Making your own kombucha is a great way to save money, learn about fermenting, and revel in the success of a tasty homemade beverage!
There are two types of people at the VNHQ, those who appreciate kombucha, and those who think it’s the devil’s spawn. Those who adore this fizzy drink have one common contention: the hefty price tag attached to store-bought brands. Now, with many kombucha brands being pulled from grocery store shelves due to the controversial notion that it could contain more than the allowed amount of alcohol for unlicensed retail, the bottled stuff is getting harder to find.
Brewing is essentially a matter of trial and error, and books such as Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and Sandor Elitz Katz’ Wild Fermentation are highly recommended for guidance from fermenting pros. Brewing supplies can start with just a large mason jar and some cheesecloth, and as you get more comfortable with brewing and want to challenge yourself with other projects such as ginger beer, head to your local home-brewing supply store to find knowledgeable staff and all your bottling needs.
Learn from a Pro
People who brew tend to get passionate about their kombucha, and fermenting pros such as Andrea Potter, a classically trained chef and registered holistic nutritionist who runs Rooted Nutrition, often offer workshops and classes to share their passion for fermentation. The following methods and recipe are a combination of Potter’s tips and VegNews’ experimentation.
Not Your Average Mother
Often called mushrooms, despite the fact that they don’t technically classify as such, the Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) that makes kombucha is commonly called a “mother.” The pancake-shaped culture tends to take on the shape of the container it is brewed in, so if you really want to freak your family out, choose a container with a very wide rim.
The mother acts on caffeine and sugar to produce acetic, lactic, and glucuronic acids. These acids are considered aids to body’s cleansing process, and also cause the kombucha to fizz and develop its pleasantly acidic taste. The mother requires both sugar and caffeine to brew, so if you don’t feed your mother enough sugar or caffeine, you won’t have much success. Potter suggests using a fairly refined sugar such as unbleached organic white cane sugar. The type of tea you use is up to you and dependant on personal preference, but caffeine-free teas will not react with the mother to produce kombucha. Herbal teas may be added for flavor (try adding peppermint tea), but they must be paired with caffeinated tea.
Motherless? You have options! Your best bet is to find a friend or someone in your community who brews. Yet another strange and amazing fact about brewing kombucha is that with each batch, a new mother (or child—if you will) forms on top of the original mother. The two often stick together once the batch is finished, but it’s easy to pull them apart, much like two pancakes. This means that everyone who brews kombucha is constantly producing more and more mothers, and would like nothing better than to pass one off to a friend rather than chuck them in the compost!
A Word To Sugar-phobes
Don’t be afraid of the amount of sugar used in the brewing process. During fermentation, the sugar will be broken down and transformed into acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and carbon dioxide, and it will also help grow and develop the mother. Due to this breaking down process, kombucha is actually very low in calories.
There are more things to consider for safe, successful brewing, so check out the recommended books and wealth of information available on the web—such as the fermentation forums at Wild Fermentation—for troubleshooting support. Check out our recipe and happy fermenting!
3 Cheap Ways to Stock Your Vegan Bar
Bring on the booze without breaking your bank with these easy tips to make your cocktails refreshingly frugal.
Read More »
How to Eat Vegan on a Budget in London
London-based blogger, Fat Gay Vegan, gives us the inside scoop on eating vegan without breaking the bank in the wildly expensive city.
Read More »
3 Rules for Stellar Homemade Vegan Cheese
Vegan cheesemaking pro Miyoko Schinner shares essential tips for making life-changing vegan cheeses.
Read More »
3 Gluten-Free Summer Potluck Staples
Next time youre invited to a backyard barbecue, whip up one of these crowd-pleasing delights.
Read More »
3 Delectable Summer Dips
Grab your chips! Whether youre hitting the road or the beach, these easy-to-make, easy-to-pack dips will keep you well-equipped for summer.
Read More »
- VNs Top 7 Favorite Summertime Recipes
- Superfoods Kids Love
- How to Veganize Any Recipe: Sweet Edition
- VegNews Guide to Coffee Flavored Food
- How to Veganize Any Recipe: Savory Edition
- VN Guide to a Great Memorial Day Vegan BBQ
- Vegan Spring Break, Part II: Foodie Destinations
- Vegan Bakery Cinnaholic Wins Big on Shark Tank
- A Vegan Mothers Day Your Mom Will Love
- A Vegan Cinco de Mayo Brunch
- VegNews Exclusive: Top Tips for An All-Star Vegan Brunch
- Celebrate Spring with a Vegan Twist
- Guide to Vegan Passover Seder
- 11 Spicy Vegan Dishes for Hot Sauce Lovers
- Zombie-Free French Toast
- Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi Adopt Esther the Wonder Pig
- A Day in the Life: Vedge Chef Rich Landau
- 3 Gluten-Free Seasonal Springtime Dishes
- Colleen Holland: My Top 10 Favorite Vegan Beauty Brands
- 13 Stellar Vegan Jackfruit Recipes