Herbal Kombucha

Well, that “Big Book of Kombucha” is inspiring. I had most of the book read within two days. The only part I didn’t read is the part about continuous brewing as I really have no interest in going that route; at least, not at this time. I’m enjoying the e-version so much that I’ve also purchased the actual book. It’s definitely library material.

One of the things I love is that Hannah encourages experimentation… as long as you have SCOBYs to spare.

The Ashwaganda/Green Tea Kombucha is coming along nicely. After only three days, there’s already a nice little SCOBY growing and it smells good. Now, I’m considering other kinds of herbal kombuchas.

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Over the years, I’ve read that stinging nettle is a very healthy and helpful herb. I’ve always wanted to try it but, having been stung numerous times, I’m a little cautious of the plant. Dried, however, the sting is eliminated. I made the trip to the health food store after work yesterday and bought some.

I think I’ll do the same thing I did with the Ashwaganda: brew some nettle tea and combine it with green tea. I might even pick some raspberry leaves to throw into the brew as those, too, are very beneficial.

In my other ferments, I’ve decided to track the growth of my water kefir grains. This week, I had to add more to the jar in the fridge because they’ve grown so much! I left about 69 grams of the grains to work with and, each time I make a new batch, I’ll weigh and track them. After only 24 hours, the grains went from 68.5 grams to 74 grams! It will be interesting to see how quickly they multiply.

More Experimentation

I was home with a killer tension headache today and, after a nice long nap, played with my ferments. I bottled the kombucha (3 bottles with black cherry, raspberry, and blueberry; one bottle has an addition of ashwagandha root) and started a new batch. I made two kinds of ginger bug soda (apple and white grape) and another batch of water kefir (mango). The bottle of very berry water kefir I put together yesterday went into the fridge because it is FIZZY!

Then, while browsing through Amazon, I came across Hannah Crum’s “Big Book of Kombucha”. I debated spending the money on the “real” book but the $2.99 Kindle version caught my eye and made its way on to my tablet. I’ve been reading it most of the afternoon.

One of the things I’m loving so far is the encouragement to explore… IF you have back up scobies. I do. So, I am.

I decided to make a small one quart batch of experimental kombucha using ashwagandha tea and green tea, sweetened with cane sugar and a scoby from the hotel.

 

Ginger Bug – Update

Well, in the course of experimentation, not everything is a success. The ginger bug falls under that category — not a success. It never started to ferment… at all. After five days, I ended up with a sweet, ginger-flavoured syrup and a bunch of ginger sludge.

I’ve already had a mini rant about “organic” foods so I won’t go into that again but I did do some further reading and discovered why the recipes call for organic ginger. Apparently, most imported ginger has been irradiated to kill off harmful (and not so harmful) bacteria. That would definitely explain why my attempt at a ginger bug didn’t work.

I did, however, strain out the grated ginger and kept the ginger syrup. It is delicious and should be good as a flavouring in water kefir or kombucha.

Speaking of water kefir, I’ve been drinking it regularly this past week and, as a result, have had to take the grains out of the fridge in order to make more. After feeding it with fresh sugar water, and twelve hours of fermenting, it’s already bubbling away in the cupboard. I think it will be ready for bottling by tonight.

Once I bottle it, I’ll be splitting the grains between two mason jars. One will be in production and the other will be stored in the fridge until needed. Or until someone says they’d like to try making some. I’ll be more than happy to share!

Coffee Kombucha – the Finale

I’m not quite sure whether to describe the coffee kombucha experiment a success or a failure. In many ways, it was a resounding success. It definitely had that signature kombucha tanginess. Once I removed the scoby, I added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa nibs and a piece of vanilla bean and sealed the jar, left it for about 24 hours, then bottled it.

After 48 hours, and burping it a few times, I refrigerated it. We did a taste test from one of the bottles, a plastic juice bottle that had gotten rock hard. EW!!! Both of us found it disgusting. The kombucha tanginess really does not pair well with coffee. Just NO!

That’s the failure part of the experiment. It is not a flavour I’ll ever be wanting to recreate.

That said, though, the procedure was definitely successful. Check out the fizzy.

It’s a short video and I need to teach John a thing or two about taking video but you get the idea. It was FIZZY!!

