Yesterday I washed and sliced a sinkful of plums and put them in the dehydrator. 24 hours later, we have delicious fruit candy with a bit of a sour taste – it hits the kids’ taste buds right in the sweet/sour spot that all kids seem to have. And the only ingredient is plums.
These are no ordinary plums, either – we get them from a local supplier who picks them up in Niagara, from an almost-organic farm. Normally these types of fruits (think peaches, pears, plums) would get sprayed about 15-18 times in the growing season with all sorts of chemicals. This makes me shudder – and sometimes I get an itchy rash from conventional fruit.
These fruits from the local Niagara farmer are occasionally sprayed – maybe 5 times – and never within the window of time when they’re being picked. The farmer uses organic methods in other ways, even though he’s not certified – he feeds the soil lots of great compost and manure and uses whatever organic methods he can. He only sprays when he absolutely must in order to save his crop. He’s still replenishing the soil from all the years of depletion that preceded him.
I am happy to support his almost organic farm – because this fruit doesn’t bother me like regular fruit does. I don’t get tingly itchy lips when I eat it. And it’s so tasty!
This morning I spent some time taking care of my SCOBYs – short for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. They are used to make Kombucha Tea, which is a mildly alcoholic beverage with a bit of a fizzy tingle. It tastes vaguely like tea, but you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on that if I didn’t tell you. It has a sort of yeasty smell like beer, but also has a hard apple cider sort of taste too. The taste really depends on how it’s made.
Here’s a picture of the SCOBYs:
They are rubbery-feeling, slimy disks that grow on the top surface of the tea as it is being brewed over the course of a week or two or three. The colder the temperature, the longer it takes. I taste mine every once in awhile, and stop the fermentation when it’s the right taste for me.
Today it was long past due, or so I thought, to be taking care of my tea. I think it’s been about 2 1/2 weeks, maybe a bit longer. I thought for sure it would taste like vinegar – if it goes too long it’s very strong! First thing I did was taste the old batch. Very tingly, but tasty. So I decided to bottle it up. That’s the top picture in this post. The floaty bits are pieces of ginger, which I decided might make a nice addition to the flavour. I’m going to let it sit out for 24 hours with the ginger in before I put it in the fridge. Previous batches went straight to the fridge with no extra flavourings, so I’m excited to see how this turns out! It’s such a fizzy batch I’m really hoping for a ginger ale/ginger beer drink after it sits for awhile.
Right now I have the fermenting jar sitting on my counter with 4 tea bags and boiling hot water in it:
In the back and to the left you can see 2 smaller jars – these contain SCOBYs for friends, plus some starter kombucha from the old batch. Every time you make a batch of Kombucha you end up with another SCOBY to give away (or expand your kombucha-making operation). Here’s what I’ll be doing in the next little while:
Kombucha Tea Instructions
– don’t use any plastic or metal containers.
– use water that has no chlorine. I prefer distilled.
– don’t use soap to wash the jar, or if you do, rinse like you are OC.
– wash your hands before handling the SCOBY, but don’t use soap.
– use regular tea only. Not decaf, not green tea, not herbal tea.
– don’t add anything else until after the fermentation is complete.
– use cane sugar only. Any other kind won’t work, especially honey.
1. Boil a kettleful of distilled water.
2. Pour over 4 tea bags in a glass gallon jar.
3. Add 1 cup cane sugar and mix in with a wooden spoon.
4. Let sit until cooled to room temperature.
5. Add SCOBY and starter kombucha.
6. Add more distilled water until the jar is full.
7. Cover with a clean cloth and secure with a rubber band.
8. Set the jar in a place where it won’t be disturbed for awhile.
9. After about 10 days, give it a taste and see what you think. You should be able to see a new colony growing on the surface.
10. Let it sit longer for stronger flavour (taste every day or two), or bottle it and put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation. You can use mason jars for bottling if you don’t have those glass IKEA bottles like in the first picture. It can sit in the fridge for a long time.