How to Brew Kombucha

G’day eaters!

Life at the beach is still pretty grand. I’ll give you a blow by blow when I show you WIAW (which will be posted on Thursday because tomorrow I’m taking the day off).

But for now, I’m going to get all wordy on you and teach you how to make kombucha!

Yes, you know that really delicious, but really expensive carbonated, fermented drink you buy far too often for your budget at the grocery store?

Well, it’s so wonderfully easy to make at home that you now have no excuse for spending so much money on drinks.

Step 1: SCOBY

A SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the mushroom that your ‘bucha grows off. If you want to buy one I hear Kamp Kombucha is really good.

I’m broke so I grew my own. If you want to do that you’ll need:

1 jar GT’s Original Plain Kombucha

1 c filtered water

1 plain black tea bag

2 T cane sugar*

1 jar large enough

1 breathable cloth**

1 rubberband

Brew the tea in the water and mix in the sugar. Once the tea cools to room temperature, pour it and the bottled kombucha into the jar. Cover the lid only with the cloth, secure it with a rubberband, and place it in a warm, dark place (I used the cabinet closest to my stove) for up to 3 weeks.

A SCOBY and a baby sitting in kombucha.

A film — the SCOBY! — should start to form after about a week. It usually forms on the top, but it’s fine if it falls. Once it’s about ¼” thick (a little less is fine), remove the SCOBY to a bowl and cover it with at least ½ c of the liquid you grew it in. Throw out the rest of the liquid. Now you’re ready to brew!

To brew you’ll need:

1 SCOBY

1 gallon jar

1 gallon filtered water

8 plain black tea bags

1 ½ c cane sugar

1 breathable cloth

1 rubberband

at least ½ c kombucha (this can be from a bottle, a previous batch, or the liquid you grew it in, but it has to be plain)

Ready to ferment!

Brew the tea and mix in the sugar. Once the sweetened tea cools to room temperature, pour it into the jar. Add in the SCOBY and the liquid it’s sitting in. Cover the lid with only the cloth and secure it with a rubberband. Place the jar in the same warm, dark place for 4-10 days.

The length of time you let the ‘buch ferment is up to your taste. The longer you let it sit the more acidic it’ll taste. I like it sour, so I left it the full 10 days, but I suggest tasting a little bit with a straw every couple of days after day 4 until you figure it out.

Once the kombucha is to your liking, it’s time to bottle.

To bottle you’ll need:

~8 16-ounce bottles with an air-tight cap

funnel

juice, as desired

A new, smaller SCOBY — a “baby” — will have formed. You can keep it or throw it out, but generally a SCOBY will only be good for about 6 brew cycles, so eventually you’ll need to keep one.

Remove the SCOBYs to a bowl and cover with at least half a cup of kombucha. Put the funnel in a bottle and pour in as much or as little juice as you’d like.

I put about a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice and a combinations of about 2 tablespoons of 100% apple-raspberry and 100% apple-cherry juice in each bottle.

Then, using a ladle, pour kombucha into each bottle until almost entirely full. Put the lid tightly on the bottles and place them in the same dark, warm spot for up to 5 days.

This next step is optional. It allows the kombucha to carbonate more and for the flavors to mellow a little. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice. After the bottles sit for up to 5 days, move them to the fridge. Once they’re chilled they’re ready to drink!

It may seem like a lot of steps, but each step requires less than an hour of work. And in the end you have about 8 bottles, a roughly $24 value, of as fresh as it gets kombucha.

Not bad for a couple of hours of work, right?

PleasepleasePLEASE do let me know if you brew some and if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer what I can.

What do you think, eaters:

Would you ever brew your own kombucha?

What’s your favorite flavor?

Later eaters! And have a very happy, safe (no drunk driving or blowing yourselves up with fire works) 4th!

*You can try a sugar substitute, but from everything I’ve read it won’t work. The sugar is a vital food source for the SCOBY, so be careful with any tweaks.

**By a breathable cloth I mean a dish towel or a paper towel. You need to let the air in and the dust and bugs out, so a cheese cloth won’t work.

Juicing for Cheaper

Hiya eaters!

Today’s been a long day and my arms are dead after a pretty damn intense Crossfit session this morning.

But you don’t come here to hear me bitch. So let’s talk about something sunny and happy.

Does juice for cheap fit the bill?

