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Kombucha Tea

My understanding is the first step in making your own Kombucha tea (another fermented food, good for your belly!) is to get a “mother” scoby. What is a scoby? I wondered the same thing… it is a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. Simple! I love acronyms.

Here is an image for you…

Now, what is the process? Again, there is a great detailed description in Sally Fallen’s book (p. 596). The Coles Notes, from our friend Laurie are as follows:

– mix 1 cup sugar in 3 quarts boiling water (until it dissolves).

– Add 4 teabags, these must be ORGANIC black or jasmine tea or green tea. Let steep 5 min.

– take bags out. let COOL to room temperature.

– add your “mother” scoby plus 1/2c liquid. Note: your jar must be at least as big or BIGGER than the scoby you get from a friend…

– let sit for 10 days to 2 weeks at room temperature

What will happen??

– The “scoby” will EAT the caffeine and sugar and convert it… the end result is a tea that has neither caffeine nor sugar. WOW!

– You will get a “baby” scoby ABOVE the mother scoby… you can give this baby to a friend, or make another jar!

When we tasted this tea, our sample was still a bit sweet… that is a sign you can leave the tea for a few more days… I suppose, again, it is all a matter of TASTE.

I haven’t managed to get my hands on a “scoby” yet… but I’d love to try this. Another beverage to add to my repetoire!

p.s. I now have my husband converted to plain kefir drinks, straight up! he was out of town a couple of days and said he missed them!

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Kefir or Keffir

I must admit I am loving the addition of fresh kefir to my day. I tend to have a cup full around lunchtime, and since I don’t usually drink anything but water and tea (and coffee…), it is a nice refreshing change. My husband likes it with a heavy spoonful of jam, and so far my middle child will drink it with jam as well! I just find it sooooo easy! And I am proud I now have enough babies to share my crop with a friend! You need 1-2 Tbsp per 2c milk. They tend to proliferate! Here is what they look like up close:

Here is my routine:

– Shake up the kefir baby jar in my cupboard with lid tight every day (usually when I pour my cupful from the fridge)

– Leave lid loose in a dark cupboard: my kefir babies plus 2c milk

– Every 36-48 hours, drain off keffir, rinse kefir babies in filtered water, and place babies in a new jar with another 2c of fresh milk. Here is Dawn straining the kefir during our evening:

– Place keffir (that I drained off, now ready to consume) in fridge. YUMM! Apparently this drink’s shelf life is 2-3 days at room temperature, so I would guess longer in the fridge! It should be creamy and drinkable, if it turns into cheese and whey you have definately let it sit too long

From our evening together, again it was “a matter of taste”. The advice was that the kefir babies need to EAT milk, that is their food. It was also recommended to strain the babies in a non-metallic strainer (though neither Dawn or I do this and they seem to live on…). If you don’t want to be actively making the kefir, you can store the kefir babies:

– in freezer

– in filtered water in fridge for up to 2 weeks

Try drinking the kefir with pineapple & honey! Another winning combination. Or you can try it as a buttermilk substitute in recipes, as an addition to a bowl of soup, or apparently it can also be used to make sourdough bread!

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Making Sauerkraut

One thing that was clear to me in our evening of sharing was that Sally Fallon seem to be somewhat of a guru in this fermentation field. Her book was held by most as a great resource on the subject, but what I LOVED was finding out the simpler, “Coles Notes” version… what do I REALLY need to know to get started? Here is what I took from the group about making Sauerkraut!

Chop up some cabbage, the finer the better (more surface area) into a jar as in photo

Add some onion and carrot if you like, or even the traditional taste of caraway seeds

Add a tsp of sea salt

Wait a while… even after an hour a lot of juices will be formed

Use smaller jar to pack the cabbage down and push more in

You will get about 2 jars from 1 head of cabbage

Leave the little jar in place, fill it with water for weight.

Then add a papertowel and rubber band (to ward off bugs) on top

Place on your shelf, like this:

After 4 days, check it! “GO ON TASTE!”

Probably ready after 1.5-2 weeks

Apparently the best nutrition is gained after 6 months

Need any tips? Ask Anita! She spent her childhood stomping in huge bins of this stuff! 

