I first learned about Kombucha a few years ago. It was probably during my reading of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellis Katz or Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I own and love both of these books. I highly recommend them for your homestead or off grid library. This is how our ancestors preserved food before canning and refrigerators were invented. Both books educate you on the tremendous benefits of eating and drinking “real and alive” food full of tremendous pre- and pro-biotics. I believe it is the lack of these natural raw fermented foods in our modern diet that has led to so many health problems.
Wikipedia says this about Kombucha:
Kombucha is a variety of fermented, lightly effervescentsweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly intended as functional beverages for their supposed health benefits. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic ‘colony’ of bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY).
After reading the above books I started experimenting with making my own soft cheeses and spreads from raw milk (saving the whey for fermenting green beans, beets, sauerkraut, etc). I was also very interested in trying to make kombucha at home since it becomes a carbonated drink and I confess I am not a water drinker but instead addicted to diet soda (Gasp!!! Sacrilegious for a homesteader! I am bowing my head in shame!). Ugh…..
My Kombucha Experience:
First I went to the local health food store and asked if they sold Kombucha SCOBY. They didn’t but recommended that I purchase a couple of bottles of commercial raw Kombucha to try it out and that I could use that to grow my own SCOBY. The commercial stuff didn’t completely thrill me since it was a bit too sour/vinegary for me, but my reading had told me that by making it myself I would have more control over that aspect.
So I excitedly raced home to start growing my own SCOBY. Hmmmm….that was a big fail. I now realize after watching the below video the mistakes I made. 1). I didn’t wait long enough before giving up, and 2) my house was just too cold. I had even gone back to the health food store to ask them what the definition of “room temperature” was, LOL. Their answer was 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit. Nope….not going to happen that time of year. I haven’t lived in a heated house for at least 10 years. So I put my Kombucha making on the back burner.
A year or two ago I started seeing ads on Craigslist for free or inexpensive Kombucha SCOBYs. So when the weather was right I purchased a large SCOBY with a nice sized baby for $8. I was excited to finally get started. I had saved the glass bottles with screw lids from the commercial Kombucha and also purchased some glass bottles with flip tops like these. I even used some partially filled soda bottles because I was a bit worried about the pressure building and figured soda bottles would have more flex for expansion. I used a 1/2 gallon canning jar and purchased some gallon glass jars from the local Walmart. I was set, and it even worked well. But….. I hadn’t seen Blake Kirby’s video to realize what I had done wrong. I shouldn’t actually say “wrong”, but how I could have done better. My second ferment was done with just plain Kombucha, no additional flavoring added. Not a huge faux pas, plenty of people drink just plain Kombucha, but I now realize it can be so much better.
So without further ado, let us see the master at work.
I just love Blake Kirby’s YouTube channel. It is jam packed with everything Homesteading. I am sure glad he said it was no big deal to accidentally drink/swallow some of the baby SCOBYs that might form, because yep, I did. It was like a tiny bit of jello slipped into your drink.
So what happened to my Kombucha experiment? Well after doing more reading and learning that Kombucha really should only be used as a healthful supplement and could not replace my diet soda addiction, I just had too much on hand. So I put my SCOBY to sleep in my ice chest for awhile (no refrigeration here). That SCOBY was amazingly resilient. I just couldn’t kill it. I am sure it was not as healthy as it could be, but it was huge. Due to my fears about temperature fluctuations in the ice chest, I finally fed it to the chickens and dogs.
Will I make Kombucha again? You bet! But I think I will wait until I get an off grid refrigeration solution so I don’t have to worry about maintaining my second fermentation bottles and I will get a smaller SCOBY and use smaller jars. With only one person drinking just a few swigs a day, you don’t need much. It might be psychological, but during that time I felt like I had more energy and my old body aches and pains were reduced.
Have you tried Kombucha? Did you notice any effects? Let us know in the comments section below.