Kombucha, from Booch, to Hooch

I’ve always believed that homemade is simply *the best*. In other words, anything commercial that I like, is just WAAAY better when home-made.

Breads, Kombucha, Condiments, to just name a precious few!

It was 2008 when I arrived in South Florida, a professional, highly trained chef, during the (first) economic crisis of my adulting. I was already a “green” champion, a pro at environmental and personal sustainability had always brought any clients business in under budget, everywhere. Once in Florida, I learned to farm organically, immediately taking the skill of saving money to new heights as a proud urban farmer.

I can now stretch a dollar till it squeals!

This means growing my own food, composting and amending soil, adding nutrients back into the soil and therefore the food.  Enter Kombucha a TRIFECTA of winning.  It meets my criteria of being super healthy, i.e. food as medicine for my “farmacy”, is a much more rewarding creative outlet and far, far cheaper to make than to buy. Not only can I personally grow the herbs, roots, shoots, spices, fruits and herbs to flavor it with, but the resulting excess scoby (of which there will be obscene amounts, potentially an endless supply) is a potent soil amendment, kitchen ingredient, and dietary remedy for adults, pets and children alike. Coming up with uses for my scoby collection offers me endless creative outlets, all chances to “play with my food”. I highly recommend it!!

ALL FOR PENNIES!

One of the greatest benefits of making your own kombucha at home is the ability to influence the flavor of your finished kombucha, plus find new flavor blends that you and your family will enjoy. You can influence the flavor of kombucha tea by choosing a different teaadjusting the fermentation time, or adding flavoring.

Some of my preferred flavor combinations:

  • Ginger/Hibiscus
  • Pomegranate/Kiwi
  • Banana/Vanilla
  • Vanilla/Raisin (Dr. Pepper flavor)
  • Apple/Cinnamon
  • Pineapple/Cilantro
  • Lavender/Chamomile
  • Chai/Pumpkin Spice
  • Basil/Blueberry

RECIPE

TOTAL TIME 15minutes (2 minutes prep / 3 minutes boiling / 10 minutes cooling)
YIELD: 16-32 Servings

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

  • Large Pot, minimum 1-Gallon capacity, with lid
  • Wooden Spoon
  • STERILE Glass Jar(s)
  • Paper Coffee Filters (3-4)
  • Large Rubber Band

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 8 Tea Bags (Caff/Decaf/Herbal; I prefer Yerba Mate/Green blend)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup “Booch” starter fluid or ACV
  • 1 Scoby, if possible (Optional; with patience, you’ll grow your own)
  • 1 Lb Patience  =)
  • Optional: Fresh Roots, Shoots, Fruits or Herbs

METHOD:

Step 1: Sterilize the Jar, storage and cooking utensils.

Step 2: Boil water, add in tea(s) and sugar together, including any aromatics chosen, ie turmeric or ginger root, hibiscus leaves or flower, cinnamon sticks, lemon peels, etc. Simmer 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Step 3: Once cooled, strain, bottle to the 4/5th capacity and before sealing, add your Scoby and cup of starter fluid.

Ratios for Flavoring Kombucha Tea

  • If flavoring with fresh, frozen, or dried fruit, start with10-30% fruit and 70-90% Kombucha.
  • If flavoring with juice, start with10-20% juice and 80-90% Kombucha.
  • If flavoring with herbs, the variety and strength of herbs varies greatly. Experiment to come up with the best ratios and combinations for your taste preferences.
  • For flavor extracts such as almond or vanilla extract, start with 1/4 teaspoon extract per cup of kombucha and adjust to taste. Remember the flavor will continue to develop during the second fermentation period.

SCOBY USES:

  • Creamy Vinaigrette, with or without oil
  • Added to smoothies
  • As meat substitute for a stir-fry or “meat” in a soup (Green chili pozole?)
  • As Dog Food (soaked first) or Dog Treats (dehydrated, plain or PB slathered)
  • In the garden as a soil amendment
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner -Citric acid
  • Facial Mask – fruit acids* imitate a “chemical peel” – add avocado if sensitive skinned

* various organic acids, such as acetic, gluconic, glucuronic, citric, L‐lactic, malic, tartaric, malonic, oxalic, succinic, pyruvic; also sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, and fructose; the vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, and C; 14 amino acids,

Dog treats, aka Kombucha for your Pooch-A:

I dehydrate my 12 inch scobys (YEP folks, 12 inches in diameter!) in my dehydrator on low for about 24 hours or so, until it looks like fruit leather. Once it’s done, either roll into rolls and dehydrate again to get twisted chews to use instead of rawhide, or cut/tear them up into little strips or square pieces, and store these little pieces of heaven in jars at room temperature.

