Kombucha Part Two
Last week’s column was lengthy – I wanted to provide you with all of the many details involved in making your own as well as tips on purchasing the best store-bought kombucha, the benefits, the counter-indications, etc. However, I didn’t spend enough time explaining the process of flavoring your homemade kombucha or the second fermentation process you can do in order to yield more carbonation and create a fizzier drink.
It is only recently that I started experimenting with flavoring and a second fermentation to get more carbonation. First of all, if you decide to flavor it, you can do that once it’s ready and after you’ve bottled it. Don’t ever add your flavors to the batch until you’ve removed your scobies and taken out a couple cups of the kombucha you’ll be using for your next batch. Leave room in each bottle for the flavor you decide on. Use only 100% fruit juice or fruit puree from fresh fruit and add a quarter cup or less to each 16 oz. bottle. Cap the bottles and refrigerate.
If you want to do a second fermentation then do not refrigerate yet. Set the flavored, tightly capped bottles back into the dark, cool cupboard and wait at least 2 days before refrigerating. I personally add only about 1/8th cup of fresh squeezed or store bought 100% juice to each of my 8 oz. bottles.
If you will be doing the second fermentation, then I recommend investing in some glass bottles with rubber seal flip caps/swing top bottles. The attached swing top lid and rubber seal ensures that the bottles are tightly sealed as well as preventing them from popping off during the second fermentation. This can happen! The carbonation can cause the lids to pop off and even explode. I’ve never had this happen, but it does on occasion. Also, store your bottles either in the cupboard with a towel underneath or in a collapsible cooler – that way if this minor explosion occurs at least it will be contained.
The ideal temperature for your kombucha to stay at during the first and second fermentation is 68-78 degrees F. You can do the secondary fermentation for 2 to 4 days. Make sure that your bottles are well-chilled before popping the lid to try one. There may be a bit of pulp from the fruit and/or scoby and you can strain that out or leave it according to your preference.
I’ve seen some kombucha-makers using homemade fruit puree, chunks of fruit, fresh mint, etc. There are many tutorials on YouTube that you can view to get well-prepared and avoid mistakes before you start.
If you’re worried about the extra sugar content when you add your juice or fruit puree – the second fermentation will get rid of a lot of that. If you don’t plan to second ferment and are just flavoring – then use less juice. Remember, when you brew kombucha, the sugar you add to the tea is mostly eaten-up by the yeast in the first fermentation – it breaks down into fructose and glucose, which actually have a lower glycemic impact on the body. The longer you brew during the first fermentation, the more it tastes like vinegar because of this. Likewise, in the secondary fermentation, the yeast will be feeding on the fruit sugar from the juice or pureed fruit you’ve added.
There are counter-indications that I covered in last week’s column. What is good for one, may not be good for another. Make sure to review those before you add kombucha into your diet. That being said, kombucha has many health benefits, including: it’s high in glucaric acid which can help prevent cancer & stop cancer growth, it relieves stress, it has anti-inflammatory properties/eases joint pain, it’s loaded with probiotics which help with digestion, it boosts the immune system, it’s full of antioxidants, increases energy levels naturally with Vitamin B, helps with weight loss & management, detoxes the body and can prevent arthritis.
Be Well and God Bless You.