Kombucha Brooklyn

Wide World of 'Buch

  • 'Buch on Tap July 2014

     

    After a long drought, Jasmine is back! There was a short lapse in El Jefe, but it is available again. In collaboration with Gotham GreensWatermelon is being reinvented - the next batch of this 'Buch on Tap will be available on 8/6. Get excited.

     

    The next several batches of 'buch are set to be BOSS.

     

    In other news, we have new tin signs! They are absolutely gorgeous, and we are thrilled to be offering them to our accounts. Keep your eyes out for them!

    The Non-alcoholic Craft Option The Non-alcoholic Craft Option

    Current Flavors:

     

    • Jasmine - She's back! Smooth, light, and floral, this batch has minimal acidity. This is the 'buch everyone asks for by name.
    • Straight Up - Our signature blend of black, green and white teas
    • Kevin Bacon - Orange and Rose comprise this seasonal blend. Light, balanced, and very refreshing.
    • Watermelon - Fruit forward and delicious. Always a favorite.
    • El Jefe - Papaya puree dashed with lime, over a bounty of acids formed during fermentation. The result is a complex explosion of tropical flavors.

    Tap Handles

  • Cooking with Kombucha: Bananas Brûlée with Mulberry Kombucha and Toasted Hazelnuts

     

     

    Cooking with Kombucha: Banana's Brûlée with Mulberry Kombucha

    This dish is fast becoming one of my favorite Cooking with Kombucha dishes. I first made it for Eric and Jessica Childs for their Kombucha! book launch at Book Court, back in November of 2013. It was really my first experience cooking with kombucha! I decided to revert to this recipe today, as it is the season for such light but really indulgent dishes. Texturally, its a delight. The banana is creamy maybe with a hint of starch, the burnt sugar and toasted hazelnuts good and crunchy, and the reduction permeates everything with a slightly cleansing astringency.

    Time needed: 30-45min

    Equipment needed:

    1 sharp, small knife and cutting board

    1 brûlée torch or other blowtorch

    1 hand-crafted banana leaf platter by Brooklyn artist Georgea Snyder; or something else presentable

    an oven, turned up high

    1 small metal sheet tray

    a couple of bowls, measuring equipment, and a spoon or two

     

    Cooking with Kombucha: Banana's Brûlée with Mulberry Kombucha

    Ingredients:

    2 bananas

    1/4 c white sugar

    1/4 c hazelnuts

    2 c M-Train (Mulberry Kombucha)*

    *you can substitute with your favorite kombucha, I find it works best with black-tea based 'buch. Feel free to add a packet of our Blueberry Ginger to your 'buch for that fruity excellence.

     

    Directions:

    First things to get a jump on are toasting your hazelnuts on a small sheet tray in the oven and reducing that mulberry kombucha in a sauce pot on high heat. Roast your nuts at around 400º-450ºF for 4-5 minutes, til light brown and the skins start to flake.

     

    Cooking with Kombucha: Banana's Brûlée with Mulberry Kombucha Peeling hazelnuts after roasting

     

    Remove any excess hazelnut skin by rolling them in a clean kitchen towel, or in your hands. Then crush them with the side of a knife, and chop 'em to Ice cream Sundae chunky sprinkle size, as shown below:

     

    Cooking with Kombucha: Banana's Brûlée with Mulberry Kombucha

     

    Remember to stir your reduction! You are looking for a good syrupy consistency, something good for drizzling.

    Next Step: Brûlée Bananas!

    At this point it is important not to start the brûléed bananas if your reduction is not ready, as the sugar will slowly soften if you wait too long. Once your reduction is ready, continue with the recipe.

     

    Slice your bananas in half, lay them out on something heat resistant, like the back of a sheet tray. Then liberally sprinkle white sugar on top. Some will sink in, but re-apply more to create a great crust.

     

    May I say oh la la ! We are close - but need to focus now - the next step is important as it makes getting them out later much much easier. Free the bananas from their skins and segment them in while keeping the skin whole.

    Now all you have to do is plate! If your reduction is ready to go, so are you. Drizzle on your mulberry kombucha reduction, then hit it with the nuts - in fact go nuts, it is the only rational thing to do. Stop, smile, take a photo and post it to our Facebook and eat! Tell us what you think. :)

  • Carbonating your Kombucha - Tricks of the Trade

     

    Kombucha has a lot of things going for it. Many people drink it based on potential boons to health - these can include improvement of digestion, prevention against oxidative stress, activity against acid reflux and inflammation, as well as its richness with probiotics, antioxidants and amino acids - to name a few.

     

     

    It can be tough to eat or drink something for its health benefits when it's a stretch to find it palatable. I'll wince and bear eating a few oysters (many thanks to Brooklyn Oyster Party's hospitality at Smorgasburg), and though they're starting to taste better, I don't seek them out. Noni is considered a superfood that grows wild in tropical climates that many regard as having a scent and flavor reminiscent of feet and parmesan cheese - not exactly on my snacking radar.

