How to make Kombucha Tea
Kombucha! We love it! Most have heard the word, “Kombucha” but what is a SCOBY, why should I drink it and how do I make it home?
For all of my microbiologist and food safety professionals, this kitchen counter experiment sounds crazy, at first, but once you learn the many benefits of this delicious drink, it will grow on you. (no pun intended:) Kombucha is a fermented tea made from a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), starter tea, black tea and sugar. Yes, sugar! Gasp! Don’t worry this is food for our SCOBY. The fermenting process, more accurately, the respiration process uses yeast to cleave sugar and bacteria to produce the acidic quality of Kombucha tea. We will refer to it as fermentation because that is the more widely used term for the process. What’s after the fermentation process is sunshine in a glass, a yummy, slightly carbonated drink that is packed full of healthful benefits.
The benefits of Kombucha are:
Boil 12 cups of water, don’t worry this does not need to be exact. Add one cup of pure cane sugar. I like organic because that means less pesticides. Remove from heat and add 5 black tea bags. Wait for the tea to brew and to COMPLETELY cool. This is the second hardest part. The first being that you will want the 7-14 days to fly by so that you can taste your science project.
You will not want to use any metal spoons, ladles or utensils with your SCOBY. I have read many articles and blog posts that swear by cleaning all utensils and glass jars with vinegar before handling them. I do this about 75% of the time and the other 25% I use a normally washed jar and utensils. I have never noticed a difference.
After cooling, add your tea to a one-gallon glass jar and add the SCOBY and starter tea. Starter tea can be an original flavored kombucha from your local co-op, from your past batch of tea or from a friend. Add at least one cup. Cover the jar with a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Store your kombucha in a dark place for 7-14 days.
Now wait! But how long?
There are a couple of different factors that will affect the length of time your kombucha will take to ferment. Light and temperature are big ones. The optimal temperature for your SCOBY is 74-84 F. Fermenting time will be longer in cooler months than summer months. When you start to think, “What is that smell?” Your tea could be ready for bottling. The smell is acidic but slightly sweet. If you like your tea more acidic tasting you may try leaving it a few more days. If you would like more carbonation, adding fresh fruit and doing a second fermentation process may be a great option for you.
Once you are ready to bottle your kombucha, take a quick look into the jar. There should be two SCOBY in your jar. A mother and baby SCOBY. Each time you brew kombucha, you will end up with an additional SCOBY. I keep them so I can give them to friends or start another batch of tea. I place them in a mason jar and cover them with kombucha. This is called a SCOBY hotel.
A SCOBY hotel can be stored in the refrigerator for many, many months. I loosen the lid of my mason jar so that the CO2 does not buildup inside of the jar. Refrigeration will cause the SCOBY to go dormant and grow at a very slow pace. If your SCOBY hotel gets crowded you can dehydrate them and make dog treats. Your puppies will love you for it!
To bottle your tea, filter the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and fill your jars, leaving about an inch of room. If you wish to do a second fermentation to achieve a higher level of carbonation, add fresh fruit, cover with a coffee filter and leave on the counter (not in the sunlight or heat) for 2-3 additional days.
If you choose not to do a second fermentation, THIS IS THE MOMENT YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL ALONG. Enjoy your kombucha and store extras in the refrigerator. Don’t forget to save a cup or two of your kombucha to be the starter tea for your next batch.
P.S. We would love to hear and see how your kombucha adventure is going! Share your thoughts and photos on your favorite social media site with #wholesomekombucha.
Eggnog is a holiday favorite for many. My Mom especially looks forward to this time of year for the family gatherings, but also for the eggnog. But lets face it, the eggnog that you buy from a carton at the grocery store is not the same eggnog my great grandmother use to make from scratch at home. When I looked up the ingredients in one of the more popular eggnog flavored creamers you can buy from almost any market, the ingredients listed are:
CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COCONUT AND/OR PALM KERNEL AND/OR SOYBEAN), SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE)**, LESS THAN 2% OF DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, ANNATTO COLOR.
