Friday, November 25, 2011

Kombucha Update

Update: Here's my most recent kombucha update.

Remember how I grew my own kombucha SCOBY?!  And then I attempted my first batch of the yummy tart fizzy amazing stuff?  Well, here's what happened...

I let my kombucha sit for 8 days and then a little.  I was going to only do 5 before bottling it, but I decided to let it sit for longer for a few reasons...
  • I am going to do plain kombucha this time, so no secondary fermenting in the bottles.  I don't really know if I'm doing the right thing, but hey, I'm just gonna go for it.  
  • Our house has been a little cooler (or less warm is probably more accurate for where we are) so I wanted to let it sit a little longer. 
  • It started to develop some funky looking stuff on top, which I was hoping was a new SCOBY.  I decided to let it sit a couple more days so that I would know for sure.  I have been looking around at pictures online here and here, and I'm pretty confident it's a new SCOBY forming and not mold of any kind. 
So here we go with my update...with pictures to help any of you interested in bringing this beneficial drink into your life.  Here's my SCOBY that grew like I talked about here.  Isn't it AMAZING that this thing grew with a little tea, 1 tbsp of sugar, and a bottle of GT's plain raw kombucha? 
 It's just asking to be given some sugar to eat up!

So after 8ish days of sitting, here's what I had!
 Isn't that gross/amazing?!  The original SCOBY sank, which is totally fine.  After a few (3-5? I can't remember) days, stuff started forming on top.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.  Sorry.  At first things looked kind of moldy, but from what I've read, mold is blue/green/black/dark.  Mine was white/cream colored.  Then it kept spreading.  If you can see in the picture above, there are bubbles/foamy stuff around the edge.  That's just the fermentation creating bubbles that aren't escaping because there's an awesome SCOBY growing on top.


A couple notes about new SCOBYs growing...
  1. It might look dry and fuzzy kind of like mold.  Mine had areas that looked dry and dusty, but this is just because there were air bubbles trapped underneath, so the SCOBY wasn't in contact with the liquid.  Therefore, it looked dry.  It looks very different when you remove it.  
  2. If you develop stuff on the top of your batch and you are thinking it might be mold, leave it alone and let it sit for a few more days.  This will easily allow it to grow so you can see if it is a SCOBY.  If you know for sure it is mold, throw it out - this is supposed to be pretty rare, so don't be scared!  If it is white/cream colored, LEAVE IT!  Let it have it's breathing space to do its job. :-)
So here we are, back on day 8ish.  I knew I needed to take care of it.  I was seriously scared.  I am such a wimp.  It's like the first time I tried our own homemade sauerkraut.  So easy, so simple, but I was scared.  DON'T BE SCARED!!!   This stuff is so fun and so good for us.

So after your batch of kombucha has done it's thang for it's time (I have read that 7-9 or 6-8 days is ideal, if your temperature is in the mid to upper 70's), it's time to test it.  Our kitchen varies on temperature - but I am pretty sure it is always above 70, even on cold nights.  If not, the fact that I use my stove, dehydrator, and oven like ALL the TIME, should help make up for it!

So, take a straw, move your SCOBY aside a little, get some in the straw by sticking the straw in the tea and then sealing the straw with your finger on the top.
Put that tea in your mouth or in a glass.  I did about 3-4 straw dips into a glass to taste it.  I smelled it first (and had hubby smell it) because I was chicken.  But then I tasted it and holy moly, it tasted like kombucha!!  I might or might not have started this crazy giddy laugh because of how excited and proud I was.  There is great freedom in learning to do this stuff!  MWAHAHA!  okay, anyway....

So I cleaned my hands really well and went to take out the SCOBY.  I have no clue what the best way is to do this.  So someone let me know if there is a great way to do it without sticking my fingers all over it.  Oh well.  I wanted to provide some pictures of it so you can know what it looks like.  
 The above picture is the top (doesn't look anything like mold and is surprisingly strong and doesn't just tear apart.  Weird.).  The below picture is the underneath.  The brown stuff is yeast (SCOBY = symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).  Don't be scared.  It is totally fine to be there.  There will be brown stuff all in your kombucha and a lot under a more mature SCOBY.  You will take care of this soon. 
 Now it's time to filter and bottle the good stuff.  Oh wow, you wouldn't believe how easy peasy this is.  Sterilize some cheesecloth (I used unbleached) with a steaming iron.  Line a strainer with the cheesecloth.  (I suggest using a medium-large strainer, not a tiny one like I used here (if you can tell).  My large one was dirty from broth straining.  This one worked, but larger would work better.

Pour through the cheesecloth lined strainer into something glass.  You could put it directly into quart mason jars.  I poured mine into a large 2 quart glass mixing bowl (with pouring spout!).  If I didn't have this, I would pour into my 4 cup glass measuring cup. 
 The cheesecloth captures all the brown yeasty stuff.  I would show you a picture, but it kinda looks really gross. 

Beautiful filtered fresh kombucha tea!  I saved my millions of GT bottles to put mine in. 
 Fill your bottles and repeat as needed!  BUT WAIT!!!  SAVE 1-2 CUPS FOR EACH SCOBY.  You need this to store your SCOBY in and for your next batch!

Look at the fizzy bubbles in the bottle!  I kept telling my husband 'it's like the real stuff I buy!'. 
 Look how beautiful.  Sorry, GT's, I love your kombucha, but I can't afford to buy as much as I would love to drink.  Thanks for the months of goodness and all the glass bottles I kept.  I'll buy one of you every now and then, I promise.  Well, we'll see. 
 A bottle of unopened GT's kombucha (left) next to mine (right).  I think I made my tea darker. 
 Isn't it all so happy in my fridge?!  My fridge is happy when it's full of this stuff.  Ah, I am crazy, aren't I?
 So here is what I was left with...

The original SCOBY (big and thick) with some of the tea I saved from the batch. 
 My new SCOBY with some saved tea from the batch, just waiting for me to give it a new batch to eat and grow!  This SCOBY is young and thin, but I can't wait to see what happens over the next week! 
I just covered these with clean white 100% cotton towels overnight.  The next morning, I made a new 1 gallon batch of sweet tea, let it cool, and added the new SCOBY and liquid to that batch.  Now that batch is sitting and doing its magic!  I still have the original, which I need to go make a new batch of tea for...

I hope that helps or encourages someone to try this!  If you have been wanting to, please go for it!  So easy and SO fun!  And so yummy.  And as my new SCOBYs continue to grow, I will gladly give them away.  Don't all of you ask at once.  ;-)

I can't wait to try flavoring some with secondary fermentation.  I am thinking a cranberry apple juice blend?  Ginger?  Lemon?

This website is helping me a lot right now if you are interested in learning more!

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at one of my favorite sites - Food Renegade.

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