Tuesday, 7 May 2013

One of the Paleo sites I follow is Paleoista (see right hand menu) and Nell Stephenson posted on kombucha today and I wanted to weigh in on my (now) favourite beverage. During the ten months I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the Paleo lifestyle, I came across references to kombucha - a fermented tea that has been around for a long time.  Apparently it had a renaissance in the '70's, which I missed, though I do have all the original Moosewood Cookbooks - my vegetarian period.

Depending on which book you read and what appeals to you, fermented food can have benefits or do nothing, or just taste good.  Sauerkraut, for example, can be added to your breakfast to aide in digestion.  I can see the face you are making - but bacon, eggs and 1/4 cup of sauerkraut is a good breakfast for me!  If you like sauerkraut (or have never had it) try it and then you can make a face if you don't like it.

You can make your own sauerkraut or, if buying it, read the label.  It should only have cabbage and salt in it - nothing else.  Seafair Gourmet Meats has a canned version that is really good for $3.99 for a large can.  It keeps well in the fridge and you can just add a bit to your meals.  Yum.

Another fermented vegetable that's popular with a lot of people (including me) is kimchi.  Again, you can make your own or read the labels carefully to make sure you can pronounce all the ingredients in the kimchi you buy in the grocery store.  Note:  Costco brand has a small amount of sugar in it.  I chop it up and add it to a stir fry - adds a bite.

I picked up a bottle of original kombucha (GT brand) at Whole Foods in Vancouver- at $3.99 a bottle.  I loved, loved the taste and decided I didn't care whether it was good for me or not.  To me, it tastes like slightly acidic, slightly carbonated iced tea.  All the articles I had read about kombucha advised not swigging the whole bottle down at once for the first time (some said don't do that ever) because it can cause digestive problems in some people.  I managed to make the one bottle last for the afternoon, and did not have any negative effects at all, so I had to have more.

I went on-line to see if kombucha was carried in my part of the Lower Mainland and found it at Nirvana Organics in Richmond for the same price as Whole Foods - yay! a local supplier.  But, at $3.99 a bottle, it became an expensive treat, so I decided to make my own.  I have been doing that for a few months now, experimenting with different types of tea and fermenting times and I have created a kombucha that I think is just as good as the GT brand for a whole lot less.  Note:  That is my opinion - if you want to see a face - give Paleo Grandad some kombucha.  There are safety issues with making your kombucha, so make sure you read all about it if you make your own.

To make your own kombucha, you need a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and I found a Lower Mainland supplier - Grass Root Greens - and ordered a SCOBY on-line.  It was delivered in a shrink-pack by mail a few days later and I was in business. The SCOBY gets used over and over again with some tea bags, sugar and water and I get six bottles out of each batch for pennies a bottle - sorry Nirvana Organics.  

If you want to try it, I use the recipe/instructions on TheKitchn (no that is not misspelled) website.

Here is my two-week supply of homemade kombucha - that's my SCOBY in the jar beside the bottles.  Pretty, isn't it.

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