Friday, April 4, 2014

My Secret Kombucha Recipe Revealed

My husband and I started making kombucha back in October about a week after baby Penelope was born.  We were stuck in the house anyway and were looking for a new hobby.  After reading and studying the importance of fermented foods, we decided to try our hand at homemade kombucha.  For those of you who aren't familiar with this lovely fermented drink, kombucha is a simple fermented tea.  It can be made plain for flavored, carbonated or flat.  It is full of bacteria (probiotics) to keep your gut healthy.  They sell them at Whole Foods for $4 a drink.  But the secret is they are SO CHEAP to make yourself!  At first is seems intimidating but I promise it's a really simple process.

Cranberry, Berry & Plain
1 gallon jug (glass)
Paper coffee filters (2)
Large rubber band
12 glass bottles w/ air tight seals (not metal):  I found mine at Hobby Lobby
White vinegar for cleaning

1 gallon distilled water (or reverse osmosis)
8 black tea bags (Organic preferred)
1c organic granulated sugar
Organic juice of  your choice (I love cranberry) or fresh mixed berries blended: Both optional!
1 SCOBY (this is a bacteria disk - you can buy your first one online and save it for future batches)
1c starter tea (yes, sorry, for your first batch you have to go out and buy a $4 kombucha)

1. Clean your supplies in a vinegar rinse and then rinse well.  Use vinegar to avoid leaving soap residue which may hinder bacteria growth (yes, this is a good thing!)
2. In a large stock pot, bring water almost to a boil.  Turn off heat and add 8 organic black tea bags and 1c sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Let set until room temp (you can take out the tea bags after 15 minutes or so depending how strong you like your tea). 

NOTE:  Yes, this is sweetened tea but the bacteria SCOBY will eat most of the sugar leaving a slightly sweet slightly tangy tea with very little sugar left at the end.

3. Once your tea is cool, pour it into your gallon glass jug.  Add your 1c starter tea and SCOBY on top.  Cover with a double lined paper coffee filter and secure with a rubber band (you want your kombucha to breathe but don't want any creepy bugs or dirt getting inside).
4. Set it somewhere warm and preferable by sunlight to ferment.   This usually takes about 7 days depending how warm and light the area is (the warmer the faster it ferments).  Check it by tasting your tea.  If it tastes like kombucha then it's done. (I sure hope you tasted the $4 one you just bought so you know what it's supposed to taste like!)  If it tastes like sweet tea, it needs more time and keep checking it daily until it's done.
5. When it's done, remove the SCOBY. 
6. Flavoring:  Add 2-4tbs organic juice or mashed fruit to the bottom of your individual jars.  Experiment with different flavors to find your favorite!  (I can't wait to try mashed peaches this summer when they are in season)  Pour your kombucha on top, leaving some room.  Seal them so they carbonate as they double ferment.  If you want regular tea, just skip the flavoring and pour it straight into the jar & seal.

NOTE:  Save at least 1c of this tea for your next batch of starter tea and to keep the SCOBY alive. See directions below.

6. Set your individual jars out by some light in a warm area (the picture is my jars double fermenting on my kitchen table).  They need about 3 days (longer if it's cold).  Move them to the refrigerator so they stop fermenting and can be enjoyed once chilled.  Keep them stored in the refrigerator until cold.

NOTE:  Be careful opening these guys.  If you ferment them too long, they will have a tendency to explode.  I recommend opening them with a towel on top over the sink to be on the safe side with the first one you try.

 NOTE: Each jar may form an individual baby SCOBY.  This is normal.  You can remove it before drinking, save it and try to grow a large SCOBY out of it or just Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  The SCOBY is healthy even though it looks nasty :)

How to save your SCOBY: Be sure you keep about a cup of starter tea in a glass jar and place your SCOBY on top.  Your scoby will get bigger as times goes on and that's okay.  It needs a bit of sugar to stay alive so this should be fine.  Keep it in a cool dark area so that it doesn't overly ferment while you are saving it for your next batch.

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