So here’s what’s up, eaters: since unearthing my…ehemvintage juicer a month or so ago I’ve made a big glass of fresh juicer a more than weekly part of my life. I love the way it tastes, the way it makes me feel, and that I can then make cool things out of the pulp.

Let's call her retro.

But I don’t love how dang expensive it is!

For my standard 12 oz glass of juice, I could go through roughly 1apple/pear, 2-3 carrots, and ½ a beet. That may not seem like a lot, but when you use all or mostly organic like I do (because if I wanted to juice chemicals I’d cut out the middleman and drink some Round Up), it adds up quickly.

Not wanting to lose my shirt to my burgeoning juice addiction, I quickly developed a plan of attack.

Be warned: This does not necessarily produce the most delicious juices. This is also not a plan for someone who doesn’t juice 2-3 times a week. This is for the moderately die-hard juicers, or those looking to become that.

First, I ALWAYS have a bag of organic carrots (I loveloveLOVE Grimmway Farms carrots and only buy theirs) and either pears or apples. I really like the flavor of both of those juices, and generally their flavor is strong enough to save any less than palatable juice concoction.

Then, and here’s where the variation and potential for ewww comes in, I have my scrap bag.

What’s a scrap bag, you ask?

Well, to put it nicely, it’s a bag (or other sealable container) where I keep all the bits of produce that one would normally compost or throw away.

Example: the thick stems of kale, the core of an apple, the seedy pith of a bell pepper, the ends of zucchini or squash or green beans that you chop off, the tasteless end of a piece of lettuce that I don’t like in my salad.

You get the idea, right?

Well, as I go about my eating and cooking and whatnot, I take all of these odds and ends (pun!) and put them in my scrap bag.

For storage, I tie off the top of the bag and keep it in my vegetable crisper.

Then every couple of days — I try not to keep scraps for longer than four days, for mold/wilting reasons — I take out my scrap bag and dump it in my juicer.

Depending on what was in the bag — if I had more lettuce stems and bell pepper cores or more apple cores and random berries — I’ll usually add half to a whole apple and then a carrot or two.

As you can see, there’s a pretty big chance of getting a less than delicious juice. To lessen that chance I keep onions and hot peppers out of my scrap bag, cut off the rinds of citrus, and don’t juice anything that looks too old to eat, but there’s still a risk involved.

But thanks to my (oh so awesome, never sketchy Grimmway Farms) carrots and apples, I’ve never actually had a bad juice.

And that’s the trick — find the one or two juices that you always enjoy, that mix well with other flavors, and that last a while in your fridge, and add a bit of those fruits/vegetables to everything.

Mmmmmhealth.

Juicing still isn’t cheap, but it’s cheaper. And cheaper isn’t half bad when you think of all the benefits.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a scrap bag with a few summer squash ends and the core of a pineapple calling my name.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you have any tips for making healthy choices cheaper?

What is your go-to juicing fruit/veg?

G’night eaters!

Sensible Carrot Pulp Pudding

‘Ello eaters!

We’re almost to the weekend and I couldn’t be happier. Mother is coming up with a carload of furniture and other things I forgot, so we’re having a belated Mother’s Day celebration.

That means brunch out on Sunday and pizza on Saturday.

But before I get caught up in weekend festivities, let’s talk about sensibility.

More important: British sensibility.

Sensibility seems to be so under-appreciated these days. Sure, whimsy and frivolity are all fun and games, but sometimes you have to wonder where sensibility, practicality, and utility went.

Well, in England, sensibility was alive and well. And I loved it.

Example: pasties! Sheppard’s pie! Crumbles!

A beef and vegetable pasty from Borough market.

All of these things are brilliant examples of how the British took leftovers and with very little money or effort, turned them into completely different and equally delicious dishes.

Waste not, want not, increase your grocery bill not.

I love it!

So this past week, when I found myself with a juicer full of carrot-pear pulp and a longing for London, I decided to be sensible.

Please note — When I say “pudding” I don’t mean the kind you find in a Snack Pack. Think of the texture of a really gooey, warm brownie. And then think of that in flavours other than chocolate. That’s about what a proper pudding should be like.

Carrot Pulp Pudding

1 c (whole wheat pastry) flour

¼ c sugar

2 t cinnamon

3 dashes nutmeg

1 ¾ c (soy) milk

1 ½ T chia seeds

½ carrot juicer pulp*

3 T plain (dairy-free) yoghurt

1 T vanilla extract

*The pulp I used had a bit of pear in it, which may have affected the sweetness. If you’re just using carrot pulp you may want to add 1 T sugar extra (making the total amount of sugar 1/3 c). That depends entirely on your taste.

