Mint & Lime Kombucha

This refreshing Mojito inspired Kombucha is defiantly a summertime hit, or great for a Taco Night.

Servings: 1 Gallon
Ingredients
  • 1 Gallon Unflavored Kombucha
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Mint (around 10 leaves)
  • 2 Limes
Instructions
  1. Place the mint leaves in one hand and gently smack it with the other, then place in the Kombucha.

  2. Cut the limes in to quarters, lightly squeeze the juice in to the Kombucha, then add the lime parts as well.

  3. Give the ingredients a light stir.

  4. Recover your Kombucha with your cloth.

  5. Let the mix sit for 1-2 days. Taste in between until you are happy with the flavor.

  6. Strain and remove the mint and lime.

  7. Finally Bottle.

See our post on bottling, to bottle your Kombucha

Take 1 – The Struggle of Content Creation

The past two days have been a struggle. The kiddo and I set-up to shoot the first video for Road to Homesteading. With my background in graphic design and web development, I thought this would come easy, but I am a complete noob when it comes to video editing software. After what felt like 100 takes, I started to wonder if I am cut out to be in front of the camera or edit videos.

I do not yet come across as confident in myself or words on film, and confidence is key in video creation. I know exactly what I want to convey, then forget an important step or stumble 10 seconds in. Yes – to err is human, but this human would like to keep the mistakes to a minimum. I was somewhat happy with the first take today, but noticed my kitchen looked cluttered. I watched the footage again and noticed the lighting was not nearly as good on this rainy day as it had been in test-runs, was rainy, and none of the lighting in the house looked nearly as good as a few of my dry test runs. I decided to rearrange everything and try again.

A few dozen takes in – it started to feel a little more natural. We made it through the whole video, and I was somewhat happy with the content (and my newly decluttered kitchen!), but less than happy with the lighting. I guess with practice makes perfect, but the struggle is real! I will no longer take content creators on YouTube for granted now that I see how much work is put into creating a 10-minute video.

Bottling Kombucha

Bottling Kombucha helps build up the the carbon dioxide produced during this second fermentation cycle giving your kombucha that fizzy effervescence it is known for. When bottling you need to have enough sugar still renaming in your jars to give the yeast food to help build up the carbon dioxide, and a bottle with a good air-tight seal is super important when making Kombucha, else you will have a flat Kombucha.

Choosing Bottles for Storing Kombucha:
There are many bottling options, and most any glass bottle with a good air tight lid will do. Some of they styles we use are Boston Rounds, Flip-Top bottle, and reusing store brought Kombucha and Tea Bottles. Most metal lids, for us anyway, only seem to work well for 2-3 used then start to corridor. So far the best lids we have found that work well when ordering new bottle are ones that come with F217 caps or Polycone Seal Caps.

Some Bottle Ideas:
Amber Boston Round with Black Poly Cone Cap
Clear Glass Boston Round Bottles with Black Phenolic Poly-Seal
Swing Top Glass Bottles

Instructions for Bottling Kombucha:
We recommend if you are using fruits or herbs to strain your liquid before bottling. This is optional and up to you. If you are using juices the need to add extra sugar is not needed in most cases. The more sugar added, the faster the carbonation will build. Temperature also plays a part in how quickly carbonation will build up in your bottles.

  1. After you have stained your Kombucha, add 1/8 tsp. of sugar per 8oz to your bottles or 1 raisin per 8oz of Kombucha. This will awaken the yeast and help produce carbonation.
  2. Fill your bottle with Kombucha, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.
  3. Cap and leave at room temperature for 2-5 days.
  4. The length you allow your kombucha to ferment depends on your personal taste preferences, the temperature, and the amount of sugar added or in your flavoring. Check your bottles daily, and burp the bottles to release any excessive build up of carbonation. Please use caution when opening bottle.
  5. Store bottles in the refrigerator, chill and enjoy.

When you add your bottles to the refrigerator this will slow the build up of carbonation. To restore effervescence when serving, remove the bottle from the refrigerator, and let it sit for 5 minutes at room temperature.

