DIY, Pioneer spirit, Recipes

Kombucha

Kombucha is a great drink to have around on the homestead, or any home for that matter. It is easy to brew, tastes great and has many health benefits. People have been drinking it for thousands of years. It is essentially a fermented tea that becomes carbonated when fruit is added to it. The way it ferments is by adding a SCoBY to brewed tea. SCoBY stand for ‘symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.’ When it is added to brewed tea and sugar, the yeast and bacteria consume the caffeine, tannins and sugar and the tea ferments, creating a wonderful drink full of probiotics.
Kombucha seems confusing at first but it is actually quite simple. There are kits online where you can buy a SCoBY and starter liquid, however, there are also Facebook groups that sell them for the price of shipping. Which is usually only $10-$15. I belong to “Kombucha Nation: Cultures, Health and Healing!” and it is a great site, and there is a ton of knowledgeable people that have been brewing for years! They allow you to post pictures and ask if your brew looks ok. There are references and recipes too!

What you will need:

1 Gallon Glass jar (I bought a Ball jar that cost $20 at Canadian Tire) you can buy one with a spigot, but the spigot has to be made with 304 SS or higher grade, no plastic!

1 SCoBY

2 cups of ‘starter’ (I will explain below)

1 coffee filter

1 rubber band

8 tea bags (no flavored teas with oils, should be black, green or oolong)

14 cups of distilled water, or boiled tap water

1 cup of sugar (white sugar works the best and really cannot be substituted – do not use stevia, honey or artificial sweeteners, the bacteria and yeast consume the sugar and it is important to the fermentation process)

1 wooden spoon for stirring that is really clean

White vinegar (for cleaning only!!!)
 
Process:

Sterilize your gallon jar buy washing it with hot soapy water, then with white vinegar and rinse

Boil your 14 cups of water, add 8 tea bags, add one cup of sugar and stir, let cool

Pour cooled tea and sugar into gallon jar

Add 2 cups of starter (when you buy a SCoBY the person should give you 2+ cups of fermented tea with the SCoBY, this is called ‘starter’ and it is important to have enough of it so you don’t get mold)

Add your SCoBY (it usually floats to the top, but not always)

Secure a coffee filter over the top of the gallon jar with a rubber band, this keeps the fruit flies out. Do not use a tea towel or anything like that, they can get in the smallest holes. The coffee filter is not penetrable, but still breathable.

Do not use a metal utensil to stir or touch your kombucha.

Let the tea ferment for 14-21 days.

If for any reason you see mold, DO NOT consume it. Throw out all contents of the gallon jar and re-sterilize everything. The SCoBY cannot be re-used.

Never add vinegar to Kombucha! You can get vinegar eels. Blech! :-/

Do not keep near bread products or fruit (incase mold develops), or other ferments. You risk cross contamination.

Keep in a warmish, dark place in the kitchen. If it is really cold it takes forever to ferment. If it is really warm it will ferment quickly!

By the end of the 2-3 weeks, you will see a new ScoBY forming on the top. This is the baby to your original mother SCoBY. You can save all your extra SCoBY’s in a ‘hotel’. Glass container with lid, add all your SCoBYs some fermented tea, and they will keep for months. You can also give them to people to share the wealth!

This is my Komucha set up, that 1F is about 3 days in. The small container beside it is my hotel! I gift SCoBYs to people wanting to try it!
This first process is called your 1F, or “first ferment” in the world of Kombucha.
 
Now onto your 2F or “second ferment”

Buy glass bottles that are rated for carbonation. Do not buy decorative ones or they will explode!!!

I use ‘GTs’ Kombucha bottles. I bought a bunch of pre-made Kombucha at local health food store, drank all the Kombucha (which is delicious) and saved the bottles.

First sterilize the bottles by boiling them for 5-10 minutes.

Let them cool, and fill them with tea (save a bit of room)

Add fruit or fruit puree.

I have added cut up grapes, pure grape juice, ginger, raisins etc. This is what gives the tea carbonation.

Burp your bottles every couple days so that the carbonation doesn’t build up so much that it bursts through the top when you go to open it.

2F takes 2-5 days, just keep an eye on it!