     

    Flip-top bottle, left, alongside a KBBK growler and fresh, carbonated 'buch Flip-top bottle, left, alongside a KBBK growler and fresh, carbonated 'buch

    I feel like kombucha is similar for a lot of people. One of the big problems is simply that it's difficult to find truly tasty kombucha in a bottle - it's very hit-or-miss. Potentially off-putting aspects of kombucha are easily countered in a home-brewing situation with a little knowledge and instruction, and the effects of carbonation and temperature can greatly increase palatability. For someone new to kombucha, like one of your friends or relatives you'd like to enjoy your home brew, making the best 'buch possible is important - it's powerful to provide a positive kombucha experience to newcomers, and ideally it will keep them coming back for more, or may even start them brewing their own.

     

    Carbonating your kombucha - a 'buch brewer's seal of excellence

     

    I've posted a few blogs that focus on the flavor of kombucha, which is an immensely broad category still open to even more experimentation. There's a measure of success that can be very easy to achieve, and is a milestone for brewers of every size - when you realize your home-brewed kombucha tastes much better than what is available at the store. Many people that have great success with flavoring can have issues with something else that's very important - carbonation - and it can mean the difference between brewing a dud and hitting a homerun.

     

    While carbonation affects the delivery and sensation of flavors, and can possibly even affect our physiology, for the sake of discussion today it's a physical characteristic; there's something very pleasant about a cold carbonated beverage that has me clamoring for 'buch first thing in the morning. In its affiliation with kombucha, carbonation is something that is desirable - but that can cause a multitude of headaches for the home brewer.

     

    As the primary fermentation process for kombucha is essentially open-air (there is a free exchange of gases taking place between the culture and the outside environment), your kombucha will not inherently retain carbonation. The CO2 produced by your SCOBY's yeast will for the most part be released to the environment. That is, until you bottle it.

     

    Secondary fermentation

     

    Bottling your 'buch has the effect of allowing CO2 to build up in a closed environment (provided you've used a vessel with a tight-fitting lid). This will happen to the greatest extent in a warm environment - most simply, for a home brewer, at room temperature.   Just like in primary fermentation, during "bottle conditioning" (or what we call secondary fermentation), yeast will continue to consume nutrients - it's the amount of sugar in your brew that has the greatest effect on the production of CO2 during this secondary fermentation. One rule of thumb I like to use is that once your kombucha has achieved a pleasant balance of sweetness and acidity, it's ready to be bottled. You must keep in mind, however, that the residual sweetness of your brew when you bottle it plays a major role in the production of CO2, and thus that delightful effervescence we love in 'buch.


    Here's a quick overview of the secondary fermentation process:

    1. Bottle your kombucha in containers with air-tight lids
    2. Allow your filled bottles to sit at room temperature, generally for 1-2 weeks*
    3. Once it's been decided that enough carbonation has built up, place the bottles into the refrigerator and start drinking them as soon as they are cold

    *This time frame depends on your room temperature and the tea/sweetener you've used


    Post-primary flavoring

     

    Left: Lemon and spruce are unsweetened flavorings; Right: mango and elderberry puree are sweet flavorings Left: Lemon and spruce are unsweetened flavorings; Right: mango and elderberry puree are sweet flavorings

    Any flavoring you add to your brew during bottling can potentially contribute to the amount of fermentable sugars available to the yeast. As your kombucha is still raw when you bottle it at home (unless you've pasteurized it, but who would do such a thing!?), yeast will still be present in the bottle and still be voracious for more sugar to eat. This is a very important fact to keep in mind - if you are adding a sweetener to your 'buch when you bottle (think fruit juice, but really, anything that is sweet), carbonation will build up more quickly than if you had left that sweetener out. Combined with the leftover residual sugars (primarily fructose) from your primary fermentation, you're potentially creating a very volatile situation. Hungry yeast + sugar = CO2. The buildup of gas in an enclosed space definitely gives our 'buch that delightful effervescence, but can also potentially create volcanic 'buch that erupts when you open it, or in extreme circumstances, can cause bottles to explode from the pressure.

     

    Bottle explosion Higher summertime temperatures will speed the buildup of CO2!

    If you want to prevent carbonation, place your kombucha directly into the refrigerator after bottling


     

    We've all experienced that excitable bottle of 'buch that can no longer handle being all cooped up -

     

    You've just stepped out of your local natural market with a bottle of your favorite 'buch. You get into your car, roll down the window, and turn on that hot summer track from the week's big artist. Time for 'buch! Only not how you expect. You unscrew the lid, and instead of befriending your belly, your freshly-purchased kombucha instead befriends the totality of the inside of your car.

     

    Sticky 'buch everywhere, not to mention chia seeds, if you're so inclined to enjoy the style. A day-changer, for sure, but not something that can't be changed with a little know-how.

     

    Tips for bottling your kombucha and achieving transcendent effervescence:

     

    1. Bottle when there's a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. This will help to ensure that your 'buch isn't a sugar bomb. I've found that when there is a balance of these two factors, 1-2 weeks is plenty of time to build up a nice amount of carbonation. You will also notice some differences based on the type of tea you used in primary fermentation; take notes when you notice these types of things, it will only improve your brewing skills.

