Kombucha: General Info
Kombucha is a drink that has been around for centuries and is continuing to gain popularity. The Wellness Momma explains what it is:
“Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink made of black tea and sugar. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and has been prized by traditional cultures for its health-promoting properties.”
My family enjoys the flexibility that you have when making your own. You can try any number of flavor combinations to suit your family’s needs. The refreshing taste can replace some other, less desirable alternatives. The process of making Kombucha is very similar to Water Kefir. Read more about Water Kefir in this post.
When making your own Kombucha at home, you need two main ingredients: sugary tea and a SCOBY; you will also need time and patience. SCOBY is actually an acronym for: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. This scoby is how the fermentation happens. The yeast in the SCOBY converts the sugar in the tea to alcohol and the bacteria converts the alcohol into acetic acid. This acid is a main component in vinegar, long known for its health benefits.
Safety Tip: Be careful with your SCOBY! It can grow mold and become contaminated. If you see or smell anything slightly off, pitch the SCOBY and start over. It is not worth it to risk the health of your family! A “normal” SCOBY should smell like apple cider vinegar and look like a flesh-colored, flexible disk.
Benefits of Kombucha
How to Make Your Own Kombucha
1. You need to make or obtain your own SCOBY.
2. Sanitize all glass containers that you will be using. This can be done in the dishwasher or by soaking in the sink using a sanitizer such as Star San or B-Brite. Let this air dry.
3. Brew tea.
5. Transfer tea to a large glass container you have previously sanitized. Add SCOBY. Cover with a breathable cloth and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Wait 7-10 days, checking often. This is the first fermentation.
6. For the second fermentation, put your choice of fruit into empty, sanitized easy top glass jars. Depending on the fruit, use 1 - 1 ½ Tablespoons. Here’s some ideas: blueberries, strawberries, mango.
7. Pour the SCOBY juice into the bottles, using a stainless steel strainer and pouring vessel, if desired.
8. If you wish to reuse your SCOBY, add 2 cups from the first fermentation that you saved and put in the fridge. Or, you can brew more tea and start this process all over.
9. Cap bottles and store in the same fashion as you did with the first fermentation.
10. Continue to check on the bottles for 3-5 days, opening slightly to “burp” your kombucha. Once finished, you may wish to open outside, just in case.
11. When ready to drink, use stainless steel strainer to filter out fruit so you have the juice straight. If desired, save fruit for smoothies.
About our Presenter:
Mark is an avid fermentor that has been home brewing kombucha for the past two years. At first he started making gallon batches of unflavored kombucha. In the past year, he has expanded his production and has started experimenting with different teas and flavorings for his kombuchas, strawberry/ginger is his favorite. Mark lives in Annapolis with his wife and 6 year old lab mix. In his spare time, he enjoys seeing new places with his wife and friends, getting outdoors, and cooking new dishes.
The Wellness Momma blog: https://wellnessmama.com/23994/kombucha-benefits/
Dr. Axe https://draxe.com/7-reasons-drink-kombucha-everyday/
Weston A. Price https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/12-kombucha-mamma-kombucha-craze/
Sources our presenter used to get started:
Water kefir is a probiotic drink that can be made easily at home. You will need water kefir grains, which are clusters of bacteria and yeast as your starter. These can be ordered online or obtained from someone who makes water kefir and has extras to spare. With sugar and water, these grains will ferment quickly, producing water kefir. If a fizzier drink is desired, a second fermentation is in order.
Water kefir is dairy free and gluten-free. It can be used to replace sports drinks and even sodas! You can customize the flavor and amount of fizz based on your preference.
The Nourished Kitchen says:
“Water kefir, like most fermented foods, supports gut health and systemic wellness, The beneficial bacteria in the water kefir grains consume the sugar in the sugar water, and as they metabolize the sugar, they produce a variety of beneficial acids, food enzymes, B vitamins and more beneficial bacteria. This process of fermentation also reduces the sugar content of the drink.”
