Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Attempting kombucha: the first brew

Six months ago, when Donovan was first suspected to have an autoimmune disease, our pediatrician recommended that we start brewing and drinking kombucha to help support his immune system.  Our doctor brews it himself, and sings the praises of the beneficial probiotics abounding in this fermented sweet tea.  I researched it some, and read about the whole process.  It's not hard, but I was a little overwhelmed at first with Donovan's diagnosis and new diet to take on any additional projects.  Now that things have calmed down a bit, we took the plunge and decided to start a continuous brew. . . .


PLEASE NOTE:  I have never made kombucha before, and honestly, I don't know what I'm doing, other than trying to follow the instructions that were included with my starter kit.  So I'm not offering instructions on HOW to brew kombucha, but simply illustrating how I attempted to brew kombucha this time.  :)


I ordered my starter kit from KombuchaKamp, and picked up this lovely 2.5 gallon glass dispenser from Sam's. . .


I swapped out the metal spigot for a plastic one (also from KombuchaKamp) to avoid corrosion from the metal one that came with the dispenser.


The hole in the vessel was a teeensy bit too small for the new plastic spigot.  I used a grinder bit with my Dremel and some sand paper to enlarge the hole ever so slightly.  Perfect fit!

Following the very easy-to-follow instructions included in my continuous brew kit. . . 

Brought purified water almost to a boil. . .


Added tea. . .



Brewed. . .


Added sugar of choice.  Here, I used organic evaporated cane juice (included in the kit). . .


Stirred to dissolve.


Ever-so-carefully transferred the sweet tea to a clean, appropriate vessel.  I was TERRIFIED I'd crack or shatter the glass with the hot tea, so I pre-warmed the vessel with very hot tap water before filling.  No cracks!  WHEW.


Added more purified water, and once it cooled to body temperature, I introduced two SCOBYs (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast) to their new home.

Within a couple of days, a new SCOBY formed at the top of the kombucha tea.  You can see the two mothers floating below it.  My kids call them "the aliens," because I told them that they were colonies of living organisms.  They're actually a little freaked out by this whole process.


And a little grossed out, too.  The brown strings are yeast, as is this gross-looking yeast pocket. . .


I so want to take out that yeast blob.  ugh.  I thought it was mold at first.  
But there it sits, right in front, staring at us and scaring the children.  bleh.

The kit also included temperature strips so I can monitor its temperature. . .


I also purchased a heating strip for my vessel.  Our area has extreme temps right now (30's at night, 80's during the day) so it's hard to regulate temps in our drafty kitchen, especially at night.  This helps me keep the kombucha between the ideal temperature of 75-85 degrees F.


 I leave little notes of affirmation to my growing colony every day, mostly to mess with the kids. . .





 But they really get a kick out of it, and started leaving notes of their own. . . .

They named the SCOBYs.
Say hello to Marice and Scooby, 
and new baby Joey.


So that's where we're at!  We sampled the brew yesterday... very sweet and apple-y.  It was actually pretty tasty, and its pH levels tested at 3.0 (which is fine) but we're going to let it ferment a tad bit more before bottling.

We're using new swing-top bottles for bottling.  Not exactly cheap, but I like that the bottles and caps are reusable,  high-quality, and easier to burp during the second fermentation process.

I'll keep you updated on our progress!  Wish us luck!  Or leave a positive affirmation below for our SCOBYs.  I'll pass them on.   :)

*** P.S. Any links to products I used are for reference only... no affiliate links, and I don't get paid for any links or clicks.  Just sharing the info. ***

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