Kombucha

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Currently showing posts tagged Ginger

  • Rose, Cardamom, Hibiscus + Ginger Infusion

    2017. Time to move beyond 2016 (maybe 2015, too). It is my goal to keep this space updated with my adventures in kombucha, simple or complex. Because cultured food is our culture!

    So, I'll keep it short and sweet for this post: rose! cardamom! hibiscus! ginger! This infusion, made from a kombucha brewed with some unknown origins black tea (prettttty sure it was some "Black Tea" I picked up at Bushel & Pecks, to which according to the helpful people who work htere, is from Ancora Coffee & Tea in Madison). My proportions were the "usual suspects": 4 TB tea, 3/4 cup sugar, and enough water to bring the sweet tea up to about 4" below the top of my gallon brew jar. I allowed the tea to steep in water just off the boil for 5ish minutes (yep, going to track these things more diligently in 2017, promise!). The first ferment took foooorrreeeevvvveeerrrr because it was cold in my apartment. And I was basically living at my mom and dad's house for the holidays (because that is what you do when you decided to resign from your job a few days before Christmas...you know? Yep, that happened).

    Finally, after 12 days (think my SCOBY was playing a "12 days of Christmas" joke on me), my brew was ready to bottle and infuse. My stand-out infusion was a floral, herbal and spicy combination of dried organic rose petals, several smashed cardamom pods, a few large slices of organic ginger root, and two small pinches hibiscus flowers.After allowing the flavors to infuse for 4 days in my cold, cold apartment, I attempted to open the bottle to burp the beast and WOW. Kombucha....errrrrrywhere! To tame the fizzy fizzy frenzy, I placed the liter flip top in the fridge to simmah-down! After which I filtered through my Zimtal Nutmilk Bag (2 years strong this one is! Loving it for straining kombucha, nut and seed milks, and many other finely-strained items). I allowed the carbonation to build again for 1 day at room temperature, and...wow. This infusion will certainly appear again, but thinking with a green tea instead. I have a batch of Rishi Jade Oolong brewing right now, and hope to try this rose-forward infusion with this brew next. A great way to start the new year! I am 30-ish SCOBYs strong, have purchased another gallon brew jar, and am super excited to march into 2017, fermented tea in hand. Cheers (and seriously, if you are in the Madison/Beloit area, and want to brew kombucha, please reach out for a thriving SCOBY and tutorial).

  • The Fifth Brew: Splitting the SCOBY + Fun Infusions

    So, two gallons of kombucha is a LOT of kombucha for one person! I mean, I am not complaining at all, but merely saying this: if you love kombucha, you should seriously consider brewing your own. It is so fulfilling, and how cool is watching your SCOBYs regenerate? Mind. Blown.

    Speaking of, my SCOBY was to the point where it was large enough to split. Generally, I have read that when a SCOBY reaches 1" thickness (for the gallon brewing method), it is time to split it. For me, this took 4 batches kombucha, but may be different for you and your SCOBY. To separate, I simply peeled apart the layers, which gave me two SCOBYs: one with more older growth (from my original SCOBY), and the newer growth. Immediately after separating, I brewed with both my older and new SCOBYs to produce 2 separate gallons of kombucha (I had to buy a new gallon brewing jar, and did so at the Wine and Hop Shop for about $6). While both batches were successful in reaching a pH of 3.0 after an 8 day brewing period, I did notice a few differences with the batches, but also note that I used two different teas to brew the batches. 

    The older SCOBY seemed to get carbonated at a slower rate, and I had to let the bottles that I infused with flavors for the second fermentation, sit on the counter at room temperature for two days longer to get the fizz levels to where I like them, as well as the acidic bite that I like. So overall, I let all the bottles infuse with flavors for 2 whole days before straining out the bits and pieces of fruits and spices. Then, I let the strained kombucha brewed with the newer SCOBY ferment in the bottles at room temperature for and additional 3 days, and the kobucha brewed with the older SCOBY sit for an additional 5 days in order to get the carbonation and flavor I like. I put the liters of kombucha in the fridge once the flavor and carbonation levels I was looking for were reached, and enjoyed them from there. 

    After brewing these batches, I decided to create a SCOBY "hotel" with 2 cups of freshly brewed kombucha from the top of the gallon brewing jar, and the older SCOBY used to brew the batch, and only brew with the newer SCOBY for the next gallon batch. I did this mostly because I only had enough tea and sugar to brew one gallon, and want to see if allowing the older SCOBY to "rest" for a week or two will allow it to come back to full force. We will see what happens with the 6th batches! 

