Oh boy do we have a treat for you this week friends! Two new recipes hot from our kitchen and featuring one of our most favorite topics, fermentation. We've surely discussed the benefits of fermentation before (here and here and here) but just can't get enough. And if you're serious about packing your diet with fermented foods and especially home fermentation, kombucha is a quick and easy item you can whip up week to week (once you get the hang of it of course). So we've got basic kombucha brewing instructions for you as well as a must have mustard recipe using kombucha as an ingredient. Let's get started!
You've probably heard of, tried, or been completely weirded out by kombucha by now as this fermented tea drink has hugely grown in popularity in recent years. Kombucha is believed to have originated thousands of years ago in Asia and was regarded as medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It's health benefits come from the fact that kombucha is a fermented food which provides a healthy dose of good bacteria and yeast into the digestive tract of the consumer. And as you may know from previous posts, creating a healthy gut environment can impact the health of the rest of the body through improved digestion and immunity. Surprising to many, the health of the gut environment plays a huge role in overall immune function because the intestines contain more immune cells then the entire rest of the body (wow!). Though certain sources may cite specific diseases that kombucha may treat, we believe that as a fermented food kombucha promotes overall health and wellness but should not be considered a medical treatment. Instead, we highly recommend regular use of fermented foods in the diet (superior to probiotic supplements) to promote balance and health maintenance. So if we've finally convinced you to give home fermentation a try, great! For kombucha you'll need to get started with a SCOBY, or a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, which is pictured above. And though this may look strange, it's basically magic! If you have a friend making kombucha they can share a SCOBY with you because a new one is created with each batch (basically every week). Or you can purchase starter cultures, other brewing tools, and learn tons more on the Cultures for Health website here.
PREP TIME: 30 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 week (for fermentation)
Yield: 32 ounces
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup starter liquid (plain kombucha, from previous batch or store bought)
4 cups filtered water
4 organic black tea bags (plain, unflavored tea)
SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
Large wide mouth glass jar
Coffee filter or cheese cloth
Rubber band or cloth string
Plastic or wooden spoon
Bring water to a boil, remove from heat, and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes then remove the tea bags. Add 1/4 cup cane sugar to hot tea, stir to dissolve (using a plastic or wooden spoon instead of metal to protect the SCOBY) and allow to come to room temperature. Combine cooled tea, 1/2 cup kombucha starter, and SCOBY in a large, sterilized glass jar. Place coffee filter over the top of the jar, secure with a rubber band or tie, and allow kombucha to sit out at room temperate for a minimum of 7 days. If you prefer a longer ferment (more sour and vinegary tasting kombucha) continue to ferment past 7 days and taste the kombucha daily until it is to your liking. With clean hands, carefully remove the SCOBY and place on a clean surface. Reserve 1/2 cup kombucha in a small cup and set aside as this will be your starter for your next batch. Pour the remaining kombucha into a sterilized glass bottle (or bottles) with tight fitting seals making sure to leave enough "head space" (~2-3" between liquid and top of the bottle) for desired effervescence. Keep in the fridge for up 2 weeks. Note that the first time you open the bottle of kombucha you should hear a nice pop from the top and see a good amount of carbonation. But the more you open the bottle, the less carbonation your kombucha will have. For this reason, we prefer to use smaller, individual size bottles (10-12 oz) if available. *If you need tools, tips, or more kombucha brewing instruction visit the Cultures for Health website mentioned above for all your kombucha brewing needs!
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1+ weeks (for fermentation)
Yield: 8 ounces
5-6 oz kombucha
1/2 cup mustard seeds
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
In a glass, sterile jar combine mustard seeds and kombucha. The kombucha should fully submerge the seeds with ~ 1/2" of liquid on top (see photo below). The seeds will expand as they sit, so make sure your jar is large enough. Cover with an air tight lid and allow to sit at room temperature for a minimum of 7 day or up to 3 weeks. The longer you let it sit the more vinegary taste the end product will have. Make sure to "burp" or open the lid at least once daily. Once the mustard seeds are to your desired taste, strain from the kombucha brine (reserving the brine in a separate bowl) and combine soaked mustard seeds and ~3/4 of kombucha brine to start in a blender or food processor. Add honey, salt, and apple cider vinegar to the blender and process until desired texture. Feel free to add additional kombucha brine to blender as needed if you prefer a thinner mustard. We like ours with some texture and went with a "stone ground like" mustard. Place finished mustard in a jar with a tight fitting lid and keep in the refrigerator. Use this probiotic rich mustard just as you would with any other mustard.
Plain kombucha has a sour, mildly sweet, slightly vinegary taste that we've come to love but can definitely be flavored in a variety of ways (recipes in posts to come!). And this mustard just has something about it incomparable to it's regular, unfermented counterpart. Tangy, tart, spicy, and sweet, this mustard will add a punch of flavor to your summer recipes (think sandwiches, veggie burgers, wraps, and more). We'd love to stay and chat friends but we have a few more batches of kombucha that need our attention (we told you we can't get enough!).
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.