This has become such a huge part of my life that I felt it only appropriate to do a post about it!
When we lived in Iowa, I made my own water kefir. I never really cared for the taste of store bought kombucha but I really enjoyed water kefir that I had bought from a local health food store. When I realized how simple it was, I was hooked. When we moved, I didn’t bring my grains because it was a two day trip and I wasn’t even sure what to expect from the water or conditions in North Dakota. Once we settled in here, I bought new grains and started over. To my dismay, it just didn’t go as well as it had previously.
Pretty quickly, I became obsessed with store bought kombucha…no lie, it was an obsession! It was a very expensive obsession…almost $4 a bottle! I knew if I wanted to continue drinking kombucha for the health benefits and my own happiness, I was going to need to brew my own. It seemed like such a daunting ordeal. I couldn’t find any where close by that sold kombucha SCOBYs (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and I knew better than to buy a dehydrated one. I asked on the city Facebook swap page but no one seemed to have a SCOBY to spare. I really didn’t want one shipped USPS because, well, our postal service has issues. I decided I only had one real option: grow my own. I found some fantastic instructions online, bought a bottle of unflavored organic kombucha, and away we went. I wish I had a picture of the beginning…basically you have a jar with some stringy kombucha. If you’ve ever drank one from the store, you know what I mean…there are floaties that nobody really wants to drink 🙂
Here is a picture from about 10 days into the growth: Tiny, thin and just starting to get a good surface on it.
At 3 weeks, I was ready to brew my first batch”
So that brings me to today. The first picture, from 10 days, was on August 24th. I began brewing two weeks later. Today, I started my 7th batch, and put batch #6 into carbonation/flavoring stage. I always enjoy doing this so today I photo documented my creating. Enjoy!
This is the batch that was done with its first fermentation, ready to go into bottles for flavoring and carbonation (sometimes called second fermentation online. My husband the beer brewer has informed me on more than one occasion that this term is not really correct!)
Below is a picture of the SCOBY I grew…the mother. Tiny SCOBYs or babies grow under her each time you brew. It’s actually really cool! Look how much bigger she is NOW compared to when I started!
Next up, what do you do with the babies until you need them? They get to hang out in a SCOBY hotel. After separating a baby from the mother today, I have 4 backups. They just get fresh sweet tea every time I brew and hang out in the cupboard.
Now I’ve got all the fermented tea in the plastic jug, and fresh sweet tea in the fermenting jar. Notice the huge color difference? Same tea both time (black tea)…one fresh, one fermented.
Time to get the mother SCOBY into the fresh tea and let her get to work
All set. Cloth cover on to allow oxygen to get in, but keep cat fur and any potential critters out!
This is how they’ll hang out for the next, oh, 3 weeks probably. Then I’ll test the pH level and probably start it on the second phase. When it gets cold in here, I have a long rice sock that I warm up to keep them cozy.
Now to create Kombucha goodness. I’ve been keeping track of my process in here:
My last batch turned out so delicious that I decided to do the same thing for this batch: cranberry ginger raspberry and lemon.
Ginger sliced and lemons juiced
Ready to put all this goodness into the bottles
Ginger slices and raspberries in…the cranberry and lemon juice went straight into the pitcher of tea
Bottles filled and capped…
…fully dressed with their date-stamped bow ties…
…and in their own hotel for the next 7-10 days. I like to keep them under the sink for a couple reasons. First, if the pressure builds up too much and one explodes, the mess is more or less contained. Second, the temperature down there stays a bit warmer and I find it carbonates faster than when I used to keep it elsewhere. I’m impatient when it comes to my kombucha! After 7 days, I’ll check one. Usually they need to stay under the sink for 10 days before I’ve reached the carbonation level that I prefer.
So there you have it! How about you? Do you brew your own kombucha? What are your favorite flavor combinations? I always prefer the more sour blends but I’m sure there are great ideas out there! Next blog post NEEDS to be about my journey back to school to become a certified aromatherapist…it’s been an exciting start already!