Kombucha A fermented tea drink that has it's origins in China, that then travelled throughout Asia and to Europe. Kombucha begins with a sweet tea that is then fermented with the use of some Kombucha liquid and SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).
Kombucha has many uses, it can be drunk as is after the initial fermentation process or it can be "second fermented" to get more fizz and some added flavour into the drink. It can be left to ferment longer and become used just like vinegar, but with some added benefits to the shelf bought vinegars you will find.
Kombucha Method (First ferment)
Brew your tea (black or green preferably organic) in a vessel for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags and discard (I compost mine) Use 2 tea bags per litre (of Kombucha that you wish to brew).
Add 1/4 Cup good quality sugar (preferably organic rapadura, raw or coconut) per litre of liquid you wish to make. (If you are wanting to make 1 Litre of Kombucha use 1/4 Cup sugar) ( I normally brew 2 Litres)
Cool to room temperature
Place in a large enough jar or a 'Kombucha Crock' found at 'Nourish Me Organics' and let sit on the bench out of direct sunlight. If you are just using a large jar, secure a napkin or tea towel over the top to allow for air flow.
Taste you Kombucha after a few days to see how the fermentation process is going. If the sweetness has dropped and you would like to refrigerate, use or second ferment now then follow second fermentation steps.
If you feel the Kombucha is still to sweet leave to ferment for longer until you are satisfied with the taste. You will become accustomed to this process and will be able to judge by smell later on.
Second Fermentation You have fermented your kombucha to taste and now want to do something with it. If you like the taste and will drink it as is that's fine. Just prepare your cooled sweet tea and have it ready to place over your SCOBY for when you decant.
If you are using a 'Kombucha crock', just pour your Kombucha into a bottle from the tap.
If you are using a jar then use some tongs or chopsticks to remove the SCOBY, place SCOBY and a small amount of Kombucha liquid into a clean bowl and set aside. Take the Kombucha liquid out and bottle it. Place the SCOBY & reserved liquid back into the jar and top the jar up with the sweet tea. (Steps 1 to 4 above)
But, if you want to add some flavour, you need to second ferment. Follow the steps above, when it comes to the bottling stage, add your flavour to the bottle. Say about 100 ml/ 1L of flavour/Kombucha. Find what works for you. Bottle your flavoured Kombucha and leave to sit on the bench for about a day or so. Burp it once or twice a day by gently releasing the lid and sealing again. The longer the ferment the more fizz is created, but the less sweet as well. As before when the Kombucha is to your taste, seal the bottle and put in the fridge.
NOTE: It is important to use a thick glass bottle when second fermenting as the gas build up can be strong and some think glass bottles have been known to explode
Kombucha Vinegar You can make vinegar from Kombucha by letting your first ferment go on for longer. When you taste that the Kombucha is at the stage of vinegar flavour you desire, decant and bottle as above. You can use this vinegar in salads, for hair conditioner, for cleaning, for washing bed sheets in the machine wash basically anything you use vinegar for. The vinegar will continue to ferment in the bottle and may form a SCOBY as well, just remove it as needed.
Pickling with Kombucha You can use your first ferment of Kombucha to pickle anything that is worth pickling, cucumbers, carrots, fennel, beetroot, mushrooms, asparagus, the list goes on.
Prepare your vegetables by giving them a clean. Chop them how you would like them served.
Place in a jar with some pickling flavours like mustard seeds, black peppercorns, dill, rosemary, bay leaves etc.
Top up jar with your Kombucha liquid, leave some room at the top.
Cut a piece of SCOBY that will cover the top of the contents of the jar & sit inside the lip. Place on top on the contents of the jar.
Secure a napkin or tea towel over the top of the jar with an elastic band or string.
leave to sit on the bench top for a day or two or until the desired taste has been reached.
remove SCOBY and discard (Compost or feed to the dog, of the dog likes it)
Secure lid to jar and refrigerate your pickle.
Making a Kombucha Hotel Making a Kombucha hotel is advisable as soon as your SCOBY has produced another SCOBY. This ensures that you have a healthy SCOBY should anything happen to the original one. Take the spare SCOBY and put it in a large jar with some Kombucha liquid. Place in the back of the fridge. The SCOBY wall be completely fine to be left for months like this without adverse affects.
Coconut Water Kefir Coconut Water Kefir (KEFEER) is a tasty drink that is beneficial to those that are lactose intolerant and who want the benefits that Kefir can bring. It's super simple and easy to prepare. I like to ferment my Kefir using the Kerfiko bottles from 'Nourish Me Organics' but you can use a jar with a few extras as well. The benefit of the Kerfiko is that you have everything you need in the one handy pack.
Coconut Water Kefir Method (First Fermentation)
Place your Coconut Water Kefir (CWK) 'grains', in your jar or Kerfiko
Add 500ml of coconut water
Add 15g of good quality sugar (preferably organic raw or rapadura)
Stir and place on the bench to ferment overnight or until you get the yeasty beer like smell (NOT a strong beer smell) If you're using the Kerfiko, just make sure the top lid is not screwed down to allow for the kefir to breathe. If using a jar secure a napkin or tea towel to the top of the jar. If your CWK is ready and you aren't able to strain your liquid. Place jar into the refrigerator as this will slow the process of fermentation. Pull out of the fridge when you have time and continue with the next steps.