    But to the fun stuff: I had a great time picking out the infusion flavors from around my spice rack and pantry for the two gallons that I brewed. I used the Big Book of Kombucha for inspiration, and also took a nod of inspiration from my favorite flavor from NessAlla (hisbiscus, ginger, cardamom).Infusions for the batch brewed with the older SCOBY (Scooby):

    • Ginger (chopped into small pieces)
    • Blueberry-Lavender-Lemon

    Infusions for the batch brewed with the newer SCOBY (Velma):

    • Tangerine-Cayenne
    • Hibiscus-Ginger-Cardamom

    All of these flavors were wonderful...but a word of caution about powdered herbs and spices: a small amount goes a LONG way! At first sip of my hibiscus-ginger-cardamom infusion, I thought I had gone overboard with a mere 1/8 tsp of powdered cardamom for a liter of kombucha, but the flavor seemed to calm down as the brew aged. Ditto with the tangerine cayenne: it was spicy...but I loved the spice with the carbonation. Additionally, the hibiscus-cardamom-ginger batch was super fizzy, relative to all the other batches. Maybe it is something with the hibiscus flowers? Either way, it was super tasty and pretty.And finally, a note about the teas used: the older SCOBY (Scooby) was used in a sweet tea made from Rishi's Ruby Oolong, and the nutty flavors were sublime. The newer SCOBY (Velma) was used in a sweet tea made from Rishi's Golden Yunan, as used previously in batches #3 and #4. I didn't choose these combinations for any particular reason, but can assume that both the age of the SCOBY and type of tea used to brew the kombucha likely had an influence on the course of the fermenation.

    At any rate, here are the recipes for the second ferment infusions! Cheers!



    My Fifth 'Booch Brews // Brew Date: April 18, 2016 // 

    SCOBY: Newer Growth ("Velma")

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyGolden Yunnan a total of 3 TB tea, brewed for 8 minutes

    Sugar: 1 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased from Trader Joe's

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet


    SCOBY: Older Growth ("Scooby")

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyRuby Oolong a total of 3 TB tea, brewed for 8 minutes

    Sugar: 1 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased from Trader Joe's

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 8 days

    Temperature Notes: The average temperature, I would guess, for both gallon brewing jars would have been near to 80F. 



    Second Fermentation: I bottled into the same liter flip-top bottles, using a funnel, with all the tools I used cleaned in warm vinegar water. I got about 4 and 1/2 liters total, filling the bottles almost up to the top of the bottles, leaving very little headspace. I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the scoby for the next batch, and then 2 cups for the SCOBY hotel in which I placed the older SCOBY, Scooby.

    pH at Bottling: 3.0 for both gallons

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to get inspiration from recipes out of The Big Book of Kombucha, modifying them for my 1 liter bottles, and also trying my hand at creating a flavor that I love from NessAlla Kombucha here in Madison. 

    Hibiscus-Ginger-Cardamom // 1 liter // 

    • 1/8 tsp powdered cardamom
    • 1 tsp diced organic ginger root
    • 2 tsp hibiscus petals (got mine from the bulk tea/herb section at the Willy Street Coop)

    Tangerine-Cayenne // 1 liter //

    • 4 TB freshly squeezed tangerine juice
    • 1/8 tsp or small pinch powdered cayenne 

    Note: this flavor paired really well with Corona and Lime! I snuck in some of this into a wedding we went to last weekend...smart move on my part! 

    Blueberry-Lavender-Lemon // 1 liter //

    • 1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries
    • 1/2 tsp dried lavender, food-grade (also go mine from the bulk tea/herb section at the Willy Street Coop)
    • 1 TB freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

    Ginger // 1 liter //

    • 2 heaped tsp chopped organic ginger

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let the bottles sit for 2 days to infuse with the flavorings, and then decided to strain out the infusion bits. For this process, I used my funnel, and line it with my Zimtal numilk/sprouting bag. After straining, I allowed the filtered liters of kombucha ferment at room temperature for the amount of time described above to attain the carbonation and acidic-flavors that I like, after which point I placed the liters in the fridge to slow fermentation.



    After a long run, an ice cold glass of kombucha! So darn refreshing.

