We have been busy. Lots of exciting plans behind the scenes of Red Bread as we head into the dog days of summer. I can hardly wait to share whats really brewing in the kitchen but I have been sworn to keep it a surprise so you will have to wait a few more weeks! In the mean time speaking of brews, here is one of our favorites to keep you cool through the summer and beyond. And a recipe for our delicious cultured candy because we love you.
Kombucha is one of our favorite drinks. It’s refreshing tart flavor is infinitely versatile and if you brew it yourself absurdly cheap. Kombucha comes to us by way of China and Russia. This sweetened tea beverage is made possible by a symbiosis of yeast and bacteria, alcohol created by yeast is turned into acetic acid by bacteria resulting in an effervescent drink reminiscent of weak vinegar. Alcohol production is limited as acidity is increased though trace amounts may remain in your final brew. This effervescent drink has detoxifying properties on the body assisting the liver to function more efficiently. Delicious and Nutritious? Yes, but like all things still in moderation. This brewing process can be kept going in a cycle so there is always Kombucha on hand for you to enjoy.
Kombucha is best made with black or green loose leaf tea which is much fresher than tea bags. However, tea bags can be used in place of loose leaf 1 bag for every tablespoon. Many herbal teas have antimicrobial properties that prevent fermentation or in some cases can kill the scoby. In the first fermentation we want the bacteria to win out! Herbs and flavors is added during the second fermentation where the fermentation is already established and therefore not at risk. Honey is not a good alternative sweetner because it also has antimicrobial properties, although fermentation will happen it will be very weak.
What you need:
3+ quarts purified water
3-5 Tbs of loose leaf tea, green or black
1 cup cane sugar
Brags Live Apple Cider Vinegar *
What you need to do:
Place loose leaf tea in a metal tea strainer. Heat water to boil. Pour hot water over tea, allow to steep till it cools to room temperature about 3 hours or overnight. Once tea is at room temperature pull out tea strainer and add raw cane sugar. Stir vigorously until sugar dissolves. Pour into a wide mouth 4 quart jar. Add Scoby. If this is your first brew of kombucha you will need to add 1 cup of Braggs Live Cider Vinegar (or your own cultured vinegar!). This helps to acidify the batch, if there is not enough acidity the mother will be “smothered” and sink. A healthy mother floats at the top but may take 24 hours after the addition of a new batch of tea to refloat. If mother does not float in 24 hours add more vinegar and give it another day, if necessary continue till mother floats or new mother forms. In the future you will keep 1 cup from the previous brew to add to your new brew to maintain the proper acidity.
Once Scoby is added, cover opening with a cloth napkin and secure with a rubber band. Ferment at room temperature in a dark place, a cupboard works but I like to keep mine on the kitchen counter top (covered with another kitchen towel to block sunlight) so I don’t forget about it. Allow to ferment for 7 days. Brew should begin to bubble in the first few days.
After 7 days you can bottle your brew. Or do a second fermentation to add a flavor.
Pour brew into a second 4 quart jar, reserving 1 cup or more to acidify your next brew. Here is where you would add flavor, no strict amounts everything can be done to taste. You can choose to add crushed fruit, whole herbs and spices. The easiest thing to do is add a flavored syrup which won’t requiring straining before bottling. Add up to 1 cup of flavored syrup. Cap tightly and ferment an additional 2-3 days to taste. The tight capping will build up the effervescence. Kombucha can be enjoyed in a glass immediately or bottled for further effervescence build up. To continue to enjoy out of the large jar, simply move the whole jar to the fridge. Enjoy.
To bottle, whether after the first or second fermentation, pour kombucha into screw top bottles leaving 1 inch headspace. Add a pinch of raw cane sugar and screw cap tightly. Move to cupboard and ferment 3-7 days to taste. The longer the ferment the more “dry” it will taste resembling a weak vinegar, the shorter the sweeter. Once fully fermented move to fridge. Enjoy on the go!
Note: Often your second fermentation and the bottles will develop new mothers, or what we affectionately call “babymommas”. You can discard, give away or drink up. Consider it lucky!
Over time the mother scoby will grow thicker and thicker. This is a great time to peel off layers and share with your community. Even then you will find yourself in excess and at that point the only answer is candy. Whenever I teach Kombucha, I bring these candies as a treat for my students and I am always handed back an empty jar.
“Buchies” Cultured Candy
Once dried Buchies taste of delicious tart apple pie.
What you need:
Peeled layers of Scoby, at least 1/4″ thick
Raw cane sugar
2 cups 50/50 sugar syrup
What you need to do:
Make sugar syrup ahead of time by combining equal parts raw cane sugar and filtered water. Heat until sugar just dissolves, cool to room temp and reserve in a jar. Peel 1/4″ thick layers of scoby mother, be sure to reserve an intact mother to continue your brewing. Chop mother into 1″ pieces. In a wide baking dish, create alternating layers of pieces of scoby and a sprinkling of raw can sugar. When you run out of scoby to layer, pour room temp 50/50 sugar solution over scoby until almost submerged. Tightly cover baking dish with lid or cello wrap and allow to marinate for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, put parchment paper on a baking sheet with raised sides. Pour entire mixture onto baking sheet. Bake overnight at the lowest temperature your oven will allow. For most residential ovens this will be 170*, propping open the oven door a crack and turning on the fan will create a better drying environment. After 6-8 hours candy will resemble Gummy Bears, after 14-16 hours candy will resemble a soft jolly rancher.
Note: You may need more or less 50/50 sugar syrup depending on the amount of candy you are making.
Note: If you have a dehydrator capable of drying at a lower (below 115) and longer temperature do so. This will preserve the live properties of the candy! Drying in the wonderful sunlight is also an option, but will take much longer and you must be sure to cover it from other living creatures who will be interested in a treat.