Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making Kombucha - Want a SCOBY?

Have you ever tried Kombucha? Not only is it ueber-yummy, it also is ueber-healthy for you. It tastes a bit like bubbly apple-cider. A German would say, "zischt wie Appelsaft"-Schorle.

It is made from sweetened tea through the fermenting process of a bacteria-yeast symbiosis.

Basically, you take sweetened tea, add the SCOBY (the bacteria-yeast-symbiosis) and let this sit in a dark place for at least one week. Then you harvest, strain, drink and be merry. You can store the finished product in your fridge for two weeks.

A SCOBY is a living thing; I refer to it as a kitchen pet. You need to feed it (put it in sweetened tea) to ensure it stays alive.

Here is my recipe:


1 gallon (4l) container
3 quarts (l) of ideally filtered water
6 bags of black tea or 6 tablespoons of loose tea
4 bags of green tea or 4 tablespoons of loose tea
1 1/2 cups of organic sugar

How to brew Kombucha:

For a one gallon container, I bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Then I add 1 1/2 cups of organic sugar and let it boil covered for another three minutes.

Then I turn the heat off, and add 6 teabags (or 6 tablespoons) of black tea and let it steep uncovered for 5 minutes. After these 5 minutes, I add 4 teabags (or 4 tablespoons) of green tea and let this all steep uncovered for two minutes. After that, I remove all teabags and let the sweetened tea cool down for 6-8 hours with the lid on the pot.

When the tea is cool, I pour the tea into the one gallon vessel, add 2 cups of Kombucha from a previous batch and the SCOBY. Place a towel over the vessel and secure it with a rubberband and store this in a pantry.

Personally, I harvest after 7 days but there are people who wait up to three weeks and enjoy it then.

The longer you wait, the stronger and more vinegary the Kombucha will become, also, it will be more benefitial for you.

There are plenty of uses for Kombucha: from drinking it s it us (which I prefer), mixing it with other beverages (martinis, margaritas, etc..) to further fermenting it with fruit juices or using it in your vinegrette to using Kombucha as facial toner. This stuff is the BOMB!

What happens during fermentation? The SCOBY feeds on the sugar and the caffeine in the tea, while creating the ferment and reducing sugar- and caffeine-levels.

A super healthy Kombucha SCOBY
It works best with black tea.

If you want to use a different tea, you may wanna add black tea to ensure, SCOBY has some nourishment.

Do not place a lid on the fermenting Kombucha, because the liquid expands and might explode the vessel.

Want a SCOBY? Let me know.... we sell them for $10 a piece. And yes, we mail them anywhere in the US.... eMail in case you are interested.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Alabama Chanin style kids clothes

Skirt, modelled by our cousin
Did I mention lately that I LOOOVE Alabama Chanin?

Needless to say, that I am copying Natalie Chanin's techniques into my little designs. What she does, is basically hand stitching and over the top embellishments with no-fray fabrics.

And so, as a result, we have iguanas on our placemats, I have a top or two in her unique designs and now the kids have a couple items, too.

I made a dress for Demetra and a skirt and a shrug for Aurelia.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Harvest Tally - February 2013 - Easter Egg hunt in February and foamy eyed duck

Freckle's nest
The breed of bird we have is called Ameracaunas amongst other names. Some people also refer to them as Easter Eggers. Recently, with the cold weather, we didnt expect them to lay all too well.

However, one fine day, I am searching for one of the ladies and I find her in the middle of my geranium, clucking up a storm. Typically, they do this, to let everyone know ueber-proudly, "I laid an egg! I laid an egg!". So, I pull the branches aside to pick up Freckles (the chicken) and I couldnt believe my eyes. That silly gal was sitting on THIRTEEN beautiful eggs.  Whow, she really is an EASTER EGGER.

A word about storing eggs: If they are from a trustworthy source, one can leave them un-refridgerated for up to three weeks.

No wonder, we dont get any eggs. It's spring (according to this silly broody birdie's glands) and she wants to have babies.  Of course, this upsets my daughter Aurelia, who declares, we need to find her a boyfriend. Needless to say, hubby doesnt quite agree with this rooster-idea. Although we just learnt that fertile eggs have a way higher protein content.

As it seems, my birds have developped a fancy for laying their eggs in scented bushes as geraniums and lavender. The hen house is not good enough any longer.  So, I snip branches of the nice smelling stuff and make them nest-potpourries. One can easily say, there are no chickens or ducks that are more spoiled than mine.

Speaking of ducks, Biggie - our lame duck - got one of her eyes infected. We saw that one of the chickens was standing over her, pecking at her eye. Initially, we concluded that this is bad behaviour (and that the eye got infected as a result of pecking)  and Aurelia immediately stormed out and chased that chicken around.

Later, Roberto found out that it is a virus that causes the eye to turn foamy and the other birds pecking off the foam is actually helpful. I figured it was a good lesson in false human projection. Of course, we washed the eye with camomille tea and it is slowly recovering. That poor bird. As if her disformed leg wasnt bad enough.

So, what did we harvest in Febuary?

10 lbs of arugula  

5 lbs of swiss chard 

1/2 lbs of parsley

8 gallons of Kombucha

4 lbs of yoghurt

1 lbs of creme fraiche

2 lbs of buttermilk

 34 chicken eggs
 17 duck eggs

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Harvest Tally - January 2013

Happy (belated) New Year!

With the cold and wet front, the birds are somewhat on strike and not much is growing on the homestead.

Instead, we are pruning the fruit trees, turning the compost and get a rough seeding and planting schedule ready for the coming months.

One thing that we picked up new is brewing our own Kombucha as well as culturing our own yoghurt, buttermilk and creme fraiche. You may wanna say the culturing bug got the best of me. Little microbes are all over my kitchen. I have to say, these cultures sure opened up a whole new realm of cooking possibilities. Just think creme fraiche and butternut squash soup... 

On a more happy gardening note, the peach is in full bloom and we are super excited about it. Hundreds of busy bees assisting in the fruit making. Ahh!

So, what did we harvest in January?

4 lbs of arugula  - We have a super spicy heirloom variety that we LOOVE that by now has seeded itself all over the yard - yay for wild gardening! Only issue with this heirloom is its shelf life. You have to eat it immediately or keep it in a bit of water in the fridge to keep it nice and crisp.

4 lbs of swiss chard - Self-seeded after I was too busy with baby all of last year  to gather any of my seeds. Now I am in love with this kind of wild seeding. Ah, the places the seeds went.

10 lbs of Meyer Lemon - it's lemon juice vinegrette time!!!

2 lbs of figs Black Mission

1/4lb of calendula
4 gallons of Kombucha

1 lbs of yoghurt

1/2 lbs of creme fraiche

1/2 lbs of buttermilk

17 chicken eggs
 30 duck eggs

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis