What is Kombucha Vinegar?
Perhaps you've heard of kombucha?
Often brewed into a sweetened tea, kombucha is a tonic that can help detoxify and promote good health. The Chinese tea uses a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) for fermentation, which is a fancy term for the kombucha mushroom!
The light, slightly acidic taste of a kombucha brew reminds many of apple cider or wine, depending on the fermentation used to create it.
When used to create vinegar, kombucha can be combined with flavors of your choice (mint, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries, for example) before fermentation. The unique flavors create an intriguing vinaigrette that can be used in salad dressings, sauces, dips and more. Simply substitute kombucha vinegar for any other variety of vinegar called for in the recipe.
Vinegar (quite literally "sour wine") results when ethanol in wine, cider, beer or fruit juice goes through oxidation when exposed to acetic acid bacteria. The liquid that results from the natural fermentation process is acidic, the degree of which varies depending on the type of vinegar. Kombucha vinegar is just one of hundreds of vinegar varieties.
Generally, vinegar has been an essential element in many recipes worldwide. Many cuisines would not be the same without the acidic, sour element. The history of vinegar dates back more than 3,000 years!
How to make and use kombucha vinegar to help promote your own good health is covered in this hub.
Kombucha as part of a Healthy Diet
Health Benefits of Kombucha
There are many claimed health benefits of kombucha, though some medical professionals caution you in believing them. Should you have any questions, be sure to consult your own doctor.
Kombucha is said to have numerous nutritive properties including organic acids, vitamins and enzymes. Specifically, you'll ingest vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12 (B complex vitamins) that can help boost your mood and give you energy. Vitamin C is also found in kombucha, which may improve your immunity and detoxify your system.
There is a wide range of ailments that may be addressed by ingesting kombucha: chronic fatigue syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, hepatitis, HIV, cancer, arthritis, digestive problems, asthma, allergies, hypertension, high cholesterol, skin problems, psoriasis, acne, and the possibility of weight loss are among many health issues that may be improved.
According to one website:
"Kombucha is an effective metabolic balancer (helping the various organs work together), probiotic (supporting the beneficial bacteria), adaptogen (balancing processes that get out of kilter) and detoxifier. The probiotic case for Kombucha is that it encourages healthier intestinal flora by introducing lactic acid-producing bacteria. These work in a similar way to acidophilus bacteria, the active ingredient in live yogurt. An old saying, ‘healthy gut, healthy body,’ puts it simply. The acidity level of the gut is all-important, as is the health of its microbial flora which
play a crucial role in the functioning of the whole body."
Kombucha is said to be particularly healthful given that it has active cultures, much like high quality yogurt. The living cultures in the liquid mean that you'll be assured of high contents of organic acids, which will help you realize the health benefits of fermented beverages.
Simply, fermentation involves converting carbohydrates (usually sugar, whether sucrose or lactose) into acid or alcohol. Yeast and/or bacteria is often used in the process. Even if you don't enjoy beer or wine, you've probably enjoyed fermented foods such as yogurt.
Why not expand your culinary experience by trying kombucha?
Medicinal Benefits of Kombucha
How to Make Kombucha Vinegar
Its easy to make kombucha vinegar! A few simple steps and in a little over 1 week, you can enjoy the new homemade taste (exactly as you like it) in your own recipes.
What You'll Need:
- Kombucha mushroom (you can purchase at local health food store or online)
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 4-6 tea bags of green or black tea
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 quarts purified water
- A 1 gallon jar
- A clean cheesecloth or large unbleached coffee filter
- Rubber bands
- Clean plastic bottle or jar into which finished kombucha vinegar will be poured
1. Wash the 1 gallon jar thoroughly and rinse with additional white distilled vinegar.
2. Add the purified water to a large pot and heat to simmer (do not boil). Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the tea bags and steep for 5-10 minutes, depending on personal taste. Allow the tea mixture to cool to room temperature.
3. Once your tea mixture has cooled, add 1 cup white vinegar (if you have previously made kombucha vinegar and have leftover "starter vinegar," use 2 cups of that vinegar instead).
4. Place the kombucha mushroom in the jar, and pour in your tea/vinegar mixture. Cover securely with a cheese cloth, paper towel or coffee filter (see photo to the right), and rubber band.
5. Allow the kombucha vinegar to brew for 9-10 days in a quiet, warm location away from windows and drafts. During the brewing process, a white culture will begin to form on top of the liquid which will develop dark brown yeast. This is normal and expected. But if a gray or green mold develops, discard the mushroom and the vinegar and start over!
6. When the kombucha culture is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, perform a taste test of the vinegar. If you enjoy a stronger taste, allow to ferment for an additional day or two. Remove the kombucha mushroom and pour the resulting kombucha vinegar into a clean bottle or jar. If desired, you may filter the vinegar by pouring through a cheesecloth.
7. You may now wish to add fresh herbs, fruit juice, grated ginger or sweeteners to your kombucha vinegar! Seal the bottle or jar and allow to ferment for an additional 2-3 days. Then enjoy fresh, homemade kombucha vinegar in your recipes! Be sure to refrigerate and use within 4 weeks.
7. Any leftover un-flavored kombucha vinegar can be used as a starter vinegar for additional batches. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
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© 2010 Stephanie Hicks
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