  • The Fourth Brew: Hibiscus+ Grapefruit & Chamomile + Turmeric

    Moving onto the fourth batch! The gallon brewing process has been working really well for me, and the SCOBYs are multiplying (insert 1950s horror movie music). The warming temperatures are making it easier to keep temperatures regular without using our electric heat, and...I have a new source of knowledge and inspiration! I was gifted a (signed!!!!) copy of The Big Book of Kombucha, written by the founders of Kombucha Kamp, Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, and WOW! What an awesome compilation of everything a homebrewer would need to know about getting started, brewing, maintenance, and what to do with all those extra SCOBYs as your brewing process continues. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious or already a homebrewer of kombucha. I had the pleasure of seeing Hannah and Alex, along with the talented founders and brewers of Karma Kombucha and NessAlla Kombucha, teach a kombucha homebrewing class at the Good Food Festival (the one I went to back in March in Chicago). And yeah, saying that Hannah (and the rest of the bunch!) is passionate about brewing and kombucha as a whole is a complete understatement. What a fantastic community!

    So, obviously, I had to use some recipes from the book as inspiration for bottling my fourth batch. And, another exciting factor: I decided to split my SCOBY. It was getting to the 1" thickness mark, and I decided it was time to start another gallon brewing vessel. As noted, my thrid batch fermented quickly, and no doubt the larger SCOBY culture with the warmer temperatures fueled the brew to ferment quickly. Eventually, I would like to keep a SCOBY hotel for back-up cultures, but for now I think managing 2 one-gallon brewing vessels is perfectly acceptable for our needs. I will report back with how these batches turn out next week, as well with what I decide to flavor them with! 



    My Fourth 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: April 11, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyGolden Yunnan a total of 4 TB tea, brewed for 6 minutes

    Sugar: 1 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased from Trader Joe's

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 8 days

    Temperature Notes: The average temperature, I would guess, would have been near to 80F. Our heat wasn't on nearly as much as the previous batches, but it is starting to be consistently warmer during the days here. 



    Second Fermentation: as with my first brew, I bottled into the same liter flip-top bottles, using a funnel, with all the tools I used cleaned in warm vinegar water. I got about 2 and 1/2 liters total, filling the bottles almost up to the top of the bottles, leaving very little headspace. Like the last batch, I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the scoby for the next batch. Since my last batch was a touch sweet, I decided to let this batch brew for 8 days. The end result, likely due to the larger SCOBY and warming temperatures, was a bit sour but still absolutely drinkable. 

    pH at Bottling: 3.0

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to follow two recipes out of The Big Book of Kombucha, modifying them for my 1 liter bottles. Overall, I was very happy with the results of these recipes. 

    Hibiscus-Grapefruit-Ginger Infusion // 1 liter // 

    • 4 TB 100% grapefruit juice (I used my reemer, and juiced an organic red grapefruit)
    • 2 tsp diced ginger root
    • 1/2 tsp hibiscus petals (got mine from the bulk tea/herb section at the Willy Street Coop)

    Chamomile-Turmeric Infusion // 1 liter //

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let the bottles sit for 2 days to infuse with the flavorings, and then decided to strain out the infusion bits. Especially with the chamomile-turmeric flavor, the particulates were quite small and I didn't think picking those out as we drank the kombucha would be enjoyable. For this process, I used my funnel, and line it with my Zimtal numilk/sprouting bag (see picture below). This worked like a charm for filtering! But note: I probably removed some of the yeastie beasties in this process, but the bottles had no problem re-carbonating after straining. After this, we started to enjoy them, since they were already on the sour side during bottling. I allowed the bottles to sit on the counter for 1 whole day (warmer temperatures, noted!), and then moved them to the fridge since the kombucha was getting very fizzy (yes!). I suspect this was due to the high acid levels, as these can serve as food/substrate for the cultures in the brew. Since the bottles were moved to the fridge to "halt" futher carbonation and fermentation, I did not make a point to burp the bottles each day. Even with this step, the carbonation held very well while the bottles were stored in the fridge. Overall, these were my fizziest batches so far!

    We loved the hibiscus-grapefruit infusion: the color (I mean, come on! Pink!!!!), the floral notes and the slightly sour flavor of the hibiscus and citrus really played well with the sourness of this batch. Perfect by itself, over ice!The chamomile-turmeric blend was also very refreshing and summery. Something about German chamomile really takes me back to summers growing up (and it also reminds me of my grandma's dill pickles...weird, I know...), as it used to (well, it still does) grow wild around where we grew up. Also, that yellow color cannot be beat! Makes you happy just looking at it-am I right? 



    Filtering apparatus, with nutmilk bag (I still giggle when I say and/or read that...) (also note the mess I made on my counter on opening this bottle for straining...it was very, very fizzy)Ok, seriously...the colors of these batches were unreal. I think they seriously helped my mood this week.So fun!

  • The Third Brew: Ginger Juice!

