Saturday, August 22, 2009
OK,OK, it looks suspicious, but it's all legal - honest. That's BOOCH, not HOOCH on the label.
It's all Laurie's fault. Or at least her friend's fault. She had some SCOBY to share. What? Yeah, that was my thought, too. I had run across kombucha here and there, bottled in the health food sections I like to browse. But it was too pricey to spring for a taste test. Had heard good things about it, though. So, I was willing to experiment.
"Kombucha is an all natural health beverage made with a nutrient solution of tea and sugar to which a SCOBY is added. SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It is then fermented for 7-14 days.
Kombucha is naturally carbonated and has a host of healing properties including probiotics, alkalinizing the blood, detoxifying the liver, increased metabolism, improved digestion, rebuilding connective tissue and many others." - Kombucha Kamp
The SCOBY is also called the "mushroom". That's the strange floating stack-of-pancakes-looking thing in the jar. Those are layers of SCOBY from various brew cycles. Following some nebulous instruction and lots of reading online, I filled a gallon jar about 3/4 with some brewed green tea. Added the mushroom along with it's attendant liquid as a starter. Put some cheese cloth over the top secured with a rubber band, set it in a warmish corner and tried not to look at it too often. It's weird stuff.
Now you can use the brew at whatever stage it suits your taste - literally. One suggestion was, after about a week, to stick a straw below the mushroom and take a sip to test-taste the 'booch. I just couldn't do it. It was scary. But it did smell good. I gave it a sniff every couple of days, to see how it was doing. Like I knew what it was supposed to be doing...
It didn't help that Laurie had described the mushroom as sort of smelling like old socks. I just couldn't get past that mental connection...
Finally, it's been two weeks. The kombucha will turn to vinegar if it goes too long. I like vinegar, but I wanted to do this right, give it a chance to do it's healthy thing for me. So this morning I bit the bullet, and got out some jars. The slippery, rubbery mushroom was stashed along with some of it's liquid in another jar, and refrigerated - which will keep it inactive until I decide if I can handle this stuff.
I poured a small glass - and set it aside. Got out some more ingredients. Washed the jars. Delay, delay. OK, gutless, get it over with. A tiny sip. Another sip. HEY! IT'S FIZZY! Just like the instructions said! Wow! And, it is tasty! A sort of sweet/tangy flavor, very refreshing and fun.
Then I poured the rest of the brew into quart jars, for further experimenting. One jar has some fresh ginger, a slice of lemon, and some honey - I'm hoping for ginger ale. The other jar has slices of fresh juicy peaches. The idea is, the shot of new sugar will get the yeasties going again, for more fizz.
Laurie has some fancy bale-top bottles for me, to put the finished product in. We're going to enjoy our kombucha just like the big kids, now!
(if you are curious, there's a ton of info online; here's a good site for further exploration: http://kombuchakamp.blogspot.com/ )