Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fizzy drink JOY

Scoby in storage in the spare gallon jar

Last time we were out here, we were diet coke fanatics.  I'd like to say, that was a long time ago.... but although that's true - it had no bearing on our diet coke habit.

For some reason this go around, life has shaken things up.  We still want the occasional DK, but it's usually a case of us splitting a can or small bottle.  But we still get tired of drinking plain water.  We've set to combat this two ways.

Our temporary "fix" is a soda stream.  But there's nowhere to buy refills in Mexico and we can't fly in replacement canisters.  So, unless we can drive them across the border, or get a refill from another cruiser with a fancy adapter, or want to tackle filling it ourselves with dry ice.....  that's a finite solution until the CO2 bottles we brought run out.

Our other "fix" is more fun and interesting.....  My friend SCOBY DOO- used to make Kombucha.  This has been a really fun way to play with local fruits. But we mostly stay with our favorites: ginger lime or blueberry.

There are lots of how to videos if you look up brewing kombucha....   but basically, you make a Gallon batch of sweet tea and let the Scoby ferment for about 5 days, then flavor with fruit/herbs/something for about 2 days, then bottle, build up yummy carbonation, then chill and enjoy.

We usually start a new batch every few days.  Down South where it's warm, we can have a new batch ready for flavoring in 4 days, then another 1 or 2 for infusion of the fruit.  After bottling, a day or two for carbonation build up, then into the fridge.

This will give us about a week and a half of daily Kombucha.

Below is how I make Kombucha aboard Pura Vida.  You can google and get other ideas on details.....  I've tried to keep it as simple as possible. 

Equipment needed:
Gallon Jar top helpful for coverage when sailing: Affiliate link here
Cheesecloth:  Cheesecloth affiliate link here
rubber band
jar for scoby (can be a second gallon jar)
bottles for building carbonation

To make:
1.  Boil about 2 cups of water.  In another bowl (to be used to brew the tea in the 2 cups of water) put in 6 tea bags (you can use all green/ all black or a mix).

2. When water is ready, pour over tea bags

3. Add 1 cup of sugar

- Wait until cool......  at least 15 minutes, but longer is okay.  I've even left overnight.  The Scoby just wants the sweet tea and doesn't care if it's bitter.

4. When Cool, I pour it into an empty gallon size jar.

5.  Add water almost to the top.  Make sure it's room temperature - can be cooler, but just not HOT water.

6. Add in your Scoby with about a Cup of the cider vinegar it is living in (the Scoby ALWAYS needs to be with about a cup of  leftover kombucha)

7: Cover with kitchen towel, held down by the rubber band (this is to keep flies and dust out of the jar)

8.  Place the jar somewhere out of the way and warm if your house is cold

9.  After 5-7 days, start tasting.  Depending on the temperature of your room, it can take 4 days up to 21 (I've read, it's never taken more than 10 days for me).  Some example of times and temps: Down in Mexico where the temps are in the 80's, it takes only about 3-4 days.  If we've gone on a passage and jostled it around, then it would usually be sooner.  In the house we are staying at near SF, it is about 60 degrees most of the time and my first batch has taken about 8 days to ferment.  Taste it, if you like the taste of it, then move on to flavoring.  If it's too sweet, then wait another day and taste again.  If it's too tart..... you can use it as you would apple cider vinegar, or use a sweet fruit, like berries to sweeten the taste a bit (if it's not too tart)

10.  Now that your Scoby is ready, remove the Scoby and about a cup of liquid to the small scoby jar (or a second gallon Jar)  Add Fruit, herbs, flavorings you want.  I've had really good luck with frozen fruit, I think this is an easy way to start - but you can use anything at this point.  Put the lid on the jar and stash it somewhere for 1 - 2 days

11. After 1-2 days, remove fruit from jar and get your bottling jars ready

12. Using the funnel, filter kombucha through the cheesecloth into the bottle leaving about an inch of headspace.

13. Close all bottles and leave on counter for a day or two (this is to build carbonation).  If you are impatient and want kombucha and don't care about bubbles, you can put a jar in the fridge to have when it cools.  But the bubbles are really nice...

14. After 2 days out, I put all bottles in the fridge.  Most of the time this gives me great carbonation.

Good Luck! And Have Fun!

Things to be careful for:

Carbonation bottles: Be sure to use bottles meant to hold carbonation.  The other jars, you can go with what you find.  But i hear stories of bottles exploding from the carbonation.  That would me most unpleasant and Not something I want to experience....  so I'm passing on the information.  If you currently drink kombucha, start saving your bottles, because those work perfectly.  I've also had good experience with Beer growlers.

Scoby Hotel: This is another jar that holds spare Scobys.....  I do recommend this on a sailboat especially if you are travelling.   We are in Mexico and I have only seen Kombucha for sale in a few towns.  I think I've met one other person who brewed it aboard.  So if something happened to my Scoby, it would be hard to replace it.  So I have a quart sized Jar that I keep a few scobys in just in case something happens to the main one.  then it's also easy to share if you meet someone who is interested.

Tea: The Scoby is particular about the type of tea.  It needs to be 100% black or Green.  There are a couple others that are okay, but absolutely nothing with flavor or herbs as that will kill your scoby.  Earl Grey, even though it says black tea is a NO.....     If you like the taste, maybe flavor afterward.....

We usually start a new batch every few days.  Down South where it's warm, we can have a new batch ready for flavoring in 4 days, then another 1 or 2 for infusion of the fruit.  After bottling, a day or two for carbonation build up, then into the fridge.

This will give us about a week and a half of daily Kombucha.

Kombucha being flavored with frozen mango

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