Another option, smear dehydrated scoby in peanut butter or some other delicious substance and watch the dog go nuts on it. The texture of the dried-out culture is like pliable leather. The probiotics work their balancing act!

WHY BOOCH?

  • Kombucha Can Help Lower Your Caffeine Intake
  • Kombucha contains vitamins B1, B6, and B12. All of these vitamins are known to help stabilize mood, improve concentration, and fight depression.
  • Kombucha is an adaptogen, which balances the body.
  • They also tend to reduce cravings for sugar, alcohol, and provide liver protection. They can also help boost immunity, energy, and stamina.
  • Supports healthy digestion by increasing the acidity of the gut with a number of different natural enzymes that aid in breaking down food.
  • Kombucha promotes healthy gut bacteria. DYK that 80% of your immune system lives within the gut, and affects almost every aspect of how you feel each day.

When your gut is healthy, it contains about 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. Good bacteria in your body work to keep you both feeling and functioning at your best by:

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Digesting your food
  • Improving mental clarity
  • Promoting nutrient absorption
  • Balancing your hormones
  • Normalizing glucose levels

The Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology recently published a study showing that consistent stress negatively affects the amount and diversity of your good gut flora.

A diverse population of gut flora is your goal.

  1. First Fermentation: This is when you transform sweet tea into tart and tasty kombucha.
  2. Second Fermentation: This is when you carbonate the kombucha by adding flavor and sugars then bottling it.

Kiwi will be the main source of sugar in today’s batch, with moringa oleifera, spirulina and spinach added for a boost of GREEN nutrition. Recipe loosely inspired by https://brewbuch.com/green-goddess-kombucha/  follows:

2ND FERMENTATION KOMBUCHA RECIPE

 INGREDIENTS

  • ½ Gallon Kombucha #F1 (decaf/green/white/black/yerba all ok)
  • 1 Kiwi, un-peeled ok (!) – Try Golden Kiwi…
  • ½ Cup Spinach, fresh or thawed
  • 2 tsp Moringa Oleifera (and/or spirulina)
  • 2 TBSP Ginger, fresh or paste
  • Optional: Essential oils – Cilantro toothpick “dot”.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Blend: Puree all the ingredients with a splash of the kombucha until smooth. Swirl a toothpick coated with Cilantro E/O through the fruit puree (It’s very potent and this is all you’ll need!)
  2. Bottle: Evenly distribute the puree into fermentation bottles, then pour in F1 Kombucha, leaving 1 to 2 inches free at the top for carbonation to occur.
  3. Ferment: Place in a dark, room temperature area for 3 to 10 days, burping occasionally, until it reaches the carbonation level you like. This process will go faster in warmer climates, and slower in cooler climates.

 NOTES

  • Kombucha will continue to develop as it rests, though slower once chilled.
  • Not a kiwi fan? Substitute ½ cup of chopped strawberries, an orange, or 2 tsp of Maple.
  • Can’t find moringa? Ask me for a local Farmer/Grower near you if you’re in South Florida.
  • Consider other popular flavor combos, as seen here:
    https://brewbuch.com/top-kombucha-flavors/

*If you’ve found peace of mind, learned something helpful, or been inspired to make a change in your own, or a loved ones life, please consider supporting practical wisdom and wellness. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. Little goes a long way towards helping us continue to live ad-free in the world and bring you stimulating content.

Tower to Table Cooking

Best Ever, Herbed, Roasted Tomatoes! “From Land to Hand, From Tower to Power Bowl” Featuring Homegrown Tomatoes w/ Garlic, Basil & Rosemary over Arugula

 

ROASTED TOMATO RECIPE

TOTAL TIME 30 minutes (5 minutes prep / 20 minutes roasting / 5 minutes cooling)
YIELD: 2 Servings – scales up easily

 

 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

  • Rimmed Sheet Pan
  • Silpat Sheet or Parchment paper (or disposable sheet pan)
  • Flexible Rubber Spatula
  • Oven

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Lb, Washed Cherry Tomatoes
  • 8 Garlic Cloves, Whole & Peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon Good Olive Oil (or Aquafaba for Oil-free roasting)
  • 1 teaspoon Combined Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Pepper (try Green Peppercorns)
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Optional: Base of Arugula Leaves, a shake of Za’atar, or Berbere (a more floral, adventurous substitute, and often this chef’s “secret weapon”)

METHOD:

Roasting Tomatoes:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees with oven rack in the middle part of the oven.

