I’ve always been a lover of kefir and kombucha. I, also used to be completely naive as to how to make it, thinking it was made out of a fungus or mushroom. Wrong. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought so… Thankfully, this is something which has kept me very occupied recently – brewing my very own water kefir and kombucha. It is one of the most exiting and rewarding hobbies I’ve taken on to yet. I encourage you all to give it a go. There’s nothing better after a long day’s work, then arrive home and pop open a bottle of your own home brewed kombucha, fizzing and bubbling away in your cup.
I was very fortunate to attend a fermentation workshop at my work-place, Salad Pride, which was run by Anna Drozdova – the founder of Mazaika. During the three hour workshop we learnt how to make sauerkraut, fermented lemons and water kefir. I’ve tried water kefir and kombucha plenty of times, but finally I have had a professional explain the process of how to produce my own – plus, I’ve managed to get my hands on a scoby (colony of bacteria and yeasts). Anna explained to us the benefits of eating fermented foods daily, and let us get hands-on with producing our own products to take home. She is willing to share her valuable knowledge with others, and aims to get the word out about just how simple making your own fermented products actually is! I would highly recommend Anna’s workshops to anyone interested in or new to fermentation – they’re immensely informative & extremely fun.
If these terms are new to you, kefir and kombucha are a colony of bacteria and yeasts (also known as a scoby). They turn a sweet watery drink into a fantastically fizzy probiotic beverage. It’s a simple process of adding the scoby to a mixture of water/tea and sugar and allowing the bacteria and yeasts to feed off the sugar, whilst letting the mix ferment. The result? A tangy beverage packed with enzymes, beneficial acids, B vitamins and of course, probiotics. It’s unique for its sweet & sour taste, but can be further flavored in a second fermentation with fruits or juice. These beneficial bacteria aids our digestion, and with the assimilation of nutrients. They also keep the lining of our gut nice and healthy, detoxifies our livers and improves pancreas function. Studies have suggested that microorganisms actually outnumber our cells, so don’t be scared – they’re essential for our good health.
- For the first fermentation, mix 1 L filtered/bottled water with 2 tbsp of sweetener of choice (stay clear from honey, as it has antibacterial properties and may effect the development of your beverage)
- Add 2 tbsp kefir grains, along with some liquid from your previous brew and pour into a airtight glass jar/bottle.
- Leave for 48 hours in a cool dark place, then strain using a plastic funnel and sieve (Tip: avoid metal as this can also effect the kefir grains)
- Hold back some of the liquid with the gains for your next brew.
The great thing is that you can get really experimental with this too.. Here are some recommended add-ins for your liquid, from which the grains have been strained out (second fermentation, 1-3 days) that work really well:
- Ginger root – tastes like ginger beer
- Orange juice – tastes like tango
- Pink grapefruit – tastes like bitters
- Turmeric root
- Passion fruit
Make sure to ‘burp’ the bottles daily, so that any accumulated gases can be released, reducing the pressure inside your brewing bottles/jars.
You can brew any tea you wish for the base. Traditionally, it is made with sweet black tea. However, the options are endless! I recommend organic sencha/oolong sweetens with maple syrup or agave nectar for lighter fruity flavours. On the other hand hojicha/black sweetened with coconut nectar or demerara sugar for more earthy, strong and pungent flavours. Though your tea may taste overly sweet to begin with, at the end of your first fermentation you will be left with a beverage much less sweeter.
- For the first fermentation, brew 1 L tea with 110g sweeter of choice, and allow to cool.
- Add the scoby and leave for 6 days in a cool dark place.
- Strain the liquid from the scoby, holding back some of the liquid for the next brew.
For the second fermentation, you can add fruit/juice and leave for a further 1-3 days, burping daily.
Making your own drinks is a really fun hobby to have. It’s great and affordable way to produce your own fizzy fermented goodness and feel your health flourish. For more information about fermentation and sourdough workshops in London, go to http://www.mazaika.co.uk/