     

    2. Bottle into one plastic bottle at the same time you fill your glass bottles. This will be a model help you to know when a good amount of CO2 has built up, based on your environment (temperature) and the unique qualities of your brew. Your plastic bottle will tell you there's carbonation when it's very tight, and thus clearly pressurized. So, when you know your plastic bottle has carbonation, your glass bottles will too. This will also ensure that you aren't wasting carbonation every time you open a glass bottle to see how much has built up.

     

    3. Don't leave much headroom in your bottles. An inch or so is just fine - you don't want excess oxygen in your bottle, as that takes up space that could otherwise be CO2. It will oxidize your brew, and make it more likely that bacteria are still active, thus creating more acids, potentially contributing off-flavors. It's also important to note that chia seeds expand immensely in the bottle, so you'll want to leave quite a bit more headroom than usual if you're bottling with them.

     

    4. Invest in good bottles. My favorite bottles are the 32 oz Amber Growler available on our website. They're strong, opaque to UV, and have great caps that form an excellent seal, locking in 'buch and your precious carbonation. Keep an eye out for flip-top bottles as well, these can be great for home-brewing escapades and are also very good at holding tight under pressure. We always recommend bottling into glass instead of plastic.

     

    Lids for our growlers: Cone-shaped plug is forced into the neck of the bottle, creating an airtight seal Lids for our growlers: Cone-shaped plug is forced into the neck of the bottle, creating an airtight seal

     

    5. Open any extremely carbonated bottles into a large pitcher. This is especially easy to do with flip-top bottles. Take a large, empty pitcher, slowly invert any bottles you've detected to be highly effervescent, and use both hands to open the cap of the bottle when it's as deep as possible in the pitcher. Your pitcher will quickly fill with 'buch foam (which you will shortly see is still kombucha) and subside within a minute or so. Your 'buch will be delightfully bubbly, and it's now ready for you to drink, or pour back into your bottle and put in the refrigerator. It won't build up pressure like that again, and it's fine to drink without fear of volcanism ;-).

     

    There you have it! This post highlights thoughts from many years of kombucha trial and error, and the techniques will hopefully be easily replicated in your home brew situation.   Please feel free to comment and offer any insight, and if you still are wondering why your 'buch just isn't up to your standards, consider visiting the KBBK Learning Center for 'Buch Kamp 1 & 2 to build up your chops and ready yourself for a lifetime of brewing pleasure.

     

    Happy brewing!

  • Caffeine and Kombucha, pt. 1 - Brewing Kombucha without Caffeine

     

    I'm frequently asked about caffeine and kombucha, and caffeine content of kombucha in general. This consideration has immediate repercussions for many people, such as those allergic to caffeine, to those who are very sensitive to its effects. As such, there is a lot of interest for kombucha brewers in the range of caffeine one can find in kombucha. Today I'd like to discuss the making of kombucha without, or with very little caffeine.

    Barley-Rooibos kombucha Barley-Rooibos kombucha

    *Contrary to some opinions I've heard, it has been verified that caffeine content in kombucha does not decrease during fermentation.* (from Michael Roussin's "Analyses of Kombucha Ferments," a great paper that can be found here)

     

    **The kombucha recipe Kombucha Brooklyn provides, and that we brew with, calls for 3/4 less dry tea than does the same amount of tea you would drink, say at 2pm with snacks. That means 3/4 less caffeine than a standard cup of tea.**

     

    Firstly, I'd like to provide a disclaimer. One of the major tenets of KBBK philosophy holds that kombucha brewed without tea (camellia sinensis) will not always reliably change from sweet to fermented, and if it does, you will find it very difficult to sustain a culture on these tisanes, herbal teas, or otherwise. Whereas you can usually get one or two ferments successfully, at most, from non-tea containing brews (grape juice, coconut water with pineapple, barley and rooibos), you will not be able to sustain a SCOBY with these seemingly normal foods that are actually alien to your culture.

     

    Shu-mee White tea, left; Silver Bud white tea, right Shu-mee White tea, left; Silver Bud white tea, right; great for making tea-based kombucha - but not actually low in caffeine

    As I sat pondering this issue, I started to consider other fermented beverages with foods that provide a good nutrient profile suitable for feeding yeast. My first thought was beer; then I remembered something my co-worker Anna had brought in to our office, that we enjoyed immensely when steeped as a tea - roasted barley. Bingo! I wanted to brew a kombucha that had greatly reduced caffeine, and it seemed barley might be the key. Another of my favorite alterna-"tea"ves, rooibos, came to me as the next best herb to use in this caffeine-free kombucha admixture. Said to have been cultivated by Dutch settlers of South Africa as a replacement for black tea (then a prohibitively expensive prospect for import), rooibos has become a popular facet of South African culture.

     

    Barley, left; Rooibos, right Barley, left; Rooibos, right

    I was relatively sure that a combination of barley and rooibos would ferment just fine into kombucha. As I've been experimenting with many different herbal additions to traditional kombucha teas (which have been pretty much anything camellia sinensis), and discovered that the culture is relatively resilient to such experimentation, I figured diving in head-first would be both fun and informative.

