When I wrote my fundraising post last week, I added a little note at the end offering to sell my starters to anyone interested. I didn't expect much interest, so I was surprised when I had so many orders for kefir, water kefir, and sourdough starters! This led me to believe that there may be more interest in my odd little hobby than I originally thought! So, today a post about my dear friend kombucha.
I love kombucha. I just do. It's really good for me, I love the taste, and it makes me feel great. I've written about what it is and how to make it before, and if you're new to the idea of kombucha, I suggest you start by reading those links. Today, I want to share some great secrets to getting a consistently tasty batch, one that's more similar to what you can buy at the store, should you ever be able to afford it. It's so pricey!
I liked my homemade kombucha, but I missed the bubbly, complex flavor of what I had back when I was buying it from the health food store where I worked. Over the course of the past few years, and with much trial and error, I have learned some tricks to getting my kombucha to taste more like that expensive bottled stuff. So, in no particular order, here you go.
Do a continuous brew system
My original recipe still applies, but I always use a gallon container and, instead of using all but the last bit of kombucha each time I brew, I simply pour off a quart at a time and add a new quart of sweet tea. This is how I get a good balance of flavors. It works something like this:
Day 1: make a gallon of kombucha
Day 5 (or so): pour out a quart of still semi-sweet kombucha and bottle it (see tip below). Add another quart of sweetened tea to the brew
Day 7(ish): bottle another quart of kombucha and replace it with sweet tea
Day 9(is): repeat what you did on days 5 and 7
you get the picture. The tea will slowly develop and you will have a balanced tea that is nice and kombuchaey(huh?), but not too strong. At some point, your tea may start to brew too quickly, and you'll want to remove a scoby or two before adding more tea. Also, it does get a residue on the bottom (of the beneficial yeasts), so you may want to start over at day 1 every couple of months.
Also, while I do suggest using at least a gallon sized container (bigger is fine, too), you don't have to be drinking a quart every two days. It's a flexible schedule. Otherwise, I'd never be able to keep up. It can sit for a week, or sometimes we end up drinking two quarts before I replace any at all. Kombucha is forgiving.
Use a grolsch style bottle
Odd name, I know. These are great for bottling kombucha. They allow carbonation to develop without risking explosion. The rubber stopper helps let out excess air pressure. They are pretty cheap and can be used indefinitely. (I heard once that one of the reasons people get addicted to soda is that our bodies inherently know their need for lactofermented drinks. I know I prefer a good kombucha or water kefir to a soda...most days.)
Make kombucha consistently
Kind of like kids and husbands, kombucha gets grumpy if you don't feed it regularly. The good news is, kombucha is happy to be fed roughly once a week. The kids, not so much.
Know that you are at the mercy of the season
My kombucha doesn't like winter. It tastes better to me when the temperature in our house is mid 70's. It does fine in winter, especially if I follow all of the other tips here, but I really like my spring and summer kombucha better.
Look at this great resource to learn more
Go play around on the Cultures For Health website. They have videos, tips, recipes, and an ebook all about kombucha as well as any other lacto fermentation starter you can imagine. You can also order supplies through this link. (I would like to remind you again that I have kombucha, water kefir, and sourdough starters that I'm offering to sell as part of our fundraising efforts for our adoption. Each starter is $10 plus shipping. Contact me if you're interested!)
(I am a cultures for health affiliate and I will receive a commission on any orders made through the links above.)
Have you discovered the kombucha love?
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