Conclusion? The experiment was successful but the end result was, as far as we’re concerned, a failure and totally undrinkable.

Experiment Time

Ok, three posts in one day is a little excessive but I wanted to write this before I completely forget about it. Last Wednesday, I decided to do a little experiment – Coffee Kombucha. I came across a post on Kombucha Home and decided to try it for myself. I used my Melitta drip cone to make one quart of coffee, let it cool, added sugar and a scoby and put it in the spare bedroom to ferment.

Today, I decided to taste it. The first thing that surprised me is that there’s a clearish film over the surface of the coffee; it’s a very thin scoby. It surprised me because my reading indicated that there likely wouldn’t be a new scoby. I doubt if it’s going to develop much more but, at any rate, it surprised me.

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I had to mentally prepare myself to taste this beverage. I don’t usually drink black coffee so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Think coffee, Ev, think coffee. I took a sip and was, once again, surprised.

The coffee flavour is most definitely there. However, it also has that kombucha tanginess that I like so much. It certainly is a different flavour. I decided to post a question in the Kombucha Home Facebook page because I’m not sure if I should leave it the full seven days or go ahead and bottle now.

When I do bottle it, I think I’ll throw in some cocoa nibs and, perhaps, a small piece of vanilla. That would make it taste like a mocha, wouldn’t it? First, though, I’ll let John taste it. After all, he did say that Coffee Kombucha sounded like something he could get behind.

The Adventure Continues – Ginger Bug

In my continued reading in the Facebook group, “Fermentation: Recipes, Ideas, Inspiration”, I came across a mention of ginger bug. I’ve tried to make one before but, working solely on my own, I wasn’t sure of what I was doing.

I’ve decided to give it another try. It seems simple enough: water, sugar, ginger. That’s it. I went hunting for directions and came across several that were very similar so I started grating ginger. The directions couldn’t be simpler:

  • 2 cups of de-chlorinated water (we have access to both well water and city water so I chose well water, which I also use for my water kefir, with great success)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar (I used cane sugar)
  • 2 tbsp. grated ginger, with the skin on

Dissolve the sugar in the water, stir in the grated ginger. Cover with a breathable cover (I used a pickle pipe) and put it in a warm place. Feed it every day with more ginger and more sugar, stir it up a bit and put it away for another 24 hours. Repeat daily.

After about a week, it should be getting all bubbly and happy and it will be ready to use as a base for other beverages.

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Mine is in a kitchen cabinet above the stove. My water kefir does really well up there but, since it’s resting in the fridge at the moment, there’s an empty space just the right size. When I’m ready to start the water kefir again, I’ll find another spot for the ginger bug.

One thing I find just a little annoying when it comes to a lot of food sites. Every site I’ve read has stressed the importance of using organic ginger. It’s a tuber; it grows under ground. In my mind, anything that grows underground IS organic. It certainly isn’t inorganic! (rant over)

Now, off to explore uses and flavourings for my ginger bug.

Water Kefir – The Next Step

After leaving the first Water Kefir group, I searched for, and found, another group. That group was very helpful; I received some excellent advice, including answers to the questions I had asked in the previous group.

It turns out that others have had issues with using dehydrated water kefir grains, as I had. I turned to our town’s website (Castanet.net) to see if anyone local had grains for sale. I found two listings. I now have my very own fresh water kefir grains and the difference has been incredible. I have grain growth and I’m getting fizzy drinks! I am so impressed!

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I started out with about 1/4 cup of grains; I now have at least a cup! To the right of the WK, incidentally, is the jar of chive blossom vinegar Trinity and I put together. Next time she’s here, I’ll have her strain and bottle it. Isn’t the colour amazing? And the flavour is wonderful!

My grains have been producing so well that I’ve had to put them into temporary storage so we can drink up some of what we already have on hand. If I don’t, both fridges will contain nothing but water kefir and kombucha! Unfortunately, we do need room for food.

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The grandkids are enjoying it, too. This one was flavoured with a combination of frozen berries – raspberries, black cherries, blackberries, and blueberries – and fermented for about three days. It isn’t as fizzy as pop but it’s sweet enough that both Ethan and John like it. Trinity’s happy with both WK and kombucha. Now, we just need to drink it.