Wow. I don't know about you, but I don't recognize more than half of those ingredients. And if I don't recognize them, it's unlikely that my body will either. And the thing is, making your own eggnog at home from scratch is pretty simple and it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the chemical storm that's in most processed creamers.
There are a couple things you should consider when buying ingredients to make your own eggnog. First, the eggs. Traditionally, eggnog is made with raw egg yolks. There is nothing wrong with consuming a reasonable amount of raw egg as long as your eggs are coming from a trusted source. You should look for eggs that are organic and from pastured chickens. Second, this recipe calls for coconut cream. Organic coconut cream can be found at many health food stores or online. My favorite brand is Natural Value because it doesn't have any preservatives in it. The only two ingredients you'll find are organic coconut extract and water.
This recipe also calls for homemade cashew milk. Don't worry. This is really easy to make. You simply soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water for 2 hours. Strain them. Rinse them. Then add them to a powerful blender with 3 cups of filtered water, 2-3 pitted dates and 1 vanilla bean. Blend for 2 minutes and then strain through a nut bag. That's it. If you don't have a nut bag, don't worry. Just leave out the dates and vanilla bean OR just skip that last step. As long as you have a powerful blender, the dates and vanilla bean will pulverize completely and you wont even notice they're there! If anything, they'll help thicken your milk a little bit more. If you want more details on how to make cashew cream (you can add more water to turn it into cashew milk, go HERE).
So...if you're ready to spend 30 minutes in the kitchen to make an amazing homemade eggnog from scratch, that is dairy free AND full of nutrient dense ingredients that will actually nourish your body, here you go!
I teach the RESTART® program. This program is a simple, powerful way to give your body a vacation from having to process toxins like sugar. With a 3-week sugar detox built right in, the program focuses on how to use REAL FOOD to boost your energy and cut sugar and carb cravings. But, you know what this means...no more flavored coffee creamers. This is probably the single most often heard complaint I get from RESTART® participants when they first start the program. "I don't know how I can drink coffee without flavored creamer!" If you really like the flavored CREAMER that is in the coffee, then no, you won't like the coffee anymore. BUT, if you really like the COFFEE, with a little bit of creaminess (I understand, that's how I like my coffee too), I'll show you can have your coffee and creamer too!
First, you can use organic (preferably raw) heavy whipping cream. But if you've decided that you want to find an alternative to dairy, look no further! Here's your recipe. It calls for 3 ingredients: 1 cup raw cashews, 1 vanilla bean, and 2-3 organic, pitted dates*. Oh, and water.
To make this amazingly delicious cashew cream, you have to plan ahead. 2 hours ahead. Why? Because the cashews have to soak. Soaking the cashews softens them and allows them to pulverize in the blender. Once they've soaked them for 2 hours, you drain them, rinse them, then throw them into the blend with the dates and vanilla bean. The amount of filtered water you choose to add will determine the thickness of your cream. The more water you use, the more milk-like the final product will be. If you like thick cream in your coffee (come on, who doesn't want that!?!), use less water. I use about 2 1/2-3 cups of water when I make my cashew cream. It's the perfect amount of water (you may need to play around and find your perfect amount of water). To make cashew milk, I use about 4 cups of water.
Once everything has been blended, you can strain it through a nut bag to remove any small particles of date, nut or vanilla bean that might be left over. Honestly, I rarely do this step. My blender is powerful, I'm often in a hurry, and I don't mind the consistency when it's not strained. If you want perfectly creamy milk, don't miss this step.
The cashew cream can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, but mine rarely lasts that long. You can also freeze it for future use.
*If you are following the RESTART® program, then dates are one of the items on the DO NOT EAT list. While on the program, just leave them out of your cashew cream. Your milk will still have a sweetened, vanilla flavor from the vanilla bean. Once the program is over, you can choose to put the dates back into your cream to add some sweetness. I'd much rather see any of my clients consume a few raw dates over preservatives, artificial or "natural" flavors.