Flavoring Kombucha

You have a fresh batch of Kombucha, now what? Once your Kombucha has finished fermenting and you have removed the SCOBY. Your kombucha can be enjoy unflavored or you can flavor it many different ways in a secondary fermentation stage.

One of the things we really enjoy about brewing Kombucha is creating and experimenting with new flavors to infuse our Kombucha with. You can use a variety and mix of fruits, juices,teas, herbs and spices to create blends that make your kombucha fruity, sweet or spicy that you and your family will enjoy. The sky is the limit here.

Many people flavor and add the mix straight to the bottle, this really works well if you are using juices or flavored teas. You can also add fruit to the bottles and allow the second fermentation to take place with in the bottles. When we use fruits or herbs, since we are usually storing our bottles for longer than a week we always add these agents to our vessel for a second fermentation, strain then bottle. This is the method that works best for us, and the method we will be discussing below.

Fruits:
Using fruits is a great starting point when learning to flavor your Kombucha, and readily available. When using fruit you can use fresh cut, frozen or pureed. Experiment with the amount of fruit you add, and the combination amounts. Use more of 1 or more flavors for a stronger flavor, or less for a hint of a flavor.

To use fresh fruits; peel if needed, and cut in to small pieces. For firmer fruits e.g. apples and pears we usually give these a light smash to help extract more flavor.

Frozen fruits are a great option when a fruit you are wanting to use is out of season. I have ran in to this problem with peaches a few times.
Ratio of Fresh Fruit or Frozen Fruit: 1-2 cups per gallon of Kombucha.

Fruit Puree:
Puree is a stronger concentration of fruit flavors. When using a puree starting with less is better.
Ratio of Fruit Puree: 1/2 cups per gallon of Kombucha.

Herbs & Spices:
Herbs and Spices can bring many interesting flavors to Kombucha, and even heat things up a bit. Herbs & spices have many varieties and strengths. A small amount can go a long ways. Start with small amounts. Let them infuse for a day, taste and add more to reach your desired flavor. Many herb can be added as tisanes, a similar process to steeping teas. Find some herbs here or here to start experimenting.

Juices:
Using fruit juices is an the easiest process when flavoring your Kombucha either fresh squeezed or bottled organic juice.
Ratio of Fruit Juice: 1 cups per gallon of Kombucha.

Teas:
You can also flavor kombucha with flavored teas as well.
Ratio of Tea: 1-2 bags or teaspoon for loose leaf tea steeped in 1 cup of water for 5-10 mins. Let cool, then add the tea to your Kombucha batch. Find some great teas here to infuse with your Kombucha.

Infusing:

Once you have your new batch of Kombucha, remove your SCOBY and 1 cup of starter liquid to continue your next batch. Next add your fruits,herbs, and/or a combination of both. Recover your vessel with a cloth and secure with a rubber band or string. Let this sit for 1-2 days, giving your fruits and/or herbs a chance to infuse into your Kombucha. Taste the brew after the end of 1 day with a straw to test if the flavors are to your liking. Once you your Kombucha is infused with our flavor agents see our post on bottling Kombucha.

Straight to bottling:

When using juices or teas with out additions of fruit or herbs you can skip ahead to our section on bottling your Kombucha, since the process of infusing is not needed. If you plan to use a combination of Fresh Fruit, we recommend adding your juice and/or teas first and continuing with the steps below. See our post on bottling.

Remember to take down notes on your ingredients and length of time you let your flavors infuse, that way you can make adjustments if needed in your next batch. The key to flavoring Kombucha is experimenting until you find a flavor and combination you are happy with. There have been several batches I was not happy with, but some small tweaks and adjustments made the next time I tried that recipe much more enjoyable.

Find some flavor ideas here to get you started!

For the next step continue to our post on bottling.

Happy Brewing!

Simple Kombucha Recipe

A while back I was recommended to try Kombucha by a friend of mine since I drink a good bit of Apple Cider Vinegar and Scrub. I was instantly hooked and went in search of more information on Kombucha and the process in which it was made.

