Homemade Kombucha How To by Jess

So, I’m a newbie to the whole Kombucha world. I honestly hardly ever drank it before I started making it myself. I tried it a few times & thought, it’s okay, but honestly I really didn’t WANT to like it because it’s so expensive. I’m a huge fan of iced tea & have been making that by a gallon or 2 for years, always from loose leaf tea from Mountain Rose Herbs. But when a local friend asked if I wanted to try a couple of bottles of Kombucha that she had brewed, I accepted. One was ginger, one was blueberry. They were SO good! Then from there, she offered me a SCOBY, and the rest is history! That was right before Christmas, and I’ve managed to keep the SCOBY alive & thriving since, and am absolutely loving making this stuff! Now, it’s hard to imagine my life without this brew in it!

Again, let me say I’m a newbie. But I’ve shared my love of this brew with my online group over the past few months, and many of you have asked me to share my tips & experiences with you. So, here’s my post based on my experience. There are TONS of other blog posts out there. So if you want more background on the history,  health benefits, etc, Google away. My goal is to keep this on the brief, basic side. It’s SUPER easy, SUPER cheap, and SUPER delicious!

TO START: Ideally you need to find someone local with the starter SCOBY, it’s a weird-looking gelatinous blob, and it should come with ~1cup of starter tea (remnants from the last batch, you always save a little). I see Amazon and other online sites do have it for sale if you can’t find something locally. I have no idea which brands are better than others (if anyone has experience ordering online, please let me know). I have been doing 1 gal at a time, going to up it to 2 because I love it so much.

Tips on what tea to choose. It’s my understanding the SCOBY does best with some caffeine. I do see that some use green tea, but the advice from my friend who I started from, and the bit that I read before getting started myself was that black tea is ideal. You can do loose leaf, but using bags just makes it super easy.  I’m using Newman’s Own Organic Black. I get a box of 100 for ~$6 at my food co-op. I use 8 bags/gallon, so that’s ~$.50 for tea. The recipe I’m following is this: 8 black tea bags + 1 cup of sugar per gallon of brew. I use organic turbinado (raw) sugar (for everything in my home). I need to weigh/price 1 cup next time I fill up my jar at my food co-op, but my guess is that it’s around $1/cup. So that means 1 gallon of kombucha comes in at around $1.50/gallon. Read that again, especially if you’re buying it regularly in a store. $1.50 PER GALLON!

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DIRECTIONS: Here’s what I do–bring 1 gallon of water to boil in my stainless steel stock pot. Add 1 cup of sugar, stir to dissolve. Add 8 black tea bags, steep for 3-4 hours, until the brew has cooled down to room temp. Temp is important with kombucha, too hot & it can kill the SCOBY, too cool, it will take much longer to brew. Taste it after 1 week, do you like the basic flavor? If you let it sit too long, it will have more of a vinegary bite to it. Room temp is ideal for brewing, 70’s is great. We heat with wood, so parts of our house are frequently in the 80’s. I settled on our back utility room as the ideal spot, and it has worked very well. Now that we’re getting out of wood heating season, I think I’ll just leave the 2 jugs on my kitchen counter in some dead space under the cabinets.

It’s a 2 step process of fermentation. The 1st step needs to have aerobic (with air) activity. So you need something like a towel or pillow case as a lid for your container. Fruit flies can get through cheesecloth. 1 of my jugs has a pillow case as a cover, the other has a towel. I let the 1st ferment sit ~1 week. Your 1st brew you might want to let sit a bit longer, as your SCOBY is growing in health.

The 2nd ferment is when you add the flavors you want!  This process requires anaerobic (without oxygen) activity. So after letting the tea sit with the SCOBY for 7-10 days, you transfer it to an air-tight container with some fruit. My friend sent a bunch of Grolsch bottles with my starter SCOBY. I used those several times when I was just brewing 1 gallon at-a-time. Once I decided to up my production, those bottles seemed too small. So I started using quart jars, and they are working perfectly! I started simple, a jar of blueberry, a jar of strawberry. Then I started doing combos: straw/blue. Then I added ginger to those. Basically I do a layer of each fruit. The more brews I do, the more I experiment. I LOVE blue/straw/ginger, then I added pineapple to that, THE best! But I also love ginger/raspberry/aronia.

The sky is the limit when playing with flavors. So you fill your jar to the tippy top and let that sit at room temp for ~3 more days. The longer you let it sit, the more carbonation you will have. Also, certain berries/fruits ferment quicker. Again, temp plays a role too, so a winter brew will ferment slower than a summer brew. My friend told me a story about opening a strawberry ferment & it shooting all over her kitchen, soaking her ceiling. I’ve not had this happen YET. But wise advice is to open with a towel over your lid. The awesome thing is, you can totally customize your brew to your liking. Like it sweeter? Add a bit of sugar to the 2nd ferment. Like it really fizzy? Let both ferments sit longer. I prefer mine on the flatter vs fizzier size.

