Fermented Foods - Kombucha

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Kombucha is a probiotic, detoxifying and energising health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with a kombucha culture. It’s claimed to help build up immune systems, fight yeast infections and helps alleviate joint problems.

It can be made with black or green tea (not herbal teas) and is lightly effervescent and wonderfully refreshing.

You’ll need a “Scoby”, an acronym: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Scoby is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transforms it into fizzy kombucha. It’s like a rubbery raft that floats on the surface of the kombucha. You can make your own, however we had ours delivered!

We have used a recipe by Happy Kombucha.

Interestingly they recommend that you remove metal jewellery as you should avoid using any metals when making kombucha. If you have a stainless steel sink, use a plastic bowl when transferring the kombucha liquid and scoby into the storage container, as the scoby is slippery and you don’t want it to fall in the sink.

Kombucha cultures need to be kept in a balanced temperature, not too hot, not too cold, so avoid exposing them to extremes. Keep in a constant room temperature of approx. 20-23c (70F), an airing cupboard is perfect.

When not brewing, keep your kombucha sitting in some of its own juices, like humans it needs liquid to stay alive.

By now you might be put off making kombucha as it sounds a little complex, don’t be, you’ll pick it up and if you have any issues the lovely people at Happy Komucha are very helpful.

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Makes approximately 2 litres

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ingredients

  • 1 scoby (kombucha culture)
  • 6 tea bags of black or green tea
  • 170g granulated sugar, more or less if preferred
  • A large glass brewing jar, or plastic tub, that takes about 2 litres of liquid and a wide enough neck to take the scoby
  • A tight weave cotton or muslin cloth, string, or a large elastic band to cover the jar
  • A small funnel
  • Swing top glass bottles for storing the kombucha once fermented

Optional flavouring extras when bottling: a handful of chopped fruit, fruit juice, honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices.

Method

  1. Boil approx. 2 litres of water. Put the tea bags into a heat proof container such as a metal pan to make the tea. You can use a metal container at this stage as you haven’t added your scoby. Add the sugar, you can use more or less, this is down to personal preference.
  2. Once the kettle has boiled, pour the boiling water over the tea bags and sugar, don’t use a glass container as it may shatter, or plastic as it becomes flimsy. Stir the boiling water with the tea and sugar mixture, then wait half an hour before you remove the tea bags. Allow to cool.
  3. Once the container and liquid are cool to touch. Naturally cold is best. With the teabags removed, pour the liquid into the brewing container, and with clean hands place your scoby in the top, the lightest side upwards. It will either float or sink, either is good. If it over flows pour a little liquid out. With the culture floating in the tea, put the muslin over the top of the container and secure tightly with the elastic band.
  4. Find a good spot for your container, this should be somewhere out of direct sunlight, but with a balanced temperature.
  5. Your kombucha will take between 6 to 14 days to ferment. Check the darkness of the tea when you first put your scoby into it, then note how the liquid changes colour. The shade will change and then become cloudier.
  6. It’s not unusual for the scoby to float to the top, or even sideways during fermentation. A new cream-coloured scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s fine if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation.
  7. After about 7 days, begin tasting your kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar into a glass. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle. As you get more experienced you’ll learn the brew duration that best suits your taste buds.
  8. Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as already outlined. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate or bowl. Check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.
  9. Measure out some starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside ready for the next batch (enough to cover the scoby). Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if necessary) into bottles using the small funnel. You could addherbs or fruit at this stage, if you want some flavouring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with the herbal flavorings for a day or two in another covered jar, strain and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “bits’ in it.
  10. Store the bottled kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Refridgerate to stop fermentation and carbonation. Consume your kombucha within a month.
  11. Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment as before.

Remember that your scoby is a living organism, in needs love and respect like us.

Please note; if you are a diabetic, or on any heavy medication, you should not drink kombucha without first seeking medical advice from your doctor.

Other recipes in our fermented food series

Aubergine salad recipe