It's now ready to decant and bottle or second ferment. To decant using the Kerfiko bottle follow the instructions. If using a jar have your bottle ready with a funnel and a nut milk bag or fine plastic strainer. Strain the liquid into the bottle using the strainer and funnel and place the 'CWK grains' back into their original jar. Top the original jar up with Coconut Water and sugar. (Steps 2 to 4).
If you like the taste of the CWK as it is it is fine to drink like this. Just refrigerate after bottling. If you'd like to add flavour follow second ferment instructions
You will know that you need to separate and store (in a hotel) your CWK when the 'grains' become smaller and you see them start to become less gelatinous and more powdery. Store excess grains in a hotel when the population becomes noticeably large.
Pour about 50ml/500ml of flavour/kefir into a second ferment bottle (thick glass so it doesn't explode, you can use a Kerfiko or you can purchase really good 500ml and 1L bottles from the Source bulk foods shop, or elsewhere)
Your second ferment flavour can be whatever you choose, ginger can be grated finely for extra fizz. (Warning: Ginger will produce a more gaseous stronger fizz, hence the need for a thick glass jar). I like flavour combinations like ginger & mandarin, lemon & orange, lychee & raspberry.
After you've put your flavouring in the bottle top the bottle up with the CWK liquid. Place cap on bottle and sit on bench out of the sun until you are satisfied with the flavour of your second ferment. Remember to burp twice a day by gently loosening the lid and tightening again. Burp more often is you are using ginger.
Refrigerate when the desired flavour has been reached.
Other uses for CWK I like to bottle a first fermentation of CWK into a sprits bottle. I use this instead of soap, you can use this to wash your face with as well. You can also use it like you would apple cider vinegar or Kombucha instead of hair conditioner.
Making a CWK Hotel Place some 'CWK grains' in a jar with some very sweet filtered water. (Or water that has been boiled then cooled to room temperature). Place in back of the fridge. The 'CWK grains' should remain happy for quite some time before you need to change the sweet water again.
Milk Kefir Milk Kefir (KEFEER) is an ancient drink that originated near Turkey and was probably first made with Horse milk. The nomadic people of this region needed to have a nourishing product that was able to be carried ling distances with refrigeration.
leave on the bench out of the sun to ferment overnight, or until you notice a thickening of the milk and a fermented smell. You will become accustomed to the appearance of the MK as and when it is ready. If your MK is ready and you aren't able to strain your liquid. Place jar into the refrigerator as this will slow the process of fermentation. Pull out of the fridge when you have time and continue with the next steps.
Strain your MK liquid into a second jar or bottle using the Kerfiko or a funnel and milk cloth/plastic strainer. Refrigerate.
Top up the original jar with the MK grains and 500 ml milk.
When your grains have multiplied the ferment will become faster. In this case separate some grains and place in a hotel.
Milk Kefir Hotel Place some grains in a jar and top up with milk. Place in back of fridge. When you need to or are ready to use the grains again strain off the milk and begin the Milk Kefir Method.
Making Coconut Milk Kefir or Alternative Milk (Mylk) Kefir
You can use your MK 'grains' with Milk alternatives. I have only tried Coconut milk so far, but will let you know how it goes with other milks if I attempt it. Follow the steps of the Milk Kefir Method, just use the same amount of alternative milk liquid as you would dairy milk. It is important to remember that these grains have been grown in Cows Milk so will need to be 'refreshed' in Cows milk after 3 ferments in an alternative milk. Follow the steps below.
To 'refresh' your MK grains Place grains in a jar of cows milk and let them ferment. Once fermented you can use the Milk Kefir or discard. If you want to discard the MK use less milk in the ferment. To use the grains again in the milk alternative rinse under water and proceed with fermentation method.
Making Mango Lassi or any smoothie of choice
Pour your strained Mk into a blender, add some mango (frozen is ok), add a small amount of cardamom, a bit more cinnamon and a drop of rose water. Blend until well combined.
To make your smoothie of choice use MK as you would milk.
Making MK Cheese
Make 500ml of MK and strain into a second jar
Add 2 TBSP of pure cream ( I like Maleny Dairy's cream), stir and refrigerate overnight. To flavour go to step 3 other wise skip and continue to step 4 for the thickening process.
Mix your flavouring. I made roasted beetroot, fennel and garlic, cooled to room temp. Chopped up finely with sage, thyme and rosemary. Add flavouring to the MK mix from step 2.
Place into the Kerfiko Cheese maker (available at 'Nourish Me Organics') or use a larger jar and a nut milk bag to strain the mixture into the curds (cheese) and whey. You can do this by filling your nut milk bag with the mixture, hang the top of the bag over the mouth of the jar, ensure that the bottom of the bag does not touch the bottom of the jar and that there is enough room for the whey to drip out, secure lid over the top of the nut milk bag to hold it in place. Place in the fridge.
The benefit of the Kerfiko is that after you have refrigerated the 'cheese' overnight you can then use the silicone disk that comes with the cheesemaker, place this in the Kerfiko along with the spring, secure the lid and leave overnight again. Your 'cheese' will then be ready to eat.
People have made vegan cheeses by using a nut milk for their kefir and then using activated and blended cashews instead of the cream in step 2. The rest of the process is the same.
Making a hydrating face/skin mask Mix a small amount of MK in a small dish with a pinch of rock salt, 1/4 tsp honey, and 1 tsp lemon juice. Place in fridge and leave to become very creamy. Use your fingers to massage onto skin, this will tingle as the peptides in the milk work their way around the dead skin. Leave for about 10 - 20 mins and wash off. Your skin should feel very moisturised and smooth.