introduction to fermentation

In this weeks episode I introduce you to fermentation!  And there is no better way to start brewing than working with kombucha. 

What Is Kombucha Tea?

Is a fermented, sour, fizzy drink that is as good for you as it is delicious. It is made with a SCOBY, very similar to a mother used in apple cider vinegar

The SCOBY

SCOBY
Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast
This is a living mother, it looks like a slimy mushroom, so dont be alarmed.  
You will need a wide open glass jar.  It needs that open space for oxygen, the
SCOBY will fill the entire surface of the jar, and have babies....  you can get rid of the
babies, give them away, or keep them and your kombucha will ferment faster.  You
will also need a cloth to cover the mouth of the jar, and a rubber band to keep it in
place. 


introduction to fermentation

The Basics


You will also need, plain white sugar, and plain black tea. The SCOBY needs tea for
the taninns and the sugar to live.  It will metabolize both so dont be alarmed, the tea
mixture we make has a high content of sugar.... however when it comes time for
bottling the sugar should be metabolized and your kombucha not sweet.  so taste
before hand, be aware that the colder it is the longer it takes to ferment also.   Its
easy though, so dont be over whelmed you just need to follow a few simple
instructions and you'll be brewing in no time. 


 

Step 1

Recipe
1 litre of water (filtered)
1/3 cup of white sugar
4 bags of black tea 
You steep the tea and sugar in the hot water for 10 mins.  This is enough time to
release the tannin, any longer and it becomes quite bitter.
When the tea and sugar mixture has cooled, room temp, add it to the jar, then place
the SCOBY on top, then the starter tea on top of that.  The starter tea is a cup of the
previous batch of kombucha, it just makes the environment acidic enough for the
SCOBY to survive.   

Storing your kombucha

Then you cover the jar with the cloth, secure that with the rubber band, then place in
a dark spot (direct sunlight can kill the SCOBY) and leave it alone for at least 1
week. 
You will need to store your kombucha in a dark spot with stable temperatures.  I prefer my pantry.  Its in the middle of the house and dark. 
In that time the SCOBY will move around, create bubbles, and show life.  If it
sinks to the bottom of the jar, and stays there, its not viable.   
When the kombucha is ready, its time to do a second ferment

introduction to fermentation

STEP 2

Basically this is when
you can add some flavours. 

For this you will need an extra bottle.   
Remove the SCOBY and take 1 or 2 cups of starter tea/culture depending on the
amount you are making, and put in a bowl.   This you will save to repeat the process
above.


Flavours


With the left over tea, this is your kombucha, you can strain into a bottle then add
any flavours you like.  Some suggestions I like are;
blueberries and vanilla
apple cinnamon and honey
lemon peppermint and ginger  
strawberry and lavender
With your second ferment you want to include the best quality ingredients you can,
organic, etc.  the initial ferment of tea and sugar doesn't matter, the second ferment
does.  
Then bottle that for a day or so and you'll be ready to go. 

Tips and Tricks

Make sure to 'burp' your
bottles if you leave the second ferment longer.  As there is natural carbonation this
prevents your bottles bursting. 
Then grab your SCOBY and starter tea and repeat step 1
The main thing to look out for is mold.  This is rare, but can happen.  It looks like
bread mold, you cant mistake it, and if in doubt leave for another week and see if the
mold remains.  Because its a weird looking thing, some people mistake the dredge
tails, babies, for mold.  These look like wispy jelly fish legs... and are completely
normal.  The mold is different again, and if youre in doubt you can send me a pic and
In the past five years, Ive gotten mold once, and that was because I removed too
much SCOBY for the amount I was brewing,  usually it shouldn't be a problem
because of all the good bacteria fighting off any nasties.  If you have mold you must
ditch the entire thing.



Important points to remember

The jar must be GLASS
The water FILTERED
The flavoured ingredients must be good quality (you dont need much of those)
Store your SCOBY in a dark spot that has an even temp, I store mine in my pantry. 
If there is MOLD you must throw the whole thing away, SCOBY and kombucha.
It is a true elixir of health, good for everyone.  But start of slow, one cup a day and
build up, just to avoid 'slothing off'.

It takes me around 15 mins to do the above and bottle 6 litres a week.  And if I
dont feel like it, or need a break, I have left them for months and theyve been fine.  It can stay in the pantry for at least 3 weeks, and in the fridge for months. 
With time the SCOBY gets really dark, it becomes stained by the tea,  sometimes if a
bag splits then it also has tiny grains of tea, all fine.

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