Saturday, February 15, 2014

Grow Your Own S.C.O.B.Y. So You Can Brew Your Own Kombucha...Yum!

What is a SCOBY and what the heck is Kombucha you may ask.  Well a SCOBY is the first letter of each of the following words...Symbiotic Culture Of Yeast & Bacteria.  It is necessary to make a wonderfully delicious and nutritious beverage call Kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermented, usually, black or green sweet tea beverage that tastes nothing like tea.  It is full of beneficial yeast and bacterial probiotics and chocked full of a range of B vitamins.  My local Piggly Wiggly charges $3.69 per bottle and I like to drink 1 - 2 bottles a day but can not afford that price so I decided to brew my own.  The sugar in the sweet tea is consumed by the SCOBY during the fermentation process and the finished product will have a relatively low sugar content.  Even though this is a fermented beverage it only contains a very small amount of alcohol (less then 1% by volume).  If you want to put it through a second ferment it will be carbonated.  It has a slight vinegar-y flavor and you may flavor it with fruit, juice or I like ginger.  I actually do a ginger/fruit juice mix.  You can buy a SCOBY (Amazon), get one from a friend as they reproduce with each batch of Kombucha you make, or simply just grow your own.

So, I will start with growing you own SCOBY.  What you need:

  • A 1 quart mason jar (washed, air dried and rinsed with vinegar)
  • One cup of brewed black or green tea brought to room temperature
  •  1/2 cup refined white sugar (this is for the SCOBY to consume)
  • One bottle of RAW Organic unflavored Kombucha (however, I used ginger flavored one because my local store did not have an unflavored one and it worked just fine and is still going strong) Try to find a bottle with some stuff floating around in it.
  • A rubber band that will fit snug around the neck of the mason jar
  • A piece of clean cloth or I used a square of paper towel
SCOBY Growing Process:

  1. Put the sugar into the jar
  2. Pour the room temperature tea into the jar and mix well, do not worry if all the sugar does not dissolve, it will be fine.
  3. Pour 1/2 of the jar of Kombucha into the mix (drink the other half of the bottle or double this recipe and make two SCOBY's in two jars).
  4. Cover the top of the Jar with the paper towel or piece of clean cloth and secure with the rubber band so that no dust, contaminants, fruit flies or other bugs can get in.
  5. Place the jar in a nice dark cupboard the warmest one in you house.  Optimal temperature is going to be as close to 76 degrees F. as possible.  Warmer will cause possibly cause the SCOBY to grow faster but it may not be as healthy as it could be.  Colder and it will grow very slowly.
  6. Do not disturb it.  Yes, I know it is hard to wait but it will be well worth it.  It took me two weeks to get a good healthy SCOBY.
Congratulations, you have now grown your own "Mother" SCOBY.  I should look like a white waxy disc the diameter of the inside of your Mason Jar.  Save the liquid in the jar as you will need it to make your first batch of Kombucha.  It is actually Kombucha and should smell like vinegar.

My next post will give you directions on how to make your first batch of Kombucha with your new SCOBY!  Keep your SCOBY in the jar with the breathable cover on it until you are ready to do your brewing. 

Until then...every now and then put your nose to the top of the SCOBY jar and BREATH in the vinegar scent knowing that you had the WISDOM to do this yourself!  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pop, Pop, Soda Pop Homemade in 2 days without a machine!

