Food

Brewing kombucha at home

Homebrewed kombuchaOh fermentation. I’ve got a big ole fat crush on you and all of the yummy things you create! I’ve been interested in trying to brew my own kombucha at home but you know me, I’m a visual person and like to see something done by an expert first. Luckily, my friends at the Beacon Food Forest had a 101 class a few months ago that I eagerly signed up for. Three delish samples and 1.5 hours later and I felt like I could totally do this at home.

By no means am I an expert, but I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned so far. If you love kombucha as much as I do, but hate the $4+ price tag for a single bottle, well then home brewing just might be the way for you to go!

DIRECTIONS for Continuous Brewing
*Generously provided by Rowan Maya Lang*

Supplies needed:
1 kombucha mother (aka SCOBY) in 4 oz. of “starter” tea – you’ll need to get this from a homebrewer such as myself! Happy to share!
1 cup organic sugar
7 bags organic tea OR 1/4 cup loose leaf tea (green or black tea is preferred!)
1 large pot
1 fine-mesh strainer
2 two gallon wide mouth glass jars (PCC or brewing stores carry them for around $5 each) one for brewing and one for the SCOBY hotel if you continuous brew
1 gallon filtered or distilled water
1 square, clean cotton cloth, such as a napkin or bandanna
Rubber band or string to secure cloth over top of jar
1 straw for testing your first ferment
Smaller jars or bottles for final product or second fermentation (optional)

How to brew:

  1. Wash your hands and brewing containers thoroughly with soap and water to remove any unhealthy bacteria and reduce chances of mold or other contaminants.
  2. Bring 1 gallon of water to a roiling boil and stir in 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup loose leaf teas or tea bags. Remove from heat, cover and leave overnight to cool.
  3. When cool, pour your tea-sugar mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and into the 1 gallon wide mouth glass jar being sure to leave 3 to 4 inches of space at the top of the jar. You’ll want some leftover liquid for your SCOBY Hotel (mentioned in step 6 below). Slide your kombucha mother into the container along with the 4 oz. of starter tea. It should float nicely!
  4. Secure cloth with rubber band or string on the top of the jar and place it in a cupboard or closet where it will be undisturbed and out of direct sunlight for 5 to 10 days. Check every few days for mold, which will be a very obvious black, green or blue fuzz. A healthy brew will naturally grown strands of yeast, which appear as gold or brown strands in the liquid hanging from the bottom of the mother. A normal mixture will also grow a “baby” on the top of the tea-sugar mixture, even if the mother has sunk to the bottom. It will start our as a thin, milky white membrane and will grow in thickness.
  5. At day 5, have a little taste of your tea. A straw is an easy tool for checking! You may like it sweet/tart and mildly fermented at days 5 to 7 or if you find it’s too sweet, then let it brew for a few more days. Check daily until desired acidity is reached. Fermentation speeds up in the hot summer months and slows way down in the wintertime. Add a heating pad or a string of lights in the winter months helps keep fermentation speedy.
  6. Once your kombucha is at your preferred taste level, remove the mother and baby with clean hands. Peel them apart and place one in the second wide mouth jar (SCOBY Hotel) and pour 4 oz. of leftover tea-sugar liquid to cover. The other SCOBY will stay in the current jar with it’s own 4 oz. of fermented liquid to repeat the process!
  7. Strain kombucha tea through fine-mesh strainer basket into your small jars. Refrigerate and enjoy!

DIRECTIONS for Continuous Brewing – Second Fermentation (where you can add flavors and get a ton of fizz!) (more…)

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This is an emergency 2…

pablo(1)

OK, getting out of Europe trip recap mode and back to reality for a minute. Check out part 1 of my emergency preparedness brain dump here.

So we’ve got all of the supplies in order. What else are we missing? Ahhh, that’s right: food and water.

WATER.
We recently purchased a Berkey water filter. Seattle water is great, but our pipes and/or water heater aren’t in the best shape so we bought this bad boy for uber water filtration. It will come in handy if we have to snag water from an alternative water source like our Water Bob 🙂 We also have 25 gallons of water stored with this cool boxed water kit. The general rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per person for two weeks, which we don’t quite have, but hell, it’s better than nothing! I also plan on adding iodine pills to the mix down the road.

FOOD.
Out of everything that needs to be prepped, food is where I’m the weakest. I’ve never been able to figure out a good system for rotation and end up wasting a lot of items that I don’t catch before they expire. There are also items that have a great shelf life that I’d rather not eat on the regular. Here’s a list of what I try and keep on-hand.