     

    I would call the results highly successful. To fully ferment took about 10 days, when I reached a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and I was left with a kombucha that had a very malty and tart cherry flavor. Rooibos, tasting a lot like an herbal cherry, undoubtedly was the most forward of the flavors in this brew. My SCOBY wasn't anything substantial, about 2 mm thick, but the 'buch was definitely 'buch. And since I have an essentially unlimited supply of SCOBYs, I wasn't worried about keeping a culture going feeding on this simple, tea-free brew.

     

    The longevity of your culture will however be a great concern to you, the home brewer. You will be able to use your initial, "seed SCOBY" multiple times, but your caffeine-free brew may not produce a nice, thick SCOBY every time you brew, as camellia sinensis is the best food for kombucha. As such, I suggest keeping a container in your refrigerator full of SCOBYs, like the one seen below. You'll want to keep it covered to prevent drying, but each time you have a nice new SCOBY, consider putting it in the refrigerator to keep it as a backup. That way, you won't have to count on your caffeine-free brew producing a SCOBY every week, as you'll have plenty, and this brew won't kill off your original "seed SCOBY" necessarily, it just won't produce a new one.

     

    Collection of SCOBYs as backup Collection of SCOBYs as backup; cover with a lid and store in the refrigerator indefinitely!

     

    So, keep these possibilities in mind when you make your next batch, and also remember that experimentation is the spice of kombucha brewing. You may very well find many different mixtures that work for you that don't include caffeine or tea!

     

    Stay tuned - in my next blog, I'll go over making caffeinated and energetic kombucha that will have you jumping for jitter-free joy!

  • Kombucha with a Kick: Brewing Kombucha Wine Pt. 2

     

    Welcome back! It's been awhile since part 1, hasn't it?

     

    Well, to be honest, my brew didn't go exactly as planned. A couple of my wines had a really hard time getting fermentation underway, and some started bubbling the airlock right off the bat. But really, all of them took quite a bit longer than I had expected!

     

    To start, I'll touch on the alcohol issue with kombucha. We're trying to do wine since kombucha alone will not inherently or with time make an alcoholic beverage that is palatable and appreciably alcoholic. I get that question sometimes - "If I let my kombucha brew for 3 months, will I end up with alcohol?" The answer is no - you might get a 'buch that is over 2% ABV, but this won't always be palatable and will be similar to vinegar, if you let it sit for that long. As such, we're going to force anaerobic fermentation, using a 1 gallon glass carboy, champagne yeast, and an airlock.

     

    Let's take a look at the different brews I started back in October 2013.

     

    Heavenly Peak Pu-erh - Pomegranate Kombucha Wine

     

    Meng Hai Heavenly Peak Pu-erh Meng Hai Heavenly Peak Pu-erh

     

     

    Pu-erh teas are a fun way to experiment with kombucha. You're guaranteed a finished product that is almost always different from what you expected - even if you know what you are getting into in having a good grasp of the pu-erh's flavor profile, there will be aspects that are accentuated or forgotten in the final brew.

     

    Heavenly Peak Pu-Erh / Pomegranate Kombucha Wine Heavenly Peak Pu-Erh / Pomegranate Kombucha Wine

    My pu-erh pomegranate wine is no exception. Sure, I expected a strong body and an appreciable acetic acid note with pomegranate early on. Something I've noticed that happens with kombucha wine, however, is that there's an abundant yeastiness that is not always seen as a good thing when you taste it in a wine. I've lost a lot of the notes of the initial, cooked pu-erh, picked up a ton of pomegranate and yeasty characteristics, and an easily-detected alcoholic aspect. And after about 2 months of secondary fermentation under an airlock, followed by almost 6 months of being stored in the refrigerator, not much has changed. A success, yes - it's definitely alcoholic - but I'm reminded that I'm a novice at making 'buch wine, as there isn't much about this one that is supremely desirable. Acidic, alcoholic, pomegranate barnyard. Fascinating, for sure, but I'm calling this one a pu-error.

     

    Hairy Crab Oolong - Papaya Kombucha Wine

     

    Oolong/papaya kombucha wine Hairy Crab Oolong / Papaya Kombucha Wine

     

    This one sounds silly, but aside from some initial difficulty in getting fermentation underway, there wasn't anything undersirable about this one. It was clear very early on that something wasn't quite right. I did 1/2 gallon of two different brews with this one, one pasteurized before adding the yeast, and one not pasteurized before the secondary, anaerobic fermentation. I wanted to see what effect killing off all of the probiotics in the kombucha had on the final wine.

     

    Once fermentation started (after about 3 weeks, mind you - you will be able to tell because your air lock will be bubbling), I allowed this one quite a bit of time to undergo fermentation. After about 6 weeks, I could tell from tasting that there was still more to go, and ended up calling it off after about 3 months. This is the point where I found the 'buch wine to taste best - within the first few days after the champagne yeast fermentation. The longer the wine sat in bottles, the more bread and yeast notes contributed to its flavor profile.

     

    Upon tasting, I could tell that there was still quite a bit of sweetness from the papaya, but there was a marked acidity and alcoholic nature to the brew as well. The pasteurized version definitely had a cleaner, less sulfuric aspect to it. Also, there was no overreaching, bready aspect as there had been in the pu-erh pomegranate 'buch. Lower in alcohol content than the pu-erh, but quite a bit more delicious. I call this one a success.

