Thursday, March 24, 2011

You can make that? Kombucha!

I make a lot of stuff at home. Some of it is crazy. Some of it is just plain ordinary. When it comes up that I make a particular thing (i.e. yogurt) most people are awed and think I have some amazing talent or tons of time. Neither is true :) I've just learned a trick here and there, and enjoy going back to the ways of old, home cookin'.  
Because I really believe most things I make "from scratch" are so simple, I've really been wanting to share some of them here on the blog.  Maybe some things will be obvious, maybe some will surprise you. If you try anything yourself, let me know how it goes! If you start with just one thing at a time, you might get hooked. :) My goal is to write a "you can make that?" blog any time I make something that I think might be interesting to someone- that way you can kind of see in "real time" just how little time it takes up.

For my first entry: Kombucha!

(what on earth?)

I know. I'd only heard of it recently. But after three batches, I'm sold. And it's not even summer yet! Imagine how good this is going to be in the heat of summer!

Okay okay, on with it!

 Kombucha is a heath drink. In a nutshell: fermented sweet tea. But it tastes more like apple juice than tea. (and slightly beer-like.)

Here is a better description than I could give you, from
"Wonderfully fizzy and slightly sweet tasting, Kombucha is a great way to improve your health. The Kombucha culture, often referred to as a “mushroom”, is a probiotic colony of friendly yeast and bacteria. It acts on sugar and tea to produce acetic, lactic and glucuronic acid. Kombucha is great for detoxification, boosting metabolism and assisting digestion. It is rich with antioxidants and amino acids, namely L-threonine (supports healthy protein balance). Kombacha is loaded with enzymes and healthy bacteria thought to enhance the digestive process. It has been used to prevent post-meal heartburn, acid reflux and has even been used as a cure for cancer."

There is a LOT of info on the internet if you want more :) I'll just give you a quick how-to!
First of all, the hardest part of making kombucha is finding a mother. And if you know me, that's going to be very easy. Just ask :)
1-boil 3 quarts of water
2-dissolve 1 C sugar
3-add 4 tea bags (i've been using black, but you can use green)
4-let it cool to room temperature. In my kitchen, this takes about 2 hours. Remove tea bags.
5-add 1/2 cup mature kombucha
6-place the "mother" scoby on top (scoby stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
7-cover your GLASS container with a towel, and leave it in a dark place for 7-9 days. You'll know it's done when it no longer tastes like tea at all, and you have a "daughter" scoby formed on the surface.
8-pour it out, which I think should probably be done gently...
 there they are! mother and daughter.

Bottle it up, and reserve 1/2 cup kombucha for your next batch. I've just been putting it in a jar, which is fine. It looses it's fizziness though, and that's half the fun. So I'd like to eventually get some better bottles for storage. (oh, and store it in the fridge. You can look up flavors to add and a double fermentation method with juice added on the Internet. Since I haven't tried any of that yet, I'm not going to include it here.)

 add the new, cool sweet tea to your (hand-washed) jar

place either the mother or the daughter on top, give the other one to a friend (you can store it in 1/2 C kombucha in the fridge until ready to use)


cover it up and start again!

Cost analysis:
glass jar: $6.99 if you don't already have one. One time cost (i read somewhere that a 1 gallon bowl is better than a jar, actually, the kombucha thrives when the depth is less than the width. I didn't read that until after I bought the jar. we'll see how it goes.)

tea: varies. I bought a big box of lipton, though some will say you must use organic tea to avoid fluoride. go with your gut on that one. My math worked out to $0.11 for the four bags.
water: don't make me figure that out. I'm gonna go with "free" even though I know technically it's not
sugar: $0.26

Total: $0.37 (after making up the cost for the jar!)
if there are 12 cups in 3 quarts, that's $0.03 per cup. Wow! Talk about an affordable, tasty, health boosting beverage!

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