Preserving Foods

by Rebecca Hansen

Now that so many of us have all tried our hands at the new Victory Gardens and are getting back to our roots in our community’s Grow Local movements and with the flow of garden produce increasing each minute, and we have donated to the local Community Food Share programs, we are beginning to be mildly panicked at the thought of all of that work going to waste solely because we can’t use it fast enough.  With our neighbors slamming their doors when they see us heading their way with an armload of our best organically grown zucchinis we find ourselves wishing the bounty could be spread out over the year and last well beyond the late summer flush.  More and more people are turning to home food preservation as a way to keep the bounty of their hard-earned, organic, heirloom, non-genetically modified gardens coming.

Now is the time to start your research, before the tidal wave of tomatoes sweeps you away. The number of food preservation methods is exciting and a bit daunting.  Drying foods is one of the oldest methods of preserving foods. Also, canning, freezing, pickling, curing and smoking, and fermenting are ways to keep your pantry full during the winter. What could be more fulfilling than pulling out a sparkling jar of homemade salsa when the snowflakes are flying to bring back warm memories of those beautiful heirloom tomatoes growing on the vine?  CSU Extension has a couple of great publications on how to dry vegetables and fruits with all that you need to know about nutritional values, methods and safety precautions.

Also in the extension’s Nutrition, Health and Food Safety publications, are fact sheets on smoking and curing meats and making pickles and sauerkraut and preserving without sugar or salt for special diets.  Check out the one on safe practices for community gardens for tips on ensuring safe food for all gardeners.

With all of our efforts to ensure that we each have gotten the most nutritious value from our fresh produce, it would be prudent to search for the newest scientific research into home preservation methods.  We want to eat healthy fruits and vegetables even when they are not in season.  The USDA encourages us to use safe canning methods. Scientific developments have changed recommendations over time. Always use up-to-date methods and do not just rely on the practices of past generations.  A great place to start is by exploring the National Center for Home Food Preservation website from the University of Georgia.

Publications and resources are available at the center’s website with useful tips for proper preservation techniques.  Also, not to be missed is an awesome, free, online self-study course called;

Preserving homegrown food can be an economical and fulfilling way to enjoy quality, nutritional food from your garden all year long.  So when your heirloom tomatoes, squash, onions, peppers, beans, garlic, beets, and turnips cover every surface in your home and garage and the refrigerator is brimming with more fragile produce, you will be fortified with the knowledge necessary to safely preserve the bounty for the time when the snowflakes will inevitably fly.

 

 

A TRIO OF WINTER SOUPS

Image of a cauldron of bubbling soup over a fire.

photo courtesy of Pixabay

From the Kitchen of Engrid Winslow

Maybe you have figured out by now that I have a long-standing love affair with all things Italian? No, well then, here I am giving you a trio of Italian soups. The first one hails from Emelia Romagna and the next is from Umbria followed by a traditional Tuscan bean soup. By the way, a great source for traditional Italian foods of all types, including beans, check out www.Gustiamo.com. If you prefer to stay in the USA, www.ranchogordo.com is also a wonderful source for heirloom beans and grains. Both websites have wonderful recipes as well. All of the recipes serve 4-6 people with some leftovers.

 

Sausage and Lentil Soup

  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp of Tomato Paste
  • 1/3 Cup Chicken stock or water
  • 850 grams (1 large can) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups lentils (the tiny Italian ones, called Lenticchini, are preferred)
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian Sausage
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Cooking the Lentils:

Wash the lentils in a strainer. In a large pot (big enough to hold cooked lentils, sausage and sauce), cover the lentils with 1.5 inches or 2 fingers worth of water. Cook the lentils over medium-high heat until the water boils and then decrease flame to low and cover the lentils. Stir occasionally and add more water as needed until the lentils are soft ((about 45 min).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Make the “Soffritto”:

Grate the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Add olive oil to a deep frying pan (big enough to hold the vegetables and sausage) and place over medium-low heat. Add the grated vegetables to the frying pan and let reduce, occasionally stirring until soft (10-15 min).