     

    Consider this fine oolong for your first kombucha wine journey - a nice Tieguanyin Oolong, medium oxidized Consider this fine oolong for your first kombucha wine journey - a nice Tieguanyin Oolong, medium oxidized

     

    How to Make Kombucha Wine

     

    I'll bet you've been sitting on that champagne yeast for quite a while, eh? Well hopefully by now you've honed your kombucha craft and are ready to take it to the next level with a wine. Most yeast packets you find at brew shops contain 5 grams, and are intended for a 5 gallon brew. So, just use the 1 gram of yeast per gallon you're going to make. You'll want to dissolve the yeast in some warm water before mixing it with your kombucha, that way it's nicely dispersed throughout the fermentation vessel.

     

    As for the kombucha, my methodology was to cease primary fermentation while the 'buch is still slightly sweet, in an effort to minimize any strange acidic notes I might not want in the final wine brew. I also added sugar to the 'buch, after dissolving it in warm water so I didn't have to heat up my kombucha. If you're interested in trying this method with pasteurized kombucha, go ahead and boil your brew and add the sugar so that it will dissolve nicely. I used 1 cup of sugar per gallon of wine I was going to brew, to be sure the yeast had plenty of food to metabolize into alcohol.

     

    Wine usually features some type of fruit, and so did this one. Utilizing organic papaya and organic pomegranate concentrates served this purpose; also, the sugar and other nutrients in the juices will be additional food for the yeast. The sweetness, flavor and consistency of your fruit juice will likely vary from mine, but I used 6 ounces of concentrate per 1 gallon brew. Keep in mind this is a matter of preference and you should probably err on the side of more concentrate rather than less.

     

    After pouring the fruit concentrates into my designated carboys, I added the warm yeast-water. Then, I poured the kombucha into the carboy, capped with airlocks, labeled them, and let them sit until the airlock's bubbling ceased.

     

    Airlock Airlock

     

    Now for the hard part - waiting. Try not to let this part bother you! One of the great things about kombucha in general is the speed with which this ferment is ready to be consumed. But if you want to take your brewing repertoire to the next level, it's going to take a little patience.

     

    So, get another 'buch brew going, put a wine reminder in your calendar (start tasting when almost all bubbling has ceased), and relish that day in the semi-distant future when your fruity, dry 'buch wine is boozy and bodacious!

  • Watermelon Kombucha Salad with Ajo Blanco

     

     

    Watermelon Salad with Ajo Blanco (Spanish White Gaspacho) and kombucha

    Will Donnelly | June 2014
    Watermelon Salad with Kombucha Ajo Blanco

     

    Yield: 8

    This bountiful salad is a wonderful Spanish / American cuisine blend that I recently created and would love to share. Ajo Blanco is a very old-school Spanish chilled garlic and almond soup. It's rich and creamy, though inexpensive and dairy-free. Usually this Gaspacho is served with green grapes or melon, which gives this blended soup pops of crisp crunchy texture and ever-so sweet grape fragrance, which is what got me thinking about watermelon. Start by making your Ajo Blanco, as you will need to cool it in the fridge before serving. If you are up for it, let it stand overnight in the fridge to really get the flavors working

    Ingredients

    Ajo Blanco

    • 225 grams blanched almonds (roughly a cup)
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and cored
    • 75 grams good white bread or stale baguette soaked in water
    • 750ml (3+ Cups) Iced water
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste

     

    Watermelon Salad

    • 1/8th large watermelon
    • 1 washed cucumber
    • 1 juicy tomato
    • 1/2 bunch cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons kombucha vinegar (long fermented kombucha)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    Start by making your Ajo Blanco, as you will need to cool it in the fridge before serving. If you are up for it, leave it in the fridge overnight  to really let the flavors meld.

    Ajo Blanco:

    1. Blend your almonds in a food processor until they are as quite fine (3-4 minutes). You may need to push them back into the bowl with a rubber spatula as they clump and climb up the sides.
    2. slowly add 1/3 cup of the iced water into the food processor.
    3. Squeeze the bread of excess water and add to the mix.
    4. At this point, add your garlic. If you have a mortar and pestle, use it! Mash your garlic with a bit of salt into a frothy pulp, then add to the soup.
    5. Add the vinegar and the olive oil, salt and pepper, and the rest of the water.
    6. If there is too much water for your mixer, you can transfer the soup into a large bowl and stir in the rest with your spatula there.
    7. Be aware that the bread may make the soup quite stodgy. If it is so, keep adding ice water until the soup is nappe consistency, or just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    8. reserve and cool in the fridge.

