DIY Kombucha


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Do you eat fermented foods? You’re not alone! Chances are you’ve noticed a boom in products like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and more in the aisles and cold cases of your local grocery store.

The popularity of fermented foods has skyrocketed in recent years as people rediscover the health benefits of adding these probiotic rich foods and beverages to their diet. This movement has transcended fermentation’s former reputation as a “hippie” pastime and found wide-spread acceptance in the main stream spotlight. Touted as “the next big nutrition trend,” people across the country are now brewing and fermenting foods at home in record numbers.

Despite their meteoric resurgence, fermented foods are far from new. In fact, cultures worldwide have historically used fermentation as a preservation technique. Ancient civilizations dating back as far as 6000 B.C. fermented a variety of foods for everyday consumption and medicinal purposes.

The recent phenomena is proof positive that if you wait long enough, everything comes back into style. Even my local Safeway now carries kimchi, raw sauerkraut, and kombucha!

Learning the art of fermentation holds a certain allure for me. I have made fermented sauerkraut, pickles, and salsa using a handy home fermentation device I discovered from Kraut Source. But mastering homemade kombucha especially intrigued me. Commercial brands of this delicious probiotic drink retail for $4-$6, which makes it a luxury item on my shopping list. Thanks to fellow blogger, Zero Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau, I now have the necessary element for brewing this effervescent beverage: a SCOBY.

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A SCOBY and my SCOBY hotel (shown in back)

Kombucha is made by fermenting tea, sugar, and a little raw cider vinegar with a SCOBY; symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeast also known as a “Mother”. Sounds yummy doesn’t it? Stick with me here . . .

My SCOBE arrived via mail in a small glass jar labeled simply, Etherelda. My friend has a tradition of naming her “Mother”, and I had inherited a piece of the original. I decided to name mine Effie for short. I carefully unscrewed the lid and examined my new ward. She looked like a pale pink primordial placenta awaiting a liquid womb in which to grow. Time to brew a batch of Kombucha!

Kombucha is surprisingly simple to make. All you need is a large, wide-mouth glass jar (at least 5 cup capacity), tea (loose-leaf black, green, oolong or white with no scented oils are preferred), water (preferably non-chlorinated), sugar, raw cider vinegar (Bragg Organic brand recommended), a piece of SCOBY, and a some cheesecloth. Just follow these easy brewing instructions from Anne-Marie, and viola! In a week you’ll have delicious Kombucha.

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A couple of notes:

  • After 5-7 days, remove the SCOBY and transfer to a fresh batch of tea/sugar/vinegar mix. You can drink your finished Kombucha straight from the jar at room temperature or bottle it for a secondary fermentation with a few pieces of candied ginger or a little fresh fruit. I’ve also played with adding a couple tablespoons of pomegranate, blueberry, Meyer lemon, or blood orange juice with great results. The longer your Kombucha rests at room temp the more it will naturally carbonate from fermentation. Once it has reached your desired level of fizz simply store in the fridge to slow the process. Be careful when opening sealed Kombucha, as built up C02 pressure from fermentation can cause an explosion!
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Kombucha with pomegranate juice and fresh raspberries

  • Both caffeinated and caffeine-free teas will work. I love the results I get when I brew Tazo brand ice tea bags. I’m especially partial to the Iced Passion which has hibiscus flowers, herbs, and tropical fruit essences. The hibiscus will, however, stain your SCOBE bright pink!
  • SCOBE spawn a new Mother with every batch and multiply like rabbits! Unless I’m brewing more than one batch of Kombucha at a time, I store extra Mothers in a SCOBE “hotel”–which is essentially a large jar filled with some leftover Kombucha and a little sugar to feed on. Etherelda’s offspring–Effie, Ethel, Edith, Enid, Eunice, Ida, Irma, Mabel, and Mavis–are currently loitering in the lobby waiting their turn at rotation. When there’s no more room at the inn, you can gift a Mother to your friends!

For more questions and tips, refer to this comprehensive FAQs guide from Zero-Waste Chef.

Want to try your hand at making Kombucha at home? Follow & watch my Facebook page for a chance to win a SCOBY this week!

Cheers and happy fermenting.

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Categories: "How To" tips, Drinks, Fermented Foods, Gluten-free, Healthy EatingTags: , , , , , , , , , ,

2 comments

  1. Thank you for your wonderful story about make my own Kombucha Karen. I too have been intrigued to make my own. And now it does not seem to be as much of a mystery. I just have to hunt down a Scoby and get to brewing! Cheers!

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