For the last few years, anytime someone so much as whispers of a stomach ache, hangover, or crappy mood, I tend to tell him/her to drink a kombucha. Of course, once I started writing my cookbook, Delicious Probiotoic Drinks, this habit only intensified. Most people have a threshold for how many times they can hear the phrase, “drink a kombucha” before it transitions from being helpful to becoming a laughing matter to downright obnoxious.
And yet I persist, because I truly believe kombucha has some amazing health and healing powers that can benefit most people.
One of my favorite ways to flavor homemade kombucha is using fresh ginger, because I love the way ginger tastes and enjoy its health benefits. For me, ginger kombucha is the ultimate elixir to cure just about any physical woe, keep my system in check, and is a tasty treat. This fall, I have been adding apple juice, dried apples, ginger and cinnamon to add pep and warm fall flavors.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on this site, you already know that on February 4, 2014 my cookbook, Delicious Probiotic Drinks,
will be was released! The book includes over 75 recipes for probiotic beverages such as kombucha, ginger beer, kefir, cultured vegetable juice, and more.
Many of you have given me the “yaaaaay! I’m so happy you’re publishing a book!! – But what the hell is kombucha??!” line, so I figured I’d give you some kombucha facts as well as a tasty fall-inspired kombucha recipe. Kombucha (and other probiotic drinks) is near and dear to me, so I’m happy to share it with the people who are near and dear to me (that’s you!)
Kombucha is a naturally fermented probiotic rich drink, brewed with tea, sugar, and a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). SCOBYs are funky looking discs (also known as a “mushroom” or “the mother”) that continue to grow layers with every batch of kombucha that is made. These additional layers of SCOBY can be peeled off and given to friends or family to begin their own batches of kombucha.
Where do the SCOBYs come from? For all intents and purposes, my answer to this is: the internet….because that’s where I bought my SCOBY. . . and the whole “what came first, the SCOBY or the Kombucha?” conversation still boggles my mind. SCOBYs come from the internet (or your hippy friend. Or me. Want a SCOBY?), 10-4.
One can buy kombucha from most grocery stores now, but it can cost upwards of $3.00 per bottle. If you’re anything like me, paying $3.00 for a beverage that doesn’t get you drunk is lunacy. Ergo, brewing kombucha at home is much more cost effective. And it’s easy!
Kombucha originates from Northeast China. It traveled to Russia before making its way to Germany, followed by the rest of Europe and eventually, the United States. It houses a great deal of health benefits, and while every individual reacts to it differently, the general consensus is it makes you feel great.
Wanna know why it makes you feel so great? Here are 10 reasons…
10 things you need to know about kombucha
- Aids in Digestion. The probiotics, yeasts, and enzymes in kombucha help your digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients. Probiotics help achieve balance in your digestive system through promoting healthy gut flora, which aid in digestion, maintaining a healthy PH balance, and nutrient absorption. Your digestive system has a really tough job to do. Fermented food and drinks that are considered to be “pre-digested,” which lessens the amount of digestive fluid your pancreas has to secrete, thereby giving the ol’ pancreas a break. For all these reasons, kombucha helps alleviate certain stomach and digestive problems, such as Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Candida, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Boosts your immune system – Kombucha is a natural antibiotic. Probiotics fight bad bacteria and create an environment where bad bacteria cannot grow. One of the bi-products of fermentation is acetic acid. This acid creates a sort of sterility, to the extent you could actually use it to clean your kitchen or bathroom. Little or no bad bacteria means no infection, which means you stay healthy with a strong immune system.
- Full of C and B-Vitamins! In case you were wondering what my all-time favorite Vitamins are, they would be B Vitamins. Vitamin B is useful in curbing sugar cravings, easing stress, reducing the risk of heart disease, aiding with a raging case of PMS, and helping you remember stuff.
- Strengthens the walls in your gut. Kombucha contains Butyric acid, which strengths the gut wall, kills parasites, and protects against yeast infections.
- Gives you a nice little buzz. True story. With fermentation comes alcohol. Kombucha contains a small amount of alcohol in it, and you can 200% get a small buzz off of it if you brew it at home. Uhhh…talk to a doctor before drinking kombucha if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
- Alleviates stomach and digestive problems. Kombucha is acidic, but it also helps achieve a favorable PH balance in your gut by either increasing or decreasing the amount of stomach acid in your system. This balance can aid many uncomfortable digestive issues. Kombucha is also full of enzymes which help break down foods that are difficult to digest
- Detoxifying. Kombucha is full of antioxidants, which help cleanse the liver and help prevent cancer.
- Keeps your joints healthy. Glucosamine is naturally present in kombucha, which helps keep your joints healthy and prevents arthritis. This is especially helpful for athletes and those who have a history of arthritis in their family.
- May contribute to weight loss. Many people have reported kombucha has helped them to lose weight. Folks say it helps manage hunger, contributing to weight loss. I haven’t experienced this first-hand, so I can’t attest to it.
- Delicious! …err…once you acquire a taste for it. Kombucha tastes vinegary and lemony but it can also be flavored to fit your palate. It is also naturally effervescent (carbonated), which makes it excellent for replacing soda.
Bonus Fact(s): They say kombucha helps lower your stress, but I drink it every single day, and I’m wound up like a freaking yoyo. I’d hate to see me when I’m not on kombucha. Let’s not test this hypothesis. They (meaning doctors) also say kombucha may help you sleep. But I have wicked insomnia, so I’m going to go ahead and poo poo this. Stress? Insomnia? Girl’s got issues.
So…this recipe…this recipe is only useful to you if you brew kombucha at home already or if you’re planning on brewing it. When you flavor kombucha, you put it through a secondary fermentation. Meaning, you have already brewed your batch – your kombucha is already ready already, but you ferment it again in order to infuse it with flavor and make it nice and bubbly.
If you’ve never made kombucha, read my How to Make Homemade Kombucha post and do lots of research prior to brewing. Here be a recipe for Apple Ginger Kombucha. Let me know if you have any questions…never take chances when it comes to brewing kombucha at home!
Homemade Apple Ginger Kombucha
- 1 gallon home-brewed kombucha
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger peeled and finely grated
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 Dried apple rings * one apple ring per bottle
In a large sterilized pitcher, combine the plain kombucha, grated ginger, apple juice, and cinnamon. Mix to combine.
Sterilize 8 flip-cap or screw top glass bottles by running them through the dishwasher.
Rip or chop up the dried apples and place 1 ring’s worth in each bottle.
Pour the kombucha from the pitcher into the bottles, leaving room at the top, because gasses will form during secondary fermentation.
Seal the bottles and place them in a warm, dark room (bedroom closet works awesome) for 2 to 3 days in order to let the kombucha go through secondary fermentation.
Place the bottles in the refrigerator. The kombucha will continue to ferment in the refrigerator, but it will slow down.
When ready to drink, carefully open the bottles. Pressure forms during secondary fermentation, so point the bottle away from everyone.
A small SCOBY will have formed during secondary fermentation, and there is also ginger pulp and apple rings in the kombucha. For best results, use a fine strainer to strain all of this out prior to drinking.
If you need a SCOBY for brewing kombucha, you can find a great one here.
If your kombucha is very strong prior to secondary fermentation, brew 3 cups worth of black tea (or apple-cinnamon flavored tea) and add ¼ cup of sugar. Let this tea cool and add it to the above ingredients in order to dilute it slightly. Kombucha that is too strong is not good for you.
*Get the dried apples that don’t have preservatives – you can find these at a natural food store.
Also try my recipe for Lavender Kombucha!