My first experience with kombucha was a battle. The bottle said, “Do Not Shake.” So, I shook. Opened up the bottle and this ginger vinegar explodes all over my skirt. I take a sip and it’s this spicy, sour soiree in my mouth and I don’t know how I feel about it. Have another drink and pull a piece of snot out of my mouth. I figure patchouli’s going to their heads, but I keep drinking it because it cost me $4.50. I finish off the 16oz, and think, “I’ll buy another tomorrow.” They got me.
A better me would have mumbled something about, “pro-biotic, hippie-dippie bull shit,” and walked away. Instead, one day Jacque says, “you want a SCOBY?”, and I say, “yes.”
So there I was, with a big jar and a momma SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Not a chance. But it’s easy to make and I figure, “what the hell.”
What you need:
-SCOBY; find a friend.
-a cup of plain kombucha from a previous batch; ask that friend with the SCOBY.
-big jar; I got a one gallon one from Jacque. Then I got bold and picked up a 2.5 gallon jug with a spigot. Just picked up another gallon jar full of pickles from Costco for $4.99. I’ll have another jar when I’m done eating.
-tea; black, green, or Yerba Mate. Use 10-12 bags for a gallon. Do the math past that.
-sugar; I haven’t had a reason to use sugar in years. Don’t like sweet. I bought a pound of it in 2008. Finally bought a new bag a couple of weeks ago. I use a cup for a gallon. Do the math again.
-a coffee filter or a cheesecloth if you’re the kind of person that has a cheesecloth.
Let’s do this. Boil a bunch of water. Enough to fill the jar, but not quite. I leave a couple of inches. This takes forever. Smoke a cigarette, have a drink, watch a show. You got time. Once it’s ready, make the tea like you usually do, for the same amount of time, in the pot. Easy. Take the tea out and let it cool. Really cool. The heat will mess with the bacteria. Delicate little flowers. Pour it into the jar with the cup of reserved kombucha and mix it with the sugar. Done. Put the coffee filter, or cheesecloth if you’re that person, over the lid with the rubber band. That’s it. For ten to fourteen days. Test it with a straw and you can decide when it’s ready. It’s usually tart enough by 14 days, otherwise it can get kind of vinegar-y.
Sometimes you forget about it for three weeks and figure, “might as well.”
So, I’m full of shit. I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now. Kombucha isn’t a new thing I’m trying out. But I’ve stuck with it. It’s a pre-blog success. Go team Me. So, I’ve got some to jar. The twenty-one day batch.
I’ve been using fruit, ginger or juice to flavor my kombucha. Make it taste real good. I haven’t had any turn out bad. Lucky, I guess. This time I’ve got blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, and ginger. Easy fruits, except for peeling the peaches. Almost a deal a breaker. But I’ve got fourteen Ball pint jars to fill, so I stay committed. I put some fruit in each jar, different combinations to see what happens and fill them up with the fresh kombucha. Leave a little room and close up the jars.
Let them sit, again. Out of the sun. Welcome to second fermentation. The little fruit sugars get eaten up and you start to get some carbonation so the kombucha will be fizzy, just like from the jars at the store. That’s why you leave the room. Explosions. So the internet says. I let it sit for one to two weeks. Last time I jarred, my kombucha had head like a craft beer. I’m still waiting on this batch, so we’ll see what happens.
Just a couple more days.