Local Honey and Hawthorn Kombucha

Kombucha Tea and kefir are fermentations I do about every 3 days. That keeps the culture fresh. In addition, I have wines (grape, pear, apple, and fig) beer (bottle conditioned ale) sauerkraut, and vinegars (apple, honey, fig, and malt) that I make as time and ingredients are available. In time I plan to post about each of them, but focus today on kombucha tea.

In Asia, people have been drinking kombucha for centuries. I’ve been brewing it for several years. I started shortly after hearing fermentation expert Sandor Katz when he spoke at a local coffee shop. He described how consuming fermented foods helped him feel better as he was on AIDS medications. I have never had health issues that severe. My experience is that I have had significantly less allergies/hay fever in the fall the last two years. My honey kombucha brew likely helped. Local honey is often helpful for pollen allergies.

Many online sites provide details on making kombucha. I’ll focus on what’s unique about mine. I start by boiling hawthorn berries. I get them from trees in my yard that were tiny arbor day seedlings about 12 years ago. BTW I have little 2-4 foot hawthorn trees that I could barter/sell cheap and dormant season is a good time to transplant. Harvesting the berries is tedious. They are pea sized and grow on branches with 2 inch thorns. I’ve picked and spread blankets under the trees and beat the branches with a stick. Either way takes time to gather them. This year I dried some and froze some. I use about 2 tablespoons in a batch. They have little flavor. I use them because they good for the cardio system and I have a family history.

After a ten minute boil the water has a hint of color from the berries. Then I remove from heat and add a teabag. I let it steep and cool at least 10 minutes before removing the teabag. After more cooling time, I pour the tea with the berries into a 2 quart mason jar. I add filtered water to get the level to just where the jar begins to narrow. Kombucha fermentation requires oxygen so filling into the narrower neck would not be good. After assuring the temperature is lukewarm, I add 1/3 cup of honey, stir, then add the mother from a previous batch. The mother is the symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) that does the fermenting. The new batch is then ready for its coffee filter/rubber band cover which provides air but excludes flies. It sets on the fridge for 5-7 days and turns from sweet to sour and grows a larger mother on the surface.

The old batch that I took the mother from gets strained and put into the fridge for consumption. Refrigeration halts fermentation as does high heat. For most yeasts and bacterias the human body temperature is the ideal temperature. We make great hosts and consuming probiotics help us host the right ones.

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