  • Rice and beans – I like the Vigo brand
  • Peanut butter
  • Oatmeal – Trader Joe’s carries one that rocks
  • Nuts – Costco has an assorted, no salt mix that’s handy to have around
  • Pasta
  • Power bars – Larabars are my jam
  • Rice
  • Instant tea and coffee
  • Sports drinks
  • Soup and chili
  • Booze!

I like to think that my gardening skills could come in handy too if there happened to be some sort of food shortage, but I can only count on that for four or five months out of the year right now. I do plan on winter gardening next year though so that could help stretch that length of time.

Oh, and I can’t forget Miss Stella! I always pick up the largest bag of dry dog food possible to keep around. She mostly eats wet food but I can never keep up with buying enough – it’s darn expensive too. At least I know she’d be OK crunching on some dry stuff if it came down to it.

OK folks, what am I missing?

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summer eats.

Tomato frittata with spring green salad - cultivatedrambler.com
Man, it’s been hot around here lately. I know, I know….I shouldn’t complain because it’ll just turn around and rain for the rest of the year then I’ll be complaining about that too. Such is life as a Seattleite! We aren’t exactly known for 90+ degree days so when it stays hot like this, I try and be extremely strategic when it comes to dinner. There’s nothing more crappy then having to be in the kitchen so I try and make things that will last a few days and be OK if they are served cold. In comes this frittata – add onions and feta cheese too! What’s your go to dinner for hot days?
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Zealous Zucchini.

The first of the season!

As most gardeners know, zucchini is just one of those “plug and play” veggies in the garden. They don’t need a ton of TLC or babying and they produce like a mo-fo. It’s a total ego booster, so if you’re new to gardening, def plant one or two! Even after trading and giving most of them away, I’m still left with a few each week. I’ve been trying out a few new recipes lately with these green monsters and here are the ones I’ve liked the best!

Zucchini Corn Pancakes
Oh ma gawd! These are good! Great flavor and interesting texture though they don’t re-heat very well so eat them all while they are hot off the stove.

Three Cheese Zucchini Rollups
Easy to make so double the batch while you are at it! They freeze well too.

Zucchini Bread
Duh. Like a total no-brainer. I like mine heavy on the cinnamon and nutmeg. This savory bread looked pretty delish though too…might have to try it out this weekend!

What are your fav zucchini recipes?? Care to share?

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Get cookin.

Ya’ll, I’ve been hitting up my pinned recipes pretty hard lately and I’ve had some good results. So good in fact that I don’t have any nice photos to share because we were too busy eating everything. Such is life 🙂 Check out the links below for some stellar summer recipes that have been personally approved by yours truly!

Greek Salad with Wheat Berries
I’m actually having the last of this for lunch today! I like experimenting with new grains and wheat berries caught my eye. Luckily, the good ole co-op had them in stock. I wouldn’t say they are my fav new grain, but they were interesting to try – very nutty and a bit crunchy (but I may have under cooked them a bit). What really got me were the leeks. Dang, I can’t believe I’ve been ignoring leeks for the past 30 something years. They are super tasty all roasted up like that!

Homemade Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper
Probably my least favorite recipe of the bunch but it was worth the try. I liked the one pot concept but the flavor wasn’t quite right. The fiance liked it though so I might keep searching around for a more flavorful recipe.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus
Ahhhh…my go to spring salad – especially when Washington asparagus is in season. I made a batch of this for our trip to the Gorge (substituting TJ’s Israeli cous cous for orzo) and it was gobbled up in no time. It’s light but flavorful. I use a similar recipe throughout the summer and just substitute different in season veggies.

Sauteed Grapes with Goat Cheese
So simple, yet so good! If you need something quick when entertaining guests at home, this recipe is the way to go. I say at home, because the grapes are best when they come straight off the pan and are all warm and such. I probably wouldn’t bring this to someone’s house unless you could borrow a pan and saute them on the spot. My herbs came from the yard, which made this even better!

Paleo Coconut Chicken
I went on a brief paleo kick and came across this recipe. I like how fast it comes together. Dinner in 20 minutes? Sign me up!

Banana Coconut Bread
I had three sorry looking overripe bananas and luckily came across this recipe. I love me some banana bread but liked the added flavor of coconut in this recipe. I actually used coconut oil vs. veggie oil and almond milk vs. coconut milk and it still came out just right. If you really wanted to step up the coconut profile, I’d add coconut extract through I was completely OK with the almond extract and vanilla.

Anything good you’ve been cooking up lately? Do share!

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