"Mmm... I love me some bacteria!"
"Fermented berry tea. I mean, bacteria juice. Err... sweetened scoby water? Here just drink this."
That's about how a typical conversation goes at my house when the younger siblings come to visit.
And I gotta admit, I am all about the kombucha these days. Filled with enzymes, vitamins, and gut-boosting probiotics (and oh so inexpensive to make), kombucha is one of those weird science experiments you should start right now.
There are hundreds of ways to make kombucha and its offspring varieties. Kombucha itself is made from a single ferment, but did you know that you can ferment it again, and it will come out naturally carbonated? Heck yeah. Healthy + soda are words I like to live by!In fact, I've become so
Just kidding! Kind of. Let's talk for minute about what this stuff is and why I love it so much. Second ferment kombucha, as well as things like kimchi, traditionally fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kvass, kefir, and pickled ginger are lacto-fermented.
This term comes from the name Lactobacillus, the bacteria that starts the fermentation process. This helpful little bacteria is everywhere- in the air, outside, on plants and leaves, and on mammal's skin. In an anaerobic environment, it will ferment a liquid (and the foods within the liquid) within a couple of days to several weeks.
Why does this matter?
One thing we know from history is that just about every culture on Earth has eaten and prepared their own type of traditionally fermented foods. It was a means of storing food for longer than it would otherwise keep before canning and freezing were viable options, as well as a means of giving the body a deeply nourishing food or drink.
Lacto-fermented foods are filled with healthy, live probiotics. Probiotics are the "good guy" bacteria that live in your gut and fight off the bad bacteria that try to take over. One of the biggest reasons those of us on standard western diets suffer from gut dysbiosis and other imbalances is just that- an imbalance. I don't know about you, but I grew up as the average kid eating white bread hamburger buns and ice cream sandwiches whenever I could get them. But I had never even heard of natural probiotics and traditionally fermented foods until I was well into my twenties!
Lacto fermentation creates a healthy gut, improves digestion and mental clarity, and can even increase the vitamin content of a specific food. Yes, studies show that fermented carrots have higher vitamin counts than regular carrots.
Written by the Weston A. Price Foundation,
Now that I'm done rambling off my fascinating nerd-facts, let's get to the recipe! Kombucha soda at it's finest ladies and gents...
For this recipe you will need a batch of homemade kombucha, preferably slightly underdone (meaning it is more sweet than tangy as the SCOBY hasn't yet "eaten" all of the sugars.) Here's your list:
3. Add 4-6 berries per jar. I used a mix of handpicked blackberries and blueberries that I'd frozen from the summertime.
4. Place your funnel in the first jar and add enough kombucha until it reaches almost the top, leaving 1" of head space. Screw the lid on tight.
Fill the rest of your jars and leave them to sit in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
This second ferment of the kombucha will usually take between one day and a full week, depending on how warm your home is. I enjoyed the fastest kombucha brewing this summer during our very odd 100 degree+ Oregon summer (I'm talking huge gallon jars of kombucha ready in three days!) Winter, however, has proved to take longer.
Big Note! Be sure to "burp" your jars everyday. As the carbonation builds up, you will need to release just a little each day to prevent the jars from exploding. Simply loosen the lid (or ring on a mason jar) for a quick second and then tighten it back down. That's all you need to do!
Once the soda is as carbonated as you'd like, go ahead and store it in the fridge. The cold temperatures will drastically slow down the fermentation process. This will keep your soda from over-fermenting and becoming more carbonated. (Not that there is anything unhealthy with more fermentation, just that your drink will taste more and more like vinegar the longer it goes on.)