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It tastes like Nourishing Traditions Kombucha!
My first taste of Kombucha was from a bottle of the stuff that I purchased at my local Whole Foods store. Wow, that stuff packed a whollup! Like drinking carbonated apple cider vinegar. It took some getting used to, but I didn't mind it too much.
Then, my dear, dear friend, Debbie, asked me to visit with her at her home which is near my son's weekly math team practice location. We got talking about the NT cookbook, and she asked me if I'd ever tried Kombucha. I shared with her the story above. She said she's been making NT Kombucha for a long time, and her whole family loves it...would I like to try a glass of hers?
It was comical...she and her 18 y.o. daughter, Jessica, stared at me as I lifted the cup to my lips...they were waiting, I was later told, for me to try it, screw up my face and scrunch my eyes shut and go "eeeeee-ewe" and have other such reactions! They certainly weren't prepared for what I did say, which was, "this tastes like southern sweet tea!" That was a new one for them! But, compared with the stuff I'd been drinking from the store, this fresh-made NT Kombucha does taste like carbonated, southern sweet tea!
That is, it tastes like carbonated, southern sweet tea as long as you don't breathe in through your nose with your nose right over it. It smells like yeasty, apple cider vinegar. But it doesn't taste like that...not at all! So we just don't sniff it before we sip it! It really is a refreshing, sweet-tangy beverage, and I now enjoy an 8-ounce glass each evening with dinner.
OK, let's dive into the photos of the process! If you have a teenager who is studying biology, have them make it with you...you can give them credit for completing a laboratory experiment!!!
Open up your NT cookbook to the "Kombucha" recipe on page 596.
LESSONS LEARNED BY READING THIS RECIPE CAREFULLY BEFORE MAKING:
- Use white sugar to get the best fermentation and acid production.
- Use only ORGANIC BLACK TEA.
- Make sure you have the correct materials (jars...glass...no plastic...check sizes)
- Get a mushroom and 1/2 cup Kombucha from a Kombucha-making-friend...you can't make Kombucha without it!
- If you don't have a gifted mushroom, you can order one (NT has a source for these), OR...
- Read the comment from RASHEL at the end of this post...she learned how to make one using store-bought Kombucha, and she links to a "how to." Thanks, Rashel!
Make the sweet tea according to the recipe and let it cool to room temperature.
Pour it into a glass jar, and add 1/2 cup of Kombucha from a previously made batch, and add a Kombucha "mushroom" (you have to get one from a friend who makes Kombucha or you can order one...the NT cookbook "source" section gives info on ordering mushrooms). My Kombucha-making friend, Debbie, gave me one of her mushrooms and 1/2 cup of her Kombucha.
Onward...we have cooled sweet tea, with 1/2 cup Kombucha culture and a mushroom added:
I found that it kind-of sank a little bit...that's okay, my friend told me. Now...take masking tape and make a criss-cross over the top...this is to make sure that the towel you lay over your jar doesn't accidentally fall into it. The towel is to keep critters/bugs out of your Kombucha as it begins to ferment. Put it into a dry, warm, dark place for 7 to 10 days. I marked that time period on my calendar, so I could just forget about the stuff until those dates arrived.
Mine went in the cabinet of my sideboard in my dining room.
If you've ever smelled sourdough starter, that's what fermenting Kombucha smells like. It didn't overpower my dining room at all. No one noticed it...I knew it was there, so I could pick up the scent if I was real close to it, but otherwise it wasn't even noticable.
LESSON LEARNED FROM READING AND FROM MY FRIEND: In warm weather, 7 days is usually enough. As it gets cooler outside and thus cooler in the house, it can take up to 10 days.
I let mine "cook" in there for about 9 days. It smelled real tangy, had grown a new mushroom across the entire top of it, and there were bubbles underneath it. (That cloudy-looking film on top, most easily visible on the right-hand side, is the new mushroom...you can see my friend's original mushroom...the creepy-looking one from before!...underneath it, visible to the left-hand side.)
And here is the newly-grown mushroom (with the old, original mushroom in the dish below). It is not slimy...it's fairly firm, not thin/delicate-feeling.
Next step is to pour the Kombucha liquid through a fine strainer and into a pitcher with a pour spout. There are a few little "thread-like" pieces of culture floating in it that you want to strain out. You could, if the equipment you have allows, just strain it right into your glass storage vessel. Going from the big, square jar that I have, through a strainer and into the skinny juice pitchers was a little precarious for me, so I went from fermentation jar to pitcher with a pouring spout to juice pitcher.
I put both mushrooms into glass jars, and added 1/2 cup of the strained Kombucha to each jar. These are in my refrigerator...one will be given to a friend when she's ready for it, and the other will be used to start my next batch of Kombucha, probably tomorrow, since it takes 9 days to ferment, and I'm sure to run out by then!
Hopefully now that you've seen me go through the process, it won't be so intimidating...it's NOT hard to make! I've put a ton of pics in so you'll know what you're looking at, and you can compare. But the process is really quite simple: you boil water, add tea bags, dissolve sugar into it, pour it into a big glass jar, dump in the mushroom and culture that your friend gives you, cover it, and kiss it goodbye for a week-and-a-half...then pour it through a strainer, chill, and enjoy!
Once you're comfortable making Kombucha, you can learn to make flavored Kombucha! Read the comment from RASHEL at the end of this post...she learned how to make flavored Kombucha, and she links to a "how to." Thanks, Rashel!
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