Tips & Tricks
Water Kefir Recipe : First Ferment
2 TB rehydrated kefir grains (if purchasing, they will be dry and you will have to rehydrate them, unless you are getting extra from a friend)
¼ cup sugar
Wide mouth glass quart jar
Fine mesh plastic strainer
Coffee filter and rubber band
1. Place sugar in the jar and pour a little bit of hot water over the sugar to dissolve it. Stir.
2. Add cold water up to the 3 cup line on the jar (This helps cool the water temperature down).
3. Make sure the water is room temperature (89 degrees or below) and then add the grains to the sugar water.
4. Place the coffee filter over the top of the jar and use the rubber band to secure it into place.
5. Set the jar on the counter - make sure it is out of direct sunlight - for 1 or 2 days. You want the liquid to be cloudy and have tiny little air bubbles.
6. Drain the grains using a strainer. These grains are ready to make another batch of kefir! If you are not ready for another batch, store used grains in the refrigerator in sugar water with a lid. When ready to use, discard water and make a fresh batch,
Do NOT rinse your grains!
Second Ferment - Apple Blueberry Water Kefir Soda
Water kefir from first ferment (see above)
100% apple juice, or other fruit juice, just make sure it is 100% juice
*optional: ¼ cup frozen blueberries, or other frozen fruit, organic is best
2 wide mouth glass quart jars with tight fitting lids
Fine mesh plastic strainer
1. If you haven’t already, strain the fresh batch of water kefir, from the first ferment, into a wide mouth jar.
2. Add juice until filled to top of rim
3. If adding fruit, do so now.
4. Put the lid on tightly and leave jar on the counter for one day.
5. After fermenting, strain fruit and discard (optional: add used fruit to smoothie)
If you didn’t use fruit, you may leave the jar on the counter for up to 3 days. This makes it have more fizz!
6. Refrigerate and enjoy!
*Special thanks to Beth for coming and educating all of us!
Drink Your Bugs podcast: https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/73-drink-your-bugs/
Fermented foods are great for your digestive system. We try to eat fermented foods and/or probiotics with every meal. Examples of fermented foods are: tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. Bacteria and enzymes that are helpful in digestion will aid your gut in breaking down food. The easiest way to consume bacteria and enzyme rich foods is to make your own, since most products purchased off of shelves have been pasteurized. Pasteurization involves heating foods and liquids up to kill potentially harmful bacteria. The problem is, when heated, the good bacteria are also killed. When making your own, or purchasing, make sure you pay attention to the salt and sugar. The recipe below uses no sugar and very little salt. If you are purchasing from a store, look for the phrase: live cultures and try to find dairy that has not been pasteurized. The availability of these kinds of products can be scarce, depending which state you live in. We found Oksana at a local farmer’s market and she so graciously came to teach us her Russian recipe in person. If you’d rather not go through the laborious work, order hers!
*Try playing around with spices until you find a flavor that your family enjoys.
Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl, twisting and tearing cabbage as you add it. Any glass container will work, but we found that it is easier with a container that has a flat bottom compared to a rounded bowl.
Mix ingredients and knead with hands.
Let it rest. If the cabbage is good, it will juice on its own. You will need enough juice to completely cover the cabbage. If you need to, add distilled water to bring the liquid level higher.
Once cabbage mixture is packed tight and completely covered with water, put a plate over top. This keeps the cabbage from floating to the top of the liquid. Add something heavy to help weigh it down. Cover with a kitchen towel.
Every two days, poke with something slender to help any trapped air escape. After poking, press down mixture again with your fist.
Start taste testing after 1-2 weeks. As soon as the sauerkraut is to your liking, put it in the refrigerator. I would recommend transferring to glass mason jars for storage, but that is completely up to you. Refrigeration will stop the fermentation process. Due to the low pH level of this mixture, it keeps a rather long time in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Heather Brooks, Marketing Manager & Blog and Administrative Assistant
None of these posts have been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to cure, treat, or diagnose any disease. As with any medical concerns, always consult your medical professional before trying any of the ideas presented on this blog. All information has been obtained from various sources and personal experiences.