Some of my earliest memories growing up involve the many crafting passions of my mom. There were the stuffed bunnies, the plastic pop bottle butterflies, cake decorating, crocheted doilies, and any number of other hobbies that came and went. At the height of these passing fancies, the house was littered with the passion of the day. Some of these hobbies, like making beautiful quilts stuck, but a general love for craftiness was the constant throughout. One day I imagine that my kids will reflect on my phases as well. While I love crafty pursuits, I am a little too lazy to really commit to such endeavours. My kids will likely think back on my growing cupboard of supplements, the weeks I spent trying granola bar recipes, growing sprouts and microgreens in the kitchen (yep, overdid it, sprouts in every meal and we all got tired of it), my juice fasts, my neti pot phase, and my newest addiction, making kombucha.
Kombucha is a living, fermented drink made by adding sweetened tea to a kombucha starter culture called a SCOBY: Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Similar to the bacterial culture needed to turn milk into kefir, the scoby is the amazing starter that feeds on the sugar in the tea, transforming the liquid into a probiotic rich fermented drink. It is an AMAZING addition to your diet, full of live bacterial cultures, supportive of your gut flora, and colonizing the bacteria in your gut. Like other fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, organic yogurt, etc), it is a seriously nutrient dense food that can actually alter your health if you consume it regularly. If you haven’t tried it, there are many commercial varieties that you can buy at any grocery store. The taste is reminiscent of a tart apple cider, though many kombuchas are flavoured with herbs and fruits.
We have been regularly drinking kombucha for about six months or so. It struck me in January that we had invested $60 in commercially made kombucha in less than thirty days. The insanity had to stop. I had put off making my own kombucha for a long time, and it was time to grow up and just do it. I reached out to my friend Jill of www.freestylefarm.ca. Her amazing blog has provided me with so much inspiration and information. I knew that she would have scobies to spare (they just keep growing, and growing!), and was excited that she was happy to share!
This was what I came home with!
This amazing jar! My girls were puzzled as to why I would bring home a squid in a jar. They too love kombucha, and the idea that this fizzy, amazing beverage had any relation to this… um.. how to put this delicately…gross looking thing in the bottle, was almost too much for them to handle.
If you keep the scoby happy, it will grow and reproduce. You can see the layers in the jar, these are new scobies growing right on top of the older ones. By “feeding” the scoby sweetened green tea, the bacteria eat the sugar and create kombucha in 7-10 days. I am still learning, and will post more of a “how to” once I feel I’ve nailed it.
In the first fermentation, kombucha is created. The product is easy to drink and has billions of beneficial bacteria, a very happy for the belly beverage. I have been experimenting with the second fermentation, where you add fruit, herbs and other flavourings and leave it tightly sealed for 1-3 days. This increases the carbonation and flavours the kombucha. Truth be told, I am a little nervous about the potential bombs I am creating in my kitchen. We have tried cherry, raspberry, blueberry hibiscus, and raisins. I’m not getting the carbonation that I’ve hoped for, but I’m told that warmer weather will help.
Kombucha has many health benefits, including:
- improving the digestive process by providing gut friendly bacteria;
- immune system support (your immune health is closely tied to your digestive health);
- helping your body to detoxify – it is really useful for skin conditions including acne;
- blood sugar regulation;
- cholesterol regulation;
- decreasing joint pain, lessening inflammation.
- and more.
If you haven’t tried kombucha, do it! Give it a chance – you may not love your first sip. Give it a few chances because it is SO worth it. If you struggle with digestive issues, this could be a game changer for you. The bacterial environment in your gut plays a MASSIVE role in your overall health, and has a lot to do with improving your internal terrain, making it possible to avoid chronic disease. Adding a fermented food to your diet is a great way to get the probiotics that you need for day to day health and long term wellness.