 

Combine the Ingredients:

While the soffritto is developing, remove the casing from the sausage and mash flat using the back of a spoon or your hands. Once the vegetables have turned a golden hue and the onions are translucent, add the mashed sausage. Once the sausage has browned add the tomato paste, 1/3 cup of water or stock and stir. Puree the whole peeled tomatoes and, after the sausage mixture has cooked for ten minutes, pour in the tomatoes and stir. Allow it to simmer for 25 min, covered on medium-low heat. Add the lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

Umbrian Farro Soup

 

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery, medium chop
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 minced cloves garlic2 1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 21/2 cups tomato sauce (canned or homemade)
  • 3 cups cooked farro, cooked al dente
  • 1 quart beef stock (use vegetable stock if desired for vegetarian version

Directions

  1. Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until translucent.
  2. Heat 1 cup of the beef stock and add the porcini to reconstitute.
  3. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend about 3/4 of the vegetables, the garlic, 1 cup of the cooked farro, and all of the porcini and liquid until smooth.
  4. Add back to the pot and add the remaining farro, vegetables and stock. Add 2 1/2 cups of tomato sauce. Season and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and parmegiano reggiano (optional)

 

Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

 (Zuppa Frantoiana)

 

 

  • 1 finely chopped carrot
  • 1 stick finely chopped celery
  • 1 small finely chopped onion
  • 1 14 ounce can (400 grams) of cooked Borlotti (cranberry) beans (you can also use cannellini beans or chickpeas)
  • 1 cup of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 small bunch of cavolo nero (Also known as Dinosaur or Tuscan) kale (you could use Swiss chard, beet greens, collards or spinach instead)
  • 4 cups of water or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Gently cook the carrot, celery and onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a good pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low heat. Let the vegetables sweat, not color, for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the borlotti beans with about a cup of water (enough to cover) and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes. Blend about half of the mixture to a smooth paste and return to the pot.

In the meantime, prepare the cavolo nero kale by slicing out the long, central stalk of the leaves and discarding and chop just the leaves roughly.

Add the pumpkin, potatoes and cavolo nero (if using silverbeet or spinach hold onto it until a few minutes towards the end of cooking) and top with enough water or stock to cover (up to 4 cups or 1 liter) and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, over an active simmer so that the liquid reduces slightly and the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning.

Serve with a good grinding of black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

 

 

Elderberry Syrup in 7 Easy Steps 

by Heather Stone  

Photo courtesy of Pixabay – RitaE

Cold and flu season is upon us and there are a host of great herbs that can help prevent us from catching a nasty bug or can help ease the symptoms if we do fall ill. Elderberries are one of them. Elderberries are an immune stimulant. They have long been used in the early stages of colds, coughs and flu. In this post, I will take you through the 7 easy steps to make elderberry syrup.

 

You can use dried, fresh or frozen elderberries to make your syrup. I sometimes like to add a few other herbs to enhance flavor and function, such as orange peel, cinnamon, or ginger. Elderberry syrup can be rather pricey in the store so making your own can save you money. I like to use elderberry syrup as a preventative measure. In my family, we begin taking our daily dose of syrup at the beginning of cold and flu season around mid-November and continue through the winter months.

Here’s what you will need-

1 cup fresh or frozen elderberries or ½ cup dried elderberries

3 cups water

1 cup honey

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional)

 

Let’s get started!

 

  1. Place your berries & herbs in cold water in a pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and then allow to gently simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Mash the berries and let the mixture cool slightly.
  4. Strain your herb/berry mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Make sure to squeeze

out all the juice.

  1. Add your honey to the mixture and gently warm (do not boil) stirring to incorporate the

honey.

  1. Let your mixture cool.
  2. Once cool, place your syrup in sterilized bottles and keep them in the fridge.
 
Photo of a Blue Tit Bird eating from a suet ball.

MAKE YOUR OWN SUET BALLS FOR BIRDS

By Engrid Winslow

During the long cold winter months, fat is extremely important for many birds to survive. The species that especially love suet are woodpeckers and flickers, chickadees, wrens, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, robins, jays, blackbirds and starlings. Be aware that raccoons, squirrels and mice are also attracted to suet so be prepared to use baffles or place mesh over the balls to deter them.

Suet is raw fat and has also been used to make candles and Christmas pudding. You can get it from your butcher and ask him to grind it for you. Then it needs to be melted and strained to remove any solids. If you want to avoid the “ick” factor, you can substitute l cup lard or shortening. The birds will eat it plain but many recipes call for adding seeds, dried fruit or even insects to the mix. Many pet food and birding stores sell pre-made suet cakes but it is so much more fun to make your own in various shapes and hang them outside. If you are getting only starlings, hang the balls with a mesh around all sides but the bottoms. This will make it possible for all of the woodpeckers to hang upside down and eat while the starlings are baffled and confused. Place them near where you already have feeders with plain birdseed and watch the fluttery show!

