Our love affair with fermented food is forever deepening and growing stronger!

In the early days, it was just sourdough bread, and gallons of elderflower champagne in June.  Then, in 2005, I discovered lacto fermented vegetables while woofing in the South of France and there was no turning back. After many jars of sauerkraut and kimchi, the arrival of our  two milking sheep at Macalla farm in 2009 presented us with yet more fermentation opportunities—in the form of yoghurt, cheese and kefir.

The recent visit to our farm by Dan from Australia, another serious fermentation aficionado, expanded our fermentation repertoire even further as he brought with him to the island some live Kombucha.

Kombucha originated in China and  is made by using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (“SCOBY”) to ferment sweetened green or black tea. Alcohol production by the yeast contributes to the production of acetic acid by the bacteria,  resulting in a low alcohol content, usually below 1%. The final product has a wonderfully refreshing sharpness (although it can become too acidic if left to ferment for too long).

Of course, I had drunk kombucha before, but I had never thought of making it myself. But Dan’s one was home brewed and delicious, and his enthusiasm was infectious. After a few days, we had managed to successfully grow a scoby and shortly afterwards began drinking our very own home brewed kombucha.

Three months later, we are in full production, drinking the stuff every day and loving it. As you can imagine, we’re experimenting with it, but I have become very satisfied with this green tea and ginger kombucha recipe:
Make a litre of green tea and add to it about 60 g of sugar (a bit more if you like it sweet), let it cool down, then add it to the kombucha starter (which is just the scoby floating in a bit of liquid from the previous batch). Leave for two or three days, then strain the liquid (keeping the scoby and a bit of liquid as a starter for the next batch), add to it some grated ginger to taste and bottle it. Leave the bottles for two days in a warm place. By then the kombucha will be slightly fizzy and deliciously gingery. Just strain the ginger out, cool down and enjoy.

Stefanie, a Swiss friend who has been helping us on the farm since early May, decided to try her hand at kombucha making  and came up with this fantastic version using hibiscus flowers:
Make a brew with a litre of boiling water,  black tea and a pinch of hibiscus flowers. Add to it about 60 g of sugar (or, again, a bit more if you like it sweet). Let it cool down, then add to the kombucha starter and leave for three days in a warm place. After three days, strain the liquid, add flavouring if you like (we’ve successfully tried mint and, of course, more ginger), bottle and leave to ferment further in closed bottles for one or two more days to get it fizzy.  Then strain and enjoy. The colour is stunning, and the taste very satisfying.

An instructional video on Kombucha making is now available on our Youtube channel,  click here

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