I spent countless hours reading blogs, DIY websites, and also picked up a copy of the Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum. A great starter book that answered a lot of questions and worries I had when starting out. I spent a good bit of time experimenting with different types of teas and sugar, then slowly moved into adding flavors (which opens up a whole big world of possibilities). In this process we will making 1 gallon, usually called a Batch Brew. There are other methods like the Continuous Brew Method that is 3-5 gallons. I have not tried this method, since 1 gallon is enough for my personal use. If you are interested in the other methods I would suggest grabbing the book above to find out more on the subject.

I really enjoy the experimental part of Kombucha and the assortment of products that can be made with it. Some of which we will be learning and sharing in the future.

Once you have your SCOBY and strong starter liquid starting a new batch of Kombucha easy. If you do not have a SCOBY check these previous post to find out more. Growing a Kombucha SCOBY and How to get a Kombucha SCOBY

Servings: 1 Gallon
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup of raw Kombucha
  • 1 SCOBY that is 1/4 inch or more think.
  • 14-16 Cups Water
  • 3-4 tbsp Loose Leaf Black Tea 4-6 Black Tea bags work as well. We Use
  • 1 Cup White or Cane Sugar Like This
Tools You will Need
  • 1 gal Wide Mouth Glass Jar Best to Buy 2.
  • Strainer
  • Glass Bowl
  • Tea Towel
  • Rubberband or String
  • Wood Spoon
Instructions
  1. Sterilize all equipment and jar with boiling water for 5 mins.

  2. Bring 3 cups of distilled water to a boil.

  3. Add 1 cup of sugar to the boiled water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  4. Add tea to the 3 cups of boiled water/sugar mix and let steep for 20 mins.

  5. Let the sweet tea mix is room temperature.

  6. Add the sweet tea mix to the 1-gallon glass jar along with the additional water. *Leaving enough room at the top for the extra cup of Raw Kombucha and the SCOBY. You will want to keep the finished level of fluids below the shoulder of the jar.

  7. Move your SCOBY into the sweet tea mix. *Before handling your SCOBY and moving it to the new vessel wash your hands with a non-antibacterial soap.

  8. Slowly add 1 cup of Raw Kombucha from your starter or previous batch in to the sweet tea mix.

  9. Cover the top of the jar with the tea cloth (Do not add the original jar's lid).

  10. Secure the tea cloth with a Rubberband or string.

  11. Set your jar in a warm, dark area of the house.

Recipe Notes

Your new batch of Kombucha will need to sit for 1-3 weeks.

It is best to start tasting your Kombucha after day 4. Tasting will give you an idea of the changes in taste the Kombucha goes though. Continue tasting until you reach the desired strength. Around 1 week in your Kombucha should start tasting less sweet and more tangy and tart. This is the transformation from Sweet Tea to Kombucha. The longer it sits the stronger your Kombucha will be. Temperature also plays a role in the length of brewing, and cooler temperatures below will take longer. The best is between 75-85F.

Take notes and a log on each attempt. After a few batches you will find what works for you, and the average time the brewing process takes to get your desired batch.

If your mother SCOBY has sunk or floating in the center of your batch, this is not a problem. After a few days you will notice that a new (child) SCOBY will start to form on top of the Kombucha (usually on top of the mother).

Your child SCOBY can be used together with the mother in your next batch, or set aside in a SCOBY Hotel for use later on.

Once your batch is ready, you are now ready to start exploring a new way to experience your Kombucha. Check out some of our Kombucha Recipes to see what you can come up with. Be sure to read our post on Flavoring Kombucha as well.

When I start a new batch a second 1-gallon jar is set aside, while the kombucha in the first batch will be used for flavoring. Before I start flavoring the first batch I remove the SCOBY and 1 cup of starter liquid (liquid poured off the top) from the original batch to start my second batch. Repeat the step above.

Troubleshooting
Kombucha is usually simple and easy, but some problems can arise.

Mold – Usually a blue or black coloration. Mold is rare, but can be caused by the batch brewing at to cool of temperatures, too little or not a strong starter liquid, or a contamination issue. Some yeast strains can look like mold but are brown and stringy (these may show up on top of the SCOBY as well). If you have mold, discard your batch, sterilize and start again.