Eating a couple of tablespoons everyday is the key… you don’t need to consume vast quantities to get the benefits.

How did I do? Anyone have anything to add?

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Kraut, Kefir, Kombucha, and Yogurt…

Fermentation. WOW! I had this thought upon waking this morning… “Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore“. I definately felt like Dorothy at our meeting last night. After sampling homemade kefir, yogurt, and Kombucha, I have to say my gut doesn’t feel drastically different this morning, but I look forward to incorporating at least the kefir and yogurt into my foodie routines. I am once again awestruck and inspired by this amazing group of women.

“It’a a matter of taste”… “you just go on taste”… this theme came up a LOT last night, as there seems to be no hard and fast “rules” when entering the fermentation world. Perfect for those used to cooking without recipes, but a stretch for those like me who still prefer to stick to the “known” and have some (hopefully…) guarantee of a successful outcome! I think that is what appeals the most about fermentation… the ability to define your own successes… and it definately takes one back to being a Pilgrim, where food is not preserved but just kept on a dark shelf to stew in its own juices! We have been doing this for thousands of years (I learned!) and I feel some sacredness in entering this world, with my new “kefir babies” safely on the shelf in 2 cups of milk. 24 hours and I’ll have my own kefir drink…

So what is the story with fermentation? My understanding now is that the idea is to promote a healthy ecosystem in your gut… which I am familiar with from expensive, naturopathic remedies such as “acidophilis” which you can buy for – what – $50 a jar? Or various “candida” cleaning regimes. Maybe that is my other favorite theme – the ability to be frugal and healthy – in today’s world! I have been a bit shy to use probiotics regularly due to the price tag… sticking to just some plain, store-bought yogurt as my regular “fermented” food.

The book pictured above was suggested as a good simple place to start… but I found being with this amazing group of women to be more up my alley. I think I’m going to stick with learning from others for now!

What do I love most about these evenings? I tried to put my finger on it last night, when I came home to my husband with my good, very pregnant friend Leanne. I really enjoy a night out with a theme… I find I feel complete like “we came, we met, we did fermentation, we left”. But actually it goes much deeper than this. I think what I truly enjoy is the interaction of each person with the topic and watching the whole dynamic brings a deep understanding both of the TOPIC which is lovely, but also a deeper understanding of each individual… because how they interact with the topic is deeply personal, and often passionate!!

Those of us left on the sidelines (me and 3 others who hadn’t even ventured into yogurt making ever yet!) also share a unique experience and are pulled into the current of passion that runs through the room… I love how the atmosphere is one of open learning, and I love learning new words – like the eternal flame of SKOBY (for Kombucha) and KEFIR BABIES (for Kefir). I truly hope the flame of energy and connection that has come into our group is here to stay… making our foodie club eternal in some way, like the kefir babies on my shelf!!

WOW FOODIE CLUB!! What a night! I promise to share the content as well, in another posting, just had to share my experience first. It was a big one for me. A big Thanks!!

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Harvest

The 3rd of November we finally pulled our tomato plants… pleasantly surprised by this crop of red and green tomatoes, and the red ones didn’t taste half-bad! As we have transitioned from summer’s bounty to Fall, I have definately struggled with my “foodie-ism”… tempted to throw on the table a lot more grilled cheese, plain rice, eggs, and simple steamed or sauteed vegetables. My palate has been yearning for something a little “more”… but I’m unable to put my finger quite on it… and I anticipate that whatever flavor it would be, it would not be the plain (somewhat bland?) foods my children crave!

I find my meals are a constant juggling act of creating foods that are palatable enough for a 1 year old, appeal to a 3 and 5 year old, and still (with a little black pepper added) satisfy the tastebuds of my husband and I! Feeling the need to meet all these different needs, I am hesitant to create certain foods (potato- or squash- based things, or dishes with a mix of spice for example!) but quite bored of the usual spaghettis, barley bakes, and plain baked tofus that my children love. Pizza Fridays are a definately reprieve as everyone can make their own, suitable to their own palate, as long as enough variety is presented.

I am quite looking forward to our meeting this week to pull me through this Fall slump and into enjoying Winter’s warmers… soups, stews, and the like!!