Thursday, June 9, 2011

"the fungus of charity" I finally give making kombucha a try

I love these Kombucha drinks

but at around $3.50 a pop they seem too much like a luxury. When you consider the health benefits of this ancient  “Immortal Health Elixir" it seems fitting that it be enjoyed on a more regular basis. One of kombucha’s health benefits is its ability to detox the body. It is rich in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body produces to detox. This cleansing reduces the pancreatic load and eases the burden on your liver. I also find it satisfies the appetite. I'm always looking for ways to take items that enhance healthy, happy living off the luxury list, so I've decided to make some, I wont get the pretty label, but I do get to send sparkly pro-biotic to my gut flora more often.

First I purchased a kombucha starter. You can get a whole kit, but I'm pretty sure you can scratch up what's needed around the house. If you ask around you might even find a friend who can give you a starter. I used Cultures for Health's starter. Take some time to peruse the site - they have lots of supplies for the real food enthusiast.

This is what the starter looks like

One of the good things about using the Cultures for Health starter is that it comes with very thorough instructions, trouble shooting, and suggested variations.

If you plan on giving it a try DO NOT use this outline as your only information re: making kombucha tea! These instruction will show you that it's not that difficult, or time consuming, but you should still make sure you understand the process thoroughly. I looked at a couple sources and talked to people who make their own before getting started. A plethora of beneficial bacteria makes its home inside your body and we're looking to add to their ranks. As we support the growth of beneficial bacteria we need to be careful not to introduce harmful bacteria. Anytime you use fermentation pay very close attention to cleanliness-wash your hands and sterilize everything!

Here are the basics:

To rehydrate the kombucha starter, take approximately 2.5-3 cups of water. The water should either be filtered or should already have been boiled for at least 5 minutes.

During the process do not use metal for anything.

After boiling pour in a sterile glass jar and add .25 cups of sugar and your tea, stir it until the sugar dissolves, then infuse for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, strain out the loose tea (if used) or remove tea bags.

Let the brew come to room temperature - if it's too hot you could kill your new culture very quickly.

Once cool, add  half a cup of vinegar.

Once at the right temperature, place the culture in the liquid. It may float or sink, it doesn't matter which.

During fermentation, cover the glass jar with a towel, or coffee filter - it should not have an air tight cover. Keep the jar in a warm spot (70-85F degrees) and out of direct sunlight for 10-28 days until a new culture forms.

As you near the end give it a taste (being careful not to contaminate) You are looking for a slightly sharp, not sweet taste. If it is not quite there yet then put the cover back on and leave it for another day before tasting again.

The length of brewing time can vary quite a bit, but it is normally between 10 days to 2 weeks. The time can be extended, especially if your room temperature is on the cool side.

You can choose to drink most of this batch or take the entire contents of this batch and the mother and baby culture to make two half gallon or gallon jars of kombucha. If you drink most of the batch remember to reserve half a cup for the next batch - you will use this starter tea instead of the vinegar that you needed the first time.

I'll follow-up with information on the baby culture and the second batch.

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