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How to make your own Kombucha
Kombucha is all the rage these days. Some folks say it tastes like fizzy pickle water. But, some people (like me) love it and can't get enough of it. It used to be one could only find the fermented mushroom tea at the local health food store where a well meaning clerk with Birkenstocks, a Z.Z. Top beard and the faint smell of patchouli emanating forth could enlighten buyers about the myriad healing properties of the stuff.
Kombucha is an age old recipe known for aiding in digestion because of its high probiotic culture content, and boosting immunity because of the complex enzymes formed through the fermentation process. G.T. Dave's Kombucha is probably the most popular brand out there, but there are numerous different companies peddling the healing elixir all over town lately for a steep $4.00 a bottle or more.
Well, now you can have as much Kombucha as you want for a fraction of the price.
Here is what you will need:
The Kombucha Mother, or starter. The easiest way to get this is to buy a bottle of G. T Dave's or one of the other brands and drink about half. Keep the rest for your own batch.
1-2 Gallons of spring water. Filtered water is ok, too, but spring water is better. Do not use tap water. The chlorine content could kill the mushroom. Also, do not use distilled water.
5 Black tea bags
5 Green tea bags
1 1/4 cups plain white sugar. The cheaper the better. don't waste money on Organic. The mushroom doesn't care.
1 small bottle of your favorite organic fruit juice. My faves so far have been grapefruit, pomegranate and grape. Squeeze your own if your feeling really industrious!
1 Large Glass Jar (A big candy jar would work. Whatever you get should hold at least 2 gallons of liquid.)
1 Large glass pitcher
1 Funnel (preferably not plastic)
apple cider vinegar - optional
An assortment of clean, sterilized glass bottles with tops. I re-use G.T. Dave's bottles, sparkling water bottles and even screw top wine bottles. Make sure your bottles are of adequate thickness. Weak bottles may mean a Kombucha explosion (which, despite how it sounds, is not a good thing.)
So here's what you do...
In a large pot, bring 1 1/2 gallons of spring water to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat.
add 5 Green tea bags and 5 black tea bags and allow to steep for exactly 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and discard. Add 1 1/4 cups white sugar and stir until dissolved.
Refrigerate until completely cool. (Hot liquid=dead mushroom.) Once cool, pour the tea into the glass container and add the Kombucha mother (remember that bottle you bought and drank half of?)
If this is your starter batch, add 1 capful of apple cider vinegar.
Cover with cheesecloth or a dishtowel and secure with a rubber band. Allow this to ferment for 7 days. You will watch your Kombucha mushroom (also known as the Scooby) grow like some crazy science project!!
At the end of this 1st fermentation period, you will bottle your Kombucha.
Pour the mixture (leaving the Scooby in the jar where it will live from now on) through your strainer into the glass pitcher. Then, transfer this clarified liquid into your bottles through your funnel, leaving about a 1/2 inch of space to top off with your fruit juice. Cap it and store in a cool dry place for 3 days. I check mine daily and unscrew the cap to let off excess fizz so there are no blow ups. At the end of 3 days, refrigerate and enjoy!
You will want to store your large Kombucha jar on the counter, not in the fridge. The culture continues to ferment whatever liquid it is in, but will become dormant in the refrigerator. Besides, if your Kombucha is on the counter, you can track its progress more easily. You can even make friends with it and talk to it once in awhile. Oh. You laugh now, but let's see who's laughing when you're carrying on a conversation with a fungus. Seriously.
After a few batches, you will notice your Scooby is thicker and thicker. You can peel the bottom layers off and give them to friends so they can start their own batches.
Once you do this, you will never pay for expensive Kombucha again. Now, get to it!!
Long Live Kombucha!!