Saturday, April 23, 2005


Kombucha is a sour, fizzy drink. Imagine a cranberry soda.

Here's how you make it:

  1. Beg, nag, and spam for a starter. They're a bit hard to come by.
  2. boil water (1qt)
  3. steep a few tea bags to make very strong tea (2 bags)
  4. add sugar (1/4c)
  5. cool to body temperature
  6. add kombucha "mushroom"
  7. add kombucha from a previous batch (1/2c)
  8. wait a week

The "mushroom" is an odd structure that kombucha creates. It's also called a "sponge" or "pancake", but it's none of these things. Some call it a "S.C.O.B.Y." (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts), which really just means that we don't know what it is.

From what I've read, kombucha is a bit delicate. Weed organisms may take hold, making it go "off". The 1/2c of kombucha from the previous batch helps set the pH so that kombucha will dominate.

I put it in a wide bowl, put a few long strips of tape over the top, and draped a cheesecloth over it. The cloth allows air to flow in, but keeps out bugs which like the sugar.

Instructions say to keep it somewhere it won't get disturbed, so I used the guest bedroom. They say to start tasting it at 5 days, but I figured the guest room was cooler than the rest of my already cool house, so I let it go a full 10 days.

Today I tasted it (slipped a straw under the edge) and it was really, really sour. 10 days was perhaps a bit much. It was also very tasty.

So I decanted it & started up a new batch.

At first, my 3.5 year old refused to try it based on smell, but eventually decided to take a taste. My wife liked it from the beginning. I think it's delicious.

I'm making the above recipie at 1.5x the stated measurements. Making 1.5qt of kombucha / week just isn't going to cut it for a family of 3, I suspect. I will try to find a bigger bowl, and maybe get two batches going at once (1/2 week apart from each other, perhaps).

You can also put the kombucha in bottles & let them continue to ferment, which becomes more bubbly. I picked up some Grolsch bottles on ebay which I intend to do this in.

I used some good quality green tea, since I don't want caffeine. You can also use black tea & oolong tea. You can't use herbal tea, as kombucha wants to grow on real tea.

The starter you get comes in two parts: a mushroom and a small amount of fresh kombucha. It's possible to get started with just one if you don't have the other, but it's a bit risky. I'd be happy to share my kombucha with anyone who wants to come pick it up. I live near Microsoft in Bellevue, WA. You can also look for sources of Kombucha online

See also the Original Kombucha Yahoo! Group.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Hi Jessica

Jessica-the-receptionist for my building is reading this right now. Everyone say "hi"!

Sharing nourishment

Since being introduced to Nourishing Traditions in December, I've been doing a lot of experimetation.

My fridge now has a gallon of chicken stock, 1/2 gallon of kimchi, 1/2 gallon of sauerkraut, and a quart of fermented marmalade. I make a quart of kefir / day.

I am just getting in to Kombucha, sourdough, and ginger beer. Miso, beer, wine, and vinegar are on the todo list.

I'm always on the lookout for sales on organic vegetables at the natural grocery store.

The fridge is looking pretty full.

It would only take a little bit of effort to double all my recipies. It takes lot more effort to add a new food to the menu than to make more of something that's already on the list. I really enjoy providing these foods to my family, but I have to balance the time with my job.

I found a kindred spirit in this article: I'm starting to think about how to engage other families to share our resources.

- I could try to find a neighbor that something to share. Even if we only trade one food weekly, it could be a big win.

- I could move out of the suburbs to somewhere I can farm. I'd have to quit my job to make this work. Would be good to share this with some other families so that we can specialize & share.

- I could make everything 2x and try to sell the extra. However, I'm not really looking for a second job. Money isn't a problem; time is.

- Suppose I put a fridge in my carport and put extra food in there. Well-labeled. At your convenience, probably weekly, you drop by with a couple gallons of whatever you have just made, and help yourself to whatever is in there.

Anyone in the Bellevue/Redmond, WA, USA area want to share? Drop me a line.

Monday, April 18, 2005

FermentaWeekend - Pancakes with yogurt

Made pancakes for breakfast. Instead of syrup I put homemade yogurt on the pancake. Homemade yogurt from good milk tastes amazing. Last time I put cardamom and nutmeg on them, which was good, but this time I just forgot.

I'm trying to reduce how much sugar I eat, and using yogurt on pancakes is one way to do it.

The yogurt was from the week before. However, I read a note that yogurt tastes best the day after you make it. I am asking myself what it would take to make yogurt in small batches nightly. Is there a way I could optimize it so that it wouldn’t be a big burden?

Suppose I skipped the step of sterilizing by heating it to 180 degrees:

- Turn on oven light to preheat
- Put 1qt of milk + 1T of yogurt in a containter. Mix.
- Put it in the oven, leave it overnight.
- Move it to the fridge.

Maybe I'll try this when I get raw milk in a couple weeks. Raw milk does a little better if you leave it at room temperature - it sours instead of rotting to putridity. Perhaps that means that this minimal approach to yogurt can work for raw milk.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

FermentaWeekend - Friday

Wow, what a big weekend of fermentation.

Friday night my son fell asleep early, the my wife & I worked on cleaning the kitchen. We had fallen behind, and it needed the work.

We ate a chicken at dinner, and had the carcess all cleaned. We also had a bunch of bones in the freezer that we bought at Whole Foods. Chicken feet, turkey backs, and a turkey neck. All went in to a big pot of water, with a little carrot, celery, and onion (in big pieces). Brought to a boil, and then lowered to Low to simmer for a while.

Strained the kefir and combined with flour (1c of each). Covered & let sit next to the pot, where it would keep warm. This predigests the flour, making nutrients easier to absorb.

Left this going overnight.

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