Why ferment

For centuries, people have been letting their food rot just a little bit to make it last longer, taste better and nourish harder. I’ve been making kombucha for a couple years because $3.95 for 24 ounces is seriously expensive, even if it does come in a nice glass bottle.

The benefits of fermented food are numerous, and you probably consume more than you realize. Beer, sourdough bread, yogurt and pickles are all fermented.

Fermentation occurs when natural bacteria feed on sugar and starch in food. Those bacteria create lactic acid, which preserves the food and creates a whole host of wonderful byproducts, like omega-3s, vitamins, enzymes and probiotics.

This blog is my attempt to get out of my fermentation comfort zone and try something new. It’s time to up my bacteria game. I’ve been saying I’ll make my own yogurt for roughly two years — I think it’s finally time.

My current fermentation routine involves a batch of kombucha each week, a jar of pickled carrots every so often and a gallon of beer brewed with my dad when I visit home. But on the sly, I eat store-bought fermented food often — Greek yogurt for breakfast, pickles on my sandwiches and miso in my soups.

My goal is to challenge myself with a new fermentation recipe each week. I’ll make the basics I’ve been ignoring, like yogurt, pickles and kimchi. But I also want to get exotic, and try making foods that aren’t part of my daily diet, like kefir, Miso and sauerkraut. I’ll also learn about the history and health benefits of each new food.One more I’ll check off the list is home-brewed wine from fruit juice.

To start this blog off with a bang, my komucha recipe below. It’s exactly the same as hundreds of other recipes on the internet, but I like to think I’m particularly good at flavoring kombucha.

How to make kombucha

First, acquire a scooby. You can buy one off the internet, make your own from a bottle of store-bought kombucha, or make a great friend who will cut hers in half for you.

Brew some strong tea. I prefer a mixture of black and green, but you can use one or the other, or even herbal fruit teas or yerba mate. Mix in about a cup of white sugar for every eight ounces of tea.
Let the tea cool, and then put your scooby. Then you wait. Let the scooby do its thing and eat up the sugar in the tea and turn it into bacteria. It will take between one and two weeks. Sample your tea every few days and once you like the flavor, take the scooby out. As time passes, the tea will get more and more sour.

Once you’re happy with your tea flavor, pour the kombucha into plastic bottles. This is the fun part, when you get the flavor the tea. But first, mix in a little honey to give the bacteria something else to feed on. I experiment with fruits, spices and herbs. My favorite combinations from the last few months are strawberry and basil, lime and mint and apple cinnamon stick. Or you can keep it plain by just adding honey.

My most recent batch of kombucha flavored with pear

Let the tea sit for a few days, or until the bottles are hard. This is how you carbonate the drink — the plastic bottle hardens because carbon dioxide is released. Once it’s carbonated, stick your kombucha in the fridge to stop the bubbles, and enjoy.

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