     

    Watermelon Salad:

    1. Peel stripes off your cucumber leaving some skin in tact.
    2. Cut the cucumber in half, and dice it as finely as possible. Add to a small mixing bowl.
    3. Take the other half, stand it up on your cutting board, and carefully cut a long, skinny, angular wedge. Then rotate the cucumber a bit and make the same angled cut. Continue to do this (imagine you are carving a large cucumber spear) until you have no more cucumber. This process is very similar to a roll cut or angled roll cut. Place this cucumber into separate medium mixing bowl.
    4. Wipe down your cutting board, then halve and core your tomato. Fine dice the entire thing and transfer into the small mixing bowl.
    5. Now cut the watermelon into 1.5 inch slices, and clean it of the rind and any white pith. take your end wedge (smallest piece), small dice and add to the rest of the finely diced mix.
    6. Add salt, pepper, 1 Tbsp 'buch vinegar (if you don't have 'buch vinegar you can use champagne or white vinegar) and 1Tbsp olive oil to the small mixing bowl and give it a quick toss.
    7. Take the remaining watermelon pieces and cut off long 'shingles', about a centimeter thick. This will give you a nice piece of watermelon where you can get to the seeds and remove them, and then cut it into long, angular wedges. Add this to the medium mixing bowl.
    8. Add the rest of the 'buch vinegar and olive oil to your medium mixing bowl and lightly toss with a bit of salt and pepper.

    Final Steps

    1. Wash, dry and pluck your cilantro into large plushes.
    2. Pour your Ajo Blanco into your serving bowl (s)
    3. Spoon on top your small dice mix, then arrange your large-cut mix ontop, vertically.
    4. Finish with sprinking your cilantro on top!
    5. Enjoy the taste of summer :)

     

  • Has my SCOBY gone bad? Correct Kombucha Brewing Temperatures and more

     

    For many first time brewers, receiving a warm SCOBY culture in the mail on a hot summers day can be disconcerting. “Shouldn’t live kombucha cultures be kept cold? How long has this been in the mail for? Is this SCOBY safe to brew with?”

     

    Propagating Kombucha Cultures KBBK's tried and true propagation system. No mold, no flies; no fuss, no muss!

    These understandable concerns can cause undue worry and frustration. You’ve patiently waited for your package to arrive, and are eager to start brewing – or you just got back from vacation to find out your kit has been sitting on the porch for days! What a shame it would be if your baby SCOBY had frittered away in your absence.

     

    Except in rare case of extreme weather conditions, SCOBYs will be totally OK to brew with if they have been out for a bit.

    The combination of the acidic nature of the nutritional liquid the SCOBY sits in and the bag’s airtight seal keeps mold and other ‘buch invaders at bay. The bigger issue at hand, as foreshadowed above, is extremely high or low temperatures that will either cook the culture (85º through 90ºF) or start to destroy its complex cell structure if it starts to freeze.

    SCOBY TEMPURA! Although Extremely hot temperatures are detrimental to your culture's health, they are also really tasty. Above is our SCOBY TEMPURA!!

     

    Remember! This is a living culture, and is not unlike humans in this way. Too hot and we sizzle up, too cold and the damage can be irreversible.

    KBBK propagation tent. KBBK's Propagation tent - kept warm with a mini-heater, and clear of dust or flies with a carbon air filter.

    Mid-70º’s to 80º's though, is the ticket. Give us a warm day and a nice breeze (SCOBYs love breezes, it keeps the flies away) and next thing you know we are all getting stuff done during the day and staying up all night. Just like the SCOBY.

     

    BETTER WARMER THAN COOLER:

    Kombucha is a stable beverage due to it's acidic nature, and its acidity is dependent on the plethora of pro-biotic bacteria having a warm environment to create acids like Glucaric and Gluconic acid, Acetic acid, Caprylic and Butyric acid.

    If your brew is below 70ºF, you run the risk of not maintaining a stable pH environment and expose your brew to mold!

     

    What the fridge is great for:

    Keeping your culture cold (~40ºF) when you are taking a brewers break.

    • Simply set your culture in a cup (depending on how big it is, you may want to add more or trim your SCOBY) of kombucha in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover it, and set it to the back of your fridge.
    • There it will hibernate, as its metabolic rate slows into a state of low activity.
    • You can keep it there for a couple months at a time, but it's best to give it a quick refresher every couple of weeks with a little jolt of fresh tea and sugar.

    Bottle Conditioning!

    You can also vintage your kombucha in the fridge for great lengths of time - the flavor can be as complex and delicious as great wine. Just remember:

    •  Use a bottle / cap with a good seal
    •  Label what your brew is, and what ingredients you used
    • Date it
    • Resist temptation! if you open it early on, you will loose some excellent fizz. Save it until you are ready to drink most of it.
    • Enjoy!

     

  • How to Brew Kombucha : A day by day Analysis

    Day 1:How to Brew Kombucha

    To the right is my fresh brew! The tea and sugar has steeped and dissolved, and we have added the culture (floating in the background). We will be following it over the next couple days to see how a typical kombucha brew progresses.

     

    As your brew ferments, you will notice changes in the nute (nutritional starter). Most notably will be the formation of the new "baby SCOBY on the surface. This process begins in most brews between twenty-four and seventy-two hours.

     

    Small white patches will begin to form on the surface of the liquid, independent of the SCOBY you put in there. The first few days are an uneasy time for new brewers, and the new growth of SCOBY is often misconstrued as mold. For more info about mold, check here at our Brew FAQ.