This is something that I have wanted to do for years! did it this past Sunday.  I had one success and one not so much! Homemade, carbonated, low sugar soda made without one of those fancy soda machines.  This is what you need and I am sure that almost everybody has these items on hand or could get them really easily:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar (the stuff that is not good for you).  It is necessary to allow the carbonation process to happen naturally.  If you do not care about your sugar in-take, you can use one cup of sugar and eliminate the next item....stevia.
  • 4 packets of Stevia
  • 64 oz's (1/2 gallon) filtered, bottled or boiled water (you do not want to use chlorinated water as the carbonation will not happen as easily).  If you really have to  use tap water from a city water source then just fill a pitcher and leave it open to air for 24 hours to allow the chlorinated gases to escape the water.
  • 2 pinches of bakers yeast (or if you can get to your local brewers store then pick up a couple packets of champagne yeast).
  • One re-purposed, cleaned and rinsed with white vinegar and allowed to air dry 1/2 gallon (64 oz.) plastic soda or juice bottle with original cap.  Do not use glass!!!
  • Pure vanilla extract or other flavoring of your choice (grated ginger, lemon juice, orange extract, almond, cherry, root beer, etc...).  Can be found in the spice/bakers section of your grocery store, ordered online, or found at a local brewers store.  Do not use essential oil as it may inhibit the carbonation process and will not stay mixed in the finished soda.
The process is very easy.
  1. Using a funnel, put your sugar into the plastic bottle and add the Stevia at this time.
  2. If you are using a solid fruit or root for flavoring, grate it up and put it in the bottle at this time.  I tried to add my liquid pure vanilla extract at this point and my finished product smelled like "butt" in the words of my husband and daughter.  This does not make a pleasant drinking product.  But when I used the grated ginger, it was really good.  I used about 1 heaping tablespoon of ginger root grated and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice but it did not produce a strong enough flavor so, once the product was finished and just before I was ready to drink it I added about 1.5 tbs. of my pure vanilla extract and I had a very delicious vanilla cream soda.  
  3. Pour in the water up to the just below the bottom of the neck of the bottle (this should leave about only 1 inch of air space.  
  4. Put the lid on the bottle and shake it up until all of the sugar and stevia is dissolved.  Take a small taste by placing a straw into the bottle and holding your finger on the end sticking out of the bottle.  This will allow you to pull just a sampling out.  You want to make sure that the soda is sweet enough to your liking.  If it is not sweet enough, simply add another packet or two of Stevia until you get it to your liking.  
  5. Add two liberal pinches of your yeast to the room temperature solution in your bottle, put the cap back on the bottle and give it a really good shake
  6. Set the bottle in a place where you will not forget about it and it will be about 70 degrees or higher for 24-48 hours.  Squeeze the bottle so that you have an idea how much give the bottle has at the start of the process.  
  7. You will want to give the bottle a squeeze in about 12 hours and compare it to what it felt like at the beginning.  If the bottle is extremely firm and hard to squeeze then you will want to put the bottle into the refrigerator to stop the carbonation process (fermentation).  Yes, I said fermentation.  The amount of alcohol actually produced is so small that you would get ill from drinking to much liquid before you would ever feel any effects from the trace amount of alcohol produced.
  8. Once the bottle is cold, carefully open it and enjoy.  If you did not add your flavoring before the carbonation process, you can do it now.  You may want to add it to your drinking glass so that each family member can make their own flavor.  Do not mix up the contents of the bottle.  You will have some dead yeast cells which have settled on the bottom of the bottle.  They will not hurt you but they will not taste that great either. If they do get mixed in, just allow the bottle to rest, capped in the fridge again and it will settle back to the bottom.
I hope someone gives this a try and even adds other suggestions for flavors.  The ginger bug that I am in the process of making will give me other options to carbonate other juices and beverages without packaged yeast.  Perhaps I will blog next about how to make the ginger bug and what to do with it once you have it made. 

Until then, re-read #2 above so that you will have the Wisdom to Breath only fresh air, not air that smells like butt!!!  LOL...........

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Life, No-pooing, homemade toothpaste and up-comming posts

I really was hoping to make this blog more of a journal of sorts but I have been so busy (now working Full Time again) that I have not been very good at keeping it up-to-date!  My New Years Resolution (a little late coming) is to try to do more writing.  About life, new life and my "experiments" as I like to refer to all of the different things that I do.  To many of the people that I know, the "experiments" that I do are strange.  To many others out there it is a way of everyday living.  Every day and every experiment that I start is, for me, a way to grow, learn and become more self-sufficient and healthy.

So, for anyone who is interested enough to read on....this is what I have been up to....  

I can not remember if I had mentioned in a previous post but a second one of my Reasons is now having her own Reason!!!  This is so exciting and we know that it is a little boy!  That means that our family will have the little grand-daughter whom is just over a year and the new addition mid June!

