The Weston A. Price Way

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kombucha in my Dryer...a Miracle Baby is Born

It is a well-understood fact among kombucha brewers that a tell-tale sign of a healthy scoby is scoby growth and proliferation... 

When I first began to brew our own kombucha, I was chomping at the bit to get going, and nearly went on line to buy our beginner scoby. (Someone had given us one long before, but it froze to death in the freezer due to my forgetfulness.) The cost was $40.00. For one. One.

So, I didn't buy it.

Which was a good thing, because within weeks, I heard some ladies in my milk pick-up group talking about kombucha and the next thing I knew, I was hooked up with a fresh one, courtesy, Ellen.  I quickly put it to work using the directions given in Nourishing Traditions. It developed over the next 10 days just as expected, and we became immediate and long-lasting friends of this liver-loving, fizzy potion.

The one thing I did not like about the kombucha was that our gallon didn't last very long and then I'd have to start over with the brewing cycle. This meant a 10-day wait between batches. I started making two batches, staggering starting dates, but that was a bit of a hassle, too. But you know it must be some good stuff, because I didn't quit. Not only was it something my husband relished, it was something we both knew was doing us good to drink. (More about that in the next post.)

So, I kept on until the day I mentioned it to Ellen and she looked at me with surprise and said, "You don't do the continuous brew?"

"Uh...NO. What's that?" I replied, hope rising in both my heart and voice...Could it possibly be true that I could have this fabulous elixir on tap at all times?!?

And the answer to that was, "Yes."

She gave me a quick verbal tutorial and again, I went right home and set to work. It was so simple. Keep it out instead of in the fridge. Have a quart or more of tea brewed and chilling until needed in the fridge. When you drink from the kombucha, replace the same amount using the chilled tea from the fridge.

We have had kombucha at our beck and call ever since.

To do this, we did purchase a 2 gallon ceramic crock with the spigot at the bottom. (Ceramic because it's not clear, so timid non-kombucha drinkers won't be swayed away by the looks of the scoby or the 'mother' that floats toward the bottom.)

The spigot is what got me into trouble...It's also the reason for today's post when I usually don't post the day after just posting.

About a week ago, I poured myself a cup of kombucha and walked away unaware that the lever on the spigot hadn't returned to the off position. My kitchen moans for counter space, so I had given the kombucha pot a home on the top of the clothes dryer. Needless to say, five minutes or so later, I was cleaning up a mess on top of the dryer, on the get the idea.

The kombucha crock was only a few inches away from empty, so I used what I had in the fridge and started brewing another pot of hot water to make more. It would end up taking about 3 pots, all of which had to be cooled before adding. I also knew, with saddened heart, that it would take several days for the scoby to 'do its thing' and eat up the sugar in the tea, giving it that genuine kombucha flavor while turning it into a liver-lifting acid. <Heavy Sigh.>

Now, I've known for quite a while that we have a nice, healthy scoby because it shoots off little 'mothers' all over the place and every couple of weeks, I have to disassemble the crock's spigot because a mother gets in-between the nooks and crannies inside, makes itself cozy, and begins to proliferate. Which means, the stream from the spigot gets weaker and weaker until cleaned. When I get it out, it's tiny and circular and reminds me very much of the time I ate rubbery squid in Nags Head. I also have given away several large scobies produced by our first scoby, yet still have a half-gallon mason jar filled to the brim with more in my fridge. This jar is my personal and somewhat secret kombucha stash. I'll tell you more about that in the next post, too.

But today, I received even greater affirmation attesting to the solidity of our hefty 'shroom'. I made the switch from washer to dryer and went to clean the dryer filter. Nothing new in that...nearly robotic...Until I felt the wet thing at my finger-tips. I was holding the filter by it's handle, but the wetness was from within the finger hold. Whatever it was, stuck slightly to my finger and as I uttered, "What in the...???", a rubbery 'thing' fell to the top of the dryer.

Then my brain hiccuped and I understood.

When the kombucha overflowed, some made it's way into the handle of the filter. Eager to proliferate even in the midst of chaos, a mother or two, or more, found their way to a cozy spot and hunkered down to do business in their new, (temporary), home. A better spot for a kombucha could never be...It was warm, humid and dark. Perfect.

Still, I'm thinking it's a really good thing that I found this baby scoby without an audience. (Scroll down for pics.)

*THIS EXCERPT, written by Tom Valentine, is the BEST overall information I have found about kombucha. I am adding it to all my kombucha posts.

Here are the pics...

This is our kombucha pot ON the dryer...

And this is the filter from INside the dryer. I laid the scoby on a paper towel in front of the finger-hold where it grew.

And this is a close up of our precious little miracle baby.

For more about fermentation and traditional cooking in general, check out this link!:

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