Fermented Food: Freaky or Fabulous?

It seems the latest craze in natural health is fermented foods.  I have to be honest the idea was a bit freaky to me, but then I had my first taste of kombucha--a fermented tea often flavored with fruit, spices, and herbs.  I had purchased a bottle from a local health food store and was immediately hooked by the refreshing flavor--think of a slightly fruity and sweet carbonated vinegar.  After researching some of the benefits of drinking kombucha: increased energy, improved digestion, immune support, and reduced joint pain, I decided to let Chris in on my new found love.  He was an immediate fan.  At upwards of $3 a bottle this was not a habit we could maintain on a daily basis, but I recalled seeing kombucha recipes on Pinterest and decided it might be worth brewing it ourselves.

I purchased The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea on Amazon and started reading.  After acquiring a few more materials such as gallon glass jugs, ceramic flip top glass bottles, and a scoby, we were brewing our first batch for a little less than $100.  The process and set up were surprisingly easy and we were enjoying our own brew within just a couple weeks.  We've become quite adept at making different flavoring combinations: cranberry-lime, pomegranate-clementine, blueberry-ginger-lime, grapefruit-ginger-hibiscus, apple spice, and minty melon are some of my favorites.  Over time we've had to purchase extra jars and bottles, adhesive thermometer strips, and seedling heat tape, but in the long run we are truly saving quite a bit of money brewing at home.

As far as the promised health benefits are concerned I have noticed a marked improvement in my afternoon energy levels and I am convinced my immunity has been kicked up a notch as I can't recall having so much as a cold since we started drinking kombucha daily in October. That's a pretty good track record.

I've seen all different sorts of set up, but the following is the one that works for us

Brew strong black tea and sweeten with sugar, cool to room temp and add scoby and 1/2 cup to 1 cup of fermented starter (this comes with the scoby for the first  brew, but afterward you'll need to set aside some of the first fermentation liquid each batch to start the next batch). Cover with a paper towel and wrap with seedling heat tape.  Try to keep brew between 75-80 degrees (optimally). Let stand 4-21 days depending on amount and desired fermentation.  After about 5 days I start smelling and tasting the brew every other day until it reaches the level of acidity we like.

Remove scoby and add the desired flavorings, cover, and let stand another 2 days.

Strain and bottle.  Add a pinch of sugar to each bottle.  Secure the caps, shake the bottles to distribute the sugar, and set aside for 2 more days.  Refrigerate and enjoy.  With this method you may find a tiny baby scoby in each bottle. Many kombucha enthusiasts ingest the baby scoby.  We don't because it has the consistency of snot (blech!). We strain the kombucha into a glass and discard the baby scoby.


Chere Mama said…
My son brews kombucha. I still can't get used to the "alien" floating in the jar. But as long as I don't look at where it came from =), I find it an interesting flavor.

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