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Kombucha Series 5: SCOBY Hotel

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Alright Y’all, so you’ve brewed your batch of Booch and you need a break. I am not even going to ask why you are taking a break from Booch but I am sure it’s a good reason. So I will walk you through on how to make a SCOBY hotel. This way your SCOBY stays happy and fed while you do whatever it is that you need to do.

It is really quite simple to keep your SCOBY happy without stressing yourself out.

Enough with the busy talk….Let’s do this thang!

After you have made your batch of Booch, simply brew yourself a new batch of sweet tea. Pour tea over you SCOBY and…..

BOOM SON

Your got yourself a hotel for your SCOBY. Your SCOBY will be happy for 2-6 months. ***Always check your SCOBY to make sure mold is not growing on it. If it is just remove that layer of SCOBY off the mother and refresh your batch of tea. Remember your SCOBY lives off of sugar. That is what keeps your SCOBY a happy camper. As your SCOBY sits in the hotel for a long period of time, the tea will turn to Kombucha vinegar.

What is Kombucha vinegar?

Have you ever had a batch go just a tad bit to long and all you taste is a strong vinegar taste but it is drinkable? Well let’s say you let your Booch go about 2-6 months, that tea is no longer tea, it is Kombucha vinegar. Still drinkable, so you can still use it for your starter tea, but it is potent as a muther! You can use Kombucha vinegar to sanitize your jars and utensils when you are ready to brew your next batch. You can also use it for your starter tea. You can even use it to clean as you would use white vinegar.

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As your SCOBY sits in its hotel, it can become really think. Which is incredible but sometimes it gets a little tricky keeping it in the jar because it takes to much space. This is when you do a little maintenance.

What kind of maintenance? Oh, I am so glad you asked. Next post will be on how to maintain your SCOBY. So stay tuned.

Until next time…

Happy hotel making!

Need to find a SCOBY to start your Kombucha adventure? I got you covered yo!

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Kombucha Series 4: Simplifying Your Flavor

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Yo! Let’s talk about simplifying your Kombucha flavor. Many ask me about the process it takes to make Kombucha and while it can be time consuming for a very small portion of the process, it’s actually super easy. If you haven’t already read series 1, 2 and 3 check them out here, here, oh and here. It talks about what Kombucha is, how to grow your own SCOBY and how to brew the stuff.

This post is going to go over how to simplify your second fermentation process with flavor. Now, if you are a Kombucha brewer you may have experienced the time consuming part of the process where you cut up all your fruit shove them in the little hole of the bottle and pray that flavor leaks out into your Booch. Mean while, everyday you open your bottles to breathe and you don’t hear the sweet hissing sound of carbonation that you are salivating over.

Then….

After you have waited your 5-7 days hoping you’ve got a flavorful Booch and a deliciously carbonated one at that, you have to strain your Booch to get the fruit out.

Then…

You have to pour your Booch back into the bottle it just came from using a small funnel so it can go into the fridge.

Phew…..

Talk about not wanting to make Kombucha anymore because of the process. You cannot give up on your Booch because of this reason. I am here to tell you there is a simpler way and my goodness your tummy is going to thank you for starting back up again.

So let’s get that beautiful SCOBY of yours out of its hotel and brew up some sweet tea.

Wanna know how to brew up some sweet tea for Kombucha? Check it out here

I am going to give you a list of items to get from the store, ready………

A bottle of organic juice of your desired flavor.

That’s it yo!!!!!

Pick your favorite flavored juice. I like to make sure it’s organic, well because, you’re making this beautiful fermented beverage that is full of organic goodness, why add a juice that is full of high fructose corn syrup. So be mindful and get yourself an organic no added anything but juice, juice.

The best part about adding juice to your Booch is that 9 times out of 10 because of the concentrate of the juice, carbonation is present. There is enough sugar to continue to feed the yeast within the Booch and yeast is where your carbonation comes from. Unlike pieces of fruit that may not be rip enough and do not contain enough sugar to feed the yeast. This is where people give up because it doesn’t taste like store bought Kombucha. If you are a Kombucha lover, you are after that refreshing carbonation taste. So when people make it at home and they don’t get that result, they think it is to hard.

But really, I am here to stand up and say, It is not hard at all my friends!