     

    Day 2:

    We are still at the dawn of our ferment and must be patient. My starter SCOBY has floated back up which is totally OK ( so is a sunken SCOBY). It is very important during these early stages not to disturb or otherwise agitate the kombucha; one small wave can sink new formations, which slows the primary acidification process and increases the risk of mold.

     

    At this point you may have some questions or just want to know more on how to brew kombucha. What better way to learn-and-brew than dive into a good read? See our selection of brewing books here.

     

    I highly suggest for beginners our company's co-founder written book Kombucha! It's where a good chunk of this blog's body comes from. And for people who would like to expand their know-how on all other things fermented, I suggest The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz; a Michael Pollan / Harold McGee scientific break-down on all that bubbles. True Brews by Emma Christensen, on the other hand, is a beautifully laid out guide on how to make and tastily enhance all that bubbles: cider, soda pop, beer, wine, sake, soda, mead, kefir, kombucha, and fruit wines.

     

     

    Days 3-4:

    SCOBY formation: As the culture matures, these spots of new growth will become thicker and wider, eventually joining together and becoming one whole party. Wheee! SCOBY Party! Give your brew a sniff - it is important to know the smells as well as the sights of your brew as it transforms.

     

     

    Day 5:

    Kombucha yeast Only Yeast! Nothing to worry about.

    See KBBK SCOBY-power in action! that's a lot of growth in just five days. Your brew may not be here just yet, so you may need to give it an extra day or two. So, it has formed it's signature celluloid patty, the SCOBY. If you do not see anything resembling the SCOBY in these pictures, you may be in trouble - ambient temperature could be too low and is slowing the culture's metabolism, or other brewing issues may have arisen. If you see dark patches or strange tentacle looking formations such as in the inset picture above, no need for alarm. This is just spent yeast, a natural bi-product of the fermentation process.  See our Brew FAQ for more info. Again, keep your brew covered! From the pictures it may seem that this is an open-air ferment, but it is just for visual reference.

     

     

     

    Day 6:

    Taste your Brew: When the new baby SCOBY has spread across the entire surface of your brew and started to thicken, you should give your 'buch a taste. This will usually be in the three- to six-day range but can take longer depending on the strength of your culture, how long you have been brewing in that location, the type of tea and sugar used, and the temperature. Lots of changes have already occurred in your brew at this point and the flavor will give you an idea of how much longer you will want to brew your ferment. Just make sure that if you dip something into your 'buch, it is clean.

    As long as your brew is healthy and progressing normally, it's always safe to drink from the nute stage all the way through to vinegar.

    Some ideas on how to get a sip:

    • Stick a straw under the surface of the SCOBY
    • Use a clean shot glass to gently push the SCOBY down and scoop a little from the surface
    • Use a Thief! These are the professional brewers sampler. (Available here)

    A pH indicator measures the activity of hydrogen ions in a solution. The more free-floating hydrogen ions there are, the lower pH will be, indicating a higher acid profile. For the kombrewer with pH indicator strips, your buch will be ready on the sweet side at a pH of 3.1 and on the sour side at a pH of 2.7.

     

     

    Days 7-9:

    Behold, the magic of fermentation! You have just learned how to make kombucha. Millions of microorganisms in the SCOBY are happily feeding off of sugars and tea nutrients, breaking down alcohols, and multiplying. This pro-biotic adventure has come full circle.

    Unfortunately due to an accident, the jar broke before I could take a side shot. The second photo above is from a different brew, but is a similar and healthy SCOBY.

    When to bottle: Your brew, although young, is complete. Most one-gallon brews kept around 78ºF will have a nice balance of sweet and sour flavors at nine days. I like to bottle at about seven days in my kitchen when there is a little more sweetness than I would want to drink. This ensures that there will be enough sugar to produce effervescence in secondary fermentation after bottling. If you haven't yet picked up bottling equipment, I highly suggest our Pro-Bottler Package, it's six 32oz Amber Growlers, a brewers must-have Auto-siphon, and a mixed flavor pack with enough goodies to flavor all six of those Growlers.

    DSC_5824

    Whether you bottle your 'buch for some extra bubble or just pour out a cup straight-up, it's time to enjoy the pro-biotic and fizzy goodness that is home-brew kombucha. Feel it's not complete without a snazzy Kombucha Brooklyn Highball glass? Go ahead and deck out your glassware collection.

    Happy Brewing!

    Will

  • Take a Moment to Meet Kombucha Brooklyn's New Kid.

     

    Time flies! I'm a new employee, but not really "new." I can say that I'm the newest employee here at Kombucha Brooklyn, and have happily been drinking kombucha daily, cranking away in the production and shipping world that is our Home Brew department for 6 months.

     

    In addition to working in the production team, I've taken over the Kombucha Brooklyn Instagram account, so I also get to apply my love of documenting and taking photos. I'm a novice "photographer" and have been documenting life around me since the very beginnings of my other passion, traveling. Having the 2nd lens to capture my surroundings while traveling has been immensely rewarding, and has allowed me to hold on to what now seem like dream-like adventures. Photography has also helped me in staying in the present. Along with other DIY and hands-on activities that include yoga, brewing, and painting, photography (especially street photography) requires you to be present, focused, and open.

