Odds and Ends

With some new posts formulating in the background, here are a few shorts to keep you interested:

Since my second post I haven’t returned to the subject of kombucha brewing (except for a brief nod sometime about mid-Kansas) but in spite of the lack of attention it’s been getting, my kombucha mother has remained by my side and afloat in her jar of tea. In Kansas she paired nicely with green tea and orange; in Colorado, chai spice had her going; in Canada she was fashionably BCBC (British Columbia Black Cherry), and in Washington she’s had some great herbal-root brews (burdock, yellow dock and dandelion). And all the ‘babies’ she has produced have gone to either friends, people who attended my home-brewing kombucha talk or to making more batches on my counter.

Mama sank

So, a few tips on keeping her happy and ease of kombucha brewing in general:
– If you have to travel with her and you’re in the middle of a batch, pour a little of the liquid off into another, smaller jar with a lid so that the large jar won’t slosh out all over the car, or; brew your batch in a gallon-sized pickle jar and hold onto the lid, just remember to give her some air every few hours.
– Try to keep the temperature as stable as possibly. Mine really likes temps around 75F.
– Don’t use Earl Grey tea. I haven’t figured out why yet (though experts say this too), but it won’t ferment right and the kombucha you’re going for won’t be the end result; something in Earl Grey inhibits the mother from spreading. (Perhaps some raging anti-fungal properties of bergamot?)
– She doesn’t like Montana for some reason.
– If your mother sinks instead of floats, don’t fret. Some mothers work from the top down, others work from the bottom up. Either way, you should have a healthy skim of a ‘baby’ on top when the kombucha is done.
– For that really carbonated type of kombucha, gently pour off the finished brew into serving-sized bottles and cap (not too tightly, though) and let sit a couple more days at room temp. This introduces a bit of anaerobic fermentation which really gets the bubbles going. At this point you could also add some juices to flavor or color; but beware, grape juice is known to cause spewing in fountain-like jets – something to do with their natural yeasts.
– For all you Lindsay Lohan fans (or should I say ex-fans if you ever were to begin with?) fresh kombucha may contain a small amount of alcohol, but even then only about the same amount as non-alcoholic beer – although when it’s been sitting in bottles on the shelves for longer periods of time, even refrigerated, it will slowly, anaerobically ferment to the point of turning some of the sugars to alcohol. So drink it fresh (and the best way to do that is to make it yourself!)

But baby's happily floating

– Try some cool infusions if you want: when you pour the tea in the jar add some rosemary sprigs, lavender petals, dried fruit, fresh ginger root or other spices. The mother will pick up some of these flavors, but not enough to taint your next batch. *Also beware, just like Earl Grey has fermentation-inhibiting properties, so might some spices like cloves or cinnamon or turmeric. I haven’t tested them personally, but just consider it.
– Need a cheap Christmas present idea? Brew a batch and give the gift of a “baby mama.”

Some of you may know about my being enrolled in an online school; since May 2008 I’ve been working on my B.S. in Holistic Nutrition. Well, good news and bad news: I’m finishing up my final project to conclude my degree program (I should be the proud owner of a Bachelor’s come Christmas time) but the school, Clayton College of Natural Health, took a blow in the (semi) recent economic downturn and had to cease its operations. Thankfully, they are able to offer independent teach-out options for those who are close to finishing and I’m able to still send in my tests, projects and essays to a faculty person.

What will I do with this freshly printed degree? Beats me. Though I am considering starting a consultation practice on a freelance basis, helping individuals who want to find out what their natural health options are and how to live a more natural, green and sustainable health life. I also love to cook for others, and a catering, meal-planning, or cleanse-planning route may be down the road. Any questions, ideas or suggestions?

It’s a commonly held belief that winter is the hardest month for ‘locavores’, but with some ingenuity and networking one can find many and diverse recipes for these dormant days. One great resource is this site’s annual challenge. And I’ll be posting seasonal meals as I make them and winter preservation techniques as well.

And finally, there are a plethora of topics I’ve been covering lately in my personal writings, as with winter sneaking in there is less for a farm gal to do outside. And after talking with some locals here in PT, surfing the web for freelance opportunities and approaching some great friends with a publishing business, I’m excited to be working towards getting some pieces published in the local paper and perhaps a few magazines, as well as venturing toward a book (or two). Stay tuned for more info about these endeavors. A welcome winter respite that pairs nicely with a mug of tea and a crackling fire (to grossly over-romanticize a writer’s day in the life), huh?

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