Kombucha

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I was given my first SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) the other week and have today put my first batch of raspberry flavoured kombucha in to the fridge for a ready supply of chilled homemade goodness. I have, up until now, only fermented milk and water kefir. If I had appreciated how incredibly easy it was to make kombucha I would have done this ages ago!

Step 1:  get a SCOBY – any one who makes their own kombucha will have baby SCOBY being produced all the time. This one cycle has started the growth of a new SCOBY

Step 2:  I boiled about 2 litres of water and added this to a pan of 6 green tea bags and 170 g granulated sugar.

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I left this in the pan to cool to room temperature.

Step 3: Add the sweet green tea to the kilner jar that has the SCOBY + liquid it came in

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It is important that no metal utensils come in to contact with the SCOBY  or liquid it is in. Because it is a living organism, it needs to ‘breathe’ so cover the top with muslin.

Step 4: Leave it to brew for 7 – 28 days. The longer you leave it the more acidic the ferment will become. I was advised to taste it every day and when it no longer tasted like tea but was fruity, it was ready. I could then choose to let it brew longer for a stronger flavour. By day 4 the tea taste had gone. I left it to brew for 8 days  – I will probably leave it longer as I, and my gut, become accustomed to it.

Step 5: Using plastic utensils drain the majority of the liquid into a glass container that has a grolsh type top – i.e. creates a good seal. The SCOBY and its liquid is now ready for the process to start again i.e. Steps 2-4

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Step 6: The decanted kombucha can now be put in the fridge and be drunk  – the longer it is left…the fizzier it will get. This is the point at which I decided to flavour it. I popped a handful of fresh raspberries in to the bottle and sealed the lid. Every day I ‘burped’ the liquid i.e. opened the lid to let the pressure of the building gas be released.

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I left this on a kitchen work top for 4 days.  I have tasted it today and it has a mild fizz and is now in the fridge to drink.

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Raspberry kombucha

 

My next step is to experiment with longer period of brewing the SCOBY  in the liquid before I remove ii and experiment with flavours – the tea i use and the flavours I add.

What flavours have you tried? What would you recommend? What didn’t work so well?

 

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Kefir – an acquired taste

My friends are probably tired of me ‘banging on’ about the wonderful benefits of kefir … but I won’t stop because more and more research is highlighting the health benefits of eating / drinking fermented foods. Dr Michael Mosley has been in the press recently talking about the importance of a healthy gut and the links with depression and anxiety . Kefir and Kombucha (future post) may be a recent health craze but have been drunk for a very long time…before trendy was even a word!

I have passed both milk and water kefir grains to many of my friends for them to start fermenting their own kefir.

Milk kefir is definitely an acquired taste and I recommend to all of my friends that they will drink it much more easily if they increase its palatability (not sure if that is a word but I like it!).  In fact people’s comments have ranged from hmmm…? to yuk! and…how do you drink that?!

So to ensure that they do benefit from the wonderful bacterial cultures I do say, ‘Disguise it!’  My husband is my barometer. I can drink it neat but I have to completely disguise it for him. So, for him, when each batch is strained I add coconut milk and a generous dollop / or two of a flavoured organic yoghurt / coconut yoghurt / soya based yoghurt. This ensures that he has a glass every day 🙂  The adult equivalent tactic to hiding vegetables in food for fussy children!

If you really cannot enjoy the milk kefir then water kefir is a really good runner up. Not as diverse a range of beneficial bacteria but still very good for you.

How do you flavour your kefirs?

Blackcurrant cassis 

Ingredients:

650 g blackcurrants -washed and drained

750 ml red wine

500 g sugar

100 ml brandy

Method:

Put the blackcurrants in to a large bowl and partially mash them. Add the red wine. Cover the bowl and leave for 2-3 days at room temperature. Stir and mash each day.

Strain the liquid through a colander and then a sieve and place the liquid in to a large saucepan. Add the sugar and warm to dissolve stirring continuously. Allow the liquid to heat up but  do not boil. Keep the liquid hot for 15 mins stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Stir. Bottle and seal.

Enjoy – this is delicious on its own, with a sparkling wine or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

What to do with all this produce…fruit liqueurs

There is only so much fruit that I can freeze – the new additional freezer we bought last year for the bumper crop of gooseberries, plums and pears was only half empty and this year’s bumper harvest of rhubarb, blackcurrants and redcurrants have filled it completely again. I am now faced with 5 full tub trugs of apples and a couple of tub trugs worth of damsons still on the trees! I am, however, not complaining and I will manage to find space in the other freezers for most of the produce.

It does however mean that I the liqueur making season is upon me ! People who know me always find it amusing that one of our cupboards is filled every year with an array of fruit liqueurs…amusing because I very rarely drink alcohol. There is little I enjoy more than being able to offer a tasty fruity tipple to accompany the food I make when visitors around.

The selection in the picture is my array of blackcurrant liqueurs – vodka, liqueur, cassis and gin. If you were to rummage in the cupboard you would also find: redcurrant cassis, rhubarb and orange liqueur, damson gin, sloe gin, gooseberry vodka and pear vodka.

All the fruit used, once strained from the liquid is put in to a pie or crumble – a deliciously warming dish that I call my drunk fruit desserts. Always a favourite with my husband 🙂

I will put all my recipes on my blog over the next few weeks.

Turmeric milk

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A delicious drink that is packed full of goodness and very simple to make.

Ingredients:

Mug of full fat milk

1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cinnamon / piece of cinnamon stick

1 tsp ground ginger / finely chopped cm piece of fresh ginger

Pinch of black pepper

Method:

Put all the ingredients in to a saucepan and heat gently bringing to the boil. Remove from  the heat and if you have used fresh ginger and cinnamon stick – strain the liquid.

Drink and enjoy – I often have this with a piece of 85% dark chocolate.