     

    Coming back to the present -- writing this post and allowing my initial shock of being at Kombucha Brooklyn for 6 months sink in -- I'd like to take this moment to stop and appreciate the beauty in small things, such as this:

     

    An anteater stops by for a drink of kombucha An anteater stops by for a drink of kombucha

    ...and a short video of a dance: Green Tea

     

    As I pack up for the weekend, I'm looking forward to the chance to pair photography and brewing, in hopes of staying in the weekend just that much longer. I hope you've enjoyed this first little post -- I've certainly enjoyed taking *this very moment* to introduce myself.

  • Why it's time to get crafty; DIY Inspiration for your Spring projects

     

    Starting your Project

    Garlic Scape Gnudi and Steak with chef Will Myself just before an evening dinner for 15 people, proud of a week's worth of planning and 3 days prep cooking.

    Springtime is upon us, friends. The air lightens with warmth, scented with sweet dry smells; the wee beginnings of tree buds push out from their branches soon to unfurl. Today must be a great day for creativity, for DIY.

    People have the innate ability to create and cultivate, but most, including myself, have difficulty envisioning what they can do as it can take a great deal of energy to properly focus. So if you are stuck in the mud and uninspired, start your creative juices with anything that will help you let go of what is in your mind now, in order to fill it with other thoughts. That’s right- yoga, stretching, yodeling, a cold shower, a run around the block at top speed. Forget everything! Let the world be fresh to your senses once again as it unfurls its springtime blossoms, and go create something great. Go do it yourself, or with a friend.

     

    Here is some inspiration from my recent findings and doings, which I am happy to share with you in hopes of motivating you! When I think of DIY, I associate the phrase with being  unfamiliar or novice at whatever I am about to begin. Never be daunted to try something new, or ashamed to fail at something old. These are very normal occurrences and to expect any different is unreal. In failing you have the opportunity to hone and improve your skills.

     

    As you may know, I love to cook! Here are some photos of my DIY cooking adventures.

    While this all looks great, the Gnudi needed some more time in the fridge to form their proper dumpling skin, the banana bread took way longer than expected because I did not check my oven temperature, and the rhubarb tart, as pretty as it was, became a bit difficult to separate from the pie tin as it was so delicate. All things I'm learning, and hope to remember to check next time. Thank god food is forgiving, and things are still delicious if you don't mess them up too much. As for other projects, the give can be much less.

     

    KBBK's DIY 'Buch Bar and Brew Shop Sign

    Another of my recent projects was to create a sign for KBBK's office Kombucha Bar. Sanded, stained, painted and hung all in 12 hours. Pfewf! Letters came out OK, but not as great as I was hoping. It's been a while since I've done something like this and I definitely learned a bit about brushstrokes, and painting under a time crunch.

     

    DIY Craft Beer, KBBK takes the day to brew Saison

     

    Last month team KBBK visited our brew-buddies John and Doug who run Bitter and Esters, a store for all your beer brewing ingredients and equipment, a DIY brew on premise space for public use, and generally a must-visit for any beer brewing enthusiast. Really, go. We spent a day brewing and eating Thai food, later an afternoon bottling our crisp, stone-fruit-like, smokey, and wonderfully full-bodied Saison called Tis the Saison.

    My god was it good. This DIY was 100% Successful! We now have 2 kegs and 2 cases of bottles of our Saison - enough to quench our fine beer thirst through summer 2014.

     

     

    DIY Blueberry Mead, KBBK Head Brewer Chris Strait

    Chris is a man of his projects and experiments. He is not phased by botched batches, but studies their nature to learn better ways to brew. Here is his Blueberry Mead, a house brew made with Trembley Apiary Honey and our freeze-dried Blueberries. Lip-smackingly good.

    Blueberry Mead Chris Strait's Blueberry Mead

     DIY Keg Branding, Billy Stewart, Jon Lane and Will Donnelly

    Before winter had moved on (not that it has yet really) we had to brand our kegs as we are joining a big NYC keg distributor. Stencils were a real knuckle-buster, but I'm real excited as to how they came out. Check our On Tap Map for more info on where to see these fly kegs.

    DIY Strawberry Mead soon to come, Will Donnelly

     

    Last but not least, whats next! I've got some work to do, but recently picked up this beautiful 14.5 Gallon, green hand-blown carboy, which I'll be 2nd Fermenting some Strawberry Mead in:

    e83c6f90c4f911e3b7d90002c9db1072_8 Antique Carboy, I cannot wait to brew!

    So that's it for now, got to get back to emails, phones, and the rest of my day-to-day job. But seriously, get crafty! If you are already brewing kombucha and are looking for the next step, I know we mentioned it in our last newsletter, but seriously jun kombucha is a great DIY project. It brews quicker and is extremely tasty - our Jun Kits will produce 5 gallons of gunpowder green tea, New York State wildflower honey kombucha. A DIY project that is hands down delicious.  There is so much fun stuff to be a part of, or at least try. Send us a photo, we love to see people getting into what they like!

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