August 16, 2012

Kombucha

When did I start making kombucha? Sometime last early Spring, and I'm still making it. If you Google it you'll find tons of posts on it. I don't want to write about all it's benefits and history (it has been around a long time). I just want to post some pictures and how I do it.

Kombucha continual brew crock on seed starting mat and electric temp regulator (and some culturing dairy)



I do the continuous brew method. I bought a SCOBY online and initially got it started in a quart jar. Then I moved it into a 2 gallon crock with a tap I already had ... And it's still there. I clean the crock about 4 every months. I don't have to touch my scoby weekly with the typical method (some people refer to it as a mushroom, tho it's not). I've only touched my scoby when separating it to give to someone - their "baby" to get their own brew going. And I've split it in two to create a "Kombucha Scoby Hotel", which sits on a shelf in a cool room - if ever I need it. Most people rubber band a cloth over the top of their crock. Since my lid is not air-tight it works fine.

I read it does best around 75-85 degrees, so I bought an electric seed starting mat and a temp regulator (which saves electricity)(my mat is 9x20"). In the picture you will notice other things sitting beside the kombucha crock - usually my dairy kefir and anything else needing a bit more warmth (like a refrigerated sourdough bread dough boost, ginger ale bug/fermenting beverage ...)

Large tea ball and stainless steel spoon
The Kombucha scoby feeds from a strong sweetened black brewed tea. I start tapping some off in a glass to taste around day 5. I don't want it too sweet. If left too long, like after 7 days (unless the temp is cooler, so it ferments slower) it starts taking on a vinegar taste. This summer I've been tapping it off every 6 days, filling jars until no more comes out of the tap, which is leaving the scoby and enough brew as starter for the next batch. I make a large amount of the sweetened tea and let cool to room temp. You don't want to add a too hot tea to the scoby or you'll kill it. Then I add more water up to my crock's shoulder.




KOMBUCHA Recipe to refill my crock -
about 1 1/2 gallons
- 1 1/2 scant cups organic cane sugar (Costco carries the most economical 10# bag)
- 8 tsp tea (mostly black tea, sometimes a bit of green)
- Boiling water initially to dissolve sugar and brew the tea.

Put the tea leaves in a large stainless steel tea ball (or 8-10 tea bags) and the sugar on the bottom of the heat-proof jar (mine's a Vlasic pickle jar I found at a thrift store. It's best that the jar opening is wide so a large tea strainer ball will fit down in. I put a long stainless steel spoon into the jar to diffuse the boiling water's heat). A lot of this could be done in a saucepan ... Remember to let it cool to room temp. Or if you want it to be done with quick, just add cold water to the pan before dumping it on the scoby. Yes, I said you just dump your tea over the scoby. It'll rise to the top of the liquid level as you add water.

I started with using all black tea (an organic English Breakfast Tea I order from Amazon), then started doing 1/2 and 1/2 with sencha green tea. But I've returned to doing it all black. I find the green tea produces a more sour taste.

I've bought stuff and learned the most from Kombucha Mamma. Cultures for Health is another good source for learning about all types of fermenting.

Sweetened strong tea to feed Kombucha Scoby. See (smell ;^) the sweet peas?

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