Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kombucha & Kimchi, two of my favorite K words

Kombucha is like cilantro, you either love it or hate it. I've never met anyone who falls in the middle on either. For those of you who love kombucha but don't love the price tag, I've got news for you. Kombucha is super easy to make and super hard to screw up.

Here's a link to the article and recipe that got me started. I've been brewing my own kombucha for at least 2 years now and I've never had a batch fail.

My process is a little different now from the recipe. It's evolved to fit my personal kombucha consumption and the way my kitchen (and life) works. Bottling the finished batch and setting up the next one is usually a two day process for me.

On day one (this assumes you've got a batch ready to bottle) I set up my water bath canning pot with 7 1-quart mason jars in it and boil them to sterilize them. You want those jars clean and cootie free. I boil them for about 20 minutes. I also boil the lids and rings. I should point out that I reuse the same jar lids and rings each time. You don't need a true canning seal to brew kombucha. I take the jars out and let them cool a bit upside down on a clean dish towel. At this point, I usually remember to take off my super fuzzy sweater that for some reason I always seem to be wearing when I make kombucha. I brew my kombucha in two, one gallon glass jars that are covered with paper coffee filters held in place by rubber bands. They allow air flow but no critters or dust gets in. I take the scoby out of one jar and put it into the other. Then pour the kombucha from your scoby-free jar into the mason jars. Transfer both scobies into the now empty first jar and cover with some of the kombucha from the second jar. Put the coffee filter hat back on the gallon jar. Pour the remaining kombucha into the mason jars. I know that a double batch of the kombucha recipe will give me enough to fill 7 mason jars and leaves about an inch in each jar empty so I can add a juice for flavor if I choose. The quart jars get capped and placed in a cabinet for 2-3 days and then they go into the fridge and are ready to drink.

On day two, I boil up two gallons of water that has run through my Brita filter. I don't actually measure anymore because I know where two gallons comes up to in the pot I always use. Once boiling, I add 2 cups of sugar. When it dissolves, I turn off the heat and add 8 teabags, usually Lipton because its what my hubby drinks and I have it on hand. Let the teabags steep for 30 minutes and then remove. Let this cool to room temperature, high temps can kill the scoby. I have three one gallon jars, at this point one has the two scobies in it and the other two should be clean and empty. Place a scoby into each gallon jar and divide the liquid evenly between the two jars. I pour the cooled tea/sugar brew into the two jars, put the little coffee filter hats on and put the jars into the cabinet for two weeks. Then lather, rinse, repeat. You know what I mean!

But what about the need for a scoby or "mother" to get your batch started? My original scoby was offered on our local freecycle website. Since then I've giving several several away. My scoby is a prolific little devil. Other sources are the dregs from your bottle of store-bought kombucha. This is supposed to work, although I have never tried it. You can order online as well but that seems creepy to me.

Kimchi making is a new adventure. My daughter and her boyfriend got me a kit for Christmas. I finally got around to making it last feel and it came out amazing but I need to explore more about the process before I feel qualified to share the how-to though.

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