Foodie Field Trip! Kombucha class and I am there, camera in hand, ready to document. If you are unfamiliar with Kombucha, please peruse this post and introduce yourself.
My fermentation buddy, Candy, who also shared her DELICIOUS kimchi with us, is holding class today. To follow are images from her class. She kindly provided each student with a starter, a beautifully lamented set of recipes and instructions – which I will post for you soon, and tastings!
Kombucha, aka “Immortal Health Elixir” in Chinese culture for millenniums, finally made its way to the states (U.S.) in recent decades. It has been studied in Russia and Germany because of a strong correlation to seemingly cancer immunity in some regions. However, studies are rare because, frankly, there is no money to be made by proving its health benefits. It is rich in probiotics, anti-oxidants, glucosamine, Glucaric acid, and more!
Here are just a few reported benefits:
- Detoxes the liver
- Fights cancer
- Improves energy
- Supports the immune system
- Strengthens joints, reducing arthritis
- Promotes a healthy gut, improving digestion
- Beneficial for candida, for some (good yeast fight the bad yeast)
- Helps with depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia
You can read more from Food Renegade here.
There is also a school of thought that says TOO MUCH Kombucha can be a bad thing. My thinking is that too much of just about anything can be a bad thing.
Consider: How much Kombucha may be beneficial to you might depend on the rest of your diet, as well as your personal composition. Every person is unique. What is great for one may be harmful for another. Too much carbonation may cause bone loss and dental issues. (I would worry much more about sodas.) Kombucha is generally made with caffeinated tea. Most people do not have a problem with this because very little caffeine remains in kombucha after it ferments, but there are methods for keeping it caffeine-free. See how here.
The idea is to keep your personal body healthy and in balance. Only you, and your physician, can determine what is best for you. Of course, you can get probiotics from other fermented foods, such as miso, kimchi, and lacto-fermented vegetables.
SCOBY… dooby doo
This word always conjures up in my mind Frank Sinatra singing Strangers in the Night. And if I let my mind wander, there are images of the cartoon dog, and my cool cousin Debbie who never missed an episode.
SCOBY is an acronym for:
Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast
And it is the thing that produces all that fizz, flavor, and gifts of health!
This thing is NOT attractive. It looks a bit like an alien life-form, which for some of us (nerds, nature nuts, and outside-the-boxers), makes it all the more cool. You can cut pieces from it and it will continue to grow, thrive, and make “babies”. Yes, this is the “mother”.
The SCOBY just sits in sweetened tea and does its thing. It consumes the sugar you give it, and it gives you back nutrients.
In this adorable little starter jar, lovingly prepared by our class instructor, is a cute little piece of the mother SCOBY.
What do I do with this thing?
If some kind person has gifted you a SCOBY, or you have obtained one somewhere else, what do you do with it?
If you want perpetual kombucha, it will need some attention. Not a lot. If it were a pet, it would be more of an independent cat than a devoted lapdog. You do have to feed it and keep its container clean, but you can go on vacation without worry that it will die.
Basically, every so often you drain off some of the tea and add more. Use sweetened tea because the sugars feed the mother SCOBY. Candy keeps tea in the fridge and does this every day. How long you let the new tea cold “brew” with the scoby depends on whether you prefer a sweet drink, or a very fermented one. The longer it sits, the more fermented it becomes. It will taste more and more like vinegar. If the vinegar flavor becomes strong, make a very healthful salad dressing!
Candy removes 20% of the tea to drink, and adds the same amount back in for more the next day.
From the perpetual kombucha, Candy makes flavored teas, allowing a second fermentation. These delicious teas get all bubbly and it is like drinking indulgent flavored sodas that make you feel good!
Candy has a plethora of bottled flavors! She hands everyone a little cup which gets filled and refilled and refilled. There will be many happy guts today! With a little creativity, you can create so many flavors! Then choose your favorites to make again and again. Candy shares blueberry, hibiscus, ginger-lime, pomegranate, mango, Mountain Rose, apricot, and my daughter’s personal favorite, apple.
You can use real fruit. Do not use oils, so no Earl Gray.
A word of caution: as the flavored kombucha ferments in the bottle, pressure builds and the bottle can explode. Be sure to “burp” the bottle periodically to prevent this, and open it very carefully!
One more word of caution: Very fermented homemade brew can make you feel intoxicated! So be careful about how long it sits and who gets into it.
Word to the wise…
If you are going to do this, invest in a good continuous container with a spout. Then it will be a piece of cake to just pour out ready-to-use tea from the spout before adding new tea to the top. Keep it covered with something breathable, like a rubber-banded cheesecloth, so that it can “breathe” while also keeping out contaminates.
Otherwise, you have to pour out of the top and it gets messy. Why bother with all that?
Instructions and recipes will be posted soon! And they will be linked up here!
Good Health to You!