Experimentation with Kefir & Kombucha

Fermented foods help digestion, and include vitamins that are good for you.  Commonly, I eat homemade yogurt which is a fermented food, but you can only eat so much of one thing.  That, and I don’t have a humungous amount of space in my refrigerator for more than 12 bottles of yogurt.  I figured I’d stretch my fermented food diet, so I’m starting to experiment with kefir (both water & milk), along with kombucha fermented tea.  Living in Arizona, the temperatures are almost spot-on for kefir & kombucha fermentation, since the incubation temperatures are 68-85 degrees fahrenheit.  My house usually sits about 80 degrees, which makes it nearly idiot-proof.  I purchased starters for all three from Cultures For Health (http://www.culturesforhealth.com) but there are many other places on the net you can get it from, OR if you have a friend who uses it they should have lots of the grains available to give you.  (it grows continuously)

First thing to do is have a glass container that is cleaned thoroughly with no aluminum.

water kefir activation

Water kefir couldn’t get any simpler.  You heat the unchlorinated/unfluoridated water (I use bottled water) to somewhere between 68-85 degrees fahrenheit, mix cane sugar into it, then toss your water kefir grains in.  Put the container into a place away from direct sunlight for 3-5 days.

Milk kefir is about the same, except you use milk instead of water.  I haven’t used mine yet (I have to buy some milk), however the huge plus side is that it makes milk digestible for those that are lactose intolerant.  During the fermentation, the lactose is broken down into simple sugars much like happens when yogurt is made.

kombucha activation

Kombucha fermented tea is another fermented beverage that makes tea into a positive digestion experience.  I’ve yet to taste it since I’m just now activating the scoby (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) that I purchased.  However, theoretically it has a tart taste with a combination of tea and whatever other flavors added to it which can be performed during a second fermentation after the scoby has been removed.  Fermentation time for kombucha is much longer than kefir, about 21-30 days.  After that time, the scoby is removed (and added into another batch) and the remaining beverage can be put into a sealed bottle with whatever you’d like to make it taste like.  Grape juice, orange juice, whatever.  If it’s put into a sealed bottle, it should be burped daily to keep the pressure in check.  It can be alcoholic if left in second fermentation for 3+ days.

I’ll post again once I’m complete with the activation, and I make my first batch of water kefir & kombucha.  The milk kefir will be trailing behind since I need to buy some milk first.

 

EDIT 8/1/2014
After a day or two of having my kombucha scoby sit (with little activity obviously since it’s dehydrated and it takes 30 days to activate), I started thinking to myself how valuable time really is.  Seriously, when you’re working 5 days a week, with only a few hours in the evening off and you buy something to make a beverage, do you really want to wait a month for something to become able to be used so you can wait another month for the outcome?  Not myself.  While I understand the reasoning, I found a website that sells the scoby in a more natural form.  kombuchakamp.com sells the scoby in a little packet with the starter tea surrounding it.  It’s advertised as being packed right before shipping to you, so it’s fresh and can be tossed into action immediately.  I ordered a scoby (at the time yesterday it was 24.88 + free shipping) and waiting for it to arrive.  According to the website, it’ll be 2-3 days until it’s shipped, and then about 3-5 days for delivery.  (About a week)  In the meantime, I’m leaving the scoby I purchased from culturesforhealth.com in it’s sugar tea mixture, and I’ll see how things work with that as well.  Worst case scenario it’ll mold over and I’ll toss it, best case scenario I’ll have a second scoby in a month or two.  We’ll see how things work out.

EDIT 8/4/2014
A picture of the scoby that came from Cultures For Health, as I opened the sealed plastic wrapper.  It was dried and brittle.  As of right now, no activity is occuring in the sugar tea still, though I’m figuring with a 30 day time period I’m only on day 6.
scoby-dry

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