Microgreens

Kombucha Brewing At Home

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Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, probiotic bacteria and yeast and has quickly become a probiotic sweetheart.  Many have found the tangy and fizzy taste to be a nice alternative to harsh sodas and other carbonated beverages. Kombucha contains B vitamins and the probiotics/living bacteria can be a good bacteria boost for gut health (replacing intestinal microflora and breaking undigested carbohydrates into smaller molecules).  Some have said that the healing properties, from various disorders, are a result of the acid in kombucha binding with various toxins for elimination.

Kombucha uses the fermentation process, which has been used for centuries to produce things like wine, beer, sourdough, sour cream, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, and more!  Did you know vanilla is produced by the fermentation of vanilla beans?

WHAT HAPPENS DURING FERMENTATION?

To ferment kombucha, the yeast in a SCOBY (an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”) breaks down the sugar in a sweetened tea which undergo fermentation.  This in turn produces alcohol.  Some of the alcohol is converted to acetic acid which gives it the vinegar smell and also the proper acidic level to prevent “bad” bacteria from forming. (Kombucha on average is less than half a percent alcohol by volume so don’t be alarmed!)

According to wikipedia, the process for creating kombucha relies on “anaerobic ethanol fermentation (by yeast), anaerobic organic acid fermentation (by bacteria), and aerobic ethanol oxidation to acetate (by bacteria) all take place concurrently along an oxygen gradient.”  Now you know.

HOW DO I BREW MY OWN KOMBUCHA?

What you’ll need:

– 2 cups kombucha (purchased, use from a prior batch, or get some from a friend!)

– 1 SCOBY (purchased or get one from a friend!)

– 3.5 Liters of water

– GLASS container to hold 4 Liters, or more (be careful of non-glass containers as they can leach toxins into your brew.)

– 1 cup of white sugar

– 8 bags of black tea (steer clear of flavored teas like Early Grey that contain oils which will disrupt the brewing process)

Let’s brew:

1. Bring 3.5 liters of water to a boil

2.  Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved

3.  Add 8 tea bags and pull pot from heat

4.  Allow to fully cool.  You now have sweetened tea.

5.  Remove tea bags and pour sweet tea into your brewing jar.

6.  Add SCOBY to your brewing jar and cover with t-shirt or paper towel material and secure with a rubber band.

7.  Brew for 7-30 days.  Many find 7-14 days to be the right strength for tastes before it becomes too vinegary.

8.  After brewing period, pour into serving jars, growlers, etc.  You can either place directly into the refrigerator or you can leave in a warm and dark place for 1-3 days to add more fizz to your drink.  After the 1-3 days, put in the refrigerator.

Congratulations, you have kombucha!

WATCH THE HOW-TO-WITH-HEATHER HERE:

Want to store your SCOBY?  Cover your SCOBY with brewed kombucha and store in a sealed glass container in your cupboard for up to 30 days.

Want to share a SCOBY with a friend?  Peel away a layer of a thicker formed SCOBY or after fermenting your tea, leave some in an open glass container and a new SCOBY will form!

Mighty Micros!

Mighty Mighty Microgreens!

Did you know that Microgreens contain many times the nutrient density of their mature-harvested counterparts? These things pack a nutritional punch! (see USDA article here)

Microgreens are vegetables and herbs harvested when their first set of true leaves sprout. These things pack a lot of flavor, nutrients and vitamins into a small package! Often they are confused with sprouts, so let’s break down the difference:

Microgreens
– Harvested after first true leaves (not cotyledon) sprout – when plants are about 2 inches tall
– Harvest time: 1 – 3 weeks
– Grown in soil and in the sunshine (where plants get most of their nutrients from)

Sprouts
– Harvested during the sprouting phase
– Harvest time: 2 – 3 days
– Grown in water and in the dark

While sprouts are also considered a healthy food source, microgreens are far superior when it comes to nutrient and fiber content. Leafy microgreens for instance are a significant source of beta-carotene, iron and calcium, and dark leafy microgreens (kale, chard, etc) are high in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic eye disease and cataracts. Microgreens are very easy to grow, so get yourself some seeds and get started!
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No matter what the season, microgreens can be grown near a sunny window year-round. Snow pea shoots, red beets, purple and green basil, pak choi, cilantro, parsley and mesclun mix germinate and grow to microgreen size in about two weeks. (Susan Smith-Durisek/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)

Growing microgreens requires little space and time – unlike a traditional garden. Some good options for seeds to use are: Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, Cilantro, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and Spinach!

1. Poke a few holes in the bottom of a plastic tub for drainage (see: spinach or mushroom container for instance).

2. Fill the container with 1 – 2 inches of light seedling soil and smooth it out to be even – but not compacted. (Being that we are growing microgreens for a nutrient rich food source, be sure of the quality and safety of your soil! Choose high-quality, organic soil whenever possible)

3. Sprinkle seeds so they almost cover the soil for a dense planting, and then sprinkle a light covering of soil over the seeds and pat gently

4. Water with a spray bottle to avoid dislodging seeds (a plastic cover can help keep moisture in)

5. Keep in a dark, warm area of the house until seeds start to sprout and then transfer to a sunny windowsill until ready to harvest

It really is that easy! Try it out and see for yourself!