as long as your tea is about room temperature, take a scoby and gently put it into your tea.

As you can see, the scoby may float at the top, in the middle or near the bottom. Any of these are fine.

The next step is to cover the tea for the brewing process. I used the round, ruffly coffee filter and secured them with a rubber band. Make sure the seal is tight to keep the bugs out. Sugary tea will attract them, but it will be fine so long as your seal is secure.

After all of your jars are covered, place them in a dark are where they can be left undisturbed for the next 7-10 days. I use a cabinet in my kitchen, but you can sit them out on the counter if you have something to cover them with. It's also important to make sure that your tea stays at about room temperature (roughly 65-70 degrees)

Keep the tea safe and still for the next week or so. I like it best at 7 days, but some may prefer it stronger. Once that's done, you can pull them down and see that you now have 2 scobies since you have your old one and the new one that has grown on top. This means you can make twice the tea as last time, using each scoby in its own jar. is not easy to take picture with one hand and do all of that in the other. :P