back on the booch; homemade kombucha

over a year ago, a friend shared some kombucha tea with me.  at this point, i should mention that my friend likes it plain-pure kombucha with nothing else in it.  she also likes to let it ferment for a full 10 days.  it is pungent to say the least.  when i didn’t flinch or spit it out, she offered to bring me a baby so i could brew my own.  that is how my kombucha habit got started.  
all through the summer and into the fall, i brewed it and i drank it.  to make it more palatable, i mixed it into iced tea or juice.  then the awful thing happened, i neglected my tea as the weather cooled.  my poor scoby lived in the fridge and after a while, he just couldn’t make fermented tea.  this spring, i decided to get another batch going.  my search for a scoby led me to countless websites.  needless to say, i was not willing to fork over the $30+ dollars for a package of culture.  there had to be an alternative.  and there was!  while going from website to website, i stumbled upon the blog, bonzai aphrodite and a detailed post on how to grow a scoby from a store bought bottle of kombucha.  
the following week, i found myself standing in front of a cooler full of kombucha drinks in whole foods market.  after purchasing a bottle of original kombucha, i set up my bowl and began growing my own scoby.  it took the full 2 weeks and it has worked beautifully.  so well that i now have 2 separate scobys, one plain green tea and the other green tea mixed with peach and hibiscus tea.  
the peach-hibiscus kombucha is on the left, the plain green tea is on the right.

when you look at bottom of the scoby, it doesn’t encourage an appetite.  it can be a bit slimy too if it sits too long.  the texture of that slime is not something i enjoy-i always remove the slime before drinking it!

my bottles of finished tea, ready to drink.  the amber one is the peach-hibiscus, the pink one is plain kombucha flavored with northlands superfruit juice, a blend of blueberry, blackberry and acai berries.  every day, i make it a point to drink a full glass of the tea.  there are many claims that it boosts your immune system.  whether or not this is true, i cannot say and many health experts are warning against it’s use due to the possibility of toxic bacterial contamination.   however, i still enjoy it and when i mix mine, i use glass containers and gloves to handle the scoby.  more importantly, during last winter’s horrific flu season, i never even had a sniffle.  just sayin’…

what’s growing on?

the more you listen, the more you hear in regards to knowing where your food comes from.  hardly a day goes by that we are not reminded of how much harm we inflict on the ecosystem with our insatiable appetites.  luckily, the movement towards growing your own is catching on.  for the last 8 years, since we moved into our home, we have had a vegetable garden and growing our own produce has been a goal but not for ecological reasons; plainly put, it is a lot cheaper to grow your own vegetables and herbs.  over the years, we have branched out and have added things like honey bees and fruit trees.  we compost everything we can in an open pit composting system out back and we gather all of our leaves each fall too.

recently, a good friend convinced me to try my hand at a few new things that can be made at home:  kombucha tea and kefir.  the kombucha is fermenting on the counter and the grains for the kefir are ready to go as soon as i get myself some raw milk.

when i read the instructions that accompanied the kombucha, i was intimidated-they seemed so technical and unforgiving.  then i found instructions online from the website smallnotebook.org.  how simple!!!  that is as long as you have a friend, like anne, who is willing to give up a scoby so that you can brew your own batch.

this is the scoby pancake anne was kind enough to share with me.  she also gave me enough of the finished beverage to start/inoculate my first batch.

and here it is, the scoby in it’s new home.  i plan to flavor mine with some fruit juice and most likely, i will not let it ferment as long as anne does.  the longer it ferments, the stronger it gets and that means it gets more sour with each day.  today is day 3 and i still have a few days to go.

another of my favorite things to grow at home, sourdough starter.  i started my original batch 2 years ago using grapes from the demo garden where i volunteer each sunday morning.  from that original starter, i have a plain starter and by feeding a small portion of it with rye flour and caraway seeds, i have a rye starter too.  periodically, they get neglected and i recently had to resurrect them.

with a cup of plain starter, 2 cups bread flour and a cup of water, i had a bowl of sponge to make bread with.

there is something so satisfying in taking a bowl of goo and after a minimal amount of effort, receiving something as tasty as this loaf of bread!

and for those of you that know my husband, you know this is all his!  he is obsessive about mushrooms and we have inoculate logs around the yard which currently produce shiitakes-aren’t the gorgeous?  he recently inoculated some logs with oyster and reishi mushrooms.  
who knows what will be the next addition.  in the mean time, we’re having fun and eating lots of good stuff.