Tag Archives: wild fermentation

A bad mother…shut your ‘booch!

Batch 2

My second batch of Kombucha- mid first fermentation

Kombucha. A mysterious, tangy, bubbly beverage that seems like a secret world of experimental curative beverage culture (get it? cuz kombucha is a culture? lulz). Actually, its totally not that big of a deal until you get to the fizzy parts and the whole obtaining a “mother”. Yeesh. I’m going to go ahead and pre-apologize to the squeamish or icky-averse. You should probably skip this post. Read on at your own risk.

It seems like there has been somewhat of a kombucha craze in the past few years, reaching all corners of the US and their grocery stores. Honestly the whole thing kind of gave me the heebie-jeebs until I gathered myself and finally tried it. Before that it seemed to be secluded to fancy schmancy food co-ops only in Brooklyn or San Francisco where there is a special room, a certain knock, and an equally obscure password to even access it…”artisan”. Now its on the shelves of grocery stores next to the smoothies and pomegranate juice. Buying a bottle, at roughly $3.50 each, becomes an expensive habit. From what

I can tell the draw mainly seems to come from the flavor (like a mix of apple cider vinegar, black tea and carbonation- plus whatever else they add to the batch)  it is refreshing, acidic, and slightly sweet. But many also seek it out for its list of “curative” powers which include, but are not limited to:
– Getting rid of gray hair
– Growing in dark hair
– Cures cancer
– Reverses the symptoms of AIDS
– Cures Dia-beet-us
– Filling one with bologna

So I may have added one of those. I like it for its flavor, and its something I find rewarding, especially when babies are made. You heard me. Babies. It multiplies.
The whole idea is pretty age-old, fermenting a sweet beverage until it becomes bubbly and not as sweet anymore and maybe a little alcoholic (only 0.5%). What’s different is the mother.

MAMA!!!

My Kombucha mother with baby attached

The Mother. The Manchurian Mushroom. The Blob. The Kvas. The Tea Sponge. The ‘Boocha Baby-Maker. Boochie-Mama.
Whatever you call it, its the disc-shaped blob that turns your regular ol’ sweet tea into a batch of ‘booch. You can get it in co-ops, online, or from a marvelous friend who happens to have what would equal a fungus version of “Sister Wives”. Let’s just say it’s all in the family and they produce like rabbits. A large mother looks like one of those Pillsbury Grands buscuits, only larger and wet.

I’m really sorry I just ruined these for you

When you touch it, which you will probably have to,  it feels like like a jello “jiggler” that was left in the fridge too long. Springy, firm but slippery- not slimy. What is it made of you ask? it is a “community of bacteria and yeasts that have a symbiotic relationship”- a community? does that mean microscopic block parties?

Basic Kombucha

Before you begin your batch, I recommend reading this article to be aware of all of the risks associated with fermentation. Its similar to the risk of canning, but as long as you stay sanitary and sterilize with vinegar, you should be fine. If it looks of smells odd- don’t drink it. DUH. OK post warnings- To make a batch of the booch, you’ll need:

A mother culture in starter tea
A large jar, or a few for multiple batches
Cheesecloth, a papertowel, or thin fabric
A rubber band or canning ring
Sweet Tea , Strong black tea ans sugar mixture, cooled to room temp sweetened with at least 10% sugar content (for a half gallon, I used about 1 cup of sugar to 2 quarts water)
White vinegar

So here’s what you do:
1. Get a mother, it should come in some starter liquid called starter tea that will help it acclimate to the new tea surroundings.
2. Prepare a jar, at least a half-gallon if not larger, and preferably wider than it is tall. (I have no idea where to find such a jar so I just used a half-gallon Ball canning jar) Wash the jar with soap and water, and rinse thoroughly. Once it doesn’t smell like soap anymore, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the jar and swish around to coat.
3. Coat your hands with vinegar, or just the one that will be handling the mother, and pick up the mother (try not to heave)
4. Place the mother in the prepared jar, and pour the liquid it came in over it.
5. Pour in the sweetened tea mixure
6. Cover the top with a paper towel, layers of cheesecloth, thin fabric, etc and secure with a rubber band or screw the lid on. *Be careful not to let the booch or mother touch the metal.
7. Let sit in a warm slightly dark place for 7-10 days. After this time, look at it, smell it, taste it. Once it becomes slightly vinegary smelling and tastes slightly tart but not like drinking vinegar, your first batch is done.
– Remove the mother and repeat the process for the next batch, saving some of the liquid to go with it. (Oh it probably had a baby, once it is 1/4″ thick, it can begin to make its own batch of booch and have its own babies)]

Batch 1

First Batch without Second Ferment

Thus far, I have stopped here. I enjoy the slightly tart sweet tea that comes from the process but I will soon go for a second fermentation to make it bubbly. To do that, you add more sugar like a 1/4 c sugar or a handful of sugary raisins. Cap the tea tightly so that it is air-tight (transfer into a plastic bottle as glass might shatter if too much pressure builds up), maybe using an airlock if you can find it in a homebrew store. Set in a warm spot or place the bottles in a cardboard box or cooler equipped with an electric blanket to keep it warm and start the second fermentation. After 2 days, check to see if it is bubbly, if all goes well it should be.