    The Third Brew! Ok, so I am little late on this-life has been a bit busy lately, which is cool-so I am due for an update here. I am still loving the homebrewing gig...it is so fulfilling, fun, and gratifying! After a long day, pouring myself a big glass of homemade kombucha and sitting on our deck has been really great this past week, now that the weather is starting to be more spirng-like here in Madison.

    For this third batch, I experimented with a thrid form of ginger: freshly juiced! In our juicer, I put in a large hunk of organic ginger that was washed briefly in a warm vinegar/water solution. I then thought it'd be a great idea to put a small organic lemon through the juicer, making a strong lemon-ginger juice to add to my bottles for the second fermentation of this batch. In addition, I added 1/2 tsp organic evaporated cane juice (aka: sugar) to see if that would help with the fizz levels. 

    Overall: the batch was very refreshing and had some great ginger-lemon flavors going on, but fizz-factor wasn't the best. The batch was a *touch* sweet, so perhaps the addition of the 1/2 tsp sugar was not needed, but hey...experimenting! In the end, the fizziest of the ginger infusions with how I brewed my 'booch was the grated ginger on a microplane. However, all three were extremely tasty, regardless of form of ginger!



    My Third 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: April 4, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea CompanyGolden Yunnan using 3 TB tea, brewed for 6-7 minutes

    Sugar: 3/4 Cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased from Trader Joe's

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 7 days

    Temperature Notes: As with the second batch, I would guess that the average temperature was around 78F for this thrid batch. The temperatures are getting warmer here, so I hope to use more natural heat rather than having our electric heaters running! I tasted at day 7, the brew was very flavorful, but a bit more sweet tasting (as reflected by the higher pH at bottling!), and just slightly carbonated. I could have let this batch go another day or two, but we were leaving for a few days so I wanted to bottle this stuff up!



    Second Fermentation: as with me previous brews, I bottled into the same liter flip-top bottles, using a funnel, with all the tools I used cleaned in warm vinegar water. I got about 2 and 1/2 liters total, filling the bottles almost up to the top of those that were full, leaving very little headspace. Like the last batch, I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the SCOBY for the next batch. 

    pH at Bottling: 3.5

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to juice ginger and lemon as described above. I added 2 TB total in EACH liter bottle, along with 1/2 tsp organic evaporated cane juice, which as mentioned above was added to see if this would amp-up the fizz factor (and I can't say with certainty that it did-but was still tasty).

    Ginger-Lemon Juice Infusion // 1 liter // 

    • 2 TB of the lemon/ginger juice
    • 1/2 tsp organic evaporated cane juice (optional)

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let the bottles sit for 2 days total until I taste them again, and started to enjoy them. As with my first and second batches, I allowed the liters to sit at room temperature on my counter (out of direct sun light and drastic temperture changes) over the entire duraion of drinking them, and this was about 1 week total. I really enjoyed tasting them throughout the process to experience how the flavors changed. Since I was drinking the kombucha every day (about 8 to 12 oz per day), the bottles were burped (released of excess carbonation) in this process each day. I would say that burping your bottles once a day is a good idea to prevent explosions, as is not storing the bottles in a really warm location!Since this particular batch was a *touch* sweet, I found that the following mixers were a fun way to enjoy this batch!

    • 8oz ginger-lemon kombucha + 8oz Miller High Life (don't judge!) OR Heinekin Lite (also, don't judge-the flavors worked surprisingly well with BOTH of these affordable beers! But, I may do some more high-quality booch-and-beer pairings in the near future)
    • 8oz ginger-lemon kombucha + 8oz pure sparkling water + a few berries for fun garnish (picture below, on my ugly-yet-I-love-it-so-much retro chair)
    • 8oz ginger-lemon kombucha + 8oz pure sparkling water + 1/2 to 1 shot of Grey Goose Vodka/high quality vodka (unlike beer, I recommend using a high quality vodka...I rarely drink hard booze and mixed drinks, so when I do, it better be good. I am glad I *forced* myself to try it, and am happy to report it was an easy, tasty and fun drink for the warmer weather!)

  • The Second Brew: Ginger and Goji Berry!

    So, I am really, really loving the whole kombucha-brewing-at-home thing. I can't describe it, but it is really putting joy into my days. Waking up, seeing the bottles of booch on my counter. Checking on my brew and scoby a few times throughout the day, just because I can. Smelling the complex aromas rising from my gallon brewing jar...it makes me happy. 