It is possible to kill your SCOBY. When you handle it you have to make sure your hands are super clean. My friend who I got mine from killed hers once while dividing it for a friend in the past, it grew mold after she separated it. She assumed her hands weren’t clean enough. It is ideal if you have a friend locally who knows what they’re doing, as I was able to have my friend come look at mine several times & assure me that it was healthy looking and as it should be. If you start googling healthy scoby vs moldy ones, there are tons of pics.

Did I mention it’s SUPER easy, cheap, delicious & actually good for you?! Below is my prep for the 2nd ferment, get a bunch of jars ready. Wide-mouthed quarts are PERFECT!

After 2-3 days, I’m itching to get drinking my brew! The fruit floats to the top, so I usually scoop a bunch of it out with a spoon (and save it for a smoothie!) then pour the rest of the jar from the full quart, to an empty quart, straining anything that I didn’t scoop out. Then I refrigerate & start enjoying!

I love it on ice. I store it in quart jars, but usually drink it out of my favorite Mason jars, the 22 oz tall, wide-mouthed jars! I rarely drink coffee anymore, this is my morning wake-up. So refreshing, hydrating, delicious!

My 2nd Kombucha jug arrived & is working on its 1st continuous brew. My Hubby & Son are loving these brews so much too, I went from doing 1 gal, to 2 gal, now I’ll alternate between always having a 2 gal batch going and the 2nd ferment of the other happening. I LOVE this stuff, one of those things that wasn’t even on my radar a few short months ago, now I can’t imagine the before time!

Dispenser by Anchor Hocking: https://amzn.to/3aMO3XT

Spigot: https://amzn.to/3dIN2BQ

I’ve had the exact same dispenser since 2014 and it has held up great. I routinely used it for iced tea before my recent Kombucha days. The only thing I wish was slightly different would be that the hole would be down closer to the bottom a bit more. You have to tip it towards you to get the last few quarts out. But it works, and I’ve not had any issues with leakage.

 

That is my basic how to. Did I leave something out? Still have questions? Let me know! Again, I’m a total newb, but find this super easy, delicious, and cheap!

 

 

Eco-friendly USA 8 year blogiversary!

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Tomorrow is the 8 year anniversary since I took the plunge and launched my original Facebook page: Eco-friendly baby/family products MADE in the USA (I’m not good at being concise)… Since I have a super busy day out of the house tomorrow, I wanted to mention it today while I’m thinking of it.
 
On 2/22/12, as my 1st born was 3 weeks from turning 1 year old, I thought: maybe I should launch my own page to share these lists of great companies/products I’ve found while staying up late researching. Maybe others care about safe products made in the USA too? And I went for it. And I got my 1st ‘like’, then another, then another. That original page is just a couple likes shy of 14K, this closed group came several years later and is approaching 6K members, and my website averages 100K unique views annually.
 
I just want to remind y’all that this Mama of a 9 (almost) & 6 year old, who lives out in the woods of rural Wisco, with no neighbors, continues to count her blessings that y’all value what I have to say. That we share similar values. That you take the time to contribute knowledge you have on particular subjects. I firmly believe it does take a village to raise the next generation. And for many of us, a big part of that village is online. I’m feeling extremely grateful, blessed, and excited, about 8 years of sharing my beliefs and values with others that care. Here’s to another 8, 18, 28 🙂 ♥

Poofy Organics now available in Canada!

BIG DEAL ALERT: Canadians can also enroll as Guides! I’m going on 6 years as a Guide, 7 as a customer and I have never been happier. There are many great changes coming in 2020!! Any questions, let me know! https://ecofriendlyausa.poofyorganics.com/

Black Friday-Cyber Monday SALES!

Here are a few sales I wanted to draw your attention to:

POOFY ORGANICS: 15%, No code needed, but you must be logged in as a customer to see those 15% off prices reflected. On top of that, I am offering a 5% rebate off your subtotal if you use my link. Create a customer account by going to login>create account. Shoot me a message or email after you order (ecofriendlymamausa@gmail.com), and let me know if you want your additional 5% back via: check, PayPal, gift certificate. I will also be giving away 10 $20 gift certificates, selected randomly after the Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale weekend is over. My link: https://ecofriendlyusa.poofyorganics.com/

POOFY CBD: Poofy CBD is having a ONE DAY sale, Cyber Monday, 15% off all CBD products, again, must be logged in as a customer. I will add all these orders to the Poofy gift certificate drawings: https://ecofriendlymamausa.poofycbd.com/#

PURE PLAY KIDS:  Will I be having a Black Friday weekend sale via Pure Play Kids? No, I will not. I strive to offer items NOT available on Amazon. I take pride in signing Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) agreements with my vendors. Meaning we all agree to the same price, no one undercuts to gain more sales. I offer $6.95 flat rate shipping, always, and at that rate I lose on every order as only a flat rate envelope can ship for that much.