Ready for the process?

Once your Booch is done fermenting and is ready for the second ferment. Grab all your bottles, give them a good rinse with white vinegar. This helps keep all the bottles sanitary.

Now pour 2-3 inches of juice in each bottle.

Fill the rest with your fermented tea. Be sure to leave a good amount of head space. I like to stop right at the bottom of the neck.

Close up your bottles and stick them back into the pantry or where ever they live to ferment, for another 5-7 days.

Be sure to burp the bottles. This means pop open the tops to the bottles to let the gas that is building up out. *Be sure to do this over the sink, sometimes so much carbonation builds that it will come spraying out. So take it slow and keep your little baby fingers over the top just in case. It has never happened to me but I have heard stories of peoples bottles bursting because the gas built up to much.

Don’t let that scare you.

The chances of that are rare and as long as you burp your bottles daily or at least every other day, you are going to be A OK yo!

***Remember, the less you handle your SCOBY the better. So if you can bypass taking your SCOBY out of its container, do so. I use a continuous brew method where I have a glass container with a spigot so I can just pour our my tea from the spigot. This also gives me control over leaving my starter tea in the container.

And I never have to touch my SCOBY until maintenance time.

After your 5-7 days are up, take a sip and test out the carbonation level. Sometimes you will reach desired carbonation level day 3, if that is the case do a little dance and throw it in the fridge. If it is not quite there, save your happy dance and put it back into the pantry to keep going. So don’t be afraid to sip off that sh!t and find your groove, your dance groove that is.

Now, as you take a sip to check your carbonation level, you get a sneak peek of your flavor. And how damn delicious is that flavor?

No straining, not fuss, just straight from brewing container to bottle to fridge.

That’s it yo!

I’d love to hear feedback on how this process works for you or your favorite flavor so far.

Ours is apricot!

Happy simplifying!

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Kefir: You Got A Question? I Got An Answer!

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I have received a ton of question around Kefir. So I thought I would compile them all together and help take the fear out of fermented milk. When people hear the words fermented milk they immediately shut off. Seriously people, this stuff is the best stuff in the world for your entire well being. When I encourage people to make it at home, they look at me like, there is no way in hell I can make this stuff. Then they look at me and ask, are you sure it’s safe to drink? So lets take the fear out of it and start feeding our bellies with homemade Kefir.

What is Kefir: Kefir is a probiotic. It is a fermented milk that has the consistency of a drinkable yogurt.

What are grains: Grains are essentially little SCOBY’s, Symbiotic Colonies Of Bacteria and Yeast. Grains provide the milk with the necessary bacteria and yeast to create the fermenting process. They are only called grains, they DO NOT contain any wheat.

What kind of milk do I use: Preferably raw organic goats milk.

Next would be organic pasteurized whole milk. You do not want to used Ultra-Pasterized milk. When milk is pasteurized it is heated to a certain temperature inevitably killing off natural bacteria while still leaving some to live in the milk. When milk is Ultra-Pasterized, the milk is heated to such a high temperature that is kills of any and ALL bacteria, leaving no nutritional value in the milk what so ever. If you notice, that is why Ultra-Pasterized milk products have such a high shelf life.

You can use raw whole milk but you would want to acclimate your grains first. Using 25% raw to 75% pasteurized milk and then with each fermenting session increasing the amount of raw milk. Raw milk has tons of good bacteria already present. So sometimes if the grains you purchases or inherited were not acclimated to raw, they tend to compete with the other bacteria.

If you are looking for a non dairy option, coconut milk is the way to go. Coconut milk has natural lactose, which give the grains enough to feed off of to create the fermenting process.

How do I acclimate my grains: If you get fresh grains the first thing you should do is give them some fresh milk. Most likely you will receive 1-2 tablespoons of Kefir grains. To acclimate them place them in a quart size mason jar, pour milk to the top line and place in a cool dark place for 24 hours. After 24 hours, drain grains using a plastic strainer, place grains back in jar and pour more milk and do the process all over again. After the third time, your grains should be good to go. If you receive fresh grains in milk from a friend, those bad boys are ready to rock right when you get home.

When you buy dehydrated grains, some can take up to 2 weeks to acclimate. Usually dehydrated grains will come this a set of instructions to properly hydrate them.