Here are some methods and recipes for making the suet cakes or balls:

_____________________________________________

    1 cup crunchy peanut butter

    1 cup lard

    2 cups quick cook oats

    2 cups cornmeal

    1 cup flour

  1/3 cup sugar

Melt the peanut butter and lard and add remaining ingredients and cool.

_____________________________________________
    1 cup crunchy peanut butter 
    1 cup shortening
    1 cup flour
    3 cups cornmeal
    1 cup cracked corn
    1 cup black oil sunflower seeds and/or mixed seed

Melt the peanut butter and shortening, add remaining ingredients and cool.

 
_____________________________________________

4 1/2 cups ground fresh suet

  3/4 cup dried and finely ground bakery goods such as Whole-wheat or cracked-wheat bread or crackers

  1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds

  1/4 cup millet

  1/4 cup dried and chopped fruit such as cranberries, currants, raisins, or other berries

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened, then strain and stir into the mixture in the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour or pack into forms or suet feeders or pack into pine cones.

_____________________________________________

  1/2 lb. fresh ground suet

  1/3 cup sunflower seed

  2/3 cup wild bird seed mix

  1/8 cup chopped peanuts

  1/4 cup raisins

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat. Allow it to cool thoroughly, then reheat it.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened, then stir it into the mixture in the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour into pie pan or form, or pack into suet feeders.

Optional or substitute ingredients: millet (or other bird seed), cornmeal, cooked noodles, chopped berries, dried fruit.

 

19 Uses for Summer Jam

Photo of a line of different jams on a shelf.

photo courtesy of pixabay marmaluk

by Engrid Winslow

  1. Swirl your favorite fruit jam into a bowl of yogurt and granola. In the bowl above, I blitzed some of the cranberry sauce with an immersion blender and swirled it into vanilla bean yogurt. Then I topped it off with some of the whole cranberries from the sauce and my favorite homemade granola.
  2. Use your jam for filling in homemade pop tarts.
  3. Top pancakes, waffles, or French toast with a big spoon of warmed jam. And a dollop of sweetened whipped cream!
  4. Or make a simple maple fruit syrup by heating some jam with pure maple syrup in a saucepan on the stovetop. Then spoon it over your favorite breakfast pancakes, waffles, or French toast.
  5. Stir jam into a bowl of steaming oatmeal or steel-cut oats, or into overnight oats.
  6. Make fruit butter for your favorite muffins or breakfast breads by beating together butter, a dollop of jam, fresh orange zest, and a touch of almond extract.
  7. Top a toasted bagel or English muffin with cream cheese or ricotta and a spoonful of jam.
  8. This smoothie couldn’t be easier to make. In a blender, combine 1 cup fresh-pressed apple cider, 1cup jam, 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup yogurt, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend until combined. Makes 2 large servings.
  9. Add a spoon of jam to a tall glass with ice and pour in cold and bubbly club soda. Muddle and stir to combine, for a refreshing homemade soda.
  10. Swirl a spoon of jam into a vodka or gin cocktail with tonic water over ice. Or stir a bit of it into your favorite margarita!
  11. One of my very favorite uses for jam involves meatballs. In a large skillet, heat 1 cup jam, 12 ounces chili sauce, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Fold in a 22-ounce bag of your favorite frozen cooked homestyle meatballs, thawed. Stir every now and then, until heated through. Top with chopped fresh parsley, if you like a little touch of fancy. Serve as a main entree with mashed potatoes or as an appetizer with party picks. This simple recipe delivers BIG flavor.
  12. Construct a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with layers of leftover turkey and a tart jam such as sour cherry, plus sharp cheddar. Or try apricot jam with brie and sliced ham.
  13. Make a glaze for roasted or grilled meat such as chicken, pork, beef kabobs or turkey by thinning jam with a bit of white wine, apple cider vinegar, stock or water.
  14. If you like to make your own salad dressings, try incorporating a bit of jam into your favorite balsamic or red wine vinaigrette.
  15. Here’s a super simple one: just add some jam to your favorite BBQ sauce.
  16. You won’t believe how wonderful a spoon of jam is over a slice of cheesecake or you can use it as a sauce on a simple chocolate cake instead of frosting
  17. Slices of angel food cake or pound cake are irresistible when topped with jam and whipped cream.
  18. Make thumbprint cookies, filled with a dollop of jam after they cool.
  19. And it doesn’t get much easier than this: Warm the jam and spoon over scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.
 

Christmas Gifts From the Kitchen

from the kitchen of Engrid WinslowDecorated gingerbread cookies.