Fruit Flies – Keeping your tea cloth secure and not taking it off for extended amounts of time can minimize this problem. If you do have fruit flies in your batch, discard your batch, sterilize and start again.

 

 

Growing a Kombucha Scoby

Today we’re going to talk kombucha. If you are unfamiliar, kombucha is a bubbly, tangy fermented tea that has exploded in popularity among those in the health-conscious community who yearn for pre and probiotics. Kombucha’s origin story is steeped in mystery. With historical accounts from Japan, China, Russia, and Mongolia dating back hundreds to thousands of years, and touting all kinds of health benefits. While the history of kombucha and its health benefits are mysterious, one thing is not – kombucha is fizzy, effervescent, flavorful, and something you can make at home with patience and practice.

There are a few ways to start making kombucha. The first thing you need to start is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast – otherwise known as a SCOBY or the kombucha “mother”. You can obtain a SCOBY one of three ways:

  1. Grow your SCOBY from scratch
  2. Ask a friend who brews to share
  3. Buy

In this recipe we focus on starting your own SCOBY from scratch. This is the process I used when starting my first SCOBY. The process will take a few weeks to complete, so if you are in a hurry to start you can buy a SCOBY from places like Amazon, or ask a friend who brews kombucha if they have an extra to share. These are the same options you’ll have when it comes to obtaining 2 cups of unflavored kombucha needed for the following recipe. Unflavored Kombucha can be found in most grocery or whole foods where it is labeled “Original”.

You may also want to read one of the many resources out there. The book I found most useful when I was looking to absorb information was the Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum. This book is a wealth of first-hand information, from the history and science of Kombucha to numerous, easy-to-follow instructions and recipes.

Stay tuned and get that SCOBY bubblin’! Our upcoming posts will focus on brewing a new batch of kombucha, adding flavor and other useful ways to use Kombucha.

Scoby Starter Recipe
Ingredients
  • 7 cups Distilled water
  • 3 tbsp Loose Leaf Black Tea 4 Black Tea Bags work as well. We Use
  • 1 cup White or Cane Sugar Like This
  • 2 cups Unflavored Kombucha Can be brought at most grocery stores in the produce department.
Tools You will Need
  • 1 gal Wide Mouth Glass Jar Best to Buy 2.
  • Measuring Cup
  • 1 Thin Cloth Dish Towel
  • Rubberband or String Larger size that will fit snuggly around the Wide Mouth Jar
  • Glass Bowl (Optional) To steep tea in.
  • Wood Spoon
  • Strainer or Tea Ball (Optional) if you are using loose leaf tea
Instructions
  1. Sterilize all equipment and jar with boiling water for 5 mins.

  2. Bring 3 cups of distilled water to a boil.

  3. Add 1 cup of sugar to the boiled water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  4. Add tea to the 3 cups of boiled water/sugar mix and let steep for 20 mins.

  5. Let the sweet tea mix is room temperature.

  6. Add the sweet tea mix to the 1-gallon jar, and dilute with the remaining 4 cups of water.

  7. Add in 2 cups of Unflavored Kombucha

  8. Cover the top of the jar with the tea cloth (Do not add the original jar's lid), and secure with a rubberband or string.

  9. Set your jar in a warm, dark area of the house.

Recipe Notes

Do not move or disturb your batch too much after you have set it into a warm, dark area of your house.

The SCOBY will start to form over a few weeks. Usually 4 weeks. This will depend on the temperature of your home. You should try to maintain a temperature of 75-85 for proper SCOBY growth.

At first not much will happen, you will notice some small white flakes floating on the surface of your brew, then these will start to form a mass at the top of the jar. Once your SCOBY is around 1/4 inches thick it is ready to use in your first batch of Kombucha.

In cooler months to help maintain the temperature, you can use a Brewing & Fermentation Heat Pad

*Keep your SCOBY in the liquid until you are ready to start making Kombucha, you will also need to use some of the liquid from this starter batch.

In the next step Simple Kombucha Recipe we will focus on using your newly created SCOBY to make a batch of Kombucha.