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Experimentation with Fermentation

Sunday, September 30, 2012

In 2005, while pregnant with Jabin, I read "The Maker's Diet" by Jordan Rubin and was introduced to the wonderful world of lacto-fermentation. This was followed by a dive into "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (a book I can't recommend enough), and various experiments with making kefir, yogurt, and fermented vegetables ensued. I also bought "Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods" by Sandor Ellix Katz, which openend my eyes to even more fermentation possibilities.

However, it wasn't until reading this article about brewing kombucha that appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Wise Traditions (the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation) that I started pursuing the means to make this drink. I mean, c'mon, a cold tea beverage that actually boosts your beneficial gut flora? How could I pass that up?

The first, and most important thing, is the starter culture, known as a S.C.O.B.Y. I inquired at my local health food store, and after I explained to her what I was talking about, the owner called around in an unfruitful search to locate one from her suppliers. With a heave and a sigh, I put it on the back-burner.

Then, this summer, my friend Allison S., with whom I share a love for learning about nutrition and health, texted me with the offer of a kombucha S.C.O.B.Y. for me. Of course, I jumped on it with enthusiasm--but then didn't actually start anything with it for another couple of weeks after getting it.

When I finally figured out how to use the "mushroom" (it's not one, but it's called that sometimes) after a crash course from the Wikihow article, I was worried that I had waited too long and it was dead. However, now on my fourth batch of kombucha, the culture seems to have aroused from its dormancy and is producing delicious, bubbly kombucha tea at a regular pace.


The whole family just sampled our first taste of kombucha (I wanted to wait to make sure the culture was still good before we tried it), and we mixed in a little white grape juice for flavour. The result: everyone, even the ultra-picky Jude, liked it. (Well, Jude not as much--he let someone else finish his. But I think that had more to do with the tea "floaties" in the bottom of his cup than the flavour. As I said, "ultra-picky.")

Here is a picture of last week's batch just finishing up:


That little air bubble is made by carbon dioxide trapped underneath the S.C.O.B.Y., which is what gives it the "bubbly" flavour. I told the kids it was "tea pop." :-)

That also means I will have an extra S.C.O.B.Y. every Sunday. So, does anybody want one? :-)

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