Where do I buy grains: We have grains available for purchase here. When I first purchased my grains I purchased them from amazon. Just be sure you look into the company and feel good about who they are.

I am lactose intolerant, can I still drink Kefir: The grains feed of of the lactose in milk, which is basically the sugar. The fermenting process turns it into lactic acid making it much more easily digestible. 99% of lactose intolerant individuals can drink kefir with little to no problem.

One trick you can do is put a drop of kefir on your skin, let it dry and wait 24 hours and if you do not see any inflammation, you are good to go.

How long do I ferment for: Ideally, 24-36 hours. That doesn’t mean that you can’t strain your grains at 22 hours or if it hits 38 hours it’s ruined. That is just a guideline. The weather has a tremendous impact on any fermentation process. I’ve allowed my kefir to ferment 48 hours and I have also strained it at 18 hours, both perfectly fine to drink.

What size jar do I use: Best size jar to use is a 6 cup mason jar. You can use any size or style of jar you prefer, just make sure you can place a lid or coffee filter over the top during the fermentation process.

What milk to grain ration do I use: The best ratio I have found to make a great batch is 2-4 tablespoons of grains to 6 cups of milk. Now, I have also used about a cup of grains in about 6 cups of milk and my ferment comes out perfectly fine. So again, it’s a guideline. Fermenting is giving, it does not need to be exact. Adding more grains will speed up the fermentation process. Not having enough could make the process a bit longer. You need to play around and find how your grains like to react.

What kind of lid do I use: I used coffee filters with a rubber band at first, which worked great. However, sometimes my rubber band would break off. So I now use plastic mason jar lids. You can find them at any grocery store where they sell canning supplies. Plastic mason jar lids are not air tight, so it is perfect for keeping gnats out while still releasing CO2.

There is a lot of separation during my fermenting process, what is that: Separation is totally normal. When the grains feed off of the lactose it begins to separate the curds and whey within the milk. So you will most often times see a layer of yellowish liquid. Absolutely normal. That separation could occur super quick on a hot day or if you have to many grains for the amount of milk, either way perfectly safe to drink.

Is my Kefir supposed to have a strong smell to it: YES!!! The beautiful thing about grains is that they are a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast, (SCOBY) so they will smell yeasty. They will smell sour. When they don’t smell is when I question my batch. If I do not smell a strong yeasty smell I usually allow my kefir to ferment a bit longer. Now with any ferment, your nose is the best thing you have to determine if something is not right. If in your gut you feel it’s not right, dump that batch and start a new one. BUT 99% of the time it’s a perfect ferment.

Why is my kefir sometimes really thin and watery: It could be the weather. If it is colder outside than usual, it may take your ferment a bit longer to reach desired consistency. Also, if you have to much milk for the amount of grains you have in your batch, you will end up with a thinner batch. Sometimes just letting it ferment another 24 hours will help thicken it up.

My kefir is super chunky, how do I make it smooth: Ok so you finished your ferment, you added your pureed fruit and it’s still really chunky, throw it all back into the blender and blend that puppy for 30 seconds or so. It will come out super smooth and delicious. It may seem a bit thin at first, I tend to find that after having out in the fridge for a bit, it will start to thicken up.

After each batch I strain out, I will puree 3 bananas for my 6 cup kefir batch and it helps thicken it up perfectly. I also add any seasonal fruit to add natural flavoring.

How do I store my grains when I do not want to make a batch: You can store your grains in the fridge if you’re not up to making a batch. Place them in any size glass jar, I use a quart size mason jar. Fill that bad boy up with milk and allow to sit in fridge for a week or two. When you start to see major separation, add more milk or make a batch. By placing them in the fridge your grains will hibernate.

My grains look different then from when I started, why: Grains are alive. They feed off of every batch you make, so they will grow and multiply. You may start with 1-2 tablespoons of grains and in a few months have 1-2 cups worth. They will look more plump than usual, thats ok, that just means you are loving your grains the right way.

I store my grains in the same jar I always have when I am not fermenting, but lately there is a lot of separation, quicker than usual, why: Your grains are multiplying and growing and they need more space and more milk to make them happy. Transition your grains to a bigger jar.