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and spices.

In another bowl (or a mixing cup) mix the milk, chia seeds, pulp, vanilla, and yoghurt. Leave this to sit for about 5 minutes to give the chia seeds a chance to gel up.

Mix the wet with the dry and then spoon the mixture into 4 jars/ramekins*. Place the containers on a high-sided baking dish (like a loaf pan) and fill the dish with water about as high up as the batter.

Bake at 350F for about an hour, until the top feels firm and a toothpick comes out almost clean.

Fresh from the oven.

*This depends entirely on what you have on hand. I filled 4 12-ounce jars up a little less than halfway. I do suggest using something big enough so you have some space at the top to keep water from splashing in.

Serve hot or cold. Serve with ice cream, yoghurt, whipped cream, or plain. Serve for dessert, breakfast, lunch, or a snack.

The only requirement is that you serve this with a long spoon.

This doesn’t taste exactly like carrot cake. It doesn’t feel like a muffin or a cupcake. It’s…pudding, in every sense of the word.

And it’s sensible in every sense of the word — cheap, easy, HEALTHY, and suitable for almost every dietary need (sorry GF people!).

Mmmmmpudding.

Who ever said sensibility was out of fashion?

Your turn, eaters:

Do you favour sensibility or whimsy? Or something in the middle?

Have you ever had this kind of pudding? How would you describe the texture?

Later eaters!

Juicing is Gorgeous

G’evening eaters!

I promised I’d be back today and here I am.

I’m actually in Virginia right now at the Mountain Man house (Leon’s friend Will’s house) so I’m writing this post from the comfort of a clean (non-pull out) bed while I hear the sounds of a salmon marinade being made in the kitchen.

I may not have a house of my own yet, but I can’t complain.

Another reason I can’t complain is that when I do finally get a house (which should be tomorrow so pleasepleasePLEASE send me home-y vibes tonight) I already have a handful of kitchen appliances to put in it.

Between my electric wok, my beloved food processor, a pasta maker that I need to play with more, and a stand mixer, I’m pretty much golden.

And now, to add to that list, I have a 20-year old juicer.

She may not be fancy, but I bet she could still slice the tip of my finger off.

Recently, while enjoying some delicious carrot-beetroot-pear juices Mother mentioned that she had an old juicer that she never used. Having gotten hooked on the juices from a coffee shop around the corner from my internship, I jumped on the chance to re-create them for (hopefully) cheaper at home.

So as soon as I got back to the States, I washed the juicer and made a grocery trip for produce.

Organic apples, organic carrots, beets, rhubarb, and organic kale.

I was a bit lost on what to juice in terms of what tastes good, what produces more than lightly flavored water, and what produces enough juice for the money, so I was a bit conservative with my purchases.

Conservative or not, you better believe that I fired that delightfully-yellow-with-age baby up as soon as I got home.

And I very quickly learned that rhubarb doesn’t juice well (though that may be just because my machine is old), kale only produces a little juice BUT it doesn’t taste nearly as bitter as straight raw kale, and that carrots, apples, and beets juice beautifully, as expected.

Ten minutes and 3 carrots, 1 apple, ½ stick of rhubarb, 2 stalks of kale, and ½ beet later, I had a GORGEOUS cup of juice.

The layers!

Can we take a moment to marvel at those layers? And then can we marvel at the AH-MAZE-ING color of that froth?

The foam!

Now, let’s look at it all mixed up.

I love you!

And finally, let’s all marvel at the fact that those pictures are completely UNedited.

Yeah, I didn’t change the color or the brightness or the tint. That’s the real deal Holyfield right there.

And then I drank it all down and proceeded to take juice mustache pictures.

Juice mustaches are better than milk mustaches. And beet juice is better than lipstick.

Because I’m an adult.

So, I think it goes without saying, I’m in love with my new toy (and not just because I realized that I could probably also use it to make kick ass margaritas). And I can’t wait to have a home so that I can go broke juicing. And then make a ton of pulp crackers.

But in the future, though, kale will stay out of the juicer and in my eggs.

What do you think, eaters:

Are you a fan of juice or would you rather just eat the thing whole?

And veteran juicers, can you give me some tips or combinations to try?

G’night eaters!