*Kombucha needs to slowly be introduced to your diet, because it is a ferment it can cause gas and tummy upset if you drink too much at once. So start with a few ounces a day and build from there. It also flushes toxins, so be sure to also consume a lot of water when you drink Kombucha*
 
ENJOY! ☺️
 
 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health food professional. I am just giving information based on my personal experiences. Please use it responsibly, and research other information!

Canning, Critters, DIY, Essential Oils, Foraging, Garden, Pioneer spirit

My journey to becoming more self-sufficient…

 My journey started about a year and half ago. I started looking into how to cut back some of the chemicals that I used in our day to day life. I wanted to find recipes for soap, laundry soap, cleaning solutions etc. That is when I realized the more stuff I made, the more I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn the skills of yester-year. I wanted to know that if another depression hit, I could still provide for my family in a lot of ways. One aspect of learning that I still struggle with a little bit is frugality. I am really good with some things, and then other things I just want to ‘buy’ what I need to get the project done. Even if it means spending more money up front. This is something I am striving to work on. It is hard to shift your mindset from being a consumer to a producer. Our culture has taught us convenience, convenience, convenience. Pay more for something if it saves you time. I saw a quote by Robin Williams that said “We used to be hunter-gatherers, now we are shopper-borrowers.” I want to shift my mindset away from this thinking, but it is challenging when you are a working mom with 2 small children, but I strive every day to lean more towards frugality. Some of the skills I have learned in the last couple of years include:

– Canning (which I have found a passion for, I LOVE it!)

– I now make my own laundry detergent, cleaning products, body butter, chap stick, candles, body scrub, essential oil perfume etc.

– Baking bread (still learning this one, hard to get light fluffy bread)

– Hanging clothes on a line (not all of the time, but I try and dry all towels and bedding like this)

– Animal husbandry: chickens, quail, and bunnies (we have rescue bunnies as pets, not meat rabbits) I do use their poop for fertilizer, so they do contribute!

– Vermicomposting (Worm bins)

– Organic gardening

– Drying herbs and fruit, dried fruit tastes like candy 

– Sewing (still learning, I am definitely at the beginner level)

– I used to know how to crochet as a child, my grandmother taught me, so I would love to re-learn that skill

– Very small scale foraging (morels, fiddlehead ferns)

– Brew my own Kombucha (I will be doing a post on Kombucha soon!)

– Essential oils

Skills I would like to learn…

– Pressure canning (I have purchased a canner but have not tried it yet- slightly scared of blowing it up, not gonna lie)

– I would like to get better at ‘scratch cooking’

– Improve knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants

– Improve foraging skills

– Knitting/crochet

– Making ACV

– Fermenting

Beeswax candles, I bought the wax from a local Apiary
Salsa made with heirloom tomatoes
Pickles!
One struggle that I have encountered is that my ‘housekeeping’ has suffered a bit in this process. I now have so many things to do outside, watering, weeding, feeding animals, cleaning coops and hutches, that I have noticed the inside has taken a backseat a bit. I have to learn to give myself some grace sometimes. When you are raising young children and working, now with the added outdoor duties, you have to learn to prioritize. That has been a learning curve for me. I am working on it every day.

Some of my role models on this journey include:

Eve Kilcher from the show ‘Alaska the Last Frontier.’ She is an amazing homestead women. She has skills that would blow your mind. Watching her is extremely inspiring, they live off the land and between her and her husband Eivin, and they provide almost 100% of the food they eat. They grow enormous gardens, hunt, fish, and raise their own animals for eggs, milk, and bees for honey. It really is an amazing shows to watch and learn from.
Another role model is actually a friend of mine who owns a 7 acre horse farm. They board horses, raise and breed chickens and geese, grow food, preserve, bake etc. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people is so important, because you will encounter people that think what you are doing is weird, and they won’t understand. People will say, “but why would you bake bread when you can buy it at the store?” or “Eggs are 2 bucks a dozen at Walmart ya know.” So being part of internet communities and finding people in your area that have the same passions will motivate you to keep going! Leading a more simple life isn’t ‘easy’ but it’s definitely worth it! 
😄