Kombucha For Beginners

Chances are if you have not tried Kombucha, you have at least heard of it.  Having been around for centuries, it first made an appearance in US health food stores sometime during the 1990’s. Gaining popularity, probably due to the reported health benefits, Kombucha can now be found at most local grocery stores. 

What is it?

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made with a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), black tea, and sugar.  The SCOBY consumes 90% of the sugar during the fermentation process which usually takes between 7 to 12 days. Once the process is complete you are left with a tangy beverage full on vitamins, beneficial acids, probiotics, and enzymes known for the positive effects they have on your health.

Benefits of Kombucha

While there have been numerous benefits reported on the nutrient dense beverage, from better digestion to arthritis prevention, it is important to note that there is still much research to be done. Here are some of the most common benefits believed to be found in Kombucha in layman’s terms

Detoxification

Full of enzymes and bacterial acids, it is believed that Kombucha can aid in the bodies natural detoxification process. Gluconic Acid found in Kombucha binds to toxins and helps to expel them from the body. Glucaric Acid, produced during the fermentation process  may help boost the efficiency of the liver.

Aids in Digestion

Good gut bacteria can be depleted over time by such factors as alcohol use, antibiotics and stress. Kombucha helps replenish some of this good bacteria that aids the body in the digestive process.

Boosts the immune system

Probiotics found in Kombucha help cultivate a healthy gut and strengthen our defenses against harmful microbes and some forms of illness. It is also a natural source of antioxidants which can help detoxify the body and help to protect against diseases.

Joint Health

Glucosamine, which is another compound found in Kombucha, enhances hyaluronic acid production, which helps to protect cartilage and reduce arthritic pain.

While it’s too soon to be declared a cure all, it definitely seems like a great addition to your diet.

Steps to Make Your Own Kombucha

While it can be found at your local market, it may be beneficial to try your hand at making your own. Here is an easy process:

Utensils

  • 1 gallon glass jar
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Sugar
  • Black tea
  • SCOBY ( available from many online sources. I got mine from poseymom.com)

Directions

  1. Gather sterilized equipment
  2. Make  1 gallon black tea
  3. Add 1 cup sugar
  4. Pour brewed tea into glass jar once it has cooled
  5. Add 1 cup brewed raw Kombucha (which usually comes with Scoby
  6. Place Scoby on top, ideally it will float on top to seal air, but it will grow over the course of fermentation
  7. Cover with cheese cloth and store in a warm dark place
  8. Allow to ferment for 7 to 12 days.
  9. Remove Scoby and 1 Cup of Kombucha. The original Scoby (mother) will have formed a second scoby (baby). Use the baby along with the cup of Kombuca to start a new batch.

Some people flavor with juice and added fruit.  If you choose to do this it would be 1 part juice to 4 parts Kombucha. You will then need to cover and let sit for 1 to 2 more days.

Precautions

As with any fermented product those pregnant, or nursing and those with health conditions should check with their doctor before consuming.

If made incorrectly, Kombucha can contain harmul bacteria that could be dangerous. This is rare, but caution should be taken when brewing at home.

Some bloating may occur do to the presence of probiotics and carbonation.

How To Have Rhubarb Year Round


This is one of my favorite times of the year here in Maryland. The early crops are ready to harvest and we are getting closer to summer!

Agriculturally speaking, I live in a great area to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies to have on hand all year round.  This past weekend was the beginning of the neighborhood Farmers Market. This is a great place to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. Although I did not make it this time, I usually go on a regular basis throughout the summer and into early fall.

Having missed the Farmer’s Market, I decided to head to the produce stand down the street for some rhubarb.  I wanted to get enough to make a rhubarb dish with dinner and to put some in the freezer for use throughout the year.

I was able to get 6 bunches of rhubarb which was plenty to get my freezer stash started and to make a rhubarb scone to go with dinner.

 

The process to freeze is very easy:

  1. Start by washing and removing the leaves.
  2. Dice rhubarb into 1  inch pieces
  3. Blanche for 90 seconds in boiling water
  4. Drain 20-30 minutes until almost dry
  5. Put in airtight container (I put 2 cups in each )
  6. Place in freezer

I will be picking up some more at the Farmer’s Market next weekend  to add to the freezer.  All you need to do when you are ready to use is pull it out and thaw if you are baking with it.

Usually, I would make strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert. Today, I tried my hand at making Rhubarb Scones. They were a hit and the family really enjoyed them. Best of all, they were not hard to make.

 

Rhubarb Scones

Ingredients

5 1/2 oz rhubarb

1 tbsp sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

zest of 1 orange (I have used lemon as well)

1/3  cup cold butter

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tbs milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix rhubarb with one tbsp of sugar, set aside
  3. Mix baking powder, sugar, salt and zest of orange. Add butter and mix until you have small crumbs.
  4. In separate bowl mix egg, vanilla, and heavy cream. Add to flour mixture and mix until blended. Add rhubarb and fold in. If sticky add additional flour.
  5. Place dough on floured baking sheet and shape into a 1 inch thick disk and cut into 8 triangles
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Let cool.
  7. Mix confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. Drizzle over scones and let dry.

What are some of your favorite rhubarb recipes?