Week 4: How to Make Kombucha

I am a bad blogger, but my sacrifice to my love of blogging is only because of my aptitude to succeed at the Culinary Institute of America. I would say that I am slightly obsessed with studying, while I am a nerd, I have this compulsive need to absorb as much information possible. Naturally, you would think my “over achieving” (a comment that has been derogatorily passed my way) would guarantee straight A’s but unfortunately there has been a A- or two tossed into the mix, which are still good and respectable grades, just not for me.
As the weeks slip away, my blog posts mound up. There is so much I want to share, but don’t know where to begin. I had a revelation just now in the shower that my blog has become that great friend you have that suddenly got busy (new baby, married, moved away, new job etc…). There is a lapse in communication and then you come to the point where you start putting off calling that person because you know it is going to be a really long phone call, to say everything that you want to say, then weeks turns into months…. I hope you get where I am going with this… Anyway, I found myself with a solid hour and decided it was time to make that “phone call”, so here it goes… A re-cap of Week 4.
This is week four of our six week B block classes. My classmates and I are getting really itchy to get out of our business causal monkey suits and into our whites and start touching food.


In addition to my classes, I have become involved with the Slow Food on Campus group. It is a branch of the national organization Slow Food USA, which is a part of the international organization Slow Food that I am also a member of in Bulgaria. I celebrated Terre Madre Day in 2009 with the Sofia convivia at Vishnite with Chef Valeri Neshov.
The more I learn about food and cooking the more my passion for sustainable and local agriculture grows. For anyone serious about food, I find these to things go hand in hand. Our group on campus holds weekly meetings and this particular meeting was about how to make kombucha with Doug from Luminous Kitchen in Brooklyn. For those of you who are not yet familiar with kombucha, I feel you will be soon. There is a growing support for kombucha which is attribute to its possible health benefits, such as increase liver function. While, I am not familiar with all that jazz, I just enjoy the taste!
Note: Before you even attempt to make this recipe you will need to obtain a piece of komucha culture or SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), which I am sure many of you have no idea where to buy, but you can find it on Ebay that is where Doug got his. You can also check on Etsy.
Equipment:
Glass jar that can hold at least 1 gallon of liquid.
Large piece of cheese cloth, to cover the glass jar
Ingredients:
1 gallon of water
1 cup of sugar (Don’t use less. The bacteria eat the sugar, so it is important to keep them fed)
4 heaping tbsp (Good quality loose leaf green or black tea)
Method:
  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Brew the tea, allow to seep for about 15 minutes.
  3. Sweeten the tea, stir to dissolve the crystals, then allow it to cool to room temperature (74 -84F/ 23-28C).
  4. Pour the tea into the glass jar, then add the culture.  (If you add the culture to extremely hot water you risk killing the bacteria)
  5. OPTIONAL: If you have access to some pre-made or an old batch of kombutch add about 10%, so if you are making a gallon (128fl oz), then add 12.8 fl oz.  It doesn’t need to be super accurate. This is a measure to ensure fermentation occurs. 
  6. Cover the jar with a porous covering such as cheese cloth.  You want to keep dust and other particles out of the kombucha, but you need the air to ensure the kombucha ferments properly. 
  7. The kombucha must stay with in this temperature range, if it gets too cool (below 70F) the kombucha will be inconsistent (74 -84F/ 23-28C).
  8. After 2 – 3 weeks start to taste your creating, lifting the culture of course.  What you are looking for is a balance between the sweetness and acidity.  The flavors should be harmonious on you tongue.
You can flavor your kombucha with ginger, lavender or other herbs after the fermentation is complete.  When you are satisfied with the flavor, strain (reserving the SCOBY for your next batch) and bottled.  You can use glass bottles with flips tops, which are ideal.  Store in the fridge and will stay for a few months.  If you miss some chunks of the SCOBY, they will keep on fermenting, so just try to remove them before you bottle. Good luck!
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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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