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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kombucha Soda

There have been two very specific things that have really made us radical Kombucha lovers.

1.  Using green (or white) tea as the base of the original recipe instead of black tea.
2.  Second Fermenting it to make a delicious flavored carbonated beverage, that we call Kombucha Soda.  It so refreshing and delicious and good for you (and habit forming) - that we are now making 10 gallons of Kombucha a week!!  (That is not a typo - I said 10 GALLONS!) Granted, we have a big family; it is very hot here ; and I do have a sweet local couple that I have also gotten "hooked", and they buy it from me weekly.  :-)  But that's still a-lotta-bucha!

I have a girlfriend in AL who tasted my wares (after having "written Kombucha off" in her mind, because they just didn't care for it).   Now she is persistent in asking me for the instructions.  So here they are as promised. :-)

Step 1:  Make your Kombucha (preferably with green tea) and harvest as usual.  You might like to add the extra step of straining your Kombucha through a cheesecloth (or other non metal means).  This will help keep the "mother" or beginning signs of a new scoby from forming in your bottle.

Step 2:  The bottles we use, are 16 oz flip top bottles.  (If your bottles are different sizes than that.  I would just adjust the amount of juice accordingly.)   Using a funnel, pour 2 oz of your favorite juice (grape, pomegranate, blueberry or cherry are QUITE nice).  Then top it off with your prepared Kombucha  leaving about an inch+ of head-space.    Tighten your cap and let it sit in a dark place.  (A cupboard or closet work very nicely.)  The length of time depends on your juice and weather.  If it is really warm you might want to start checking your soda in 3 days. It usually takes my sodas 3-7 days.  Just taste one.  If it is not bubbly enough for your liking...cap it and put it back.  If it is, pour it over some ice and enjoy! Put the rest in the fridge.  :-)  The longer it sits the more bubbly it gets and the "drier" it gets.  Meaning - less sweet.  You can customize it to your taste!  The POP and hiss of that lid is such a satisfying sound!

THAT'S IT!  So simple! So good!

Here are a few Kombucha tips and tidbits I have learned thus far:

  • DO NOT (I repeat) do not, keep your Kombucha beverages steeping next to your kefir ferments or cultured veggies.  I noticed my kefir based cultures "deactivating", even when I had lids on the kefir and the veggies!!  I had already had experience and success in both types - so I noticed it right away when they started "acting funny".  However, if someone were new to this...they might not realize it and throw in the towel on fermentation all together and that would be a travesty!  :-)
  • Orange juice ferments very quickly, so start checking in half the time you would your other flavors.
  • If a small "mother" develops in your soda bottle; don't worry!!  You can actually eat it and it is good for your gut...but if you are sampling to guests (who are new to Kombucha) or you are skiddish about such things, you might want to pour your soda into a glass instead of drinking it out of the bottle.  JUST in case.
  • BE VERY CAREFUL when opening your bottles. Do not shake!  For my 5-7 day sodas, they get very very very bubbly.  They will over flow like champagne!  So I like to open mine over the sink.  But I have had to wipe the ceiling more than once in the beginning!
  • Unlike commercial soda, you can open a bottle, pour some out and recap it and put it bak int he fridge.  It doesn't go flat like commercial soda!!  For this reason, I think the larger flip top bottles, that are the size of wine bottles would also be a very nice option!
  • I had one instance with a bottle breaking from the pressure.  The bottom of the bottle just dropped right off.  That was a mess.  It has been warned to use nice thick bottles.  There is a reason for that!   
  • It is common for people to warn against using plastic.  However, I have started fermenting mine in high food quality 5 gallon buckets for my first week of making the original brew.  I started doing this because of our large volume and using my glass gallon jars for so many other things.  It is working very well.  I also saw on a video, that someone was using plastic bottle for their second ferment (soda) bottles.  That is a different quality plastic and I wouldn't recommend it long term - but it might be a nice way to give it a try to see if is worth further investment in glass bottles.   I need to post an apology and a correction here! About 3 or 4 weeks into this experiment of using plastic 5 gallon buckets to brew my kombucha, my husband and I both started tasting a subtle plastic flavor in our Kombucha.  This is NOT OK.  It appears that plastic has leached into our healthy fermented beverage!  We pitched what we had and immediately returned to glass only. I am not yet sure if my Scoby has been ruined or not.  It looks healthy, but a little more observation and time will tell.  I plan to do a full post on it after I have observed my Scoby's recovery (or lack there of). :-(  I will link that here, for future readers as well.  
  • When I started (making Gingerbeer), I saved all kinds of scrap glass bottles of different kinds to put it in.  Then when I knew I wanted to turn it into a "regular" thing, I started collecting used and new flip bottles from various places.
  • I have fiddled with Kombucha Rootbeer by making my own extract.  It is not yet perfected..but when I do, I'll post it.  I intend to make a Kombucha Gingerbeer too.
My (12yr old) son has promised to make me a bottle drying tree.  I can't wait!  I will be sure to post that, when the time comes!

This post was shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday and Simple Lives Thursdays


Yiska Ivri (AKA Christie) said...

I'm that friend in AL! Thanks, Pamela, for encouraging me to move forward and try it again! :)

Andi said...

Oh I am so encouraged, but I not sure if I can keep up the sourdough, the kefir, the yogurt and the kombucha - not to mention the weeds and harvesting... sorry to sound whinneeeee but I really would love to come down and test yours first ;0) MISS YOU so much!

Mind Body and Sole said...

Thanks for sharing this great post on Wildcrafting Wednesday! I've made water kefir but never kombucha because of the recipes I've seen have all used black tea, but maybe I'll give it a try with green tea. :)

Moira said...

Shalom Pamela,
I just made some tangerine soda today! Last week it was Acai berry, YUM!
Lilah tove,

Barb @ A Life in Balance said...

Another double fermenter here! I've lost 2 bottles to explosions. One on the counter and one in the fridge. Both times, they were Italian made bottles I had found at Reading China and Glass. I've never lost any of my Ikea bottles.

I don't let mine ferment the 2nd time as long, mostly because I'm afraid of another explosion!

Amy said...

We've learned that when you open a fizzy bottle and it starts spraying all over, just put your thumb in the bottle and let it lets the gas escape slowly. We've had it on our ceiling, too...as well as the floor, counters, etc.