Whether you want to bring one of these along to gift a hostess or surprise a friend or neighbor, these are easy and fun Holiday Gifts. They will be welcomed by the recipient as they appreciate your thoughtfulness and good taste.

 

HOT COCOA

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until powdery. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.

To use: Heat one cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. Add 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix. Whisk over heat for another minute or two, until it begins to simmer and mix is completely dissolved. Pour into mug, top with mini-marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream.

Variations: Mexican Hot Chocolate (with some chili powder, cayenne and cinnamon), Mint Hot Chocolate (with mint extract instead of vanilla), Mocha Hot Chocolate (with a couple tablespoons of espresso powder)

For gift giving: Package in a pretty jar and decorate as you wish along with mini marshmallows and a pretty mug or two.

 

SPICE & HERB BLEND

This is a great addition to soups, stews, meatloaf, sauces and ragouts. Yields 2/3 cup.

½ cup peppercorns                              4 tsp. ground ginger                            4 tsp grated nutmeg

1 tsp whole cloves                               2 cinnamon sticks, broken up              4 crumbled bay leaves

¾ tsp. ground mace                             ½ tsp. allspice

Combine ingredients and grind into a powder. Sift and pack tightly into an airtight container and store away from heat and light.

SUGARED AND SPICED NUTS

1 egg white                             1 TBL water                            1 lb. pecan or walnut halves

2/3 c superfine sugar               1 tsp salt                                  2 tsp ground cinnamon

¾ tsp ground ginger                ¾ tsp ground allspice              ½ tsp ground coriander

Preheat oven to 250 with one shelf in the upper third and the other in the lower third.

Whisk the egg whites and water until foamy, add the nuts and pour into a sieve to drain for 3 minutes.

Combine the spices and sugar and mix well in a large plastic bag.  Add the nuts and shake to coat. Spread on two baking sheets so that nuts do not touch each other.

Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and reduce heat to 225. Continue to bake, stirring occasionally until dried and crisp – this can take as long as 1.5 hours. Switch pans at the midpoint. Let the nuts cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Grow Your Own Sprouts in 6 Easy Steps

Photo of seeds sprouting.

photo courtesy of pixabay

 

by Heather Stone

  1. Choose a container and lid                Sprouting seeds in a jar is easy and convenient. Make sure to choose a jar that is large enough to accommodate the seeds when sprouted. I find a quart jar with a wide mouth to work well.  You will also need a mesh lid of some kind or thick cheesecloth to easily drain your sprouts after rinsing.  Sprouting lids can be purchased at most health food stores, online or you can easily make your own.

 

  1. Rinse and pick over your seeds

Carefully rinse and pick through your seeds removing any stones or debris.

 

  1. Soak your seeds

Fill your jar about ¾ full with cool water.  Soak your seeds overnight (8-12 hours). Soaking time will vary depending on the size of your seeds.

 

Sprouted seeds

photo courtesy of pixabay

 

 

 

  1. Drain your seeds

After soaking you will want to thoroughly drain your seeds. Tip your jar on its side and let it drain for several hours to be sure all liquid is removed.

 

  1. Continue to rinse and drain

For the next 2-4 days, you will rinse and drain your seeds three times a day. Using cool water, gently rinse your seeds so you don’t damage any sprouts and drain well.

 

  1. Final rinse and drain

When your seeds have sprouted and reached the desired length give them one final rinse and drain well.  Enjoy in salads, on sandwiches or stirred into soups. Sprouts can be stored for several days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

 

Some great seeds for sprouting include:

Beans (lentils, mung beans and chickpeas)

Alfalfa

Broccoli

Sunflower

Radish

Clover

 

Additional resources:

https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/sprouting/how-to-sprout-seeds-jar/

https://boulderlocavore.com/sprouting-101-homemade-sprouting-jars-tutorial-diy-mason-jars-giveaway/

 

 

Using Your Frozen Summer Bounty (Part 1 – PESTO)

Green Pesto in small jar with spreading knife and basil leaves as garnish

photo courtesy of pixabay

by Engrid Winslow

Frozen summer bounty.

Already the bounty of vegetables and herbs from the summer garden are becoming a distant memory. It’s time to dig into the freezer and start to use up some of those precious flavors in the cold winter months.