I am into week 2 of no-pooing my hair.  "What is this?' you may ask.  Well, it is not shampooing your hair with traditional shampoo and conditioners.  The process is to take about 1/4 cup of baking soda and rub it into your scalp a little at a time.  You want to make sure that you get all around your hairline first.  Then work your way throughout the rest of the roots.  I do this in the shower because it gets pretty messy.  I then wash the rest of my body in the shower with my homemade Skin Magic soap (previous blog).  After a few minutes of having the baking soda in my hair, I rinse it out with warm water.  I reapply a little more and rub it in really well and rinse a second time.  Now, in an old standard size shampoo bottle I have prepared a mixture of 3 parts white vinegar, 1 part water and the following essential oils:  10 drops of Rosemary, 10 drops of Peppermint and 2-3 drops of Tea Tree oil.  make sure that you shake the bottle up well and liberally saturate your hair and scalp with this mixture.  Rinse well with warm water and repeat one more time if you wish.  I like to leave this mixture in my hair for 1-3 minutes with the first application.  I try to wash my hair only every other day.  It took about 1 week for my hair and scalp to adjust to this new cleansing method.  The first couple of times, my hair felt like it had a residue in/on it but it looked and smelled clean.  I believe that it was all of the old build-up of previous products that I had been using starting to come off of my hair.  I was actually given a compliment on my hair yesterday by someone who had no idea that I had changed out my "pooing" method.  I was told that my hair looked very healthy and shiny.  The other benefit is that I have no more tangles.  My hair is very thick and often I have a heck of a time combing out the snarls, not anymore!  Yahoo!!!! Update about 2 months into my no-pooing.  I am still at it and loving it.  My hair is so healthy and shiny.  I do want to mention that after 2 weeks (about 3-4 cleanings)of  using the above method of making a paste in my hair with the baking soda I was able to switch it up a little.  I now put about 1/8 cup of baking soda in a repurposed shampoo bottle and then fill it the rest of the way with water and my E.O.'s of choice.  Then I just need to put about 1/4 of the solution in the bottle in my hair (after a good shake of the contents) concentrating on my hairline where it is the oiliest.  Do this right when I get in the shower and do it with my hair still dry.  Then as I wash up my body, I leave the solution in my hair and rise after several minutes.  

My teeth are soooo clean and my breath is fresh after I gave up store bought toothpaste 2 months ago.  Ewe, you may say....NOT!  Homemade toothpaste is the best!  This is what I am doing.  In a clean container mix-up the following...  About 3 tablespoons of softened (not melted) coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of baking soda and the following essential oils:  3 drops of peppermint, 3 drops of wintergreen (or you choose your favorite flavors).  Make sure everything is mixed up really well.  I then take a very large needless syringe  (the type used to irrigate ears, catheters, feeding tubes) you can buy them on Amazon or ask a friend in the medical field to get one for you.  Save an empty toothpaste container and squeeze it so that it is flat and will be able to accept your injection of the mixture.  I insert the end of the syringe into the opening of the toothpaste tube and just squeeze my homemade toothpaste into the re-purposed tube.  Make sure that you do not totally fill the tube because you will want enough room in the tube to "knead" the closed tube before each use to make sure your ingredients get mixed up as the essential oils will not stay completely mixed.  Then just brush as you usually do.  This does not need to be refrigerated.  I keep mine on the counter in my bathroom.  The taste of the baking soda will take a couple times to get use to but my teeth are so clean and they are getting whiter.  It is important that you do not do a real abrasive brushing and use a soft bristle toothbrush. I accidentally used my husbands store bought toothpaste one day and it left a soapy/chemical taste in my mouth that I did not care for.

So, today I have covered my hair and my teeth.  In upcoming blogs I will talk about how to make your own SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, probiotics) so that you can brew your own Kombucha drinks, how to cleanse your face using the oil cleansing method, how to make your own safe homemade deodorant and how to make your own homemade carbonated flavored lower sugar sodas without the expensive home soda making equipment (2 methods, one using yeast and one with a homemade ginger bug).  In preparation, start saving or looking for one gallon glass jars, empty plastic 16 oz soda bottles with the caps, empty deodorant containers and empty 2 liter or similar plastic juice or soda bottles.

I have other items that I have been experimenting with but those will all come in time.

Remember that spring is just around the corner and we will all be able to step outside and have the Wisdom to Breath in the wonderful fresh scents that the new life of spring will bring!!