Kombucha – My Kind of Homebrew

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The Kombucha Chronicles – Part One

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I jumped on the Kombucha bandwagon – like most people – quite recently.  As it was with my mullet, I was a bit late joining the fad, but my dedication to the art and execution have remained unwavering once becoming hooked.  Unlike my mullet however, my partner likes my kombucha and it remains a socially acceptable topic of discussion and display.  The Kombucha Chronicles  document my exploration into the world of SCOBYs and mothers and probiotics.  Comments and suggestions are welcome: the little time I’ve spent brewing and reading about brewing is all because of comments and posts I’ve read online.  I owe my biggest thanks to JL, a co-worker who gave me my first mother and put my fermented tea train in motion.  She continues to make the consistently best Kombucha I’ve tried, and sets the bar high for my own brews.

This installment of the Kombucha Chronicles will outline my basic recipe and procedure.  If you want to read the pins and posts I’ve based my bottled fiascos on, here’s my repository:  My Kombucha Pins.  Additional links in the comments below are appreciated.  Future posts will highlight some variations on the basic recipe and technique for brewing Kombucha outlined below.  I do recommend reading through the whole recipe and procedure thoroughly before any brewing commences, especially if it’s your first time.  Furthermore, I would suggest reading through this Food Renegade post by Kristen Michaelis – this was my first introduction to Kombucha and is the genesis for my recipe.  Have fun.

Basic Kombucha
How to make Kombucha, the double fermentation process. Yields about 8 pints in 7 to 10 days.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
For the Tea
  1. 1 large glass jar - at least 1 gallon
  2. 1 gallon (3 3/4 liters) fresh, filtered, non-tap water
  3. 1 cup white sugar
  4. 6 bags black tea
First Fermentation
  1. 1 Kombucha mother, aka SCOBY
  2. 2 cups minimum previous brew, mothers' home liquid
Second Fermentation
  1. 1 quart mason jar and lid
  2. 8 pint mason jars and lids
  3. 2 cups fruit juice, no sugar added, no pulp or solids
Instructions
  1. Read notes on sanitation and safety below. IMPORTANT.
Make Tea/First Fermentation
  1. Boil distilled water, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Add tea bags, let steep 5 minutes before removing
  3. Cool to tepid temperature
  4. Add liqueur to gallon jar from Mothers jar (reserved from previous batch of Kombucha)
  5. Top jar with tea to within 1.5 to 2 inches from top of jar, at shoulder
  6. Gently place mother on top, brownest side down
  7. Cover jar with a clean towel or cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or twine
  8. Let rest in a dark place at room temperature for 7 to 10 days
  9. Check periodically that there is no mold growing, that the SCOBY is just a SCOBY
Second Fermention
  1. Once experienced (not faint of heart), use a straw to sample the brew. After 5 or six days it might be getting close - bubbles and nice balance of sweet and sour.
  2. Pour 2 oz of fruit juice into each of 8 pint jars
  3. Remove mother to quart jar, cover with fermentation liquid. Cover and refrigerate for your next brew.
  4. Distrubute fermented tea evenly between the pint jars, leaving at least 3/4 of an inch at the top
  5. Don't fear the solids at the bottom - add some of them to each jar at this point too. They can be filtered later if desired.
  6. Cover each jar with lids, let rest in a dark place at room temperature for another 2 days
  7. Do not shake the jars, the lids should not click when pressed, they should be firm
  8. Place in the refrigerator and let chill. Consume at your leisure.
SANITATION
  1. There is such a thing as too clean - not too sanitized, but too clean. Ensure everything is cleaned and sanitized with soap and heat etc. For sure. However, do not use any utensils or vessels that have not been rinsed with vinegar. Keep a little bottle of apple cider vinegar handy. Any equipment used at any point during a brew should be rinsed with it. Soap and chemicals can cause serious harm or even kill the SCOBY - we want Mother alive and well. I try to avoid plain white vinegar and stick to the apple cider variety. A quick swirl in clean jars, brief splash over utensils, brisk rinse of my hands before handling Mother - it all helps.
  2. Avoid using metal where possible, as well as all clays and ceramics. The boiling of distilled or filtered water is okay in stainless steel pots as there no long term exposure to acids. Use only glass for the first and second fermentation processes, and try to stick to wooden utensils.
SAFETY
  1. Keep in mind you are fermenting a liquid. Take care at every phase to deter any foreign debris or microorganisms that mean you harm or may lead to hazardous molds or bacteria. Best rule of thumb, "If in doubt, throw it out" and start again. Poisoning yourself or others is not worth the risk.
  2. It is also important to note that pressure may cause explosions - shards of exploded jars embedded in walls are not unheard of. Ensure your jars are not chipped or cracked before using. I usually wrap my second fermentation in a towel just in case. Don't shake the jars. I would even suggest wearing eye protection when first learning about the second fermentation. Until you get to know your brews and your recipes.
Adapted from The Food Renegade
Adapted from The Food Renegade
Surfing-Chef http://www.surfing-chef.com/

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