 

Let’s start with the delicious pesto(s) you made and froze back in June [Pesto Secrets] which is so useful in so many more ways than pasta. Pesto pairs particularly well with such winter delights as frozen roasted or sundried cherry tomatoes [Summer Harvest] and creamy mozzarella or burrata cheese so think of ways to include those items in some of the ideas listed below. But let’s look at some special spins on pesto.

 

*  Stir into softly scrambled eggs, or drizzle on top of a frittata

*  Mix with mayonnaise and use as an aioli on bread, in sandwiches or as a dip with vegetables

*  Spread it on a sandwich – especially a hot pressed sandwich like a Panini or grilled cheese

*  Substitute for tomato sauce on a pizza

*  Drizzle on soups such as Minestrone or Pasta e Fagioli

* Mix into salad dressing

* Toss with roasted veggies from potatoes to broccoli to eggplant

*  Serve with grilled steak, chicken, pork or even fish

*  Stir into the filling for a quiche

*  Add to chicken salad

*  Put it in a quesadilla or on pita bread sandwiches

*  Top a turkey burger with it

*  Stir into mashed potatoes or cauliflower

*  Mix it in with quinoa, rice or other grains

*  Add it to meatball, burger or meatloaf mixtures

*  Bake it into puff pastry with feta cheese and tomatoes

Here are a few others.

Let us know if you have other uses beyond pasta for the delicious pesto you made and froze this summer!

 

An Easy Guide to Perfect Kombucha

Graphic with the text, "An easy guide to perfect Kombucha."

 

by Sam Doll

Sweet, sour, fizzy, and funky; Kombucha (or ‘Booch” for those in the know ?) has been super trendy of late. This fermented tea drink is chock full of healthy probiotics, antioxidants, and good vibes!

The thing is, it is pretty pricey at the supermarket. Most bottles of kombucha are around $3 or $4 and can sometimes be as much as $8! We think this is criminal considering how easy, cheap, and rewarding it can to make your own kombucha at home.

Our guide will tell you everything you need; from getting your first SCOBY to making your booch effervescent and yummy!

Wait, What’s A SCOBY?

As you may know, Kombucha is a fermented product. Fermenting food brings us some of our tastiest flavors and textures. Sauerkraut, beer, miso, yogurt, and sourdough are all examples of amazing, delicious foods that would be impossible without fermentation.

Fermentation might sound gross at first, but it really is just a clever way humans have discovered to preserve foods and get a little bit of help from the beneficial bacteria all around us.

When we let these little microbes, like lactobacillus and yeast, do some of our digestion for us. Sometimes, these guys give off byproducts like alcohol or lactic acid that make it harder for anything else to eat that food, preserving it.

So, what is a SCOBY? The word SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. Sometimes called the “mushroom” or the “mother”, a SCOBY is what transforms your tea concentrate to the unique flavor profile of kombucha.

Have extra SCOBY, here are 13 uses for all your excess!

This colony (or more accurately, community) of various bacteria species and yeast (a single-celled fungus that makes bread and beer possible) works together to eat up most of the sugar and breaks down a lot of the complex nutrients present in the tea into their easier to digest components. The probiotics and available nutrients in kombucha is what makes it so healthy for you!

The SCOBY is usually somewhat gelatinous and tough and will float at the top of whatever container it’s stored in. They will grow to whatever size container they have and will usually have a hockey-puck shape (if it’s in a cylindrical container).

Okay, Where Do I Get A SCOBY

There are a few ways to get your first SCOBY, here are our favorites.

A Friend

Most likely, you have a friend or coworker who makes kombucha. The SCOBY naturally grows and layers into split-able discs. Most kombucha brewers have more SCOBY than they know what to do with and would be more than happy to spread the good word and help out a fledgling brewer like yourself!

Don’t forget about who gave you that SCOBY either, more than likely one of you will need a new SCOBY at some point and you might be needed to return the favor!

 

 Order A Starter Culture

If you can’t find a ‘booch buddy’, you can always order a SCOBY online. There are plenty of reputable dealers available (we like the Fermentaholics SCOBY with starter tea).

When purchasing online, make sure that the SCOBY is packed in ‘starter tea’. This is the tea that has already been fermented by the SCOBY in a previous batch and is loaded with probiotics. Without this starter tea, your first fermentation will be slow, and it could allow mold to set in on your SCOBY.

Make Your Own

Full disclosure, we’ve never attempted to make our own SCOBY. Never been patient enough to wait around for it! It is possible though! So, we’ll refer you to the experts on growing a SCOBY at Cultures for Health

**Important Note**

Kombucha making is not a 100% proposal. If you see what could be mold growing on your SCOBY or anything weird going on in the liquid, it’s best to pitch the whole batch (SCOBY included) and start over. It stinks, but sometimes it needs to be done to stay safe!

