Monthly Archives: October 2013

Kombucha: good or bad?

When I first began brewing Kombucha, I was surrounded by lovers of the beverage. I very rarely heard any negative opinions of the drink until I returned to school after the summer and faced a hoard of Kombcha skeptics. I completely understand some people’s hesitation in consuming live cultures and there’s those who hate the taste; I confirm, it’s not for everyone. However, many of the claims I hear (good and bad) are based on unsupported claims. A kombucha lover named Michael Roussin took it upon himself to test over 1,000 samples of kombucha using a professional lab. A quick summary of some of the results that address common kombucha claims is provided in the link below.

http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/03/25/kombucha-myths-vs-truths/

In short, I drink kombucha because I like it. I think it tastes great and it’s a fun hobby to experiment with. If it throws good bacteria my way in the process, woohoo! If not, ah well, it’s still a tasty treat and I’ll keep drinking it.

Krazy For Kombucha

9 days ago I began my 6th batch of Kombucha. I’ve tried to experiment as much as possible from batch to batch (different types of teas, durations of fermentation and flavorings). To begin, I used my original SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Although you can make your own SCOBY, I acquired my first from a fellow Kombucha brewing friend. The amazing thing about SCOBYs is that with each batch you brew, a new one is formed. In the picture below, my original SCOBY is on the right and it’s spawn on the left. BEWARE of unhealthy SCOBYs. There aren’t many ways to “poison” yourself with your brew, however using a tainted SCOBY can make you really sick. Signs of a bad SCOBY are black spots, white mold speckles and dryness.

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Following the below recipe, I made a little less than a half gallon of Kombucha. Here’s my first piece of advice: The first few times I made Kombucha I used black tea, which is the more common tea. The past couple of brews I’ve been experimenting with green tea. The taste is noticeably different, and for those who shy away from the strong flavor of Kombucha, it’s the way to go. The problem I’ve found is that green tea carbonates much less and that’s my favorite part of the drink!

Ingredients:
2 quarts water, filtered
4 organic black tea bags
¾ cup white granulated sugar
½ cup kombucha from the last batch
1 SCOBY

Directions:

  1. Boil a quart of filtered water.
  2. Add 4 tea bags and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in ¾ cup of sugar and let cool.
  4. Pour tea into a half-gallon glass canning jar and then fill the jar with cool filtered water.
  5. Add the SCOBY and ½ cup of kombucha from the last batch as a starter. (You can use store-bought kombucha the first time.)
  6. Cover jar with a muslin cloth or paper towel and secure it with a rubber band or the canning jar ring.
  7. Let it sit undisturbed in a dark place for about 5-10 days. The longer it sits, the less sweet it will be. I usually let it sit for 9 full days.

After your batch has been sitting for its fermentation period, it’s time to bottle! When making smaller batches, I use the swing top bottles pictured below. While glass is preferable, anything that can make a tight seal will work. If using old soda bottles or anything of the sort, be sure to wash thoroughly prior to filling with your brew, as contamination can lead to disturbances in the fermentation process and harm your SCOBY.

Once you’re bottling, you can choose to flavor your Kombucha with anything you’d like. My go to is a mash of grapes. This batch, I chose to use honey and powdered ginger. I used about a tsp of honey and 1/4 tsp of ginger. My next piece of advice: attempt to dissolve the ginger in water or a bit of your Kombucha prior to bottling. I had an issue with the powder chunking and settling to the bottom of the bottle. Regardless, it does taste phenomenal!

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After bottling, throw your brew in the fridge. In about 5 days you’ll have a bubbly, delicious treat awaiting you.

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Happy homesteading!

An Introduction to Homesteading

Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several happy homesteaders. Some, on a large scale, with the ultimate goal of total self-sufficiency. Others, experiment on a smaller scale with pickling, home gardens and canning. Regardless of your level of homesteading intensity, I am convinced it has several benefits.

First, the amount you save from a DIY lifestyle is remarkable. Although initial costs may seem high, over time, you definitely end up with a nice pile of savings. Besides its cost effectiveness, homesteading allows you to be creative in reusing materials and recycling the things you’ve acquired. My friends have started referring to me as the “bottle lady” because while they see empty glass bottles as things to put in their recycling bin, I see them as potential Kombucha vessels.

Best of all, homesteading is a possibility almost anywhere! It’s not necessary to have acres of backyard space, you can increase your self-sufficiency in the largest of cities. Most of my future experiments will likely take place in my dorm room.

Whatever your future homesteading entails, I hope my trials and tribulations both guide you in the right direction and allow you to avoid any mistakes I make (I’m sure there will be a few).

Happy homesteading!