Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Flavoring Our First Batch of Kombucha

I think this first batch was fermented for five days. The wait seemed much longer ;-) Right before bottling I sanitized: a cutting board, a pairing knife, my glass jars, bottles and lids, a glass measuring cup (to scoop it out of the real big jar,) the countertop I would be working on and my own two hands. I used a mix of 50/50 white vinegar and water. Oh yeah, I also dipped in my phone in the vinegar. I used it to pull up directions: http://www.yourfamilyfarmer.com/recipes/kombucha-tea-instructions

Larger fruits, ginger and vanilla beans were chopped up to fit into containers. Frozen cherries and berries were taken out of the freezer. The flavor combos I came up with: cherry vanilla, raspberry vanilla, cranberry lime, and mango-lime-ginger-toasted coconut. I had a little flavoring experience when I used to make water kefir. I had the semi-correct idea that this would be similar. 
It was surprising what our favorite lavor came out to be: the plain/unflavored that I had poured into a big flask after I ran out of the bottles and jars with flavoring ingredients! Second runner up was along the same line- plain with just some vanilla bean added to it! :-) We really did enjoy all of the flavors too. Cherry vanilla was the fav of the flavored flavors. This was also the favorite of my water kefir makings.
The plain kombucha had all the subtle, delicate flavors of the different teas that I used. It was just a tad sweet, the perfect level of sweet for me personally. In the picture of ingredients that I posted in my last entry, it looks like A LOT of sugar was used. It was 2 1/2 cups of evaporated cane sugar for two gallons of tea. However, the beneficial microbes that make kombucha what it is, use the sugar as food. So by time it is ready to drink, there is very little sugar left. 
When I was at my kombucha lesson, I was so surprised at how good the homemade kombucha was compared to everything I had ever bought at a store. This first batch was my husband's first experience tasting homemade, and he totally agreed! 

Mango-lime-ginger-toasted coconut

Cranberry lime, raspberry vanilla and cherry vanilla

All the flavored jars ready to be filled with our first batch of kombucha

Bottled and flavored kombucha put away in a dark cabinet for the second fermentation. This step is optional in making kombucha. It helped to increase carbonation as microbes enter life in an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment inside the tightly sealed containers. It also gives it a little more tang to the flavor. It takes around 3-6 days, but I heard it can hang out this way for long periods of time, waiting to be consumed.
Although we love the plain, I'm thinking of flavors that would also have superfood powers: ginger, turmeric, lemon, chia, acia berries, goggi berries... I'm actually waiting on my fourth batch at this point. It's been a fun and healthy adventure for all involved!
Oh yeah- do I feel a difference from drinking so much kombucha? Definitely yes in two ways that I have noticed... My overall digestion feels great! No moments of feeling off at all, even after a few notably big meals. And a very, uhhh, "regular"-ness to my digestion process as a whole ;-) The other change is my irritable skin has become less irritable! Kk
Until now, it would have cost a fortune to drink as much kumbucha as we wanted. Now we can drink the best we've ever had, for only the cost of the sugar and bulk loose leaf tea!

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