This article is full of helpful tips so you can tell if your SCOBY is moldy or not.

Also, SCOBYs don’t like things getting switched up on them. If they are in green tea when they start, only use green tea. If they start in black tea, only use black tea.

The First Fermentation

Equipment

  • 1-gallon glass jar*
  • Wooden or plastic spoon for stirring
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen twine

*Only use glass containers when making Kombucha. Metal will react with the acidity of the liquid and may impact SCOBY health and plastic can harbor unwanted bacteria.

Ingredients

  • 5 quarts water*
  • 8 bags of black or green tea (2 tbsps. of loose tea can be substituted)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • Minimum 8 oz. starter tea from the previous batch
  • 1 SCOBY

*If you have hard tap water, use filtered water from the store. Kombucha does not like high mineral content in the water.

1. Sterilize

With all fermentation, you want to be careful to make sure you are only adding the good microbes to your kombucha. This means keeping a sterile environment. All utensils and containers used should be sterilized before use.

The easiest way to sterilize equipment is to boil it for at least 5 minutes. You can also use hot vinegar to sanitize equipment. Do NOT use any soap or chemicals, since they can kill your SCOBY. Make sure to not touch any surface that will come in contact with the kombucha, since your hands do harbor microbes that can ruin your batch. Similarly, be careful to avoid touching the SCOBY.

2.  Make the Tea Concentrate

Heat the water to a boil and add the sugar water. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and add the tea. You can let the tea steep for a minimum of 10-15 minutes or wait until the tea is completely cooled (between 68-85ºF).

This is extremely important. If the tea is too hot when you add the starter tea and SCOBY to the mixture it can kill them.

Once cooled, remove tea and pour the concentrate into the fermentation jar.

3. Start the Fermentation

Once the base tea is cooled and in the jar, you can add the starter tea and SCOBY. Again, make sure not to touch the SCOBY. Use a clean spoon or tongs if you are having trouble moving it.

Once everything is in the fermentation jar, cover the top with a breathable material. We like a tightly woven cheesecloth or muslin. You can also use a clean dishtowel or coffee filter.

Secure the covering with a rubber band or kitchen twine to prevent any dust, debris, or insects from finding their way inside.

Find a dark place that the kombucha can remain undisturbed at room temperature and let it sit for 7-30 days. Taste every 7 days until it is where you want it. The sooner you stop the ferment, the sweeter it’ll be. The later, the sourer and funkier.

The Second Fermentation

Once your kombucha is done fermenting, you can feel free to drink it right then! If you want the full kombucha experience though, you’ll have to do a second fermentation. This is the stage where you will flavor your kombucha and let it carbonate.

Equipment

  • 6 16 oz. Fermentation grade swing-top bottles or 6. Pint-sized mason jars with lids and rings
  • Funnel

Ingredients (optional flavorings)*

  • 1-2 cups chopped fruit
  • 2-3 cups fruit juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp flavored/herbal tea

While it isn’t necessary to add any flavors to your kombucha, it can be a fun, creative experience that can make some special flavors. If you want suggestions of what flavors go well together, check out this article.

1.      Remove SCOBY

Once your Kombucha is where you like it, remove the SCOBY using clean utensils and place it on a clean plate. If the SCOBY is starting to layer (usually after about 4 brews) remove the older ‘mother’ from the bottom and save the ‘baby’.

Place the SCOBY in a clean, mason jar with at least 12 oz reserved starter tea. Store in the refrigerator until it’s time for your next brew.

2.      Prepare flavorings

This is where you get to make the kombucha your own. Prepare your flavors, using the guidelines above, and split it evenly among your bottles. Be careful when using ingredients like honey. If too much sugar is added, you can over-ferment and cause your bottles to burst.

Here are some Flavor Combinations that we like:

  • Ginger and Lemon
  • Kiwi
  • Honey and Lavender
  • Orange and Clove
  • Strawberry and Basil

 

3.      Bottling

Using clean bottles and a clean funnel, split the flavoring between your bottles and then pour the kombucha in.

Leave a minimum of an inch of hheadspacein the bottles so they properly carbonate and don’t over pressurize. The head space will also prevent the kombucha from spilling out when you open it.

4.      Wait it out

Let the kombucha sit for 1-3 days at room temperature, depending on the temperature, and then move them into the fridge

5.      Enjoy!

‘Nuf said!