Kombucha

If you have never had kombucha I challenge you to give it a try. I would describe it as a slightly fizzy, tangy, refreshing, and sort of sour drink. It is basically fermented sweet tea. It is made by letting sweet tea sit in a glass jar with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is sometimes referred to as a mother or a mushroom. The mother grows a new layer, called a baby, every time a batch is brewed. As the kombucha brews it releases probiotics, enzymes, B-vitamins, and antioxidants into the tea producing a healthful and delicious beverage.

I had been making my own kombucha for quite a while but I fell out of the habit and ended up throwing out the beautiful mother SCOBY I had sitting in my fridge. When I gave up soda and also realized gluten (beer) is no good for me I turned to kombucha to fulfill my fizzy desires.  The problem with the store-bought kombucha is, while very good, it is crazy expensive.  The expense and the fact that I was buying 3 or 4 bottles a week motivated me to make my own again.  The next challenge would be getting my hands on a quality SCOBY. Since I didn’t know anyone who had an established mother and I didn’t want to wait to grow my own, decided I decided to order a SCOBY online from Kombucha Kamp.

When my SCOBY arrived I excitedly dug out my old instructions, checked them with the instructions included in the package, and started making my very own kombucha!  Don’t be turned off by the white sugar in the recipe.  The SCOBY eats it all up and you are left with very little in the finished drink.   Kombucha brewing is the only reason I have white sugar in my house.

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Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar

3 quarts filtered water

4-5 tea bags (black or a combo of black and green works best)

1 SCOBY

Directions:

1.  Boil 3 quarts of water.  Some instructions will tell you to boil a smaller amount and then add cold water after the tea is brewed, but if you have highly chlorinated city water like I do you will want to boil all the water you are using.

2.  Add 1 cup of sugar to the water, stir until dissolved.

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3.  Remove from heat and add the tea bags.  Cover the pot and let sit until cooled.

4.  Once the tea is cooled remove the tea bags.

100_2796Kombucha Kamp sent along a nice bag of their loose leaf tea for my first batch!

5.  Place the SCOBY along with 1 cup of kombucha from the last batch in a glass jar.  My SCOBY came with 1 cup of kombucha in the package.  If you get a SCOBY from a friend ask for 1 cup of their kombucha.  Sharing is caring!

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6.  Pour the tea mixture on top of the SCOBY.  The SCOBY will rise to  the top of the jar.  Again, make sure the tea mixture is completely cooled before adding it to the jar.  The jar I have is a 1 gallon cookie jar from Meijer, and it is not tempered so it would break if I added hot tea to it.

7.  Cover the jar with a dishcloth, dish towel, or  2 coffee filters and secure with a rubber band or string.   Let sit for at least 7 day.  On day 7 you can sample the tea.  If it is still sweet let it sit for a few more days.  My house is cold in the winter, so if I am fermenting anything it always needs to sit for a few extra days.  The summer, not so much.

8.  Once the kombucha is done pour into glass jars and store in the fridge.  Save 1 cup of kombucha for the next batch.

Homemade Sauerkraut

One of the first nutritional books I purchased was Nourishing Traditions.  It contains a wealth of knowledge regarding traditional foods.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about primitive diets and how to prepare traditional  foods eaten around the world.  There is a whole chapter on fermented fruits and vegetables.  If you haven’t read up on the health benefits of fermented foods you should.  Fermented foods contain enzymes which help digestion, beneficial bacteria to promote a healthy gut, and they taste pretty darn good too!

Now, on to the sauerkraut.  Every time I write the word sauerkraut I have to make sure I spelled it correctly.  One of these days I will get it right on the first try.  Sauerkraut  is really as simple as can be to make and it is a good addition to any meal.  This morning I had some alongside leftover beef roast.

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Ingredients:

1.  1 head Cabbage

2.  1-2 T Salt

Equipment:

Large bowl

Sharp knife

2 or 3 quart size mason jars with lids

Something to pound the cabbage – I used my fists and a mason jar.  I might look into a meat tenderizing mallet.

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Directions:

1.  Cut the cabbage in half and cut out the core.

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2.  Shred the cabbage and put into large bowl.

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3.  Sprinkle salt over the shredded cabbage

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4.  Squeeze, pound, pummel, knead,  and generally punish the cabbage until it releases its water and reduces in volume.  *note, this is a good stress reliever*

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5.  Pack into mason jars and push down until the water rises to the top of the jar and covers the cabbage.

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6.  Cover tightly and place in a room temperature spot away from sunlight for about 3 days.  My house is really chilly in the winter, so I had to let mine sit in my cupboard for a few more days until it tasted “sauerkrauty” enough.

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7.  Once the cabbage has fermented to your liking, place in the fridge for storage.