Sunday, March 30, 2014

KEFIR.....What's a Kefir? To open a locked door? Nope, keep reading...

I am so excited!  I know, if you have been around me lately you would think that I am joking when I say this.  But really, deep down in some remote part of me I am excited about this new project I am trying.  I have obtained some Water Kefir grains and have a batch of Kefir going right now.   What is Kefir?  It is fermented sugared water.  You use SCOBY's to ferment the stuff but, the SCOBY's look different then the SCOBY's used to make Kombucha.  They remind me of the little jelly beads that are in used to keep house plants and flowers hydrated.  You can not grow your own SCOBY's from scratch.  You must get a small handful of grains from someone else.  They will multiply if properly feed. 

There are two types of Kefir grains.  One type is for the fermentation of sugared water and juices.  The other is for dairy milk fermentation.  The dairy Kefir tastes like runny yogurt.  As I have mentioned, I am trying the Water type.  I am still heavy into my Kombucha with 4 one gallon jugs brewing at all times.  But, I wanted to give myself a variety of drinks.  My understanding is that the Kefir will be similar to soda-pop but with way less sugar and chocked full of probiotics and vitamin B's.  It only brews/ferments between 24-72 hours depending on the ambient room temperature.  This evening it should be 72 hours.  The first batch is usually not that great so, I am expecting to have my first real batch on Wednesday evening at the very latest.

Until then, I am looking into my soul to have the Wisdom to Breath.  Deep, soothing, relaxing and life giving breaths!

Okay, here is my opinion on the water Kefir!  My first real glass tonight.  It was not bad.  It did not get very fizzy for me and I think it is because of two reasons.  1.  I did not add any additional type of sugar in any amount when I bottled it (I only added a few thin slices of fresh ginger root and a small squirt of the juice from a lemon slice).  2.  I put it directly into the fridge, which cooled it down and slowed or stopped any further fermentation of any sugars which would have been left in the solution.  The water was not sweet at all.  It was pretty tasty once I added a packet of stevia powder.  It tasted like ginger water with a hint of a yogurt flavor in the aftertaste.  I guess that is the best way to describe it.  I do find it refreshing and believe that I will enjoy having the option of either Kombucha or Kefir to drink.  Anyways, I have just bottled my next two 16 oz bottles and added a little bit of blueberry/pom. concentrate to increase the sugar amount and am leaving the tightly capped bottles out at room temperature for a day in hopes that it will do a little more fermenting and carbonate the Kefir.  My grains are also multiplying and I am hoping to step up my production a little in a week or so. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

KOMBUCHA!!!! Here's a tissue, God bless you! No, the drink!

I can not believe that I had not discovered how yummy and healthy this stuff was before.  And, I can make it at home for pennies!  Actually, I saw Kombucha in the stores about 4 years ago and bought 2 bottles of it.  At that time, I tasted the first bottle and gave away the second.  The sour, tangy vinegar flavor was way too strong and made my eyes water.  So, being the adventurous soul that I am and reading all over the internet how great this stuff was and how good for you it is I decided to give it another go around.  Flavors (especially ginger), I now had options!  I bought a bottle of GingerBerry and Gingeraid.  Gave the bottles a really good chill and started sipping.  Now, this was not the Kombucha I tried 4 years ago.  The naturally carbonated, tangy, slightly sour vinegar flavor was still there but much more palatable and to me addictive. However, at $3.69/bottle this was not going to be an option for me to drink the 1 - 2 bottles that I was now craving.

I LOVE THE INTERNET!  I LOVE GOOGLE!!  I LOVE YOUTUBE!!!  So, I did what I usually do when I want to make something that I can not afford to buy or can not see spending the money that is being asked for the product, I did a search on the internet, read a lot about it and also watched a number of YouTube uploads and then took eveything I learned, blended all the Info. in my brain and did it my own way.  I made my own SCOBY and then my first batch of Kombucha.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 SCOBY (see previous post to grow your own or get one from a friend)
  • 1 GLASS jar that will hold a little more then a gallon (I am using re-purposed bulk pickle jars)
  • 1 Gallon of filtered, distilled, reverse osmosis water or fill a pitcher full of water the night before making your Kombucha and let it sit out so that any chlorine can escape into the air.
  • 1 1/2 cups of plain old white cane sugar (most of it will be used up by the SCOBY so you do not need to worry about consuming much, it is the food for your SCOBY)
  • 8 Black or Green tea bags.  Do not use Herbal or fancy teas here.  Black or Green actually work the very best.
  • A coffee filter, filter paper or piece of paper towel big enough to cover top of your gallon jar.
  • A rubber band or ponytail holder big enough to hold the filter/paper over the top of your jar.
  • 7 empty re-purposed Kombucha bottles and original lids or pint canning jars and lids.
  • Optional: chopped fruits such as berries, peaches, pinnapple or my favorite...ginger root cut into thin slices.  You might choose to use juice concentrate (Old Orchard usually does not contain preservatives so that is what I use).
Here is how you do it:
  1. Fill a pot with your gallon of water and put all eight of your tea bags into the pot.  Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.
  2. Add the sugar and mix well until all sugar is dissolved.  Allow the tea bags to remain in your pot until the mixture has come to room temperature.
  3. Remove the tea bags and pour the mixture into your glass jar.  Add one cup of the liquid that you have your SCOBY growing in and your SCOBY to the jar.
  4. Cover the jar with the filter/paper and secure with the rubber band.
  5. Place the jar in a dark cabinet or closet where the room temperature is 70 degrees F or higher and let it sit  for 7 -14 days.  The warmer the space the faster the Kombucha will ready.
  6. Start tasting the Kombucha around day 7 buy inserting a straw along side of the SCOBY and down the side of the jar with your finger on the top of the straw.  Draw out the straw and drip the liquid from the straw into your mouth.  You decide when the Kombucha is tangy enough for you.  You control the sugar levels.  The longer you let it sit , the tangier and less sweet the Kombucha will be.
  7. Once you decide your Kombucha is ready (mine is usually 10-12 days) you can bottle it.  Put your fruit, ginger slices or a tablespoon of the concentrate into your jars and then fill your bottles with the Kombucha you have brewed.  I have been filtering mine though a small coffee filter that fits into my funnel.  However, my first couple of batches I just funneled it right into my jars.  The floaters are all good for you if you do not mind them.
  8. If you want your Kombucha to be slightly carbonated, just leave the sealed jars at room temperature for 2-3 days and then put the bottles into your refrigerator until you are ready to drink it.  DO NOT forget to put the bottles into the refrigerator or they may explode or become too carbonated and just fizz all over when you try to open them.
You can keep using your SCOBY over and over again.  Always remember to reserve about 1 cup of Kombucha from the batch you just made so to add to the new batch with the SCOBY to get it started.  If your SCOBY gets really thick, you can carefully pull the layers apart so that you have 2 SCOBY's. 

I Currently have 4 gallons of Kombucha brewing.  Just Bottled a batch last night and another this afternoon.  I will have another one ready to bottle in about 2 days (actually it is ready today but I want to try to space my batches out a little better).  And I have a new SCOBY in the growing process for a friend of mine.  I could have given her one of my larger SCOBY's but, I want her to have her own fresh, newly grown SCOBY.

With all of these batches of Kombucha brewing in my house and the big batch of Oatmeal Rosemary Skin Magic homemade soap I made this morning, I can now sit back and know that I have the Wisdom to Breath in all lovely scents in my little home!