Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Homemade Fizzy Grape Kombucha

Homemade Fizzy Kombucha
This Kombucha experiment was anxiety-ridden and exciting and most importantly economical! Do you struggle with paying almost $5 for those bottles of effervescent flavoured kombuchas too?
I failed somewhat in trying to grow my own SCOBY from a bottle of store-bought GT Unflavoured Raw Kombucha.  I don't think I had the right ph balance and I never got anything beyond a translucent scoby that was a few millimetres thin.  When I found out that a local shop was selling scobies I practically went there the next day.  Interestingly, there was a kombucha workshop running that day but I didn't stay for it.  I knew what I wanted and after purchasing some other supplies (at a pretty reasonable price!) I went home to try and make my own kombucha.

A video posted by Cake Brain (@cakebrain) on
I bought a scoby, a plastic mesh strainer and 6 bottles for the 2nd fermentation stage.  I knew that I would not be drinking kombucha after the 1st stage only because I love fizz.  The fizzier the better in fact.  The Homesteaders Emporium, though on the seedier side of Vancouver, is a treasure trove of very nifty things at a reasonable price.  I wanted to buy a whole bunch of stuff but promised myself to come back another time...the make-your-own-sake was intriguing. They sell chicken coops, bee-keeping supplies, candle and soap-making equipment, fermented foods ingredients and supplies and so much more. I was in do-it-yourself heaven.
a healthy scoby, with approximately 1 cup of kombucha starter comes in the mason jar that I purchased from Homesteaders Emporium.
I immediately made my 1st batch of kombucha with the oolong tea using the following recipe.  I scaled it down to fit my glass container.  Besides, I only had 6 small-ish glass bottles for the 2nd fermentation process so didn't want to go crazy making too much.  I wanted to see if it would work and taste good.

KOMBUCHA RECIPE from Cultures of Health
Just follow the link and you'll find a video and instructions on how to make your first batch of kombucha.  This will result in a flat drink.  If you want fizzy, you'll have to go through a 2nd fermentation. In my opinion there is no point in making kombucha unless you're going to make it fizzy!

Ingredient Ratios for Making Different Amounts of Kombucha
 Container Size
Starter Tea or Vinegar 
One quart
1½ teaspoon loose tea or 2 tea bags
¼ cup
2-3 cups
½ cup
½ Gallon
1 tablespoon loose tea or 4 tea bags
½ cup
6-7 cups
1 cup
2 tablespoons loose tea or 8 tea bags
1 cup
13-14 cups
2 cups

For my purposes, I used 7 cups of hot water to 1/2 cup sugar. I used Chinese oolong loose leaf tea. After cooling, I added the mason jar's contents. I poured in the starter tea which amounted to about a cup. Then I carefully slid the scoby to float on the top of the kombucha.  I covered with a paper towel and then an elastic to hold it in place. I aged my kombucha for 2 weeks before I did the 2nd step. I will be honest and admit that I never did taste it before I actually started the 2nd fermentation process.  I just had faith it would turn out okay. And it did.   What's great is that I do my kombucha making on weekends when I have time off work. This works with my schedule.

Day 2, 2nd fermentation with grape juice and kombucha. See that little scoby? it looked like a mini jelly fish growing and it creeped me out a bit but then I realized that this was a good sign that the fizziness was going to happen!
So I decided to play it safe and on the first round of making fizzy kombucha, I went with a commercial grape juice.  It was Welch's grape juice and I knew that my kids would drink the rest of the bottle because frankly, I'm not a big bottled juice drinker.  Because I have a Kuvings whole slow juicer I can make my own cold-pressed juices so down the road I envision experimenting with all sorts of different juices.  

1.  Sterilize your swing-lid glass bottles. Mine were .25L (1 cup) which is way smaller than I wanted, but it's all I could find at the time at the emporium.  I have saved 1 litre swing-top bottles from french lemonade I bought as well as old prosecco and sparkling cider bottles too.

2.  Use a silicone funnel and pour in your juice or add fruit pieces to the empty sterilized bottles.

I will add here that I made a fortuitous mistake during the 2nd fermentation process.  I poured 4 ounces (that's 1/2 cup) of grape juice in the bottoms of each of the .25L fermentation bottles (that's 1 cup for you Imperial Measure Americans).  Next time, I think I'll just add 2 oz. Anyway, 4 oz is way more juice to kombucha ratio than I've seen mentioned everywhere else on all sorts of other sites. Besides this, for my 1 cup bottles, it worked out perfectly.  I just had enough kombucha to top up the bottles and then saved some as starter to make my next batch. I didn't realize my mistake until everything was already capped. So I kind of just went with it.  I tasted the kombucha on the 2nd day of fermentation and it tasted more grape juice-ish than kombucha-ish.  I thought logically that I would need to ferment longer since I have more sugars in the fruit juice for my little yeastie organisms to chow down on.  Theoretically, I was hoping for more fizz as a result of giving those little beasts more sugar to feed on.  So I waited a good 2 weeks before putting those bottles in the refrigerator. I was terribly afraid of exploding bottles and so I checked on one bottle several times during the 2nd fermentation process and just kept the other bottles sealed and in a box covered with a kitchen towel at room temperature hoping with fingers crossed that everything would be okay.  And it was.

3.  When your kombucha is ready, refrigerate the fizzy fruit-flavoured kombucha in your fermentation bottles until ready to drink.  This slows down the fermentation process.  I didn't pop a bottle until after about 1 week post-refrigeration step.  When I popped that lid, I heard the fantastic pressurized pop that indicated effervescence! It no longer tasted like grape juice but was very similar to the grape-flavoured GT kombucha that I buy sometimes.  

4.  Place a fine-mesh sieve over your glass and pour your kombucha through it to strain out the ooglie bits...and enjoy. 

On a hot day like today after work, it sure hit the spot to drink a refreshing fizzy homemade kombucha. And in the long-run, I'll be thinking of a continuous brew system so stay tuned!

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