I’ll try this with my next batch and post how it goes!
Boochin it up.
– Stine

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Oh hello, Sourdough! Part 1

Yesterday I got this cookbook called “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz from a friend of mine for a wedding present. Its all about cooking and fermentation, which kind of freaks me out because of the ailments that can come out of fermentation gone wrong, but poses itself as a challenge…which I can’t resist.

All you really need for this is flour, water, a Jar, some fabric or cheesecloth, and either a pinch of yeast or an organic fruit with “the chalky film of yeast (the bloom)”. Gross.

First, I measured the flour in. I have a mix of about 1/3 wheat and 2/3 all purpose. You need 2 cups for the formula. Perhaps you noticed that I spilled some flour. That’s where my handy dandy canning funnel came in. Then the water. She says its best to use starchy water from potatoes, pasta, or whatever, but since I’ve cut all starchy things out of my diet..mostly at least..I’m just using plain old tap.  So add the water, put on the lid and ring, Shake shake shake…ba-da-bahbahbah-bum..shake shake shake…make your slurry! That’s what its called right?

So there you have it, a slurry. It makes me think of concrete for some reason..Anyway..we read on..Now is when you add your fungus fruit..Oops, I mean organic fruit with “the bloom”. She also says you can sub with a pinch of yeast. Yep, that’s gonna be my route, thanks Fleischmann’s! Stir that in. After 3 or 4 DAYS, yeah this is not one of those instant gratification times, bubbles should appear. When you see this, add a tablespoon or two to “feed” the starter. Blah blah reading on, then I see, “or add a commercially available sourdough starter” WHHAAAATTTT?! I can buy this stuff? Thanks for printing that on a different page. If I die or get salmonella from this, I’m coming after you, lady. (If I’m dead someone else will, of course)

Ok well then you slap some fabric on it so it can breathe, umm, Its alive? And leave it in a warm place. I neglected to mention that it is about 7 degrees here, but it will warm up to a balmy 17, so I think we’re good here.

So here’s my new pet sourdough starter, named Souie (not like louie, more like sow as in a female pig). In a week we will see how Souie does, with regular feedings and being able to breathe warm air, hopefully he will make delicious bread.

I thought we could end with a little questionnaire, LiveJournal style, to get to know a little about us and our kitchens.

  1. My favorite things to make are:
    Anything complicated, mostly desserts, pastries, sauces, candies, anything canned or pickled, cheese, breads, pastas, or anything where I can tweak the recipe, I’m definitely a tweaker.
  2. My go-to recipes are found…
    either on the internets- seriouseats.com or in the Joy of Cooking.
  3. I would never use a recipe from…
    The back of a box of something or Paula Deen (“Hey y’all I got diabetes! Now let’s get to that deep fried sugary mac’n’cheese I was talkin about!”)
  4. What is your favorite thing about your kitchen?
    The food that comes out of it or has been made in it, at least what I cook, I can’t vouch for the hubz
  5. What is your least favorite thing about your kitchen?
    The complete and utter lack of counter space. You get creative when you have about 5 total linear feet of prep space in the kitchen.
  6. What is your proudest moment in your recent culinary history?
    Two things come to mind. I mastered Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse recipe in there with no motorized equipment to whip or stir and when I made Zucchini lasagna with Mozzerella and Tomato Sauce that we made ourselves. Could have grown the Zucchini if it was in season.
  7. What is the biggest upset in your recent culinary history?
    I made TWO different batches of Challah Bread for a pot luck, and NEITHER rose as it should have. Total. Buzzkill.
  8. What is your favorite item in your kitchen?
    Probably my balloon whisk. I bought it in undergrad when I needed to make something for a potluck. I used it to make chocolate covered cheesecake bites, they were deliciously successful. It didn’t fail me then and hasn’t failed me since.
  9. What is the oldest item in your kitchen?
    My grandfather’s ice cream scoop. It comes from one of my great grandfather’s pharmacies where they had a soda counter and Papa was a “Soda Jerk” as he said.
  10. What is the newest item in your kitchen?
    A set of new non-stick pans…so many new possibilities!
  11. What is your favorite thing about cooking?
    The ability to take a recipe and make it your own and also making things that are delicious, then seeing people enjoy and really appreciate them.

    Next Week: Souie becomes bread!
    -Stine

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