Tuesday, April 26, 2011
We've moved into our own house, finally. And it's by far the strangest move I've ever done. Even as an 18 year old, moving out of home I at least had a few possessions, and was moving into an already established house so didn't have to worry about buying all those household things you take for granted. You know; the fridge, the washing machine, the vacuum. As I moved from flat to flat I picked up things along the way so that by the time we brought our own house, there wasn't really anything we needed to buy.
Here, we moved into a completely empty house. Thankfully Si's family have set us up with most of the bigger household items, but for the first week we've sat eating dinner on the floor of our empty dinning room. Words echoing around the bare walls. Si was busy driving here, there and everywhere our first two nights in this house, picking up various items from sisters and brothers, a bed here, a wardrobe there. Car-less, the kids and I made do eating whatever we had in the fridge. Tofu stir-fry has never before been so simple. Carrots, tofu with a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil. Thankfully the kids like things simple. All that being said though, I can't tell you how much I am loving being in our own space once more. The kids are loving the back yard. There's real green grass! Something of a rarity over here in this parched little corner of the world.
As I slowly get my pantry fully stoked and ready for some serious baking, I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite discoveries of this past year. Kombucha. I first heard about it a few years back when my brother-in-law told me of this amazing drink he had tried at a local cafe. He said he felt amazing after drinking it. I was yet to get my hands on some until a few months ago when my brother Ben came around for a visit. He had with him a little jar containing what looked to me like a placenta, with a rather vinegary smell. Not too appealing really. He had just moved back to NZ after a few years overseas, and was unsure what to do with this new gift from a friend. At the time he was living wherever someone had a spare couch and didn't really want the responsibility of looking after anything other than himself. Knowing I was into weird and wonderful things like these (my science experiments I like to call them), he asked if I would "look after" his kombucha until he was a bit more settled. And although I admit looking after a water kefir, milk kefir and kombucha was possibly a little too much, I jumped at the chance to finally try out this much talked about drink. He handed it to me along with written instructions from his friend and away I went.
I admit, at first this may be all sounding a little too weird. Bear with me. It is weird. But pretty cool too. Kombucha is a health promoting drink made by fermenting tea. You can use either black or green tea, but I prefer to use green and sometimes with a little hibiscus based fruit tea also. The actual kombucha "mother" is a strange looking white rubbery disc and a new "baby" grows every time a new batch of kombucha is brewed, so you'll always have extra to give away or to make more with. The kombucha mother is a symbiotic culture of yeast and other microorganisms. You place it into a sweetened tea which it then feeds off, producing a lightly carbonated apple-cider tasting drink. There are many claims to fame including; improved digestion and immunity and it's history can be traced back over 2000 years to ancient China (where it was known as Manchurian tea) and was worshiped as a remedy for immortality. My only word of warning from all the reading up I have done, is to limit yourself to one glass a day. Anymore and it can been too detoxifying for your body to handle.
For more detailed information on kombucha and brewing check out this website. And I suggest you Google kombucha in your area if you are keen to track down your very own kombucha mother. Xx
You can use black or green tea bags to make your brew, or even experiment with using fruit teas. Just avoid using any teas that have a high oil content like peppermint tea, as the kombucha doesn't like it so much. I find that using half green tea with half hibiscus based fruit tea works out nicely.
makes 1 litre
- 1 litre water
- 1/4 cup sugar (the original recipe said to use white, but I use raw)
- 2 tea bags
- 1/2 cup mature acidic kombucha
- 1 kombucha mother
Boil half the water, pour over the tea bags and sugar in a large clean glass jar. Leave to steep 10-15 minutes. Remove the tea bags and discard. Add the remaining 500ml of cold water along with the 1/2 cup mature acidic kombucha to the sweetened tea, and gently slip the kombucha mother into the jar. (Make sure that the sweet tea mixture is around room temperature before you add the kombucha mother or you may risk killing it). Cover the jar with piece of tight-knit fabric and secure in place with a rubber-band. (Lacky-band to you Aussie's). Leave in a spot on your bench out of direct sunlight, away from strong smells and heat.
Leave undisturbed for 5-7 days, by now you will start to see a baby kombucha growing on top of the original mother. Take a good wiff of the brew, it should smell beautiful and vinegary. Not unlike cider vinegar really.
Using a clean spoon, push the kombucha mother out of the way, or push it down to allow a little of the brewed tea to come to the surface. Get a little on your spoon and taste it. What you are after is a acidic and ever so slightly sweet tasting liquid. If you are happy with the taste, great, if you would like it to be more acidic then simply cover it back up and leave for a further day or so, tasting it everyday (with a clean spoon) until you are happy with the flavour. It can be brewed for anywhere between 5-14 days. I however like it after around 7-8 days.
Once you are happy with the flavour you are ready to bottle it. To do this you will need a large glass bottle, that holds at least 1 litre. Clean it thoroughly, then with clean hands (or using a spoon) take the kombucha mother and baby out of your jar and place onto a clean plate. Pour over a little of the kombucha tea to make sure it doesn't dry out. Place a funnel into your glass bottle with a sieve over the top. Strain the kombucha tea into the bottle, screw the top on and your done. Remember that you need to keep 1/2 cup of this mature acidic kombucha tea to make your next batch. Store the bottle on your bench for a further few days before storing in the fridge if you like, this makes it fizzier and gives it a more mellow flavour.
The brewed tea will happily keep in your fridge for 2-4 weeks. However I have found that new kombucha cultures (mothers) try to re-form in the jar, so unless you want to drink these slimy little numbers, I suggest you strain the tea into your glass every time you want a drink.
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