I have what I will have for the holiday season stocked. I will not be ordering anything else. The Pure Play Originals are all extremely limited, once those are gone, they are gone forever, almost all are down to less than a dozen items.
So, I hope you’ll keep me in mind when you’re doing your holiday shopping. Your purchase helps ensure other small businesses keep doing what they’re doing. It breaks my heart when I go to re-order from a business that the former Pure Play owners used to order from, and I learn they no longer exist… Every purchase is a vote, and I appreciate YOUR vote for made in USA quality items. https://pureplaykids.com/

BAREFOOT BOOKS: I am hosting a Barefoot Books online event. This weekend will feature 25% off + free shipping on orders $60+. The books are not printed in the U.S, but they have a strong sustainability mission, and I ADORE the books. We have a lot of them, they make up most of our curercnt library, and I cannot wait to add more. Here’s my link: https://www.barefootbooks.com/events/view/22890/jess-brandt/?bf_affiliate_code=000-25ae-22890&fbclid=IwAR2WyAMCfc3l7peA0I4KDf6RizRMP5qzJesBTExVleo0jSUn8pGlHa–fjs

 

OCTOBER BUYING CLUB IS UNDERWAY!

Please do not miss out on this 23rd order of my Eco-friendly One-Stop Shop!! Early bird specials end at 11:59pm central on 10/7, final deadline is 10/13 at that same hour. All details here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/made-in-usa-2/eco-friendly-usa-buying-club-2/

A small, organic, family farm needs help ♥

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My best friend is in need of help. Her certified organic apple orchard has 10% of the crop it should, if that. We’re talking maybe 3,000 bushel instead of 30,000. It sucks so bad because there is huge demand for her apples, especially as vinegar.  But this year, out of nearly 20 she’s been there, the crop is not there. You can see it when you drive up. Some trees have a few apples, many have none. Some will have one branch that looks great, the rest of the tree is bare. It is so sad.

 

This woman is my inspiration to always do what I can, when I can, where I can. To do better, to do more. She truly lives her life as an example of being a good steward to the land, an amazing Mom, a fantastic friend, a surrogate Auntie to my kids. Many don’t realize that there is a small list of approved sprays that can be used on organic crops. She refuses to use ANY spray for anything. Instead she relies on beneficial gardens and bugs, pigs who root up the ground and eat insects, she understands and values the complete ecosystem she has on her ridge, and understands how it works together. This year, something happened, and the apples aren’t there like they have been every other year since the orchard was planted. I know our local community is going to band together & help as much as we can, but I also know some of you have a few extra bucks that you are willing to send to a good cause. And I assure you, there are few causes I will ever feel better about supporting than this one. I have already made a cash donation, and will be donating as many hours as my time as I possibly can to help her produce items for the boxes she will be sending out.

 

If able, you can PayPal donations in any amount (please click on photo below & read details). If able to donate $150, you can choose to receive a gift box full of goodies from the orchard this fall, in time for Thanksgiving, all certified organic. She has worked her butt off, as always, to harvest all the bounty the orchard provides all year: berries of every kind get made into jelly, garlic gets ground into powder, herbs get harvested & dried, elderberries into syrup, etc. What apples they are able to harvest will be made into pie filling & vinegar. And if you can’t donate, I 100% understand! Please offer well-wishes, prayers, good vibes, whatever you believe in, up to the Universe so that this family can stay on the land they love & see another, better apple season ♥

https://www.facebook.com/216615108537905/photos/a.222564241276325/1184079338458139/?type=3&theater

 

A Go Fund Me page has now been created too. They have a huge goal, but together, many small donations will get them there! https://www.gofundme.com/f/turkey-ridge-organic-orchard?utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR0gLSKxg8qbfXl-b-Yq72mEZsGFP3cv_oPBHR9VgRi29YPavifdCNpF-GQ

 

Pure Play Kids FREE SHIPPING weekend

I’ve never done this before, but I’m now offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders placed now through Monday evening! https://pureplaykids.com/

You can claim buying club extras and have them ship together as well: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2019/07/16/june-2019-buying-club-extras/

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