Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kombucha

I know I am more adventurous than the average person. So I realize when I speak of growing bacteria in my kitchen and then eating or drinking it...I know I lose a few of you! I dove head first into the world of homegrown probiotics about a year ago and I have to say Kombucha will rock your digestive world and your palate, if you let it.

Kombucha is a sparkling, slightly acidic beverage made from brewing tea and letting a yeast colony in the shape of a "mushroom" or "scobie" feed on the sugar and caffeine producing beneficial strains of bacteria. Many health stores sell Kombucha, but as you will find with any probiotics you ferment at home will always be far more alive than anything you find in a store. In fact, for the product to be bottled the manufacturer has to prove the fermenting has indeed stopped. Kombucha has been pulled off the shelves in Whole Foods Stores, because the products were not consistent. Nothing truly alive could ever be consistent enough to be bottled and sold in bulk. To top that off, as the kombuca fad grows, greed will bring cheaper less quality versions of it. Without the FDA breathing down your neck, you can know in your own home that you are drinking an alive beverage with life-giving force and heal your digestive tract...and it taste really great too! Since the gut is the largest line of health defense, this beverage has led many to believe it has power to help fight arthritis, cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Since incorporating Kombucha into my kitchen routine, my family has given up all fruit juice, soda, and most of our sweet tea consumption...it is the South still! No matter how hard I try I can't break my Southern husband of this fetish! Of course, water should always be the top beverage, but sometimes you just want something else. Here's a rundown on how to make Kombucha. You can get a mushroom from anyone you know who is brewing Kombucha at home. Ask for a nice thick one and the average "adoption fee" is $15. You can also order them online for about the same, but you will have to pay shipping.

To prepare Kombucha you will need a few things:

Large glass Mason Jars (1/2 gallon)
Coffee filters, cheesecloth or other thin pieces of cloth
Family size bags of regular black tea (organic if available)
White sugar, turbinado, sucanat, or honey granules*
Boiling Water
Kombucha Mushroom

Fill Mason Jar with boiling distilled** water and add 1/2 cup of sugar (or other listed sweetener). Stir until dissolved. Add tea bag and allow to steep for 10 minutes-2 hours. Remove and discard. Allow tea to return to room temperature and then add Kombucha Mushroom. Cover Mason jar with coffee filter or cloth and screw on the ring part of the lid. Place jar in a quiet dark place for 4-7 days. A new mushroom should grow on the top of the liquid. This means it is done, or almost done. Once you see the second mushroom (it may be just a thin film on the top), begin to test your Kombucha daily. Use a clean plastic spoon to taste a little, do not double dip. Once your tea develops a hint of vinegar it is done. Remove the mushrooms, you can now start two batches or store the mushrooms in the fridge in a small amount of the Kombucha. Put a lid on your Kombucha and put it in the fridge to enjoy whenever you like!



*Different versions of sugar will lend a slightly different end taste. Turbinado and Sucanat definitively have a hint of molasses still sticking around after the fermenting is done. Do be cautious to buy "Pure Cane Sugar", otherwise you are getting Beet Sugar which is in the process of GMO approval. 
**You can also boil your water for 10 full minutes to remove the chlorine.


Love and Butter,


Mishelle
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