Can I rinse my grains: There really is no need to rinse your grains. After every batch just move your grains around as much as you can to get the kefir off of them. But if you must rinse them for any reason, you can do so by pouring milk or filtered water over them. Do not rinse your grains with tap water. The fluoride, bad bacteria and other chemicals found in tap water will kill your grains.

My Kefir is super sour, how can I sweeten it: I have found great results with 100% organic pure maple syrup. You can use fruit, agave or honey. However, there is some back and forth about honey. Because honey is an antibacterial and antimicrobial, some say it will kill off any bacteria found in the kefir. Some have great results using it. I’ll let you decide.

What are the nutritional benefits to Kefir:

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What is the difference between Kefir and yogurt: Kefir is considered a drinkable yogurt but is not considered actual yogurt. Kefir contains mesophilic strains, which are microorganisms that thrive in natural temperature. That is why we place our kefir in our pantry to ferment. Kefir contains about 10-40 strains of probiotics.

Yogurt contains thermophilic strains, which are single-celled organisms that are activated through heat. Which is why yogurt is made by heating up milk to a precise temperature. Yogurt also contains only about 4-10 strains of probiotics.

I hope I took some of the fear out of making homemade kefir. It sounds intimidating but once you find your groove it is super fun and the best thing you can give yourself and your family. I am always happy to answer any other questions. Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Happy questions answered!

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Simple Beet Kraut

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Let’s  do a little fermenting shall we, a simple Beet Kraut perhaps.

We harvested some beautiful looking beets and carrots a few weeks ago. So I decided to ferment them. Man, the world of fermenting has just got me. It is so much fun. What made this batch even better, was that we grew it.

The word ferment, scares people. But it shouldn’t. Read here to see why. We are going to get on with this simple beet kraut that is quite delicious.

Beet Kraut Recipe

What you need:

1 head of purple cabbage

2-4 medium size beets

1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt

1 clove of garlic (optional)

Quart size mason jar, crock or fido jar

Airlocks (optional but highly recommended)

Weights

Directions:

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Suggested Reading: What is fermentation, sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kefir
  1. Rinse cabbage and peel off outer few layers that are damaged. Save one or two good leaves to use as a weight.img_3473.jpg
  2. Wash and peel beets.IMG_3474
  3. Thinly shred cabbage and place in a bowl.
  4. Grate beets. Now do not skimp on this step and thinly slice the beets. You want to grate them. Grating them allows more liquid to be drawn from them. Wear an apron because this little veggies will spray red juice everywhere. Place in bowl with cabbage.IMG_3476IMG_3478
  5. Sprinkle salt on top and use your hands to massage the veggies. If you feel like you have been massaging for a while and still no liquid, cover your veggies with plastic wrap and let sit for 30-40 minutes. Come back to it and massage again. By this time the salt will have drawn out quite a bit of liquid.
  6. If using a clove of garlic, place clove in bottom of jar. Place veggies in a quart size mason jar, crock or fido jar and press down as much mass as you can. When you press down on the veggies, liquid will rise. You want that liquid to stay above the veggies. Place cabbage leaf, that you saved from earlier, on top of veggie mass. Now place a weight on top of that. If you do not want to buy actual fermenting weights, you can use rocks, (make sure you boil them to sterilize), shot glasses or baggies filled with brine. You want to use anything that will keep that liquid above the veggies. This is what creates an anaerobic environment where bad bacterial cannot grow.
  7. Cover with a coffee filter and rubber band or use an airlock lid. I personally love to use airlock lids. It allows carbon dioxide to be released while keeping oxygen out. And so far with them, I have not lost a batch to mold.
  8. Place in a dark place, like a pantry for 7-10 days. After 7 days test the flavor.

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If you do not take the time to have all your veggies submerged in the brine, you run the risk of mold growing. It takes just one little piece of cabbage sticking out above the brine to create mold. So take the time and use weights and wipe of any loose veggies that are stuck to the walls of your jar.

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Oh and I love this fermenting book. It is super simple to read and has some great recipes.

Happy fermenting!

Tell me about your latest fermenting experiment. Veggies, Kombucha, Kefir…..

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This post contains affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission when you purchase products through the links I provide, at no additional cost to you.