Step 2: Toss garlic cloves, tomatoes, oil (or aquafaba), salt & pepper onto a silicone mat-covered baking sheet and stir till evenly covered. Spread out so that air can circulate.

Step 3: Cook undisturbed…”till done”… approximately 20 minutes, depending on size and, your oven’s characteristics. Check progress in your oven at the 10-minute mark, to be safe, shake pan to toss garlic and tomatoes lightly.

(Let your nose guide you …hopefully before your smoke alarm does!)

Step 4: Remove from oven, and apply a liberal “dusting” of freshly minced mixed herbs, and set aside to cool. Get creative here, switch up your herbs as you wish – try Cilantro, with Lime zest, for a homemade salsa base, or with Za’atar for a Middle-Eastern twist!

Spoon out your tomatoes into a glass jar for longest keeping qualities and refrigerate for a week or more. Cover with a slick of Olive oil to keep them longer

Step 5: Bonus, scrape up all the cooking juices and blend into your basic vinaigrette recipe (1/3 Cup wine vinegar to 1 Cup EVOO; keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks)

HEALTH BENEFITS:

Tomatoes provide about 40% of the daily recommended minimum of vitamin C and are an overall stellar dietary tool to help both prevent, and manage diabetes and aiding in weight loss since they’re a great source of dietary fiber. With significant fiber, they are helpful to stabilize blood sugars, and improve cardiovascular health. Tomatoes are low in carbs and calories, yet rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K, a known blood clotting factor. Mostly, tomatoes are known for being a great source of various antioxidants, most importantly Lycopene.

More about Lycopene:

A 2011 study found that the combination of tomato & olive oil helps protect against sun damage, and boosts the production of pro-collagen, which gives skin the structure to keep it firm and youthful. Lycopene is at its highest concentration when tomatoes have been cooked, and olive oil boosts its absorption from your digestive system into your bloodstream. While Lycopene is good for your eyes, tomatoes also contain lutein and beta-carotene, nutrients that support vision and protect against eye conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration. Finally, Lycopene has been linked to fewer incidences of prostateovarianlung, and stomach cancers.

I’ve always believed that simple *is best*.

Once arrived in South Florida, THIS professional, highly trained “green” chef, added “urban farmer” to my skillset, incorporating growing food and composting to round out the full sustainability cycle , adding nutrients back into the soil and therefore the food. This had been the link to living a zero-waste lifestyle.

My biggest shift, was that I no longer felt called to show off my kitchen fancy footwork but rather exult in the purest homegrown ingredients, celebrating Mother Nature & Father Time’s glorious creations. For sure, these need the least of my meddling!

While at times, that meant just eating a freshly plucked veggie or fruit, other times, the only embellishment needed was the lightest of dressings, a few sprinkles of complementary herbs, or grinds of specialty spices.

Of note, tomatoes (so easily grown in my Tower Garden!) release their cancer-fighting antioxidants only when cooked giving me reason to create this recipe with many creative pairings listed below*.

Just know that these concentrated, decadent flavor bombs have become the backbone of many a #swoonworthy feast of mine!

*Try them atop polenta, tossed over spaghetti squash or mixed with beans as a protein filled bruschetta over toast. For Mediterranean Fusion, add these to mashed, or refried beans; as “dressing” for fresh greens or steamed veggies, added to omelets and salads, drizzled over broiled tofu, as a topping for sautéed green beans or potatoes or broiled fish/seafood. Want a base for a quick, easy salsa? Check! Boost your veggie chili, spike store-bought hummus and elevate a humble bowl of brown rice, or lentils, topped with these jewels, and a few broccoli sprouts!

Many a time, I will simply eat them like a jam, spread on a flax cracker or with veggie scoops, like my favorites, Watermelon Radish, Golden Beet or for a little more heat, use a Poblano pepper, instead! I encourage you to discover a new veggie each week for a healthy 52 weeks ahead. Let me know what you try out!

Bon Appétit & You’re Welcome!

 

*If you’ve found peace of mind, learned something helpful, or been inspired to make a change in your own, or a loved ones life, please consider supporting practical wisdom and wellness. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. Little goes a long way towards helping us continue to live ad-free in the world and bring you stimulating content.