    Isn't it amazing how something so seemingly simple, is really so complex? I do want to learn more about the science and microbiology of kombucha...the inner scientist and food nerd in me is calling...but for right now, I want to enjoy the simplicy of it. Go by the tastes, the colors, the smells, the sounds. Be present, and enjoy the process. Becuase isn't that the whole point?

    So here is what I did for my second batch of home brewed kombucha! LIke last time, I am going to recall with some level of certainty parameters for the brew, and also share what I did at bottling time (i.e. for the second fermentation). I'll also share some notes about the taste, fizzy factor, and other qualitative observations as I see fit/can remember.



    My Second 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: March 29, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea Company, Golden Yunnan and Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong, using 1.5 TB of each for a total of 3 TB tea, brewed for 6-7 minutes

    Sugar: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased in bulk from the Regent Street Coop

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 7 days

    Temperature Notes: I made sure our heat was ON for the entire brewing process this time, and I really did notice a difference in aroma and flavor. I would guess that the average temperature was around 78F for this batch. When I taste tested at day 7, the brew was so flavorful, more acidic tasting (but still sweet), and more carbonated than my first batch. The tea combination I used really shined through as well. 



    Second Fermentation: as with my first brew, I bottled into the same liter flip-top bottles, using a funnel, with all the tools I used cleaned in warm vinegar water. I got about 2 and 1/2 liters total, filling the bottles almost up to the top of the bottles, leaving very little headspace. Like the last batch, I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the scoby for the next batch (this is called the "starter tea"). As an fun experiment, I combined the 1/2 liter of this second brew with about 1/3 of a liter of my previous mango-infused kombucha. I tasted some after a day of being in the bottle, and it was very tasty, but a bit sweet. After letting it sit for 4 days, it was more yeasty (cream layer at the bottom of the bottle was prominent, and the kombucha was slightly cloudy), and much more carbonated! The taste grew less sweet, and more complex as well during this time. 

    pH at Bottling: 3.0

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to use larger pieces of ginger and whole goji berries, allowing for them to be easily removed when drinking the kombucha, as opposed to straining to get smaller pieces of grated ginger and pureed fruit out. I also did not use any lemon juice, or additional sugar at bottling this time. Random Fact: read about how too much sugar can actually inhibit yeast, and reduce carbonation in kombucha. 

    Goji-Ginger Infusion // 1 liter // 

    • 2 tsp chopped organic ginger root, chopping to the size similar to goji berries
    • 2 tsp dried organic goji berries

    Ginger Infusion // 1 liter //

    • 2 TB 1/3" to 1/2" chopped organic ginger root

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let the bottles sit for 3 days total until I taste them again, and started to enjoy them. For my first and second batches, I allowed the liters to sit at room temperature on my counter (out of direct sun light and drastic temperture changes) over the entire duraion of drinking them, and this was about 1 week total. I really enjoyed tasting them throughout the process to experience how the flavors changed. Since I was drinking the kombucha every day (about 8 to 12 oz per day), the bottles were burped (released of excess carbonation) in this process each day. I would say that burping your bottles once a day is a good idea to prevent explosions, as is not storing the bottles in a really warm location!

    As for that, I am still learning what the ideal conditions are in the second fermentation, but not stressing too much about it. As I said before, I have let the bottles during the second fermentation sit in the same spot for both batches, so in doing this, I think it is safe to say that the bottles have been exposed to similar temperatures. The fizz-factor in this second batch was about the same with my first batch, but the flavors of the infusions were notably weaker owing to the fact that I used large chunks and not fruit puree/grated ginger. The goji-ginger infusion was *slightly* more carbonated than the liter with only ginger pieces, I am guessing due to the presence of addtional sugars in the dried goji berries. The goji berries imparted a very light tart-berry flavor, very subtle, and the berries themselves were kombucha-flavored berry bombs!! Very fun to eat (could also be put into a smoothie, if you wish). 

    In the qualitative comparison of my first two batches (i.e. I added 1/2 tsp sugar to my liters in my first batch), I do NOT think adding additional sugar to the liters for the second fermentation significantly influenced my carbonation levels, so for now, I am going to omit addition of sugar during bottling. 

    As for the chunks of ginger and berries, they WERE easier to pick out when pouring a glass of kombucha to drink, and the flavor was very mild. And, the bottling process was very simple: no grating, no puree-ing, no additional mess. However, for a stronger infusion flavor, I would recommend grating the fresh ginger and using fruit puree. For my next batch, I plan on juicing fresh ginger, and whatever fruit I decide to use. I'll decide that when I get to that point, and share my results here! 



    Love the color of the goji berries!Fun and fizzy stuff!!