Since it is prime apple season, I decided that some apple kombucha would be wonderful! What is kombucha you may ask? Kombucha is a fermented probiotic beverage that aids in digestion and gut health among other benefits such as detoxification of the body. It is delicious, and you can buy the popular GT brand or others like it at Fresh and Natural Foods. You may even already enjoy it and know how tasty and helpful it is, but did you know it is fairly easy to make at home? I was buying it every day; I realized I could make it myself and now have some kombucha in my fridge at all times. The process is like this:
- You take a scoby (or the mother which ferments the tea and sugar you add to it to produce the drink), add it to a tea and sugar mixture along with some starter kombucha liquid and water. Then let it sit and ferment for a week until a new scoby is produced and the sugar has been used up (so no need to worry about the sugar content in this, it is food for the scoby) and the mixture is slightly tart. It is then bottled (or jarred, I use large mason jars) and allowed to become fizzy (which takes about 3 days).
You then can enjoy tasty kombucha, and your tummy will thank you! Once you get the hang of making it, you can even make fun flavors which are added after the fermentation and when it is bottled. If you have any questions about the kombucha making process feel free to comment!
Author: Amy Lyons O’Neil
Amy has worked for Fresh and Natural Foods since 2006 contributing to the variety of healthful foods we offer. She graduated with a degree in studio art from Bethel University in 2007, but in her senior year of college, found that her passion was with the art of food. She later used her photography and culinary skills to create a vegan food and recipe blog, Fragrant Vanilla Cake. She has also written 3 cookbooks. She specializes in vegan and vegetarian recipes. Local, fresh and organic food has always been her focus in whatever she creates.
- To make the kombucha, wash your hands very well with apple cider vinegar or soap (but not antibacterial because this can contaminate the Kombucha and make it not work). Wash out the glass jar you will be using to make the kombucha with the cider vinegar as well to sanitize it.
- Next, fill a 3 liter pot with 4 quarts of filtered water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes to sanitize it. Add the tea sachet, and let steep for about 3 minutes (or as long as you would normally brew tea). Turn off heat and add 1 cup raw sugar. Stir to dissolve, then let sit until the water cools to 75 degrees F. You do not want to add the culture when it is hot, or it will kill it. When the tea is cool, pour it into the glass jar and add the starter tea, Sanitize hands with the cider vinegar and gently put the scoby into the tea, cover the top of the jar with the cloth, and secure it tightly with rubber band.
- Put the jar somewhere warm and dark where it won’t be disturbed (I put mine in a closet on the top shelf). Temperature should be consistently at least 70 degrees if possible. Lower temperatures will make it grow slowly, but below 70ºF makes it more likely that unwanted organisms will start growing too. Wait about a week and when the tea starts to get smelly like vinegar, you can start tasting it. The scoby should form another scoby in the jar, and it may sink and it may float. If it floats though, it helps prevent mold. Note that if you see mold you have to throw the batch away and start over with a new scoby. When ready to test, remove a small amount. The best way to pull a sample is with a straw. Dip the straw about halfway into the tea, cover the end with your finger, pull the straw out and drink the liquid inside or put that liquid on the test strip. If the kombucha tastes really sweet, it is not done, and it needs more time to eat the sugar. If it tastes slightly vinegary, it is done and ready to be put in jars. Gently remove original scoby and new baby scoby with clean hands (sanitized with the vinegar is fine) and set them in a clean container. They may be stuck together. Pour a little of the kombucha on them and cover them to save them for another batch (they should be kept at room temperature.
- Pour the brewed kombucha into clean jars (but reserve 1 cup of the kombucha to make another batch next time). Fill them almost to the top but leave a little space for the fruit and for them to get fizzy (a little more if you are adding flavor**). Divide the apple slices and ginger between the jars. Put the lids on tight and let sit 3-5 days at room temperature to ferment and become carbonated. Once they are fizzy, you can strain them into other clean jars (or not depending on your taste). Store in the fridge.
*a scoby is a culture that is used to make kombucha, you can read more about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha Most people get them from people they know (since once you start brewing kombucha you have a lot) but you can order them online as well.
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