Fermented foods, filled with good bacteria, are all the rage at the moment and rightly so. With over 80% of our immune system situated in our gut it seems incredible that we don’t talk more about it. And with scientists linking gut health with brain health, there are new and interesting facts about how influential gut health really is for our general well being and state of mind.
Living in London, where things get picked up fast – this trend is also reflected in some new bars and restaurants that are popping up featuring fermented foods on their menus. Places like Raw Duck in Hackney and Salt + Pickle in Crystal Palace for example both feature fermented foods and more are on its way.
DIY fermenting, however, is really where it is at for me. The fact that you can create a new type of foods such as kefir, kombucha or kimchi in your own kitchen is really exciting. Kombucha is my personal favorite. You will always find jar of fermenting kombucha brewing in my kitchen but a word of warning – it aint pretty. The colony of bacteria and yeast comes as a (slimy) disc – so called scoby – which you submerge in black tea and sugar. The baceria and yeast feeds on the sugary tea and you then leave your brewing jar between 5-14 days after which a fizzy, tangy and sometimes slightly vinegar tasting liquid presents itself.
For all you vinegar fobes out there you can dilute it with water, which will produce a refreshing and tangy drink, but I would suggest that you may get used to it. I have known even the most vinegar averse individuals becoming converts and are now brewing themselves.
What you need to make your own Kombucha:
- A kombucha Culture (or a Scoby – yes it’s a weird name and I don’t know why its called that :))
- A glass container or jug which holds about 1.5 to make 1 ltr of kombucha
- 3-4 tea bags (organic preferably) either black or green tea
- 80-100g sugar
- A piece of muslin and an elastic band
- Order your kombucha culture (I used Happy Kombucha online). They have a great website for all things fermented as well as tutorials. If you feel shakey, their site is a great place to go. Do not put your culture/scoby in the fridge when it arrives, it needs room temperature.
- Boil 1.5 ltr of water in a pan, add the teabags and sugar. Turn off heat, stir and leave for 30 min before removing the tea bags. Then cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled add the liquid to your glass jar and then add the liquid from your scopy bag plus the scoby itself. The lighter side should be upwards. The scopy will float, sink or sit somewhere in the middle.
- Cover with muslin cloth and secure with rubber band. Place jar somewhere warm but out of direct sunlight.
- Taste the brew after a few days – if it is fruity and don’t taste of tea it is most likely ready. The longer you leave it, the more sour (or vinegar tasting) it gets. A bit like apple cider vinegar.
- When it is ready and to your taste, pour the liquid into a glass bottle with sealed lid, using a funnel. Leave a quarter of the liquid in the brewing jar to start your next culture. Do not let your scoby go dry. It will keep for a long time and does not go off but a bottle does not last long in my house!
Note: The scoby will create ‘baby scobies’, i.e. new disc shapes that will detach themselves from the mother scoby when they are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. A perfect gift to a health loving friend or you can up your own brewing capacity.
I hope you will try and make your own kombucha and I would love to hear how you get on.